Remembering Emmanuel Yaw Amofa Okyere

I was just reached by the horrible news that developer, social entrepreneur and friend Emmanuel Yaw Amofa Okyere had passed away.

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I remember the first time we met. He came to a BloggingGhana meeting, I believe at Starbites in East Legon, and I noticed him as a new face right away. A head taller than everybody else with a wide smile on a handsome face, he stood out. He listened in to the likely long meeting and towards the end made some remarks on how he could help our organisation. I can’t remember exactly what he offered, but I remember it was generous and involved personal involvement on his side. I also remember his infectious smile later when we said goodbye. After this, we would meet regularly at iSpace, BlogCamps, Data BootCamp and other tech events. He would often be called “Chief” by his colleagues and friends.

Emmanuel Okyere and Nehemiah Attigah’s Odekro initiative was one I very much respected and was inspired by. Their latest project was a simple way for people to find voting registration centres – GotToVote.

As a digital citizen, upon hearing the news I went to his Facebook wall and to his Twitter page. His final tweet was almost spooky, as he promised a friend to teach him chess this weekend, but also testament to his helpful ways.

I can’t believe this kind and exceptional man is gone. Although Emmanuel’s passing is a huge blow to the tech and civic engagement community, I fear he will leave an even greater void privately. My thoughts go out to his wife and daughter, colleagues and friends.

Photo borrowed from Sunlight Foundation.

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World Cup Discussions in Social Media in Ghana: Black Stars and Mahama

While games are ongoing in Brazil and the very popular Ghanaian team, the Black Stars, are still in the game playing Portugal later today…they seem to lose the news cycle game every day to the Ghanaian president, John Dramani Mahama.

Black Narrator

The top issues have been so far:

1. Electricity and the World Cup.

What happened: For some time now, Ghana’s power supply has been erratic. Since mid-May, the country has experienced scheduled breaks in supply. Just before the world cup, the government came out to say electricity supply will be enough for all during the World Cup.

Public verdict: I haven’t seen one single positive comment to this intervention. Although Ghanaians LOVE soccer, it seems the public opinion would prefer electricity during working hours to be able to be productive…

2. Can you insult your president?

What happened:  Before the Germany game, the president Tweeted that he had talked to the players and encouraged them that they could take on the German team. The issue quickly became politicized and many wrote angry comments to the post.

Public verdict: Here my social media friends seemed to be split between those who thought the president have more important things to do than talk strategy with fotball players and those who found the intervention worthwhile. Many however stressed that a president is president for the nation and should not be insulted.

3. Appearance fee sent by plane.

What happened: The Black Stars had been promised an appearance fee that did not come and the team expressed disappointment. Next we knew, a plane left Ghana with the appearance fee of USD 75000 for each player – (“incredibly”, says the Guardian) in cash.

Public verdict: Questions galore! Why should the team hold a poor country to ransom? How could the government prioritize this, when key functions in the country are down? (fuel crisis and owing money to school feeding programs, health professionals etc.) Why was the money sent in a plane with cash and not wired into accounts? Many were also embarrassed to see international media discuss the issue.

It seems politics and fotball intersect once again! To discuss these issues and others surrounding the World Cup, BloggingGhana’s project InformGhana will be running a Twitter discussion today between 1-3 PM Ghana time. 

 Follow @informGhana on Twitter and chip in with the hashtag #Sports4Dev

 

 

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My Writing Process

Yesterday, I was happy, humbled and surprised to find that Anna Leonhard/Room To Grow had featured me in her post on her own writing process. This is what she wrote about me:

Screenshot 2014-06-11 09.44.25I was immediately inspired to write about my writing and pass on the torch to others. The format is four questions and features of three other writers, who then are encouraged to do the same. Here we go!

What am I working on?

My writing has always been manyfold, since I learned how to write – I keep some kind of private diary (currently through the app Gratitude Diary), I write for the world on kajsaha.com, I write for school – just now on a one-month-research-stay at the Nordic Africa Institute on my dissertation on migration aspirations among Ghanaian University Students, I write in my work, most recently comments on 110 final papers. I always have a creative writing project going as well, but currently it is not my focus.

 How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Does it? I do not think I aim to be different from anybody else, however I feel my blog covers a lacunae in the blogosphere by topic as very few blogs (although now in their 100s ) are written out of Ghana and the Ghanaian experience.

Why do I write what I do?

I live by writing! One of the most uncomfortable things for me is being somewhere without a notebook. As soon as I learned how to write, I have been a prolific producer of texts. I can’t help it.

How does my writing process work?

I live to write, which means all the things I do can end up on a screen or paper. This becomes a lifestyle and documenting that lifestyle is my writing process. I write during the day, a little bit in the evening and I dream of my writing projects and take notes for them 24/7.

For work/studies I do a lot of rewrites (but almost never for the blog) and for some odd reason keep all my drafts. I also keep a dedicated file called “killed darlings” for all projects as I loathe deleting anything I have written. Moving it to a “killed darlings” file seems easier to me.

I am passing #MyWritingProcess on to three creative writers in Ghana, all working on book projects at the moment – I want to know how to write a book!

Fiona Leonard

AntiRhythm

Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah

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Upcoming BloggingGhana Events!

BloggingGhana feb 2014BloggingGhana had a wonderful meeting in February (see photo above) and when looking forward, many exciting things are happening: BlogCamp is around the corner, we are getting ready to move into our new Social Media Hub (see the film here!) and soon new executives (maybe you?) will steer the ship!

Here is a list of important dates:
 
March 
Sunday 23, 3-6 PM March meet up – our first meeting in the new hub! (From now on we will meet there unless otherwise indicated!)
April
Saturday 5, 3-6 PM, Pre-BlogCamp Event with guests
Sunday 6, Midnight, Deadline for Executive nominations (form to follow) and proposals.
Saturday, 12 All Day BlogCamp and the Social Media Awards!
May
Sunday 11, 4-6 PM, Annual General Meeting (AGM). Come and vote! FOR PAYING MEMBERS ONLY, pay by April 12th to participate! Membership details here.
 
Please RSVP to events and find more details on BloggingGhana’s FB page!
This post can also be found on BloggingGhana’s blog.

 

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Victoria Okoye on Accra in the Guardian: BloggingGhana Mentioned!

BloggingGhana was last week featured in the Guardian by their Blogger of the Week, our own Victoria Okoye/ African Urbanism.

“There’s BloggingGhana, an organised group of bloggers hitting on everything from everyday issues to politics, art, fashion to leading initiatives for greater transparency in elections, government and social action.”

Screenshot 2014-03-12 12.23.13Read Victoria’s whole article here.

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YesiYesi, Falling Cedi and Laughter: Ghanaians and their Political Humor

Screenshot 2014-02-18 10.29.06Probably I should not put this in a blogpost, but rather write an abstract together for an academic paper with my inspiring colleague who writes about Ghanaian politics in just this way.

Anyways, I am thrilled that YesiYesi now provides almost daily, online satire with “the onion”-like twists of Ghanaian daily news. It is the first time someone (who?) has put together online versions of the very typical Ghanaian, political humour online in such a consistent manner. In a blog! (Please join BloggingGhana!) In the last few days we have read about …Justin Bieber moving to Ghana, Ghanaian women refusing Valentine’s gifts if the Cedi can stabilise, Ghanaians soon being able to go to UK without a Visa, and my favorite, KNUST charging  toll for walking on the pavement, the rate based on your foot wear…chale wote was cheapest…haha, I have to laugh just by thinking about it!

Finally, Ghana has its own news satire, and, YesiYesi, it is on point!

 

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BloggingGhana in 2014: #MoreStories

This year, my organisation BloggingGhana is taking a giant leap forward by getting our own physical space: Ghana’s first social media hub. But we need help to create opportunities for #morestories to be told. Over the next month and a few more days, we are trying to crowd-source USD 10 000 for our new office. You can be a part of our success!

See our video (featuring my colleague Edward and myself!)

Donate on Indiegogo!

 

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Mango Tree Trumphs Broad Band!

A tree fell on our phone line nine days ago and it has still not been rectified (hrm, Vodafone) – normally I blog from home, but now that is impossible. And I wanted to tell you all about the solar eclipse, my Google styled office and the #PayPal4Ghana campaign.

I hope to be back here soon! 

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International Conference on African Studies #ICAS13 at Legon, Ghana

You have the mic.This week, my department, the Institute of African Studies at University of Ghana is organizing a major conference on the theme: “Revisiting the first international congress of Africanists in a globalised world”. The three day conference is apart of the institute’s 50th anniversary celebration and also links to the 1963 convention for Africanists opened by Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumah. This conference will be opened by the current president, John Dramani Mahama!

Key note speakers are Kenyan professor and writer Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, professor Fatou Sow, specialist in gender studies and Dr. Carlos Lopez from the UN Economic Commission for Africa. Almost all the big names in the world of African Studies seem to be in the program, framed by exhibits, cultural performances and receptions.

I will be involved in two capacities – as a PhD candidate of the institute obviously I have to present a paper. Mine is a slight deviation from my PhD research project – concerned with migration aspirations among university students in Ghana –  instead this paper is on the future of graduate school in Africa. My presentation time is just after the conference opening on Thursday afternoon (Session A, Panel 3, Computer room of the INstitute at 12.20-2.00 PM to be exact). In addition to being a presenter, I have volunteered to handle social media for the conference. So you can follow the institute account for proceedings on Facebook and Twitter or follow the hashtag #ICAS13.

I will be posting here on my blog during the conference as well.

So let’s wish  all international participants welcome and while we are at it, please wish me luck!

Photo from an earlier post on AiD.

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BloggingGhana is 5 Years!

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Ghana’s first organization for social media users, BloggingGhana, announces its five year anniversary. BloggingGhana started with eight members back in July 2008 and has since met monthly and today lists 250 blogs and has 40 active members.

 

Highlights include founding Ghana’s first social media awards, moderating online discussions around the 2012 elections through the GhanaDecides project and holding social media workshops for organizations around the country including the yearly BlogCamp conference.

 

Co-founder and Chair of BloggingGhana, Kajsa Hallberg Adu says:

– I am happy the group of individuals that came together in 2008 is today a tool for positive change in Ghana. We have just concluded the GhanaDecides project which by all measures was a success and we are in the planning stage for upcoming projects using technology for more voices to be heard. We also welcome new members!

 

The anniversary is celebrated with a birthday party on Sat 21 Sept, 2013 together with Bless The Mic, a platform for upcoming artists in Ghana, also celebrating five years. Bless The Mic will be celebrating with a string of events starting the same weekend. At the party BloggingGhana’s new aggregator website will be launched.

 

Learn more about BloggingGhana on BloggingGhana.org or follow us on Facebook.com/bloggingghana or on Twitter @Bloggingghana

 

***

Kajsa Hallberg Adu 0249187210 kajsa@bloggingghana.org

Edward Amartey-Tagoe 0244709575 edward@bloggingghana.org

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Blogging report – How Bloggers Around the World Practise Their Craft

See Christopher Connell’s insightful report including interviews with 10 bloggers from around the world – including me (p. 16) on what bloggers really do.

He writes:

Today, blogging serves as an example of how the digital media have broken down barriers between producers of content and audiences: Those who once passively received information now have the ability to interact with it, to create forums for debate. Content distributed by mainstream producers is mixed, mashed up, refurbished, expanded upon, and released back into the Web with a unique piquancy. The diversity of views espoused via blogging platforms brings with it a host of challenges in the blogosphere, among them, increasing restriction on speech or prosecution for opinions. As bloggers are increasingly targeted in repressive states and treated with the same impunity as journalists, the line between blogs and news blurs–a voice online is of value, whether its owner holds a press pass or not.

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An excerpt from my interview:

At first she downplayed the inconveniences, including the almost daily power outages, but after a while, “I took a conscious move away from just framing it in rosy words and talking about the beauties of Ghana,” said the blogger and college lecturer, now Kajsa Hallberg Adu. “Now I tell it from my perspective” with the frustrations (“Sometimes I just want to cry because why can we not get our act together and provide water?”) and joys (the “beautiful opportunities” for students crowding a career fair at her college). Now she labels her eponymous KajsaHA blog as “personal, political and sometimes positive.”

Full report (PDF)

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