Sunday Reads Sep 17, #KajsaHASundayReads

sundayreadsThis week I read:

      1. Female entrepreneurship rates in Sub-Saharan Africa are the highest in the world, according to a new report that says women’s entrepreneurial activity is increasing globally. 
      2. Africa doesn’t need white tech entrepreneurs – it needs a level playing field by Eliza Anyangwe.
      3. Over Certified & Under Educated a harsh but well-argued piece about Ghana’s higher education sector by Esther Armah.
      4. Young people and their plants by Lavanya Ramanathan
      5. A bit of context to the protests in Togo by Benjamin N. Lawrance.

Video I watched: No video! It was the first week of the fall semester for my daughters and myself! I just survived!

 

Tell me below what you are reading!

 This post is part of my #KajsaHASundayReads series. Inspired by personal role models, Ory Okolloh Mwangi and Chris Blattman,  I want to share articles I read with my followers on a somehow regular basis. 

My Week Following The @Sweden Curatorship Experience, #SMWiAccra

So last week, I had the honor of being the curator of the twitter account @Sweden. With a click, I increased my following by 10 and was the seven-day temporary face of my native Sweden. In a tropical setting. I thought I’d sum up my experience and also share what this week, following all the excitement, was like.

Monday, I woke up sick, with a swollen (!) nose. Had I been in a fist fight? The doctor said it was rather a sinusitis infection in my nose and I was on antibiotics before I knew it. I am not sure it was the curator experience that made me sick, but it was a day lost to pain and rest.

Tuesday, my children both started their new school. I accompanied and excited three-year-old to Nursery school and my husband took our six-year-old to Primary 1.

My school girls! ????? #maryjane #sisters #schooluniforms #mahjong #vamlingbolaget #233moments

A post shared by Kajsa Hallberg Adu (@kajsaha) on

On Wednesday, I was well enough to share some of my thoughts about the @Sweden experience on the Citi Breakfast Show on Ghanaian radio station Citi FM. IN an interview with the brilliant Bernard Avle, I talked about 

  • Traffic (I was late to the studio)
  • Knowing my audience
  • Missing my TL
  • Thinking about Swedishness
  • Wanting to be a Ghanaian citizen

Find the full program here, I come on around 9.40am.

In the afternoon, I met with a researcher, Hanne Geirbo from the interesting research project Learning Flexibility. We spoke about social media activism, solar energy adoption and strategies for infrastructure challenges.

Last, I attended the Social Media Week Accra, and was a speaker under the heading “Social Media: The Ghana Case”.

I tried to give a quick overview of how blogging has developed in Ghana since BloggingGhana started in 2008, but also to critique the use of social media as heavily entertainment, one way, consumeristic instead of appreciating the true revolution of social media and harnessing the promise of social change. I suggested we support each-other ventures more, create and use more hashtags to curate content and campaigns, we produce more content.

On Thursday, I met with my Ashesi students for the first time. Ambitious, fresh-faced future leaders make me so happy. I also finalized the contract with two final year students who I will supervise on their papers. Two very interesting projects, I will tell you more about later.

Today, Friday is for research and preparing for next week. I will also fit in some meetings. This evening, I’ll be seeing my friend to celebrate her birthday.

 

I feel like this week was as intense and interesting as last week, but I was back on my own social media accounts and I had missed the people I am following and learning from. The Sweden curatorship, made me rethink what I publish and how much I share my personal life. While I have a high sense of integrity, and usually post quite minimal “this was my day”, “this is my breakfast”- content, I now think there is also value to sharing more personal details and life circumstances as that goes to the heart of the prospects of social media: bringing people closer together by showing how diverse and how similar we all are.

Do you think it’s useful or interesting to read about other people’s daily lives?

The Week When I Increased My Twitter Following by x10

This week I have the honor of representing my native Sweden as the curator of the Twitter account @Sweden. It is every week run by a new Swede or person living in Sweden (this week a Swede outside Sweden). 

The initiative aims to showcase “the country of Sweden through the mix of skills, experiences and opinions it actually consists of. Through the stories of the various curators, not one Sweden is conveyed, but several.” Housed by the Swedish Institute, the project is a co-initiative with VisitSweden and you can read more about the project Curators of Sweden and see a list of more curators here.

I opened my curatorship with a tweet+video from our garden:

 

On my personal Twitter account @kajsaha, I have 12 000 followers, but this week I have 127 000! I hope to make good use of the exposure! During my week I will discuss

  • Swedishness,
  • my best online tips,
  • weather (that’s what Swedes like to talk about!),
  • identity politics,
  • why I chose to research migration in West Africa,
  • and of course, share some breakfast photos.

I also hope to use my social media skills to have a very interactive week!

See my posts on Twitter.com/Sweden

Welcome!

Sunday Reads Sep 3, #KajsaHASundayReads

sundayreadsThis week I read:

This Swedish article I wish was available in English for all (ok, more folks) to read:

Book review site Bokhora’s review of Kristina Sandberg’s novel “Att föda ett barn”, (To Birth A Child)

This week I watched this video:

“Anne with and E” (Netflix). The remake of a book AND TV-series you love has everything stacked against it, but it was wonderful and glorious and adds new context to the times as well as nuance to the main characters.

Books I am reading: I finished reading the book series by Kristina Sandberg (oh how I love series or loooong books where one can dive into a world for weeks! Like Elena Ferrante’s books I read earlier in the year).

What I would have loved to read, but did not come across:

The news that Kristina Sandberg’s captivating books about Maj are being translated into English.

Now, tell me below what you are reading!

 This post is part of my #KajsaHASundayReads series. Inspired by personal role models, Ory Okolloh Mwangi and Chris Blattman,  I want to share articles I read with my followers on a somehow regular basis. 

Last Chance: Orderly/Disorderly BlaxTARLINES Art Exhibit

Here is an important Public Service Announcement:

The Orderly/Disorderly Art Show curated by Blaxtarlines (follow and support on FB, read the curatorial statement here) opened at the Science and Technology Museum in Accra at the end of June. If you did not yet see it yet, you only have until Friday 1 September to do so. 

The magnificent show where young artists both from KNUST and the professional fold in Ghana treat the order and disorder in our society, spans installations, video, cartoons, photography, textile and new techniques I cannot even describe. The show makes you happy, sad, marvel and it is miraculously free!

The show closes in grand style with a talk by the grandfather of Ghanaian art, Prof. Ablade Glover at 4 pm on September 1st, 2017.

UPDATE: Meet-the-Artist Series featuring Adwoa Amoah, Ato Annan, Francis Kokoroko and Shimawuda Ziorkley, in collaboration with Foundation For Contemporary Art,Ghana (FCA-Ghana) and @thestudioaccra

Date: Wednesday, 30th August, 2017 
Time: 4pm
Venue: Museum of Science & Technology, Barnes Road, Accra
Rate: Free

The event will be broadcast live via Facebook

After that, it is over! Take your chance!

See my slideshow with a small selection of the works on display from my visit at the Orderly/Disorderly art show with my kids.

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Three Weeks without Social Media: Was I Happier in the End?

To be able to have a completely restful vacation, I took three weeks off social media this summer. What I intended was to not read or post anything on my three favorite social media platforms: Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. As a total social media freak (I am someone who often hails social media as the revolution of our time), I was interested in this hiatus also from an experimental point of view: would it be difficult to keep off? Would I miss my social media timelines? My ubiquitous scrolling? What would be the effects?

The first few days

The first few days I kept a diary, this is what I noted:

Day 1 – I have set up my blog post on my social media break to post automatically in the morning, later in the day I went into Instagram in the evening to post the same info on my break. By mistake, I clicked the Twitter app. Closed it quickly. I have already deleted the Facebook app from my phone, now I put the remaining apps in a “social” folder on my phone and put it on the last screen, not the first.  Regretted when I thought of the art exhibit I’ll attend tomorrow and the conference next week. Else felt happy. Baked, finished a book. Had a glass of wine. Watched a tv-program.

Day 2 –  I have had a packed day and at the art exhibits and food fair I went to I wanted to post, that’s how I usually take in an event. Instead talked to a friend. It was good, but very different from how I usually experience such a happening.

Facebook sent me an email saying I had memories with my family. It felt a little bad to not see the memory, but also what a cheap trick that is to bring you in!

Day 3 – Methodically canceled all remaining social media app notifications. Went to a book club meeting and was present throughout. Watched in amazement when others drift away from the conversation with real people to check their screens all the time. In the evening, I had a question I wanted to post to my social media network. Later googled the question instead and found an answer.

Day 4 – I got messages from Odekro from parliament straight to my locked screen. Scrolled thru. That’s not strictly checking one’s timeline, right? I think this is because I “follow posts” on Twitter and I do not want to turn that off. (But really why not?)

Day 5 –  I am spending more time on WhatsApp actually having conversations with people. At an outing, I took very few pics, because now that I can’t share them…I feel calm and cut off from reality.

Day 6 – I realize I have read no news since I stopped social media. I went to my blog to see if anyone had commented on my blog post about the social media break. But people rarely comment on blogs anymore. I was inspired to read my favorite Instagrammers’ blogs.

 

What I Learned

  1. Notifications are Mean

It is no surprise that notifications of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are engineered to draw us in, have us watch just a few more photos on our timeline and just see one more video, but how difficult it was to get signed off from everywhere surprised me.  If you want to dig deeper, I enjoyed this medium article: This is How or Fear and Outrage is Being Sold for Profit.

  1. I read most my news from links on Social Media

We sometimes talk about echo-chambers; this seems to certainly be true for me. Totally unconsciously, I have read or watched no news at all in the last weeks, but solely relied on my husband to tell me crucial headline stories. For a political scientist, this is major.

  1. I get most event information on Social Media

Few people called, I heard of few events, I saw few people these weeks. I realize I get most of my information about events and parties, art openings, and meetings thru social media. Perhaps not surprising, but also completely excluding, as one then have to be on social media to meet people offline.

  1. I take photos to share them.

When I was doing research on photo storage last year, I came across an article that said storage will be superfluous in the near future as what people want to do with pictures in to share them. This was true for me these weeks. When I saw something nice, I’d remember I would not get to share it for the next weeks, then I thought to myself, what is the point?

  1. I should have considered going off the Internet completely for a fuller rest.

I thought I still need to be on WhatsApp (but really why? I could have set an away message) and have access to the Internet (you know, to…Google stuff). But those opportunities were exploited by my synapses (a.k.a. me) and I read many, many blogs, even had one or two late night surf-binges, and that was not what I had intended for my social media break. I think that is how I filled the “scroll-void” or the habitual social media checks.

 

New Habits

I will now more consciously decide when and how much I will be using social media. To be honest, as I am easing my way back into social media, I am feeling a little bit disgusted by the whole speed of all timelines, beautiful photos, and heated opinions. It seems they all flash by only to be replaced by another. When I started work this week, I have the following habits in mind:

  • I will give myself some time during my commute to specifically follow what news is discussed and what events are on and then again during the evening commute.
  • I will give myself some time during my commute to specifically follow what news is discussed and what events are on and then again during the evening commute.
  • I will turn my phone off in the evening, after 9 pm and turn it on in the morning. I will continue to keep the gadgets outside the bedroom – they should be charged elsewhere! Listen to Arianna Huffington on this!
  • I need to do something about my news intake as well, but do not have a solution yet.
  • I will continue to have all push notifications turned off.
  • I will spend less time on Instagram and more on reading my fav blogs/listening to fav podcasts. This as I feel Instagram particularly makes me feel someway bi, and the blogs have many times the same photos, but with more context.
  • I did miss Twitter and the flashing by of all kinds of information. I will engage less in political debate…hm, no, that is not realistic, but I will compliment major conversation with some further action: petitions, small donations, offline engagement, and so on.
  • I will continuously take a yearly break from social media and the Internet.

 

Did Being Off Social Media Make Me Happier?

I did spend more time reading, sleeping, playing with my children, talking to my husband, but being off Social Media did maybe make me relax more, but not make me feel happier. I would have to say no, I actually felt sad!

Sad as I “couldn’t” share interesting things I experienced with the world, but at the same time the time off gave me some perspective on the way social media builds on human psychology and how, once the notifications come off, we can start using it for what we want again.

Have you ever taken a social media break? Do you limit your social media intake in some way? Let’s learn from each-other!

Chale Wote 2017 is Finally Here: #WataMata

Yaaaaay! Chale Wote Street Art Festival is here again! This year an array of Artist Labs are followed by a weekend of public street madness in Jamestown, Accra, Ghana.

The full program (PDF) that this year has the theme of “Wata Mata” (Water matters? Word play with “Mami Wata” the female deity of the sea) is totally overwhelming and massively impressive, but I am especially looking forward to…

Sat 19 August, 2017

  • Dzala Butiq Art Sale
  • The Accra Cookout international food court
  • The Mami Wata Procession

Sun 20, August, 2017

  • April Bey’s workshop on printing
  • Deo Gratias Photo Studio Open House
  • The Wata Mata Procession
  • High Life Cafe Stage program with Ria Boss and Wanlov

 

Perhaps most I am excited about the overall creative environment with surprises around every corner.

Looking forward to sharing it with you on social media – hashtags #ChaleWote2017 and #WataMata.

See you there!

 

My talk at #iHav2017: Social Media and its Employment Opportunities

On Wed 26 July 2017, I was invited by the iHav Foundation to be a resource person at their training for youth leaders from the entire African continent.

I was invited to talk on the topic of:

SOCIAL MEDIA AND ITS EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES

and ended up interacting with a smaller group of social media enthusiasts at the conference from five different countries: Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Ghana.

We discussed how to control your social media presence and how to start a blog. This is the talk I had prepared:

————————————————————————————-

Have you ever asked your parents how they kept in touch with family and friends outside Ghana when they were your age? Let me tell you that you needed to take transport to the post office at Makola market around high street and order a call – for the next day!

10 years later, cell phone tech came to Ghana and a SIM card cost, guess how much? A monthly salary!

A monthly salary!

10 years later, Ghana had dial up Internet. Do you remember the sound of it? I think you are too young! Because today, 3/4 Ghanaians have mobile data subscription on their phone (NCA, 2017).

=revolution. Everything the World has access to online, we have access to as well. All opportunities. No excuses!

Three opportunities:

  1. Controlling your (and your country’s) social media presence

Google yourself. What happens?

For me, it’s

Wikipedia, YouTube, work website, my blog, Wikipedia, twitter, linked in – you can’t write about yourself in wiki (but everything else! join the Wikipedia community!) By the way, the coordinator for wiki libraries in the world(!) lives in Ghana and started up as a contributing writer for Wikipedia.

Most of these entries I have written/created myself! Then I have control over my online and social media presence.

Next level of controlling online presence is contributing to how your country and Africa is covered online. This is why I started BloggingGhana,   to share the stories from Ghana and encourage Ghanaians to share our world. Another example is the Ghanaian hair app, Tress.It creates a community around something very important in our context, great hair!

2. Learning something online (Or teaching others):

how dance salsa, how do braid hair, How to Cook nigerian jollof to impress a Nigerian, how to . How to set up a blog. Just google it, watch some videos and you are ready to go. Skills can lead to new opportunities to make a living.

3. Doing work online

Is the last level. Although much work these days is actually done online: PR, communications, marketing, writing, journalism, music, art, e-commerce, we also have people who work remotely.

Many of us also use social media to build ourselves up, collect the work we do in one place (like a blog) but also use social media to discuss societal issues in Tweet-ups and Facebook-live sessions, help others, perhaps more as a calling as a business opportunity (one does not exclude the other though!)

Every time you go online, vow to produce as much as you consume!

  • Set up profiles on Twitter, Facebook, Google, linked in, upload pictures, say something. Make sure pictures of you online represent the best you, if they do not, change them and the old one(s) will eventually be pushed down in search.
  • Follow me on social media channels @kajsaha (I was even wearing my @ellishaboie KAJSAHA top, see above!) as I tweet and instagram African content relevant for you. See for instance my blog post: “Why blogging is good for your career”.
  • Follow @bloggingghana, and/or social media organizations in your country (see my Twitter list!)

I said it again: Every time you go online, vow to produce as much as you consume!

We did not have so much time for Q&A, but one I remember was:

Q: How do I get more followers?

A (From both me and others in the group): Be useful, kind, promote others, share information, summarize events, ask questions, post photos.

 

Thanks again to Christabel Ofori and the team at iHAV Foundation for inviting me and creating such a useful platform for our future leaders.

Where is Africa on Open Data? Some answers from #AODC17

African Open Data Conference 2017, or #AODC17 for short, was a five-day affair in Accra last week (or up to a week if you included some pre and post arrangements). I was there for two days, Tuesday and Wednesday, mostly because that is what my schedule allowed, but also because those days had the least of high-level dialogue – which is often not very productive – and I was more interested in African Open Data on the ground.

My observations:

1. The field of open data is exploding, the conference was a major to-do with buy in from Ghana’s president and many international organizations as well as several hundred delegates.

2. The networking was out of this world, among the most interesting people I met were academics Umaru Bah,  Jeanne Holm, activists from BudgITng and Connected Development, blogger Chioma Agwuegbo, tweeps  …students…old friends like Nnenna Nwakanma of World Wide Web Foundation, Nehemiah Attigah of Odekro (links for organizations or linked in profiles), Dorothy Gordon…

3. The individuals involved in Open Data are in much renaissance people, it is programmers-entrepreneurs-governance experts, professors-public servants, accountants-activists, story tellers-national security etc. I felt at home and got inspired to stop forcing expertise and continue on my “wide” career.

4. The base level of what constitute best practices in the open data space is not yet set, exemplified by that Government of Ghana can sponsor such a conference and yet not have passed the rather basic Right to Information bill (I learned at #AODC17 similar have been passed already by Nigeria: Freedom of Information, and Sierra Leone for instance). GovLab‘s “periodic table” (interactive link or see below) of Open Data captures what is needed beautifully. I just have one question: Now how do we go from talk shop to action?

 

5. The events held about town were a good attempt at integrating the conference objectives with its surroundings, so to speak opening the data of the conference, something often overlooked in conferences.

In all, these were intense days for me, days I feel have impacted my life in a number of important ways both with inspiration, and network. See tweets and next steps/links below.

Tweets from #AODC17

 


 

Next steps

7 Facebook Profiles to Follow on Sociopolitical Issues in Ghana

Sometimes I despair: the problems are too many, the poverty too jarring, the madness to intense, the attitude among the leaders appalling, truly everywhere I turn, I see costly mistakes.

Then I turn to these seven Ghanaian opinion leaders asking the right questions. Because we need to ask questions, we need to keep the pressure up, we need to not despair.

Here are my top seven Facebook profiles to follow on sociopolitical issues in Ghana.

  1. Golda Addo 
  2. Bright Simons 
  3. Ethel D. Cofie (see her this week on #EthelCofieStartupSchool!)
  4. Franklin Cudjoe 
  5. Jemila Wumpini Abdulai (Meet her at #Cirqmixer, July 22)
  6. Kwame Gyan 
  7. Kathleen Addy

Chin up, follow them today!

Illustration borrowed from here.

Today I am all about Black Girls Glow…

..the album is finally out! If you want to listen to contemporary Ghana, tune into this beautiful collaboration between Ghanaian artists Poetra Asantewa and Dzyadzorm featuring fellow creatives Adomaa, Ria Boss, Cina Soul and Fu under the name Black Girls Glow.

From the first time I heard of this creative collaboration and its lineup, I have been excited. These artists are fab on their own, but often when women collaborate, the sky is the limit! However, the world we live in; patriarchal and commercial structures, make it more common that women compete.  “BGG is a concept that aims to raise the profile of female artists locally, regionally and globally by highlighting and showcasing the brilliant and talented young female artists making waves in the Ghanaian entertainment industry. Black Girls Glow is based on the notion that musical collaboration is a uniquely powerful way to connect people across political and cultural barriers.”, says one of the two initiators, Poetra Asantewa. It is powerful! These Ghanaian creatives are connecting, and it is an immediate creative win.

It is a playful album and even has a track called “Child’s Play” that is like a medley of songs and rhymes we sing to children and concludes with childhood ending? My favorite song is the passionate defense for the selfie: “it is the house you go braless in”, “selfie taking is reclaiming the value of self-love”… The album is a bit cryptically called Mother of Heirs, perhaps the Black Girls Glow collective is envisioning the woman that ought to be respected? The mightly mother of our future children? The track “Mother of Heirs” charges “step aside for the mother of heirs” over suggestive beats, and in sarcastic verses, “silly girl”, “little girl” and “pretty girl” are contrasted with this mother. But could we not also respect the silly, pretty girl for her playfulness, her humanity? Can we women not self-love before we realize we might (also) be the mother of heirs?

The sound is rich, the content critical (and often funny), and I want to sing along, I want to dance! Today I am all about Black Girls Glow!

You can listen to the full album here:  https://soundcloud.com/blackgirlsglow

Green Ghanaian Akua Akyaa Nkrumah is Gone

Environmental Technologist Akua Akyaa Nkrumah passed away on Thursday. She was, write her colleagues in the death announcement, a “mighty tree”. I think it is not often such words are used about a thirty-something, but those were the same words that came to mind as I heard of her passing on Friday morning. I am devastated. 

In lieu of the one-week meeting for family and friends that is customary in Ghana, I want to sit an imaginary living room and share here on my blog some of my thoughts. I imagine an overcrowded room, some of us are standing. I see Akyaa’s family and colleagues in the room, friends from BloggingGhana, Chale Wote, Ahaspora, Golda, Maame Aba, Jemila, Edward, Ato, Naa Oyoo, Efo. Now that we are all here, let’s remember.

Akyaa was a blogger and member of the organization I co-founded in 2008, BloggingGhana. Do read her last blog post on the 15 things NPP can do for the environment. She was a very present member, featured in our “By the Fireside”-events last year, and a feisty and fun discussant on issues we would deliberate on when the official meeting was over. She was a passionate professional working with Jekora Ventures, doing the hard work that is cleaning up Accra, one of the places in the world most in need of sanitation. She was proud of her work and often talked about her projects. Additionally, she was an inspiration and a fellow creative in a space where creativity is rare. She was also an ray of light in the field of environmentalism, desperately needed for a Ghana that is quickly becoming a dump site. Last year, she was featured on Jill of All Trades with this beautiful interview.

In the beginning of the year, Akyaa and I had quite a lot of interactions. We met up and talked about life, she helped my student with information, I got to learn about her initiative to take Eco thinking and social media to university students in the Green Ghanaian Eco Tour. The program was masterfully crafted, intended to reach all regions of Ghana, prefunded by an international donor who Akua had approached and written a proposal to. I took notes and confided in her that under so many years of discussing such an outreach for causes I feel strongly about, I never managed to. She generously shared the details that made her project a success.

In February, Akyaa brought her initiative to Ashesi University. I played only a small role and finally could not attend the program on the Saturday she came up with her team, but was following the tweets online from engaged students.


 

In her last year of living, Akyaa spread her worldview to hundreds (thousands?) of young people, opened a waste management plant, and taught me personally about activism and outreach. Now that she is no more with us, my only consolation is in these endeavors Akua Akyaa Nkrumah will live on. Green Ghanaian…dubbed Great Ghanaian by a mutual friend. Green Great Ghanaian. Our mighty tree. Thank you. Da yiy3.

BloggingGhana will remember her in an event soon. 

Ahaspora will be dedicating their June Happy Hour to celebrate her life.

Family GoFundMe collection for her burial.