I’m Back! With a Life Crisis, Post-PhD Blues, and Blog Fatigue

Vacation is over. Work has begun. I am back.

However, the sweet hopefulness of new beginnings that surround each start of a new school year has this year eloped me. Sadly, instead of feeling triumphant and light about my submission of my manuscript, I now feel rather lost and blue.

I don’t know what goal to aim for.

I don’t know where to go from here.

I don’t know what I want to do with the rest of my life!

Is this the post-PhD blues people talk about? Or a full-blown life crisis?

I don’t even know what to blog about. Ghanaian politics seem more opaque than ever. Should I be more of a lifestyle blogger, perhaps? Showing you my (perfect) kids, my (well intended) DIY-projects, and my (always failed) herb garden? Or more like my fav academic blogger Chris Blattman, wittily summarising the interesting research debates I engage in, mixed with lists of links to great reads? Should I join other bloggers and start a podcast and simply talk to you, dear reader?

Well, for now I am lost. Or as it is put as the textbook chapter I happen to teach next week, I am “learning to wallow in complexity”. If someone out there has an opinion on what I should do with my life (or blog!), I’d love your input.

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3 #DumsorMustStop Vigil Lessons

Here are my three take-aways from today’s #DumsorMustStop vigil.

1. A few people, in this case celebrities, can make a difference. Thanks to their leadership, we were given a venue to speak up. The feeling of walking down the street with 1000 (2000?) others who also think we deserve better was like…a cold shower after a night under a non-moving fan.

2. We can do better. More people can show up next time, but more importantly, those who come should know how powerful we are if we optimise the protest in terms of:

  • spacing (one arms length to the person in front of you one to the person next to you),
  • speed (slowly, like a tortoise winning against the hare!) and
  • place ( you want to walk ON THE ROAD to create maximum impact of the protest, not on the curb, etc).

3. Clearly, Ghanaians are tired of sitting in the dark. Seeing thousands of Ghanaians dressed in black floating down the street holding candles and kerosene lamps – and one fridge! –  must be the government’s nightmare.

Tomorrow Sunday 17 May, 2015, at 3.30pm BloggingGhana will discuss the vigil and how social media can play a role in #DumsorMustStop. If you want to attend, let us know here.

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#BlogCamp15 Coming Soon

BloggingGhana proudly presents the fourth BlogCamp – in Kumasi –  with the theme “Social Media for Good” this Saturday May 9th, 2015.
BlogCamp 13 collage
BlogCamp is a full day networking and educational event is for bloggers and social media enthusiasts, and as I know I have many among my readership, I hope to see some of you there! There will be a PhotoWalk in Kumasi suburbs, talks and panels on the topical topic as well as general workshops on blogging, photography and social media for business.

Register to secure your free ticket. (Information on buses from Accra when you have your ticket)

I will be Tweeting away, shaking as many hands as I can and try to in every possible way embody BloggingGhana’s two foundational pillars: technology and friendship!
So, if for some reason you cannot be physically present, follow #BlogCamp15 on Twitter and other social media channels on Saturday!
Photo Collage from BlogCamp13. Read about BlogCamp12, 14.
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Busy Week and Ghana Blogging and Social Media Awards

Last week was spectacular and spectacularly busy. The semester at Ashesi is wrapping up, my daughter is on break from school and BloggingGhana has its events season. Last week, as I mentioned in an earlier blog post, was Ghana Blogging and Social Media Awards. This week is BlogCampGhana in Kumasi (get your own free ticket here!).


The awards night was amazing. The highlight for me was walking the red carpet and seing the venue in all its beautiful lighting and décor courtesy of PlanIt events. My colleagues were also looking fabulous and it was a pleasure to talk to a joined social media crowd away from keyboard as we say…

GBSMA collage first

I spoke about the journey of BloggingGhana from 2008 until today.

GBSMA collage general

I also presented the award to best new Blog. The award was given to YesiYesi, Ghana’s first satire news site, much well deserved in my view.

GBSMA collage Present

The team had done a great job and the energy of Ghana’s most active social media users in one room was palpable. I wish you had all been there!

 All photos courtesy of BloggingGhana’s FB page and tweaked by Pixlr.

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Ghana Blogging and Social Media Awards 2015

Its the time of the year to find out who are the best achievers in the social media space in Ghana! On Saturday, the first ever standalone Ghana Blogging and Social Media Awards take place at the Coconut Grove Regency Hotel in Accra (BlogCamp is coming up in Kumasi on May 9th, 2015).
Ghana BlogOn Saturday night, I will be the opening speaker and hope to see many old and new faces there. Naa Oyoo hopes we will be well-dressed , she writes:

For the last two award nights, its been jeans, t-shirts, converse, flats, sneakers, shorts, backpacks and totes. None of that this year please! This year’s award’s ceremony will be taking place at the Coconut Grove Regency Hotel and the dress code is formal or traditional.

TV News anchor Bridget Otoo will be the MC and BloggingGhana “stars” such as photographer Nana Kofi Acquah and new media manager Mawuli Tsikata will showcase their work/speak.

I am quite excited about this year’s edition – so officially the curtains are drawn, the hype is up, and I need to go find a dress! 

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Reference on Dumsor

My colleague Steve (by the way he has a blog with beautiful photos) informed me my blog post from a few weeks back was a reference in the Wikipedia article on Dumsor!

Here is the evidence!

Screenshot 2015-03-26 17.47.26

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What’s Wrong with the Tech Community in Ghana?

Non tech-managers, poor salaries and high demands – everyday life for computer engineers, coders and techies in Ghana. 

  1. This morning, I ran into a Twitter convo that started with a bloated job ad, obviously written by someone who didn’t even know what skill they were looking for! Some annoyed techies were venting. I jumped in, added a few people to the debate and suggested:
  2. Maybe this convo–> one of Gh’s tech spaces. How do we grow the industry& respect skill? @nukturnal @edemkumodzi @ivanTD@enyok @EmekaOkoye
  3. Don’t despair, organize is my humble suggestion. Bloggers in Ghana need to do the same. @edemkumodzi @nukturnal @ivanTD @enyok@EmekaOkoye
  4. But the problem is hydra headed! Lets see what different elements there are:
  5. 1. Non-tech managers of computer engineers
  6. @kajsaha @nukturnal @ivanTD @enyok @EmekaOkoye companies shld start by respecting themselves. Some job adverts we’ve seen is an insult.
  7. @kajsaha @nukturnal @ivanTD @enyok @EmekaOkoye understand what you are really hiring for and find the best you can for that specific thing.
  8. @kajsaha @edemkumodzi @ivanTD @enyok @EmekaOkoyeCompanies should understand a team sometimes have “Ronaldos” & “Messis”. U av to manage it.
  9. @kajsaha @edemkumodzi @ivanTD @enyok @EmekaOkoye Many local tech companies fail to realise a skilled engineer brings more than just “Code”
  10. @kajsaha @edemkumodzi @ivanTD @enyok @EmekaOkoye Football is not about just kicking the ball, Messi & Ronaldo both amplify this…
  11. @kajsaha @nukturnal @ivanTD @enyok @EmekaOkoye they are being managed by non post-technical managers. They end up feeling undervalued.
  12. @kajsaha @edemkumodzi @ivanTD @enyok @EmekaOkoye The biggest treat to our local tech industry is non tech CEOs or Managers.
  13. @kajsaha @edemkumodzi @ivanTD @enyok @EmekaOkoye I have 12+ prof yrs of exp in our local tech scene. Non Technical managers are killing it.
  14. Techies will continue to earn less in africa bcos patronage of local tech is poor. @enyok @nukturnal @edemkumodzi @ivanTD @kajsaha
  15. …better than non-technical or technical is apparently post-technical!
  16. @ivanTD @EmekaOkoye @nukturnal @kajsaha @enyok Enyo is brillant!! She’s post-technical, she understands what needs to be done.
  17. @edemkumodzi @ivanTD @EmekaOkoye @nukturnal @kajsaha lol. post-technical never sounded like such a compliment! lol. hey, COBOL still exists!
  18. 2. Poor salaries and incentives
  19. @nukturnal@edemkumodzi @ivanTD @enyok @EmekaOkoyeMany top engineers end up leaving to the non tech sector…”<<Reasons in your view?
  20. @kajsaha @edemkumodzi @ivanTD @enyok @EmekaOkoye They pay chicken feed and expect Kilimanjaro returns. It does not work like that.
  21. @kajsaha @edemkumodzi @ivanTD @enyok @EmekaOkoye When I hear tech companies complaining that banks are taking all the top engineers, I smile
  22. @kajsaha @edemkumodzi @ivanTD @enyok @EmekaOkoye They leave to the Banks, where they are paid more and do less work and they value goes up.
  23. @kajsaha @edemkumodzi @ivanTD @enyok @EmekaOkoye Top engineers work 24/7 even if they don’t want to, you cannot eecape it.
  24. @nukturnal @kajsaha @edemkumodzi @enyok @EmekaOkoyesometimes there’s no point in all the hardwork when you don’t get a good pay. Big factor
  25. I hear you. And maybe share profits with workers as bonuses? #TechinAfrica @nukturnal @edemkumodzi @ivanTD @enyok@EmekaOkoye
  26. @nukturnal@sboots2 @enyok @EmekaOkoye @edemkumodzi@ivanTD ..post on why top engineers eventually leave the industry.” <<do share link!
  27. Techies that chase money will always jump ship to other sectors while the passionate remains @enyok @nukturnal @edemkumodzi@ivanTD @kajsaha
  28. 3. The tech scene is not sufficiently organized
  29. @kajsaha @edemkumodzi @ivanTD @enyok @EmekaOkoye As an industry we don’t have any representation. All policies are passed by non tech head.
  30. @enyok @kajsaha @Storify @sboots2 @EmekaOkoye@edemkumodzi @ivanTD One problem too, many techies just think about code code code code
  31. @enyok @kajsaha @Storify @sboots2 @EmekaOkoye@edemkumodzi @ivanTD They don’t care about policies and other things around them
  32. Techies need to collaborate. Presently their attitude sucks. Collabo helps bootstrap biz. @enyok @nukturnal @edemkumodzi @ivanTD@kajsaha
  33. 4. Instead of collaborating, we have mostly start-ups/small businesses
  34. Ind basis=sad,industry basis =disaster.Gh will never’ve a big tech company if no change! @nukturnal @edemkumodzi @ivanTD @enyok@EmekaOkoye
  35. @EmekaOkoye @nukturnal @edemkumodzi @ivanTD @kajsaha we have to create the market. this is no different than any other PS field that grew up
  36. @kajsaha @nukturnal @edemkumodzi @ivanTD @EmekaOkoye It really only takes 1 company to do it differently and start making the change.
  37. @enyok @nukturnal @ivanTD @EmekaOkoye @kajsaha All this is going to change soon. As Enyo said, all it takes is one company! Just one …
  38. @enyok @EmekaOkoye @edemkumodzi @ivanTD @kajsaha this is why 90% of the people here want to start their own companies.
  39. +10 @nukturnal! not every1 builds companies. we shld each know & do what we do best. @EmekaOkoye @edemkumodzi @ivanTD@kajsaha #TechinAfrica
  40. 5. Tech scene not united with government
  41. Techies will continue to earn less in africa bcos patronage of local tech is poor. @enyok @nukturnal @edemkumodzi @ivanTD @kajsaha
  42. @nukturnal @EmekaOkoye @edemkumodzi @ivanTD @kajsaha we need techies also in civil service to beef up gov tech strategy. #TechinAfrica
  43. @enyok @kajsaha @Storify @sboots2 @EmekaOkoye@edemkumodzi @ivanTD We cannot bait gov with a mindset like that. Our positioning is weak.
  44. @nukturnal @kajsaha @Storify @sboots2 @EmekaOkoye@edemkumodzi @ivanTD Our positioning is INDEED far too weak. Let’s change the narrative.
  45. @nukturnal @EmekaOkoye @edemkumodzi @ivanTD @kajsaha#TechinAfrica must change it’s horizon to effectively collaborate with govt.
  46. @EmekaOkoye @enyok @edemkumodzi @ivanTD @kajsaha adhoc prevents premeditated taught which prevents us from setting goals for the future.
  47. @enyok @nukturnal @EmekaOkoye @edemkumodzi @kajsaha Govt’s and #TechinAfrica are like wild beasts. Once they get along, it’ll be amazing….
  48. Govt must improve human capacity development in tech. This is fundamental. @enyok @nukturnal @edemkumodzi @ivanTD@kajsaha
  49. Next steps…
  50. So my initial suggestion was let’s bring the convo to one of the… @enyok @Storify @nukturnal @sboots2 @EmekaOkoye@edemkumodzi @ivanTD
  51. …first debrief- collect the problems THEN organize. Solutionize. @enyok @Storify @nukturnal @sboots2 @EmekaOkoye@edemkumodzi @ivanTD
  52. @nukturnal @kajsaha @Storify @sboots2 @EmekaOkoye@edemkumodzi @ivanTD Same here. Will come back with IRL + TweetChat host date & time.
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BloggingGhana moves to iSpace

Since Feb 1st, 2015 BloggingGhana is housed with iSpace in Osu. 

iSpace is a collaborative working space that offers desks, meeting rooms and a community for start-ups, just what BloggingGhana needs!

So from now on, BloggingGhana can be found at iSpace!

This post was also posted on BloggingGhana’s blog

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Interview for Social Media Week Lagos

Screenshot 2015-01-27 11.31.23Today I am interviewed for Social Media Week Lagos on how BloggingGhana started , what has happened since and my view on social media in Ghana. 

Q: Against other major countries like South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya where a majority of its youth are using digital and social media to grow, strengthen their businesses, and to move the country forward. Where does Ghana square up? 

A: Yeah, the same thing is happening in Ghana. I think the development is best described as revolutionary; now you can run a successful business from home powered by Instagram, through applications such as Google Maps you can find things you could not find before, by using Facebook and Twitter young people in Ghana are increasing their political engagement. Maybe a difference to the African countries you mentioned, Ghana is much smaller. It has several advantages, one is the tech scene is like a family. We all know each other.

I am happy to see that social media communities are really taking root on the continent, there is a SMW for Copenhagen, London and LA and many other places as well, and in Ghana, we have our BlogCamp that launched last week Friday.

See all of my answers here.



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My Only New Year’s Resolution 2015

…is finishing my PhD.

photo5 years in, two kids later, one pending extension of program, 100s of pages written and 1000s of articles read – this madness must stop so I can summarise what I have learned and move on to other projects.

This year it is therefore happening: I will submit my dissertation! And I am telling everybody! My family, my boss, my friends, now you!

You can help me by asking how it goes, offering to entertain my children and please just stop giving me “interesting stuff” to read.

I will be chronicling my progress weekly over at the blog for my research website Student Migration Aspirations.

What resolution have you made for the new year?

Read some other academic new year’s resolutions.

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My Blogging Year 2014

It has been a sad year in many ways. A year of death, disease and loss for me and many others. I have also worked hard on my four careers – social media, research, teaching and family life!

Screenshot 2014-12-30 00.14.03(2)
Sad moments
The year started on a sad note for me, my blog had gone missing. I learned to do more regular backups.

End of the Word?

Then people died. People that were amazing, successful and well-known or I just knew well. Komla Dumor died in January, Shirley Temple (who had a surprising link to Ghana I found out) in February, in April my favourite author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, in August Emmanuel Okyere, in November my dear Godmother who had been sick for some time passed away. In December, I lost fellow obruni blogger Mad in Ghana. Ebola hit some countries in West Africa but affected us all.

Blog scoops
Getting to debate on Twitter with a sitting minister of state was amazing, although I was smashed pretty hard over the head by Hanna Tetteh, Ghana’s minister of Foreign Affairs in a debate about the tourism policy. Another citizen journalism highlight was when I broke the news on the hole in the Accra-Tema motorway on my blog.

Plenty Politics
Current debates in Ghana covered on my blog included if a government university should be allowed to charge a toll to enter its campus, the State of the Nation address, race, women in electoral politics, inflation, the world cup, power problems and corruption. Many times we laughed and cried at the same time at our issues…

I worked hard!
My work was covered on my blog as well. For instance, my writing process and a one month stay at the Nordic Africa institute, teaching social theory at Ashesi University College. I wrote an article about Nigerian political protests and tweeted in English from Almedalen in Sweden. I also attended a conference, seminars and a workshop.

BloggingGhana stuff
We had a fast year! We were mentioned in The Guardian, got our own office or hub, organised BlogCamp and BlogAwards…

I also branched out into Instagram and Pinterest and had the most active year ever on Twitter.
But most importantly, I became the mother of another girl! 

Thank you for reading my blog in 2014! I will be back in 2015 with much more…

See earlier yearly summaries: 2012, 2011
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Ashesi’s Cool Students

ubuntuThis time of year, millions of students across the globe start their academic year, so also on a hill in the small town of Berkuso in  Ghana for students of Ashesi University College. As I teach mostly freshmen, I think of their journey – even during parental leave days filled with baby wipes, small socks and feedings.

At this point I read Akotowaa’s funny blogpost about Ashesi coolness. She writes:

In my head, there’s like, this group of the ‘cool Ghanaians’ […] Should I start calling out names? Deborah Frempong, Paapa, Michael Annor, Jessica Boifio, Lauretta (the coolest ballet teacher in the world), Kobla (the creator of Oware 3D) etc… The list goes on. But what most – though certainly not all – of the names I have in mind have in common is Ashesi.

First theory: when you get accepted into Ashesi, they perform numerous strange juju rituals over your documents and then let you join the cult, making you automatically cool.

Second theory: the GMI (I just made that up. It stands for Ghana Military Intelligence) comes to Ashesi to ‘talk’ to all the new recruits, and deliver the top secrets of the keys to success as a Ghanaian and swear them to secrecy.

Third theory: The teachers and the way they teach the students are cool.

Of course, this is the least exciting of all the theories, but whatever. Apparently, people like to be ‘realistic’ or something weird like that. Erm…

To this least exciting theory that the writer later zooms in on, I would like to add three things:
  1. Yep, teachers at Ashesi are cool. To the list of (very cool) lecturers such as Dela Kumahor, Kobina Graham and Ayorkor Korsah, I want to add virtually all other faculty. Their varying backgrounds, spark in eye and motivations make them amazing! In addition, I’d say all staff too are cool. (To get to know us better, check out staff and Arts and Sciences, Business and Computing faculty on the Ashesi Website).
  2. Yep, the way we teach at Ashesi is different, we follow the liberal arts method – you learn a lot about many things, about the world around you, about different ways of thinking (statistics, history of ideas, programming, leadership…), about problem solving, about working together, about questioning what is. You learn for life, not for the exam (hopefully).
  3. Finally, the cool Ghanaians mentioned in the list – many of who I am proud to say have been my students – are indeed cool, but not because of interaction with cool faculty and staff at Ashesi, nor because of the Liberal Arts the have imbibed, but because they have been encouraged over four years to grow THEMSELVES.  To be who they really are. To not be afraid of their ideas. To take themselves seriously and as much as possible do the best they can for a brighter future. And that is powerful. And quite cool.
Around this time, more than 100 freshmen are trying to find their way around the green Ashesi campus, get to know their classmates and check out kilos of books from the library.  (I am at home, comforting a baby and picking  up Lego from the floor). It might not seem so, but for these students, these are the first steps to coolness and an exciting journey into themselves.
Ps. Akotowaa, I was impressed by your on point observations after just one week on campus. I am guessing you might apply to join Ashesi full time? And also you are a swell blogger, why not join BloggingGhana?
Photo from a summer course I taught at Ashesi last year.
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