Global Voices Interview with Kajsa HA

Today, I am interviewed by Linda Annan, editor of American-Ghanaian Obaasema Magazine in the international online blogging/citizen media community Global Voices.

Global Voices is an amazing site that pulls together stories from blogs all over the world, with a focus on the areas we do not hear from every day. The community is largely volunteer-driven and is co-founded by celebrity blogger “My Heart’s in Accra”/Ethan Zuckerman.

Here is an excerpt from my interview:

How and why did you get into blogging? And why Ghanablogging?

In 2006 I was living in Paris and started blogging to keep in  touch with family and friends and write about my impressions of my new life. At the time, some Swedish friends had blogs at home. I have always loved to write and thought it was a brilliant forum, but couldn’t really find my own tone or topic. However, when I knew I was going to move to Paris, I found myself reading blogs, not books, about Parisian life. I think that spurred the decision to start blogging myself.

In Paris, I was invited to a blog meet-up, hosted by blogger Petite Anglais (who later got a book deal out of her blog). It was great to meet with other bloggers and it turned out two of them worked within the same big organization as me at the time!

So in 2007, when I moved to Ghana I continued blogging and was always on the lookout for Ghanaian blogs. When I had found enough of them, I organized the first meet-up with a friend. It was in July 2008, and eight bloggers came. We decided on the name GhanaBlogging as we wanted the action in the name. We are all doers.

What are you referring to when you say you love the shift from online presence to real life meetings?

When people think of blogging, they think about a lonely person in front of a computer, when in reality it really is a network! Blogging comes with belonging somewhere, blogging is an activity that has strengthened my relationship to Ghana. So yes, my blog is online, but many real life meetings have come out of it!

Read the full Global Voices interview here.

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My 500th Blog Post

After celebrating turning 30 last week, I thought life couldn’t be more festive, but here I am celebrating again! This is my 500th blog post! Woo hoo!

So how did it all start?

Well, I kept a diary since I learned how to write (or from just before, scribble, scribble) and always loved the act of writing. In 2006 some Swedish friends had blogs, and though I thought blogging was a brilliant forum, I couldn’t really find my own tone or topic. When I got the opportunity to move to Paris, I found myself reading blogs, not books, about Parisian life. I think that spurred the decision to start blogging myself. And then the topic was clear: “Non, je ne regrette rien!”

When moving to Ghana in 2007, the blogging really took off. I wanted to write positively about Ghana and Africa, as I thought most reports from this part of the world was negative and chose the reverse image of a dry desert as my blog name: “Rain in Africa”.

In this post, I thought I’d chronicle my blogging experience with looking back at some of my blog posts.

1st Post: First Let’s Have A Song

Jan 9th 2006.

As an Edith Piaf lover on my way to Paris, I started by blogging with the lyrics to her hit Mon Grand Paris.

The post has one link, for the student hostel where I had just gotten a room.

“Paris, je m’ennuie de toi, mon vieux.
On se retrouvera tous les deux,
Mon grand Paris.”

100th Post: First Gear

Dec 18th 2007

I had moved to Ghana and just enrolled at the driving school. Some months later I had my licence, still one of my proudest achievements, and I rarely omit telling anyone who wants to hear that “I learned to drive in Ghana!”

“My goal is to sometime next year be able to navigate between goats and Mercedes-Benzes, yellow taxicabs and banana sellers.”

200th Post: Plantain at Work

Jan 29th 2009

I was now working in the corporate sector in Ghana and decided to tell this funny story about a stray comment during a meeting with suits.

It is in the “only in Ghana”-category…

“Bored, I glance out the window and see some green leaves. To be a bit funny, I turn to one of the guys in the room and ask:

– Are you the one growing plantain out there?”

300th Post: Developing Blogging, Leaving Blogger for WordPress

Oct 18th 2009

Here I took the first step into professionalizing my blogging. Its a post of the advantages of “going WordPress” and also an interactive piece where I am asking my readers for help. From the header you can also see that I now, thanks to fellow Ghanablogger David Ajao, understand how the title of the post should be filled with keywords, rather than just being witty.

“What do you think? Does the name of a blog matter? How it looks? How its posts are categorized? What topics it presents? What URL it has?”

400th Post: Minor Field Study (MFS) in Ghana

May 18th 2010

At this time, I had migrated my blog to wordpress and the domain When the blog looked as I wanted, I was motivated to write more.

This post reflects that I have added a topic to my blog: academically related texts. This particular one, outlines the Swedish MFS program and my current role within it.

“Back to yesterday afternoon. I first took Emma and Ebba to eat some fufu and drink some bissap at Buka. We talked about everything from clinics to corruption, from surveys to soup, from PhD to perfect beaches.”

A bit more than 5 years of blogging in three countries and 500 posts.

Thanks to all of you who read this blog, thanks for your insightful comments and for stubbornly coming back for more.

Out of my 500, which was your favorite post?

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>Sunday – a day for rest?

When a young girl in Sweden, I remember that all stores closed in the early afternoon on Saturdays. Errends had to be taken care of during the week or in the morning hours of that day. Now all that has changed, most stores are open late on Saturdays and on Sundays and with the malls one can do shopping also in the evenings.

Here in France, shops are still closed on Sundays and it has an interesting effect on the French way of life. A sense of tranquility spreads. Sundays are for pure joy and relaxing, going to the park or visiting friends.

Normally, I am not the person advocating for time to be tuned back (nor using biblical headings). But is it really a good idea to have access to shoppning every day? What weekday is for relaxing and going to the park in Sweden?

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>I need no more. I’m done, I’m well, je suis contente!

I fell upon the most magic evening. A friend and I went to Belleville to watch the open ateliers – once a year the artists of Belleville open their homes and ateliers for the public. Suddenly, we were in a crowded room, free kir (white wine and flavour, the classic is cassis/blackcurrent), colorful people, kids, paintings and a sound installation with chanting birds. Someone made a “cling-cling” with a glass and wished us welcome to the concert next door. We went into a church room, beautifully decorated in all white with white candles everywhere. Over the stage it said in gold “Dieu est amour” – God is love. A goodlooking guitar player with an even better looking guitar came in, sat down and started to play. A redhaired singer came in, put on her guitar and started singing French chansons lika an angel, the texts were funny (I could understand quite a lot!), I befriended the older man next to me, and when people sang along…

It was a moment which is hard to explain in the blogformat.

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>*******Vive l’Europe!*******

>What is up in rest of Europe? France is in celebration mood after the somber rememberance of the victims of the second world war yesterday…8th of May and 61 years since the war ended. Here in France it is of course a national holiday. That the day following the 8th of May has been named “Fête l’Europe” just seems self-explanatory. First there was a war, then EU was created to never have war again! (The Schuman declaration was signed on the 9th of May 1950 and was the beginning of the coal and steel union) Let’s have a day for Europe!

– How the French celebrate it? They light up the Eiffeltower and the Arch de Triomphe in blue!

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>Get inspired by George W. Bush

>Bush is often critizised for being a stupid guy. This week, he didn’t try to prove anyone wrong, he just went with the flow. Do as Bush, embrace what is you. Do as Bush, love your shortcomings. Do as Bush, laugh at yourself.

Um, yeah, and follow this link so you know what I am talking about…

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These little hang-ups that form a life. When you go to live somewhere new it is like blowing your routines up with a big bang. But the funny part is that when the dust settles, new, fresh, little greenish, habits are beautifully framing your life, once again.

After a few months in Paris the dust has settled and I wake up every morning to my sister’s voice. She is saying “Tjolahopp” (not possible to translate) in a recording on my cell phone. Then I turn it off about three times before I get up. I shower in the most despicable shower with small flies on the walls – I endure them by singing ANC-songs from the Apartheid times. That makes the flies seem like a tiny problem. Then I get dressed – nowadays fancy office wear – and drink a yoghurt on my way to the Metro. This is a good way of “eating” breakfast even though you have slept away the time to do so. In the Metro, I grab the free paper 20 minutes. It is a competitor to the Swedish success Metro and has won me over because of the simple fact that it is half the size and thereby possible to read in the crowded Metro. I always make sure to look up to when the Metro pass the Eiffel tower, that’s a view I can never get tired of…When the weather is good I get off a station before mine and walk past fruit shops, mailmen, school kids, dog owners and everybody else on the lively 16th arrondissement street. Turning round the corner, I stop at the quartier boulangerie and buy a croissant (I promise, I do) which I eat in front of the computer when checking my emails.

I work. That is also a routine now.

On the way home my routine is not to have a routine. I always try to find a new way home. Today it will be taking Metro 6 to station Franklin D. Roosevelt, changing to M2 which will take me to Place de la Bastille. Ok, this isn’t really a straight track home, but rather to a rendez-vous with other OECD interns and with a glass of white wine.

My lovely routines which I will soon blow up.

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>April in Paris?

Chestnuts in blossom?
Since Thursday, I have been sleeping, drinking juice, blowing my nose, sleeping etc. trying to get well from a mean cold. This is not what spring in Paris was supposed to be. A not so small comfort is that on Monday I finally bought “Da Vinci Code” – I must be the last one to read it. Anyway, I decided to get it en francais – and now I have had plenty of time to learn about the holy graal/sang royal as well as use the dictionary to learn word such as voûte-arch, lanière – thin strap, agenouillé – knelt. As soon as i am well, I’m off to Saint Sulpice to check out some suspicious stones.

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>Orthodox Easter

>Party for two straight days, whew! *hides in room*
The Greeks celebrate the orthodox easter according to the Julian calender (read: one week too late) by going to church and retrieving the fire from Jerusalem. The fire is then carried home – we even brought it on the metro! This fire is used to burn a cross over the door for happiness the rest of the year. After that is is time to break the fast!

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