>Did I Dance with Kojo Antwi? Part II

>He gestures for me to come up on stage, “Come!” and I feel myself letting go of my handbag, barely glancing over to see if my husband takes it for me and taking a few decisive steps onto – is this happening? – the stage. Kojo Antwi helps me up and seductively holds my hand and leads me to the center of the stage. While walking he says something like “Clap for Obruni” in his microphone. The crowd starts to cheer.

The crowd? THE CROWD? Oh my! Some 1000 pairs of eyes look at me, some are clapping and selected laughters suggest that some are expecting a funny performance including a dancing obruni, but luckily stage lights are blinding me somewhat, and we start to dance.

The music is good, I am wearing comfortable shoes and my favorite dress, I am dancing with the man of Rocklyn, Afrafranto and Odo ye de sin sika and we are all in this place out of love and empathy for Haiti.

What he looked like up close, this mysterious Mr Music man? I do not remember. Was he holding my hands? I don’t remember. In the moment, I just decide to myself to enjoy the song, the dance, the moment of having so many individuals’ attention.

It only fully hit me much later, when the concert was over and I was congratulated by a smiling husband, a crowd of acquaintances and friends, including students at Ashesi University, that Yes, I did dance with Kojo Antwi!

DOES ANYBODY HAVE PICTURES OF THIS PERSONALLY SIGNIFICANT MOMENT? Please email to kajsahallberg -at- gmail.com
Thanks!

>Did I Dance with Kojo Antwi?

>
Before we headed to the Haiti Benefit Concert I mentioned here, we had dinner with some friends. One of them had heard the rumour that Kojo Antwi wouldn’t come to the benefit(sadly his personal website is very heavy to load, so maybe his MySpace is a better option for you who with less fast Internet).

I was disappointed. Antwi’s songs were some of the first Ghanaian pieces of music I heard when I started dating my husband back in 2002. The romantic, lovers rock style tunes in Twi/English/Ga always spoke to me – also others think he Tops the List of Ghanaian Love Songs – although some of his melodies might be just too synthesizer-sweet. Anyways.

When we arrived at the concert, there was no place to sit. “Everybody” was there to support Haiti earthquake victims. We were standing with a bunch of others on the side of the stage, dancing and enjoying from there. After an hour or so, some space opened up on the first row.

When Kojo Antwi did in fact come out on stage I felt a big smile spread across my face. As he started singing a song in Ga “Baa sumo me” (Come love me), I stood up to dance, two ladies joined him on the stage dancing, I was smiling. THEN. Mr Music Man walks over to the side where I am standing, points at me and gestures me to come on stage.

To be continued.

Pic from Creative-Africa.org

>New Year’s Eve Ghana Style (does not involve goats nor champagne)

> Seriously, Ghanaians!?
Noone is throwing a New Year’s Eve party? Not even a small one?

”Traditionally” (would be interesting to know when and where this practice comes from), New Year’s Eve in Ghana is a day for contemplation, gratitude and prayer – clearly a Christian holiday! Most people dress in white (celebratory clothing) and head for the churches around 8-9 pm. The final hours of the year is spent praying, listening to sermons and singing hymns. Many times, the sermons are held outside the church room, as the crowds cannot fit inside the chapels and churches. The transition to the new year has nothing like the festive ”10-9-8-7…”, rather it is a very serene and gradual change with nothing special to mark midnight. However, around 1 pm, many people start heading home. (And from what I hear, some of these churchgoers then changes into other clothes and head out for a drink, but this is a different story).

So, what is the problem? Well, it is strictly personal, I suppose: I just miss the European way of celebrating New Year’s Eve. I miss having to choose between parties. I miss the anticipation for the New Year. I miss planning ahead for a most luxurious evening with shiny and glittering outfits, chilled champagne and beyond good foods. I miss the obligatory chant of ”10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1-HAPPY-NEW-YEAR!” I miss kissing friends and family in a delirious state and then topping it off with more bubbly and dancing!

However here in Ghana, it seems no parties are planned for tomorrow night and I am still the only one considering Christmas the main Christian holiday in December.

Pic: Party outside of Ghana.

>Ghana Highlights

> Had some friends staying over and spending a lovely day with me. They had just arrived from the cold north and were extremely content with the weather, the food, the lodging – well, everything!

Their fresh and foreign outlook made me see that some things that have become ordinary to me, actually are quite extraordinary. Of course, as their one-day host I also tried to show Ghana from her best side. And what a day I had! Here are today’s highlights.

5. Cruising in my car seeing the vivacious street life pass by.
4. Swimming in a nearby hotel pool (I could really do this every day, if I only weren’t so “morning challenged”).
3. Visiting with my Ghanaian family, they are wonderful and fun!
2. Fruit for breakfast: Pineapple, papaya and perfectly ripen mango.
1. Talking about Ghanaian culture – names, funerals, political history, everyday life. All so rich!

As I watched them get into a taxi towards the beach, I somehow knew I had been able to give them a taste of the traditional Ghanaian welcoming – Akwaaba!

>Morning News Routine

>How are you, dear reader?

I hope you are well, maybe you have finished your morning coffee or tea and are now looking forward to the two productive hours of the day – those before lunch.

I on the other hand am still sitting at home and doing my daily online media routine (Joy FM, DN, maybe Aftonbladet, The Big Picture – loved the picures from Indian festival Diwali– etc) and will only soon let the Kwame Nkrumah motorway take me to work.

A lot is going my way these days. I feel like a juggler who gets more and more balls thrown at her – but still manages to keep all balls in the air. Fun work (with flexible hours allowing me to keep many of my routines), interesting side projects and fun people with whom to spend my spare time. Let’s hope it continues that way.

I only wish I had more time for my blog. That is for you, dear reader!

Picture of a the sky in Tema on a day that is going to be good.

>New Job, New Week

> Last week, was my first at my new job.

As always when you start something afresh there is loads of information, faces and guidelines to take in

“you must create a new password”, “Hi, don’t you remember me?”, “you should park here” etc ad infinitum.

In this case there is also a class of 47 students as I will be teaching Expository Writing for freshmen, or first year students.

Already all this steady stream of new has provided me with the best quality sleep for a long, long time. And already I love my new job!

Pic: White board answers for “how do you become a better writer?” It says Reading, Interview, Listening, Vocabulary, Critical Thinking, Dictionary, Write more, Talking more.

>What Do You Do?

> I recently got the question:

“What Do You Do?” from a reader. (Thanks, Alison!)

“Good question”, I replied.

Because, truth be told, I don’t really know myself. This is by far the most common question people ask you in this modern day and age and when not employed, it is a question I’ve come to dread.

As my goal is getting back into academia, I try to practice writing as much as I only can, sometimes I write for free like here on the blog, sometimes as a freelance writer (most often I link to the Internet version of the publication here on the blog). I have come to really enjoy the journalistic process of pitching an idea, doing research including interviews and then do the write up and admire the result…

But practicing writing will only take you that far, so in March I applied for a PhD position at University of Ghana/Institute of African Studies and I’m hoping to hear from them any day now *crossing fingers*. I want to write about the aspiration to migrate – or not to – among university students in Ghana, an under-researched topic and at the same time a vital part of Ghanaian urban life.

But the lengthy explanations to follow the above stated question might finally be of the past as I recently landed a part time job as a lecturer at Ashesi College University, a liberal arts college with some very interesting goals and values that I earlier posted on here. Appropriately, I will be teaching writing.

Now, what do you do?

Pic: I write.

>Positive Review

>I have by my fellow blogger Nana Yaw in his poetic blog Anti-Rhytm been mentioned as a “Blogger Beloved”. The kind words he has for my blog follows.

Kajsa is from Sweden, but as Ghanaian as can be. Her sincere life-views will warm the cockles of your heart.

Thank you!

>Return to Ghana

>
Bronx Princess Trailer from Yoni Brook on Vimeo.


So, I have been back in Ghana for a few days and already experienced horrible traffic, ants crawling on me in my bed and power black-out(s) – as well as a lovely high-life concert, seeing friends and eating a lot of sweet-tasting tropical fruit(s).

Sometimes, especially when outside of Ghana, it is difficult to believe that I acctually do live here. It is hard to explain how life in Ghana is like, it is hard to remember what the heat feels like, what it means to be a foreigner here, how much one can miss foods and items just because they are not available. How wonderful it is to greet your wide-smiling neighbor.

I got a tip today about a documentary film, The Bronx Princess, about a girl in the US who goes to see her father The Chief in Ghana over the summer after graduation. The trailers available (I posted both above) look really promising, I wish I could see it (lucky people in Sweden can see the whole documentary here).

Without even knowing what the documentary is like, I am guessing it will be hard for the Bronx Princess to choose where to live when her summer comes to an end and how to explain her time in Ghana to people who havent been here yet.

ps. I love the music sung by Akua Taylor in the trailers. Ghana’s next international star?

>Learn Twi Today!

> Since I came to Ghana, I have been trying to learn the language most often spoken around me, Twi. It is an Akan language spoken as a first language by about 40% of the Ghanaians and as a secondary language my many more.

Ever since I was given a pajama with the mysterious world fleur on it, learning a language is something that has been intriguing to me. My mother told me the word meant “flower” in French, which was somewhat confirmed by a white flower blossoming below the puzzling word. When i said “fleuuur”, I was speaking French! That thought always made me smile.

Language opens doors and can make you become a part of something new, which I touched on earlier here. A newly discovered fellow “obruni” (foreigner) Maame J, descibes her and her half-Ghanaian son’s journey to learn Twi here. It is highly interesting reading for me, and what hits me it how difficult it is to find the tools for learning, so I’d thought I’d describe my process of learning Twi here on my blog.

1, I learned numbers and the Ghanaian weekday-names (find out your name here). A good investment.

2, During my first visit to Ghana, I picked up common phrases like
(Thank you) Me da wo ase (Reply) – Me nda wo ase
(Greeting) – Agoo (reply) Amee
(Wishing someone happy holidays) Afe hya pa (reply) – Afe nkommo tu ye
(How are you?)Ete sen? (reply) – Eye (NOTE spelling is indicative)
It was really difficult just to remember the simplest of phrases.

3, I bought a book in preparation for my move to Ghana, “Let’s Learn Twi: Ma Yensua Twi”. It was ok, for a schooled person it is always good to get the spelling and “look” of foreign words. However, some phrases were a bit old-fashioned. For example few Twi speaking people today say Mema wo akye (I give you daylight), but rather uses the English “Good morning”.

4, I lived with my mother in law for three months and really got the melody of the beautiful language, she speaks the Fanti dialect, as well as all possible greetings (nkyea) under my skin. This is probably the best way to learn a language.

5, Bought Florence Abena Dolphyne’s text book, “A Comprehensive Course in Twi (Asante) for the Non-Twi Learner” a smallish red text book from the University of Ghana bookstore for GHC 4 (same in USD) which is a very useful manual for learning the language. It also has extremely useful phrases like Me ye osuani (I’m a student).

6, Lately, I have been lazy and just lived in the language. Interestingly, it seems like I cant help but learning just from existing in a Ghanaian context. I speak to guards, professors, relatives and coworkers and listen (ok, eavesdrop) a lot too.

7, The future hopefully holds a course of some kind. Maybe at the University of Ghana or some other institution. I need to get into the next gear.

The best resource for learning a language is probably a life partner speaking that language. However, my husband has not been very helpful after step one, but that proves that even without that type of support it is possible to learn a language. Apart from books there are resources on the web such as the Twi-English Dictionary (seems to focus on biblical phrases). Kotey’s dictionary can also in part be accessed online. Google Twi Kasa, I have written about here. Wikipedia in Twi can be found here. A video on kids learning Twi here. I have also come across a Twi Pimsleur audio course on the net, as well as the US Foreign Service course has anyone tried them?

Most interestingly I found this 43things-list of 27 people who want to learn Twi. Well, 28 with me!

In the pic, a beautiful silent sculpture I came across in North Legon last week.

>Swedish Summer in Ghana

> But you always have summer in Ghana? Temperature wise, maybe. But real summer in Ghana is totally correlated with summer in Sweden. I have some examples:

Today, I am listening to the Swedish Radio program series “Sommar” as pod radio. Every summer famous people, it can be astronauts, politicians, entertainers or an interesting entrepreneur get the chance to talk about anything they want (often themselves) and play their favorite music for 1,5 hours on national radio. Here in Ghana, I have downloaded my favorites – mostly authors – and plan to listen to them just as I did when living in Sweden.

Also, Swedish Midsummer celebrations have passed in company with Swedish friends here in Ghana. It was a wonderful event, pickled herring (sill) has never tasted so good.

This week is the annual “Politicians’ Week” in my hometown Visby, an event I love because of its wonderful meet-and-greet opportunities. Everybody in Swedish politics, media and lobbying are there. Probably right now drinking rosé wine in the sunset. All of it I can follow though news and blogs. With a glass of wine, its almost as if I am there (although over here the wine isn’t free).

Personally, I have probably never been happier. Ghana is such an interesting society. Everyday I learn new things. I have an exciting job, good prospects of starting my PhD in the fall, a happy marriage, beautiful home (and plans of moving to a better one). I have cool friends and I speak to a family member almost every day on phone.

Still, I just long for the day when I can book my ticket to go to Sweden for vacation. It will definitely be during summer.

Longing for home is a demon.

Picture from the Swedish Midsummer in Ghana. Absolut Vodka and hibiscus.

>Stud

> This fall, I will take up studying again. Somehow, I have mixed feelings about it – don’t get me wrong – it IS a dream came through to be a cocky PhD-student, to spend my days in a campus setting, to read about topics that interest me, to rub shoulders with cool AND bright people. The other side of it is that it has been quite nice to finish work after 5 pm, maybe not even think about it again after that. I liked not having to prove myself everyday. I enjoyed making money, too.

Tomorrow I have a meeting in this building, the Institute of African Studies at University of Ghana with a professor I hope will accept to be my supervisor. I’ll keep you posted. As usual.