Kajsa on “A Wonderful Podcast” #enunderbarpod

Just before xmas, I was on my way to work and as usual listened to one of my regular Swedish podcasts and heard them discussing if people across the world listened to them. So I wrote a message:

Är jag den första som lyssnar från Afrika? Jag lyssnar på väg till jobbet på tisdagmorgnar, jag kör bil från hamnstaden Tema i Ghana till jobbet på Ashesi University på andra sidan huvudstaden Accra. Älskar den kognitiva dissonansen som uppstår när ni babblar på om pepparkakshus medan jag ser ghananskt marknadsmyller utanför rutan med barn på ryggen, väskor och korgar som stolt bärs på huvuden, och försäljare som vill att jag köper papaya….eller att skratta åt rävar och grisar på en tvåfilig motorväg bland getter och nybyggda bostadsområden! Tack för en underbar pod!

Am I the first to tune in from Africa? I listen to you on my way to work on Tuesday mornings, I take my car from the harbour town of Tema in Ghana to my job at Ashesi University on the other side of the capital Accra. I love the cognitive dissonance which happens when you go one about gingerbread houses (Swedish concept?) while I see Ghanaian market crowds outside my car window with kids riding on backs, bags and baskets proudly carried on heads, and hawkers who want me to buy some papaya…or laughing at “foxes and pigs” on a two-lane motorway among goats and new dwellings! Thanks for a wonderful podcast!

And they contacted me for a short interview! It is live today on ONE OF SWEDEN’S BIGGEST PODCASTS En Underbar Pod (A wonderful Podcast) !

As a blogger, it was a dream come true to talk to Underbara Clara who is Sweden’s most successful and innovative blogger and her hilarious pod partner Erica. At the same time, the conversation felt very natural, like we had known each other for years – I guess in a way I do know Clara and Erica well after reading Clara’s blog for many years, and listening on the pod from the get go.

Today, the episode with me and three other listeners Malin, Miriam and Mikaela across the globe (photos above borrowed from UnderbaraClara) can be heard by following this link and clicking on “EUP International”.

If there are any new readers on my blog because of my exciting podcast appearance, please comment and say “hello” or “hej!” below!

My Election Day: From Basic Level to Analyst

I had an excellent election day, divided in three clear sections. It seems the country also had an excellent election day, with a few exceptions discussed below. 

1. Family time
familyIn the morning, my five year old asked:

– Why am I not going to school today?

I answered:

– Because today is election day.

– What is election? Came the response. A Masters Degree in political science and a PhD in African Studies are not necessarily assets when getting to the basics. I took a deep breath and tried:

– It is when we chose who will decide in the country. We call that person president or prime minister.

– I want to be president! I will decide what to do and then you will decide what we should not do, ok, mama?

Morning proceeded calmly with family time. Our nanny had left the night before to go vote after a short campaign to join her party.

2. Voting

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In the afternoon, we went to my husband’s childhood neighbourhood where he is still registered as a voter. There was no queue, voting was swift and easy in the double voting register at the Chemu school in Community 4, Tema.

Of course, I did not vote as I am not a Ghanaian citizen (yet). It was great to see the positive atmosphere and how elections rather brought people together – at least in this community – than created divisions.

3. BloggingGhana in the Situation Roomelection-obesrver

BloggingGhana’s GhanaDecides project was approached about being part of the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) and the National Peace Council’s  observer group. The group convened during the whole election day in a situation room of sorts, but as I needed to be part of family time and voting, I only joined in the afternoon.

team

I was introduced to the team of 30 or so “yellow shirt” observers collating reports from all the regions of Ghana, the 10 “green shirt” observers or analysts – where I had to pinch my arm, because that where I belonged! BloggingGhana/GhanaDecides had its own table filled with bottles, chords, and screens (see photo above). After a while the members of the highest level of the observers – the decision room stopped by after a tour including other situation rooms and the electoral commission.

A major convo was around the Jaman North Constituency now voting tomorrow after the failure of party agents to first agree on the electoral roll and then of the electoral commission to get materials out to the 92 polling stations. Jaman North is located between Ivory Coast to the west, the Bui National Park to the north, and the Tain constituency to the east that voted one day late in 2012 for similar reasons. How many voters are registered in Jaman North? I have not seen any official data yet. Will follow up tomorrow!

Another thing we see as the results trickle in is that the turnout seems low – after some 30 000 votes have been counted, the turnout hoovers around 57-58%. In 2012, the turnout was close to 80%. Following this closely too.

At this moment, most observers have returned home and a few of us are wrapping up the day to the sound of provisional MP results trickling in. 

See you online tomorrow – until then follow GhanaDecides.com and #GhanaDecides on all social media channels – over night run by our diaspora team!

How Bloggers Prepare for #BloGHAwards16

bloGHAwards16You know you are a blogger going for BloggingGhana’s #BloGHAwards16 gala if…

…you spend more time on setting up your browsing bundle (and back-up!) than on what to wear.

…you save a winning tweet instead of preparing a thank you speech.

…you double check the hashtag (Yup, it’s #BloGHAwards16) instead of your hair before leaving the house.

…you write a blogpost about the upcoming awards instead of finding a date.

…you plan to come early to save a good seat to take Instagram-able photos from instead of setting out to arrive fashionably late.

…you tweet at your friends asking if they will attend instead of calling them.

…you are reading this to the end on a handheld device!

See you tonight!

Last chance to get your Ego-ticket for the Social Media Awards!

TEDxAccra: Re-Think. 3 things I look forward to

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This whole week I have been hearing the build up buzz on TEDxAccra. With events every night culminating in Saturday 23rd all day at the National Theathre (Ego tickets here, although many categories are SOLD OUT!) ,the organising team has succeeded in taking over social media. I have seen the #TEDxACCRA2016 trending for days!

I have sadly been to busy to go to any pre-events (another exciting one on Women’s contributions to Economy tonight), but will be spending my Saturday at the main event. Specifically, I am looking forward to:

  1. Hearing Lucy Quist, CEO of main sponsor Airtel. She is a leadership supernova in Ghana, but manages to also be approachable and informative.
  2. Being introduced to other amazing speakers and getting to know their work which I’ll then share with my followers. (Follow me on Twitter and/or Instagram @kajsaha)
  3. The networking. I love to be among young change-makers and doers!

Hope to see you tomorrow!

PS. If you can’t come, you can stream it live!

A Good 24 hrs : Tortoise, Hairy Legs, and a Video on Pulse

In the last 24 hours, the following all happened to me:

  1. A tortoise crossed the road in front of my car, I slowed down and allowed it to safely get to the other side. There was a slight drizzle, it was after seven PM so completely dark except for my headlights lighting up the dense forest. It was a magical moment.
  2. At the salon, I was told the hair on my legs is nice and “never wax it!” I already knew it is not an issue in Ghana, (in Sweden it is almost a political/feminist statement these days to not remove your leg hair as it does not conform with our beauty standards), but receiving compliments for my hairy legs was a magical moment as well!
  3. I was featured on Pulse Ghana for their women’s month! Journalist Stacey Knott recently came to campus and did this interview in which I talk about being a woman in the Ghanaian academy (“wrestling my way top the top”), blogging and my love for Ghana.

Needless to say, it was a good day.

10 Years of Blogging, This Is What I Know for Sure…

Screenshot 2016-02-16 10.36.34Ten years ago, someone turned down an internship in an organization based in Paris,
 and I got a phone call: “Do you want to go live in Paris for five months? Position starts in two weeks!” In 2006, this set a few different balls rolling: I had to ask permission to leave my job, wave my boyfriend goodbye, book a trip to Paris with an open return, buy a beret, but maybe most importantly to me – it gave me a reason to start the blog I had been thinking about for some time, because now I had a subject matter worthy of some writing (and me getting out of my head): La vie en France or Life in France!

After ten years of blogging, and 870 something blog posts to my name, I know for sure, to paraphrase Oprah, that

…blogging is not a substitute for diary writing, although the years of keeping a diary prepared me well to “think by writing”. I in fact go back and forth on having a “paper diary” on the side.

Screenshot 2016-02-16 10.36.27…blogging is much more than writing, it is a lifestyle in which you take note of details and think when facing hardship: “this would make a great blogpost” (last time it happened was yesterday when I was shopping for a bra in Accra, but that’s a different story!)

…blogging is on the verge of becoming a livelihood for many in Ghana and I hope the organization I started in 2011 with a friend, BloggingGhana, can help many more live off of their content production and blogs.

…blogging is different from all other writing in that it is directly relational and – if you are lucky  –   leads to deep and meaningful connection with others.

Screenshot 2016-02-16 10.36.18But I also know, ten years down the line, I know that I want to do something more with this blog. I want to publish blog texts elsewhere, I want to branch out into other mediums, I want to be bigger and at the same time a bit more focused. Does it sound contradictory? I guess it is!

The good news is, I can develop my thoughts in a few blogposts to come! 

 

 

Top Three: My Best Podcasts from Ghana and Beyond

This evening, BloggingGhana is doing an event called “PodCast – the New Blog?” (free if you sign up in advance by following the link) and because of that, I wanted to list my top three podcasts out of Ghana. 
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In Ghana, there is still not much to choose from, but  these have made a great effort and are podcasts I return to:

  1. AccraWeDey. A chilled conversation between the guys (Joey, Pokuaa and Nii) and a guest on popular culture, whats new on Twitter, and in town. Great intro song and vibe, but maybe sometimes too much friends just chilling?
  2. Hagtivist. A serious podcast that discusses news in Ghana from a well needed humanist angle. This is definitely an activist pod, but could it be available on iTunes? Have fewer hosts or segments that made listening a bit easier?
  3. The cocoa pod? I can’t even find three…Soon that will change hopefully!

My top three English speaking podcasts are:

  1. Startup by Gimlet. All Gimlet shows are hyper produced and great, but the idea of following a company through their start up process has some original drama to it.
  2. The Tim Feriss Show. I love-hate this pod. It is too much of everything, too American, too much focused on personal improvement, but I also learn great deal when ever I am in the right mood.
  3. Voices of VR. I have just started to listen to this pod, but it embodies something that is inherent to the promise of podcasting. In short 15 min episodes, you can create a universe for people with the same interests, here Virtual Reality, and just nerd it out.

My top three Swedish speaking podcasts are:

  1. Hanna & Amanda. Queens of mixing ordinary talk with adverts and tips, much like AccraWeDey is heading towards I am imagining.
  2. En varg söker sin pod. Articulate “friend-pod” on popculture focusing on film, books, news and other pods intertwined with the lovely flow of intelligent discussion between two best friends in the Swedish creative industry.
  3. Kära barn. A podcast where people ask a midwife and psychologist questions relating to children ages 4-18. The expert’s tone of voice always makes me so calm! (Although I would maybe mot follow all advice)

My secret is I would love to have my own podcast, but can’t seem to get it together. I am hoping to learn from the experienced podcasters this evening what it takes!

This is the first in a series of Top Three on my blog. More to follow soon!

New Year, New Beginnings

File 2016-01-06 16 00 01Something about being human just clicks with new beginnings. They are chances to redeem our (wicked) ways and start fresh, kick off some new habits, become more productive and more…ourselves? As a educationist, the new year is not so much a new beginning compared with end of August when the new SCHOOL YEAR, but alas, I take what I can get.

This year, I aim to transform in the following six ways:

  1. Back to paper. There has just been too much screen time in my life lately. This needs to stop and one way of edging closer to this goal is my new paper calendar (see photo above). I always had one and stopped only a few years back when tech savvy friends were laughing at my Filofax.
  2. End justifies the means. No excuses towards the road to impact. I have a few fields I want to influence the world and nothing shall stop me. I will not need cheer or public acclaim, I just want my heart’s desire: to make a small impact with my short life.
  3. Less driving, more fun. After my car broke down last year, I had to live without it – and in some ways it was great. Yes, it does add uncomfortable minutes and sometimes hours to my commute, but also relaxation, connection and saving of resources.
  4. Dinner parties. I just love them, so why not have a few more of them in my life?
  5. Delegation. I want to do a lot so delegation becomes key. That means letting go of control and perfection for the benefit of more production and more time with my children at home, meanwhile the party must go on.
  6. More personal blogging. The trial I started last year went so well: both in terms of positive feedback and how writing the more personal posts make me feel.
  7. Charging for appearances. I have done my last free (non-academic) appearance. From now it costs money to hear me talk! I guess this is a version of delegation and getting stuff done. I had a few bad experiences with saying yes to free gigs last year, and will have none of that this year!

What are your new beginnings? And do let me know, if you want to attend a dinner party of mine! 

My Blogging Year 2015

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Summary of my blogging year:

My blogging year started out with a  resolution: to finish my Phd. How that went, you can see in the blog a created solely for my doctorate: Student Migration Aspirations. In February, dumsor got worse, the following month, I thought about the tech community in Ghana and started a nice convo about what is wrong with it. In April, I shared the top 7 tips on how to sleep during light off, in May I went to BlogCamp, Ghana Blogging and Social Media Awards and the #DumsorMustStop vigil, in June I didn’t write one single post (but thousands of words on my dissertation, in July, I submitted it!). August was spent in Sweden on vacations. In September, I was back with a life-(and blog-)crisis! In October, I decided to write more personal stuff here. Thanks for the positive feedback, especially to the first post on how much one should have in common with a spouse. The world changed with refugees flowing into Europe and Zone9 bloggers being freed in Ethiopia. Towards the end of the year, I introduced the Sunday Reads and increased my posts on politics and personal issues.

While the year started slow, I must say with dumsor and research slowing me down, I am happy the way I managed to find my passion for blogging again.

Did you read these three highlights?

1. Most read post:

The Power of Social Media – the case of Nana Aba Anamoah of TV 3

My view on this is that this is a historical moment for social media in Ghana. This sector has been seen as not “real”, something that happens outside of work. Hence most media personalities in Ghana have their own personal accounts, powered by their appearance on a legacy media channel, but run solely by themselves without any support, training, equipment, as well as away from attention from their employers.”

 

2. Most underestimated post:

Freedom is corruption?

“How does one cope on a personal level with all of this?

I have to say: I don’t know. I think do not cope very well! I get so angry and disturbed I cannot focus on much else on many days. I tweet, blog, and rant. I make plans to leave, I take deep breaths, and I laugh about it all. I try to balance the impressions.”

 

3. Most fun post:

Top 10 #NDCarols

“This Xmas season, Ghanaians have again used humor to deal with life situations. Under the hashtag #NDCcarols where NDC of course stands for the ruling party National Democratic Congress, Ghanaians have written their own renditions of famous christmas carols.”

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Happy new year all readers, please continue to follow me in this space – and if you want a reminder when a new post is out –  follow me on Facebook or Networked Blogs in 2016!

 

 

Freedom is Corruption?

Every week in Ghana, the headlines spew out new incredulous accusations of corruption. It is millions of Ghana cedis disappearing, or millions of Ghana cedis disappearing BUT found out and STILL NOT being payed back, inflated contracts being awarded, and after the painful truth about the Ghanaian justice system, this week we got it black on white even educational institutions are not following procedure. On top of this mess – that on some level also is positive as the rot is being reported on – I find it shocking that with each new topic, people around me say “but of course, this is how it has been since when I was a young…”

How does one cope on a personal level with all of this?

I have to say: I don’t know. I think do not cope very well! I get so angry and disturbed I cannot focus on much else on many days. I tweet, blog, and rant. I make plans to leave, I take deep breaths, and I laugh about it all. I try to balance the impressions.

I say to myself: Ghana is a country that does not meddle so much with citizens lives, I can more or less build what ever I want anywhere, drive at whatever speed I prefer on whatever side of the road, do whatever I like whether a street party or a business venture. But then again, this freedom is not as fun as it sounds. Even to a Swede coming from a cold, almost excessively state controlled environment. Mostly, this freedom seems it is just a freedom to be corrupt? To walk on others to get ahead? To overcharge and connive? To say “but madam, who will catch you?”* To destroy and walk off?

In the Ghanaian blogging community we have discussed when a tipping point will come for Ghana, if at all. Is it more likely with each big reveal? Or is it less? I get royally annoyed with those around me who say things like “well, this is Ghana” or “lets pray over it” or  “It will never change” or “getting annoyed doesn’t solve anything”. But sometimes, I also understand. It all seems so big and nebulous, like a monster we have to learn to live with.

Ghana’s leading investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, recently urged journalists to do more with the freedom we have here in Ghana:

“I think that when you look at the press freedom index Ghana scores very high. Ghana is not a place where you speak and somebody will clamp down on your rights. But now the issue is not about the rights but rather what we the journalists ought to do with that right.”

It is somehow so ironic that we all admire Anas, troop in our thousands to watch his reveals, but then that is it. People are not inspired to join the lone man’s struggle with the dragon?

Recently, someone told me a story of how a relative was in trouble with the law and payed something to a person at the municipal court to walk free. The twist to the story was that person in power accepting a bribe to drop the case now holds a higher position in the national government. We all look on, we all know, but who acts?

 

*Migration officer in uniform told me this when I was not given a three-year residence permit without the right to work.

This post is part of my new series of more personal posts to be posted on Fridays, Personal Friday

 

 

Speaker at the ASME 2015

ASME2015 Kajsa-Hallberg-AduI have been invited to speak at the Vodafone African SME Summit 2015. The summit takes place 5-7 November, 2015 and has the theme; “Dreaming Africa”.

 

I will be speaking from the BloggingGhana/Social Media perspective in the panel called “Changing the conversation on Africa’s media front” on Thursday 5 Nov, 2.05-2.45pm  My co-panelists are Bernard Avle, CitiFm and Teophilus Yartey, Graphic Business.

Other speakers are Emmanuel Gamor of Impact Accra Hub, Nana Akosua Hanson of YFM, and Frederick Deegbe, Heel The World Shoes and many more!

I will share my slides here after my presentation.

Hope to see you there!

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BLOG ACTION DAY #BAD15: #RaiseYourVoice Against Online Injustices

Late last year, I went to Ethiopia. I had a wonderful stay and learned about the Ethiopian food and coffee culture and made lovely friends. Ethiopia left me with memories for life. But I also knew, going there, that bloggers who had criticised the government had been thrown in jail.badblueonwhite-participant

The nine bloggers and journalists were members of Zone9, an organization that I imagine have similarities to the organization I started in Ghana with a friend, BloggingGhana. Read more about their case on the Advox site Global Voices set up for the campaign to #FreeZone9Bloggers. Despite only being in the country for a few days, the knowledge of that I was in a country where they jailed bloggers for criticising the government had an eerie and immediate impact on me.

FEAR
The damage of jailing bloggers is twofold, the personal damage to those individuals and the much larger example it sets. On my first day in Ethiopia, my hotel told me they had Internet issues, and I did not push for a resolution. When Internet arrived on day 2, I thought hard about what I tweeted and instagrammed from Ethiopia. I posted only photos and no words about my stay there. I made sure to not mention to anyone I was a blogger as I did not know how much of bad connotations that might have. I felt fear in my gut. It is a sad thing, to limit your thoughts, your creativity, and your imagination. I was just a visitor for a few days. I can’t help but think what that fear would do to a country over time. Would people discuss political developments? Criticise people in power when service delivery is poor? Would people think creatively or would they, just like I did, censor themselves?
ACCESS TO INTERNET
A different aspect of #RaiseYourVoice is access to Internet that is limited in many places all over the world, both for political reasons,  lack of (electricity and data) infrastructure, and/or simply the cost. According to the UN broadband commission more than half of the world’s population is offline. Ethiopia a case in point with only 1,9% Internet penetration, compared to Ghana’s 20,1% and Africa average of 26,5%. For the world its over 40% (numbers from InternetWorldStats.com). As a blogger in Africa, I am constantly reminded, that having access to the same tools as I have (broadband and laptop) is for the lucky few. Then last week, Google announced plans of laying fibre in Ghana and Uganda in Project Link and Facebook launched a project beaming Internet to Africa by satellite. Is that not great news? Rather,  in my view it is quite worrying. In an era go knowledge, the important issue of access to Internet in Africa is taken over by multinationals with their own agenda and already strong grips on the Internet globally.
SHARING OF INFORMATION
Internet is a game changer as it has the ability to bring the people of the world closer. Sharing information, once created, is next to free. When I finish writing this blogpost, how many will read it? Maybe one person (Hi Dad!), but it might also be 100 or 1000 or even 10 000. The cost is the same to me to spread my views. On the other end of the sharing, this means a university student in Ghana potentially can have the same access to written knowledge as a student anywhere else! We can all be up to date with latest scientific findings. 10 years ago, this was science fiction!
WHAT WE CAN DO
There are no easy solutions, but governments all over the world should be persuaded (by us!) to step away from fear and have faith in the power of freedom, on and offline. Individually, we have to take inspiration from the Zone9-bloggers and speak up. However, we also need better access to the Internet for the masses. I think we should think about who owns this infrastructure. It will cost, but yield returns, because when we can think freely, communicate freely, share information freely, we can also create better solutions to our problems. 
At BloggingGhana I often repeat: Every time you go online, don’t just consume. Produce too. Share your life and views with the world. Create more stories!
SOME TIPS FOR #RAISINGYOURVOICE:
  • Post a photo on a social network showing something that maybe has no representation online, it could be a street, a practise, or a portrait and a brief interview with someone.
  • Show someone who do not have access to Internet what it is all about. Use your or their phone, or go into an Internet cafe.
  • Craft a Facebook-update to challenge oppressive views.
  • Spread the word on Alliance for Affordable Internet and their data.
  • Join Global Voices as a Volunteer Writer, Translator, or Partner.
  • Write a blog post where you #RaiseYourVoice to fill the void when another blogger has been silenced by fear or lack of access.

This post is part of the Blog Action Day 2015, with the theme #RaiseYourVoice. 

My earlier Blog Action Posts can be found here: 2008 on Poverty2009 on Climate Change, 2010 on Water, and 2012 on the Power of We