Sweden’s Colonial Past

In a very interesting piece for Africa Is A Country Blog (the one “that’s not about famine, Bono, or Barack Obama”), Swedish journalist Johan Palme points out that there seems to be a strong recent interest in the Colonial past of Sweden. Because despite what our history classes told us, of course there was.

He talks to historian David Nilsson who says:

“It is true that Swedish interests in Africa were only marginal at the time, and Sweden remained a minor player. But qualitatively I see no distinct line between Sweden and other countries,” he says. “Sweden went to Berlin as a peer among nations, accepted and condoned the proceedings. It was a political justification of a social process that had already begun as Swedish officers and missionaries were already taking part in the colonization of Africa.”

I remember my first visit  to the Ghanaian tourism site, the Cape Coast castle, where slaves were kept in waiting for transport overseas and being horrified when told that Swedes first established a trade point here. “First the Swedes, then the Danes, Portuguese and Brits…”, the guide went on with a monotone voice. I was confused, but my mouth was already talking:

– But the Swedes were never involved in slave trade, right?

The guide glanced over at me and did not have to respond. I got it. The feeling was chilling.

Palme debates why this colonial discussion is now appearing on several fronts  and concludes interestingly that the apparent newfound guilt is maybe merely a fashion and nothing deeper like wanting to understand our history fully:

“Rather than radically re-engineering its [Sweden’s] relationships internationally, perhaps it [looking into the colonial past] is a mere cosmetic paint to appear good again, good by today’s standards.”

A good, and chilling, read!

Ghana’s President in Sweden, Sweden’s Minister of Trade in Ghana

Right now, Ghana’s president John Dramani Mahama is in Sthockholm cohosting the GAVI alliance meeting for immunization and next week the Swedish Minister for Trade, Annie Lööf, will be coming to Ghana.

John Dramani Mahama

In the photo, minister Lööf and president Mahama. Photo borrowed from the Swedish government website/ Martina Huber.

The president is in Stockholm to campaign for vaccines for all children. Ghana is an “Immunization Champion” and have a strong track-record on immunizations. From the website of GAVI:

“As an innovative global health partner, GAVI is committed to promoting the health of children through immunisation and this must be commended”, President Mahama stated in a meeting with Ms. Evans.

He further observed that, “GAVI deserves the support of all leaders desirous of building healthier communities. I pledge my unflinching support as an Immunisation Champion to enable GAVI achieve its noble objectives.”

The Swedish minister comes to Ghana with a trade delegation including Ericsson, ABB, Atlas Copco, Sandvik och Eltel, continuing on the visit three years ago with the then Minister of Trade Ewa Bjorling. The minister is also following up on her favorite issues: innovation and womens’ leadership. She will visit a local innovation hub, Meltwater, and talk to Ghana’s minister of foreign affairs, Hanna Tetteh about women in politics, according to her schedule (only in Swedish).

Granted, these two news items are suitable for a Swedish/Ghanaian blog. But this time, there are more connections! Last week, I saw Mahama at the ICAS13 conference , my daughter got immunized and next week I have been invited to meet with Annie Lööf ! Report to follow.

Swedish News Article Feat. Election Petition Verdict

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While Ghana holds its breath (ok, not really) for the election petition verdict coming tomorrow, my friend sent me this timely Swedish news article from one of Sweden’s premier morning papers with a heading that reads (in translation) “Belief in Future Despite Worrying Wait for Election Results in Ghana”.

I am cited in there, from an interview done some months back, saying:

 

–President Mahama är säkert försvagad av att valresultatet diskuteras dagligen i tv och radio och gör inte många utspel. Det senaste halvåret har varit besvärligt med många strejker bland lärare och läkare i offentlig sektor och en elkris med många dagliga avbrott. I det område jag bor är vi av med elen sex timmar varannan dag, berättar Kajsa Hallberg Adu som bor med man och barn i Tema, utanför huvudstaden Accra.

Translation:

– President Mahama is likely made weaker by that the election results daily are questioned in TV and radio and does few interventions. The last six months have been difficult with many strikes among teachers and medical doctors in the public sector and an electricity crisis. Where I live we do not have electricty 6 hours every other day, says Kajsa Hallberg Adu who lives with husband and child in Tema, just outside the capital Accra.

For the record I also spoke of things going well and stressed there was no panic. But reading this again makes me remember that times have really been tough for some time…

The article is concluded with a (wo)man on the street who voted for Akuffo-Addo who says she will accept the supreme court verdict.

–Jag kan stå ut med John Mahama också. Det gör inte så stor skillnad.

Translation:

–I can live with John Mahama too. It does not make a big difference.

I have the feeling this is a pretty representative view. Tomorrow and the ensuing days will tell…

Read the article in full here.

 

 

Vacation Notes

Equal measures of wonderful things to walk barefoot on, sunsets, good food, ice cream and relaxation. Back in September!

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Travel Destinations: Greater Accra and Gotland

I have two homes. One in Ghana and one in Sweden. Having two homes is normal to me, it is my life.

In Ghana my life centers around the Greater Accra area: the capital Accra, my hometown Tema and my workplace roughly an hour north east of Accra. In Sweden, I hail from the island of Gotland, more particularly the village Brissund and then the cosmopolitan city of Malmo in the very south thanks to my siblings who moved there.

This week, I stumbled across tourist information of my two homes provinces and WOW! they look great! I can’t believe how lucky I am to share my time between these two places…

1. Ghana: Greater Accra (as described by Virgin Atlantic)

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2. Sweden: Gotland (as described by the campaign GotlandJordenRunt)Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 1.55.13 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So when are you coming to visit?

Swedish Bitters in Ghana

The doctor asked, can you get hold of Swedish bitters?

The older woman smiled. Yes, she said, I believe I can. Then she picked up her phone and called me.

After visiting three pharmacies, I found it. Made in Ghana.

Blogs I Read: 3 Swedish Blog Entrepreneurs

Underbara Clara

Clara is THE blogger in Sweden. She is typically Swedish in that she loves nature and works with media. Some of her topics seem contradictory, but Underbara Clara ties them together in a “modern Swedish media mother”-kind of way.

Keywords: Feminist, recipes and fashion, sustainable living, children, countryside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elsa Billgren

If Underbara Clara represents Swedishness and everyday living in the countryside, Elsa Billgren blogging for Swedish Elle, is her opposite. Her life embodies glamour. It is high heels, restaurant brunches, downtown apartments and beautiful friends.

Keywords: Champagne, Oysters, Vintage shopping, Stockholm by night and red lipstick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Onekligen

Lisa Bjärbo is an author, something-in-publishing, a vegetarian and a mother of two and her blog is about all of that. With humor!

Keywords: Children, books, freelance, whats-for-dinner, irony.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photography plays an important role in the three blogs discussed above and serves as inspiration for us who reads their blogs religiously. These blogs are extremely popular in Sweden and these entrepreneurs makes a living off their blogs, either through adverts on the blog and/or the branding she creates for herself through her blog – with spinn-offs like books, magazine articles, radio shows, TV appearances etc.

Reading their well-written, beautiful and entrepreneurial blogs provide the best possible dream-away-kind-of-entertainment for this blogger in Ghana!

My Blogging Year 2011

Photo: Mattias Wiggberg

It is getting late. The year is almost ending. The time has come for bloggers to summarize the year. We all do it differently; I enjoyed  MsAfropolitan’s love letter, the book lists that hyper-readers Accra Books and things and A Fork in the Road shared and Africa Is A Country’s West African club hits!

My summary of the blogging year 2011 might not be possible to dance to, still here it is:

The year started out on a strong note. In January, I learned about Free and Open Source Software for Academics and analysed the Ghanaian “happiness culture“.

During February, I realized  in Swedish media Ghana is often portrayed like a success, economically, democratically and technologically. A more recent text buttressing my point is the top African success stories 2011 at Connected Africa.  This month I also celebrated my 30th birthday and my 500th blog post!

In March, I was inspired by DUST magazine and wrote my own You Know You Are In Accra When – jokes.

April was the month I got more serious and wrote about the mental health crisis in Ghana, sexual harassment and the unrest in Ivory Coast.

On Mother’s day I announced I was becoming a mother myself. At that point in May, my belly was so big everyone who saw me IRL knew. It was not like you needed to be an investigative journalist…  really is there just one investigative journalist in Ghana?

In June, I left Ghana for Europe. First stop was Marseille.  Then it was time for debating homosexuality. A debate that also made it to Global Voices.

In July, our daughter was born. What an experience! What a miracle! What a sweet soul!

In August, she was Virtually Outdoored. So was the Ashesi Berekuso Campus.

In September and October I was spending every hour of the day with our baby in Sweden. Taking walks, breastfeeding and blogging only sporadically.

Second week of November, I returned south and my daughter saw the green leaves and red soil of Ghana for the first time. And the green hoopoe!

In December, we had no water and I wrote about the EU Blue Card. And that was my 2011 year of blogging!

I am sure in the days to come, we will see many more chronicles of 2011 at Ghanablogging.com (soon to change name to BloggingGhana, but that is a story for 2012!)

Gott Nytt År! Afehyia pa! Happy New Year!

Top 3 Swedish Xmas Blogs

Ok, so the xmas spirit is not quite making its way to tropical Ghana. Here it is more banana, dust and business-as-usual than apple, snow and special holiday cheer.  Hence I tend to rely on the Internet for feeling.

Here are my top three Swedish xmas feel providers:

1. Nina

How much more Christmassy can you get? Answer: A little more than 100% as Nina, a professional photographer, not only covers Swedish xmas, but the Gotlandic one too (that is we come from the same island, Gotland, in Sweden). She posts xmas deluxe with lovely xmas “pyssel” (the English “craft” does not cover the entire meaning of “pyssel”), delicious and beautiful xmas treats and views of a frosty island – just like in my childhood dreams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Underbara Clara

Sweden’s best professional blogger. From a cottage in northern Sweden she produces pure xmas spirit and a little jävlarannamma.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Linnea

For my everyday-life-in-Sweden-fix, I turn to former school mate cum professional mother Linnea. She writes about buying environmental xmasgifts, worrying about slippery roads and posting pics of her adorable child and here her belly with child number two. Ahhh, Sweden!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am so thankful to you for helping me get onboard the xmas train! This afternoon, I am forcing the xmas spirit to arrive by putting on a xmas CD, baking some ginger cookies and packing my bags for tomorrow.

Christmas eve will be celebrated in 30 degrees celcius, but among Scandinavian friends and with some of the foods, treats and presents!

Merry xmas! God jul!

Migrants and Human Rights – Tribunal 12 in Ghana?

Yesterday, I got the question if I can help set up a live broadcast of Tribunal 12 in Ghana. So I asked myself, What is Tribunal 12? This is what I found on their website.

Date: 12 May, 2012

Location: Sergels torg & Kulturhuset in Stockholm and all over Europe. (And maybe Ghana! My comment.)

People who flee to Europe are often met with disbelief and suspicion. Many are directly deported at the borders, despite risking their lives. Others are held up in prison-like detention centres lacking basic human rights. Once inside Europe, people are subjected to lengthy and complex asylum processes, often without legal advice. The vast majority of asylum applications are rejected, forcing people to return to extreme dangers. In order to survive, many choose to live hidden without any legal rights.

At Tribunal 12, Europe will be held accountable for these failures.

Inspired by the International War Crimes Tribunal that was formed by Bertrand Russell and Jean-Paul Sartre in 1967, Tribunal 12 sets out to locate the moral, legal and political responsibilities as well as call for a change within the system.

Reading on, the practicalities of the tribunal is that it will all take place in one day, including the ruling of an expert jury. Four sessions (“border control, the asylum process, undocumented migrants, and detention & deportation”) will be held where a prosecutor presents evidence. Drama and art, personal stories and expert witnesses will all be part of the evidence. The program is backed by, among others, The Swedish Forum for Human Rights and Swedish National theatre, Riksteatern.

I find it very useful to question the current treatment of international migrants. And in such a creative way too. Here in Ghana, we often poke fun of what Ghanaian travelers will face at airports when traveling (“watch out for the rubber glove!”, “don’t forget to bring all your used passports for…well, for what really?!” etc). That is, traveling WITH THE CORRECT PAPERS. Not migrating. Not fleeing.

Also, it seems very cool (if I can use such a word in such a serious context) to do something with the inspiration of Russell and Sartre – read more on the Russell-tribunal here. I like!

So, watch this space as I will try and figure out where and how we can take this live event to Ghana. Comment below if you want to be a part of it!
Pic borrowed from Tribunal 12.

This post is a belated Monday Migration post.