Sponsoring Education: A Small Act

Just heard about the documentary A Small Act. The heartwarming story about a Swedish lady and a Kenyan school boy starts like this:

When Hilde Back sponsored a young, impoverished Kenyan student, she thought nothing of it. She paid roughly $15 dollars per term to keep him in primary school. She certainly never expected to hear from him, but many years later, she does.  The small contribution she made paid off – Chris Mburu went all the way to Harvard. Now, he’s a respected UN human rights lawyer, dedicating his life to battling genocide and crimes against humanity.

Many years later, Mburu decides to himself start a educational fund for needy children, much like himself growing up. What is so special about Mburu’s fund is he doesn’t take the credit for it, but rather decides to give it his benefactor’s name. Hilde Back educated one boy and he is now in a position to educate more children. The small act doesn’t seem so small anymore…

Doesn’t it sound just wonderful?

But then the election comes up in Kenya with all the confusion and violence. Also, few students seem to qualify for his fund due to poor elementary schooling. What happens now to the fund?

The film also has a blog, in which the filmmaker Jennifer Arnold tells us some interesting behind the screen stories, here is one about the screening for the Kenyans appearing in the film.

I told them I brought the film back, so they would know exactly what audiences would see and I wanted to answer any questions they had about what I had put in the story. Slowly they started to talk, telling me they didn’t think the film would be as real as it was. They said it was very, very touching. It made them feel both happy and sad. In the end they said the film showed the truth, and because it was all true it was good that I was going to show it, both here and abroad.

After the talk was done. We all went outside for tea. There seemed to be a huge amount of bonding and relief. They were teasing me, telling me I need to marry a Kikuyu because I know so much about them.

Of course not all sponsored kids go to Harvard, but maybe that isn’t the point. Maybe the lesson learned from this film is rather for the givers. Being involved makes a difference. And that is wonderful.

See the trailer below.

A SMALL ACT Trailer 2010 from Jennifer Arnold on Vimeo.

I’ll let you know when the film comes to Accra!

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Cinderama – Review


It gets 4 of 5 KHA’s.

Cinderama was a lovely and vivid play, easily the best I have seen at the National Theatre.

The play, which I wrote about last week here, was written by Efo Kodjo Mawugbe and had some funny and quirky details such as a storyteller who doubled as the Chief’s/King’s linguist or spokesperson and who switched between his roles with a comic “duty calls”. A prince who was studying in London and came onto stage with a hand luggage trolley. A main character in Cinderama who over all wanted to study “agricultural engineering” and who’s beads – not shoe – was left behind at the palace as an only clue to the one who caught the prince’s heart…

The direction of the crew of 16 by Fransesca Quartey was clearly successful in that the message came across (children have rights too!) and through imaginative and quick transitions between scenes (this is normally a problem in Ghanaian theatre). Also, I had to control myself to not shed a tear only 10 minutes into the play. We shrieked with laughter in other scenes. Well done!

Light and sound was coached by Technical Producer Tobias Stål and added a professional feel to the story. Afterwards someone said that the smoke maschine has not come on, well, we did not miss it!

Costumes were colorful and with that extra theatre glamour inclusive of glittering stones, gold threads and many costume changes by costume designer Fabiola Opare Darko and beads – which played an important role – by Kati Torda of Suntrade.

However, some scenes, particularly the one with the gravedigger was in local languages which left out parts of the crowd when others laughed seemingly without end. Throughout the 1,5 hours of the play the worst clichés were avoided, but towards the finale the fairytale ending became almost too sweet with Cinderama vowing to stay in Ghana to “help her country” and the prince nodding along. The interesting nuances in the evil sisters’ behavior earlier in the play were gone when curtains were drawn.

All in all, Cinderama is a heartwarming story.

And the best is yet to come, as the play now leaves the National Theatre and Accra and starts touring the country. I feel so glad many young people in Ghana will have the chance to embrace Cinderama and see family theatre at its best!

Ps. After touring in Ghana, the play travels to Sweden see schedule here or order your own performance here.

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>Swedish Coach to Super Eagles

What is with me? I am really no sports fan and now a second post on sports already this week?

Anyways, Swedish coach Lars Lagerbäck has signed with the Nigerian national team the Super Eagles (or Super Chickens as they were called after being defeated by Ghanaian national team Black Stars in the African cup recently). Hopefully, Lagerbäck will make the team come together to perform better in the World Cup in South Africa in June.

This will be interesting to follow.

Pic borrowed here.

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>Meet the Snow Leopard Kwame Nkrumah Acheampong

I remember the first time I heard of Kwame Nkrumah Acheampong…A Ghanaian man, raised in tropical Africa, who six years ago for the first time stood on a pair of skis…and now is going to compete in the Olympic games in Slalom (or downhill skiing for you who are still not familiar with snow).

Could this be for real? Can a Ghanaian ski professionally? Is it Fool’s day?

My my sarcasms quickly went away as I (again) had to realize that life is so much better than fiction. Here are some other facts:

* He shares names with Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumah.
* Some marketing team has come up with the brilliant idea of calling him “the snow leopard”.
* The problem for Nkrumah Acheampong has been financial rather than physical, see my fellow blogger David Ajao‘s post here.
*A Ghanaian government official flew to Vancouver to wish him “good luck”, source Reuters.
*His goal for the olympics was “not to come last”
*He actually skied better than 7 others…
*…Or at least skied better than one other skier as the other six were disqualified or did not finish the competition. See results here
*He now wants to teach kids how to ski – in Ghana! Reuters got this wonderful quote:

“We’ve got the site and everything. It’s just to get all the equipment, the bulldozers to level out all the rough patches, grow the grass and — Bingo!, we’re there.”

What can I say, life is better than fiction, especially the life of Kwame Nkrumah Acheampong!

Pic: From the official Vancouver athlete page here.

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>New Favorite Blog: Silverjuggler

> My friend Andreas is trying out life on a old-fashioned farm (well, minus the snow mobile and the website) in mid Sweden 7 km from nearest road and he writes beautifully about his experiences. The blog Silverjonglerier is in Swedish, but even if you can’t read it I recommend it for the beautiful, snowy pictures.

The blog posts are about the daily labor at the farm, including awe for the influential older worker – “gammeldrängen”, different types of firewood and work hazards – but also about the coffee breaks which we Swedes so affectionately call “fika”.

It is also about a modern human being being confronted with a strict schedule, physical work and silence.

Pic: from Andreas’ first day at Lillhärjåbygget.

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>Chimamanda Adichie: The Problem of A Single Story


A storyteller has as a job to tell stories that are engaging and important. Chimamanda Adichie‘s account of how single stories have inflicted on her life – and on the African countries we love, is both engaging and important. The single (negative) image of “Africa” that I have been trying to complement in 200+ blog posts here on Rain In Africa, she covers in under 20 minutes.

And luckily, it has been recorded as a TED speech that I can recommend to all of you. For you who are temporarily busy, her powerful conclusion can suffice for now – but when you have time, do listen to her in full.

When we reject the single story, we regain paradise.

Chimamanda Adichie most known works are: Half Of A Yellow Sun (I can’t believe I haven’t blogged about this book – I adored it) and Purple Hibiscus.

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>Shirley Frimpong-Manso’s New Movie

>For you who, like me, LOVED The Perfect Picture (I posted on it here ) – I have some good news.

According to the blogger Ameyaw Debrah, Writer/producer/director Frimpong-Manso’s new film will be called A Sting in A Tale and can best be defined as an “adventure comedy”. And it’s coming in November!

What ever it is, I’ll go see it.

Also, I wonder who would know how much her previous film made at the box office in Ghana and around the globe?

Ps. There is no decent picture of this superwoman online, please NKA, do something!

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>Henning Mankell Talks about Imagination on BBC The Forum

> Swedish writer and Africa-lover Henning Mankell was on BBC the other day in a very interesting discussion with Indian economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and Iranian British chilspsychotherapist Camila Batmanghelidj (love the “Batman-ish” name!).

Henning Mankell was making the claim that imagination is more than just an expression of creativity – sometimes imagination is used for raw survival. I was driving when I tuned into the program and it was so fascinating that I never wanted to reach my destination. Hear for yourself here.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel borrowed from the BBC The Forum to visualize the above described discussion.

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>African Literature in the Making: Harmattan Rain

> Yesterday, I found some information on facebook about a book by a Ghanaian writer, Ayesha Harruna Attah that came out a few months ago. Her book is called Harmattan Rain, an interesting choice of title that suggests conflicts, since harmattan is the dry season which normally no not include any rains. You can read an exerpt at the Publish Your Story blog (that amongst others feature Ghanablogging‘s own Maameous among their friends) here.

I take a great interest in Ghanaian and West African literature, simply because I want to learn about life in Ghana – and what better way to learn than from books?

About the book from the author herself:

A few years before Ghana’s independence, Lizzie-Achiaa’s lover disappears. Intent on finding him, she runs away from home. Akua Afriyie, Lizzie-Achiaa’s first daughter, strikes out on her own as a single parent in a country rocked by successive coups. Her daughter Sugri grows up overprotected. She leaves home for university in New York, where she learns that sometimes one can have too much freedom. Eventually, the secrets parents keep from their children catch up with them.

What was especially fascinating about this book, if I got it crrectly, was that it was concieved at an African literature center, where a few talanted students are invited each year for a nine month (!) sejour that – if all works out – ends with a book. The center is called Per Ankh as situated in Dakar, Senegal.

There is so much talent in Africa that go unharvested. I think initiatives like Per Ankh could be one way of changing that. What do you think?

Cover pic borrowed from the author.

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>Inspiring People II

> Earlier, I have posted about people in motion, people who want something and who are in themselves an inspiration to others.

For the Swedish speaking crowd, I proudly recommend the radio program with my friend Emilie Persson. She is a truly inspiring person and uses her “hour of fame” on Swedish local radio to discuss political engagement and explore how she went from being a tired student who saw herself as a make-up artist, to someone who is an expert on fair trade, CSR and organic agricultural production and uses her knowledge to lead and engage people. She also talks about her trip to Ghana and says her three months here were exclusively positive. “If you don’t think you don’t dare to go to Africa, take a chance! Ghana is a fantastic, wonderful country!”

For the English speakers, Emilie plays some good music like Ghanaian hip-life (Ofori Amponsah), South African reggae (Lucky Dube) and American hip-hop (Erykah Badu).

In the picture, Emilie is smelling the flowers in Aburi Gardens in Ghana on a visit last year.

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>Remembering Anna Lindh

Three years ago, right before the referendum on joining the Euro zone, Sweden’s foreign minister Anna Lindh was stabbed to death in a Stockholm department store. I remember Anna Lindh as a fabulous speaker and a political role model and her unnecessary and brutal death as a push to join party politics.

– A human being can be murdered, but ideas can’t. Our thanks to you will be to carry your message on, Anna Lindh said at Olof Palme’s funeral in 1986.

Today, I am remembering Anna Lindh and on Sunday, I hope people in Sweden remember the ideas of democracy and vote. I will.

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