>SIDA Fraud in Ghana

> A few weeks ago, I saw a job listed on jobsinghana.com that looked interesting. It was with the Swedish International Development Agency, SIDA and they needed people for a medium term project. It sounded perfect. In fact, it sounded too good to be true.

Anyways, against my gut feeling I sent in my CV. I did not think of it again, until yesterday when an email reached my inbox:

Dear Applicant,

Thank you very much for your interest in being part of our team at the Swedish International Development Agency (Sub Regional Office). We are currently responsible for the coordination of the activities of SIDA in 8 West African countries and would be happy to welcome you.
I am happy to inform you that you have been shortlisted for the position of a Project Officer. You are however required to pass a management appraisal case study to be administered at the University of Ghana Business School (Executive MBA Room B1 (Second Floor)).
You are kindly requested to report for the appraisal test on Friday June 19th at 3:00pm. The appraisal is an analysis of a case study with respect to team building, conflict resolution in a project team and general project management issues. There will be only one case study to be handled in 30 minutes.

You are requested to come along with the following documents:
a. A photocopy of your certificates (not necessarily certified, we will verify ourselves)
b. A photocopy of your passport or national ID Card (Information page)
c. The e-mail addresses of your two referees
d. A statement on your salary expectations for your position
e. A self address Global Courier Express International Envelope (You may contact Global Express Agencies at Accra Mall-Mother of the Year (Adjacent to Shoprite), Swanzy Shopping Arcade-Cover girl, Shop No 60, University of Ghana-Partners Bookshop (Central Cafeteria opposite Sarbah Hall), Javon Effects(Channel 5 Adjacent Preseco-Nungua), Challenge Bookshop (Adum- Kumasi). Your application documents are being processed in Lund-Sweden so get an appropriate envelope that can be sent from Lund.

Should you require further information kindly send us an email. Please note that we have not mandated anybody to collect money from applicants, anyone who parts financial reward for assistance to any person purporting to have control over the process does so at his or her own risk. The application process is entirely free of Charge.

Several things seemed fishy:
1. How could I’ve been shortlisted without any interview? And what evaluative case study takes 30 minutes?
2. Also I noticed the email came from a gmail account, which seemed unprofessional for a development agency.
3. I checked SIDA’s official jobs’ website, but there was no trace of any projects in Ghana (but in Lusaka and Kabul).

I finally wrote an email to the Swedish embassy in Abuja, Nigeria and got my expected reply this morning:

SIDA har inget kontor i Ghana så detta är nog en “scam”. in English
SIDA does not have an office in Ghana so this is probably a “scam”.

Probably? It is, my friend! I have heard of these things before, to recieve your price (or job opportunity in this case) you go to some deserted place (University of Ghana has vacated) and you get…thats right: robbed.

So this is a warning to all job seekers, there is no SIDA job in Ghana.

12.20 PM Update: Fraudsters get cold feet?

After blogging about this, I decided to also notify the University of Ghana about the planned fraud on their premises.

Also, just now I recieved this email.

Dear Applicant,

Thank you for your interest in joining the project team at the Swedish International Development Agency (Sub Regional Office).

You have been shortlisted as a manager in one of our 8 project offices.We will communicate back to you by the close of the week.

However if you inadvertently received an email intending for shortlisted Project Officers to participate in a management appraisal test at the University of Ghana Business School, Kindly disregard it.

Sorry for the error. Thank You.

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>GhanaMade and Made in Ghana Magazine – A Trend?

> Recently, stores carrying products MADE IN GHANA have popped up all over the place, practically named GhanaMade. Reportedly, there is one on Spintex road, close to the Coca-cola roundabout, three in Tema (C1, C2 and C8) and one close to Accra Poly.

The friend who told me about it was very excited, and so was I. The time has come for Ghana to promote and buy its own products. Yesterday, I read about a magazine called Made in Ghana Magazine to promote products made in this beautiful country (Daily Graphic, unfortunately not on the web). Is it the same person behind both initiatives? Or are they just part of a trend?

Personally, I take agreat intrest in stuff made in Ghana and try to patronize it as much as only possible. In my home you’ll find for instance Ghanaian brown rice, spices, canned tuna, cocoa liquor, of course fruits and vegetables, but also furniture (some from Yenok) and cloths (which I posted on here).

So two days ago, equipped with a shopping bag, I made a visit to the small Tema Community 8 branch of GhanaMade (see pic). Unfortunately, I was not too impressed by the messy displays or choice of items (mainly Nestlé stuff that has a relatively low local feel, in my opinion) and nothing I haven’t seen before.

However, the stores are new, the initiative is excellent and I’ll give them a second chance soon. And I’ll keep you posted on the Made in Ghana Magazine.

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>HOME in Accra

> The film “HOME” by photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand will be showing in Accra on Friday, June 5th, 8 PM at the Alliance Francaise. Free entrance!

At the same time the film will be showing around the world to promote awareness for the environment, for instance beneath the Eiffel Tower in Paris!

Also the film will be visible online at the same time on the film website, see the link above under “HOME”.

Since I saw the exhibit “The Earth from Above” in Stockholm a few years back, I have had one of Arthus-Bertrands photos on my wall. He takes his pictures from a helicopter and this picture he has taken flying close to the ground in Ivory Coast – the smiles, welcoming waving hands and colors of this crowd always make me warm and fuzzy inside.

I will definitely be there to watch his film and marvel at the beauty of the earth, our home.

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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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>The Perfect Picture : Film Review

> So I have now been to see the wholly Ghanaian produced film, The Perfect Picture, I wrote about earlier here.

Shirley Frimpong-Mansu is the super-woman behind script, directions, casting and editing. And it was perfect! I went with my husband and some friends and we all had our laughs and loved the high audiovisual quality…as well as the story line. Three good friends – so good you wish you were one of them – are looking for love. One gets married in the opening scene, one is a man-eater and the last one says she will never marry. Here the intrigues start.

The film held a high tempo and included a entertaining and believable characters, references to daily life in Ghana “you make it sound like I could just go and pick up a baby at Koala!” (Koala supermarket being a popular supermarket in Accra) or “I’m not a fan of weddings, but you my friend make it worth every pesewa!” (pesewa being the Ghanaian equivalent to cent, penny or öre) and even a fun, feminist take on car chase.

The film also contained obvious product placements that were acceptable only because we have never seen Ghanaian ones before. For instance, one can only feel excitement when the three friends even went to see a film in the same cinema complex we were watching them in!

And then sex. Appearantly, the film set itself apart from all other Ghanaian productions EVER when it showed a kiss on the lips between the newlyweds in the first scene. After that, we got both scenes from different bedrooms (see the trailer above) as well as “sex-and-the-city”-kind of girlfriend talk on the topic. I think the Ghanaian audience was shocked at times (even though the scenes never really went beyond regular Hollywood steam) and at one point a woman sitting close to me in the dark exclaimed:

Oh, will we watch just kiss-kiss-kiss?

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>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?

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>Salsamania in Accra

>Tomorrow it is Wednesday and I am going dancing!

A few weeks ago I decided to take a friend to the Coconut Grove Regency Hotel in Ridge in Accra on a Wednesday evening to see if the latin rhythms still was shaking the place. And if they were! I now cant remember why I ever stopped going and quickly made myself a promise to make it every week.

Local radio station CityFM are nice enough to offer this weekly Salsamania program free of charge. I try to arrive a bit early, around 7 PM to get a parking space in the neighborhood. At 7.30 there are classes on beginner and intermediate levels. I have learned some moves in the intermediate group, but it seems the purpose of the class is to get people moving rather than really transmit dance steps. Then after some 20 minutes of class we gather round the pool and start the row dancing (see pic), for instance to Mambo no 5 (which is the only one I have really mastered). This is so much fun!

Ok, people have stepped on my toes and some combinations seem impossible to ever learn. But the feeling when you get a few steps right in the big crowd of like-minded people! If I am lucky I then find some good salsa dancers for the next section of proper salsa music for proper salsa dancing. Most Ghanaians seem to have adopted something close to Cuban style, which is (lucky me!) my preference. Also, quite contrary to salsa dancing in Sweden, there are two guys to every girl, which makes it easy to pick good dance partners.

There is also really good chicken khebabs to eat and drinks to gulp down in the still warm tropical evening (strictly water for us dancers!)

After just an hour of salsa, I can’t be upset regardless of how my day has been. Sweaty and happy and sit in my car around 10 PM, driving home.

Listening to salsa, of course.

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>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.

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