Welcome InnoSpace Tema

This week, I paid a visit to the exciting new innovation, incubation and coworking space in Tema, InnoSpace Tema. It is located side-by-side to Ecobank in Tema’s business district Community 1 and InnoSpace Tema offers meeting and working space in a good location. 

I chatted with the team behind InnoSpace: Naomi Anita Addae is the Managing Director, Daniel Addae  is a Director and the Chief Technology Officer and Michael Osei Nkrumah is a Director and a Training Consultant, (entrepreneurship and international development). 

Daniel, Naomi Anita and Michael of InnoSpace Tema

1. Why does Tema need an innovation hub? 

InnoSpace is a creative space for creative thinkers. Tema is a Metropolitan populated with very vibrant, talented and innovative youth who are looking to make a positive impact and be rewarded in return. Talk of music and arts, tech, entrepreneurship and more, they’re there. Most people travel all the way to ImpactHub, Ghana Innovation Hub and the likes in Accra to hone their creativity and innovation. InnoSpace is established right here in Tema to fill that gap and to spearhead entrepreneurship – tech, agribusiness, and water & sanitation through coworking, private spaces and enterprise development incubation programs.

2. What is your plan for the next 6 months? 

We just had our first enterprise development stakeholders forum which was oversubscribed; in the coming 6 months, we will be organizing the first ever hackathon in Tema where we bring tech-savvy youth to leverage on technology to solve social and business problems

3. What is InnoSpace Tema especially passionate about?

We are passionate about innovation, entrepreneurship, tech and the SDGs.

Personally, I am excited to see Tema, the center of the world geographically, connect with the world of hubs and offer this service to small and new businesses. And a passionate hub at that.

Learn more about InnoSpace and its offerings on Coworker.com or on Facebook. Other hubs in Ghana you can find on the Ghana Tech and Bz Hubs Network website!

Welcome InnoSpace!

A Stolen Childhood and a Reclaimed Story: Brigitte Sossou Perenyi

Recently, I was introduced to an elegant looking woman in a coffee shop in Accra. She was well-spoken, chic, and had a good sense of humor, and a hello turned into a 30-minute conversation. Towards the middle of the convo, she told me about having had the opportunity to make a BBC documentary about her life. I was quite impressed talking to a twenty-something with her own documentary and told her I would check it out.

The woman was Brigitte Sossou Perenyi and her story was “My stolen childhood: understanding the trokosi system”. This fantastic documentary chronicles Brigitte’s and thousands of other West African girls’ unfair fate of being human sacrifices. In some cultures in Ghana, Togo, and Benin, a committed sin is believed to cause sickness and death in the family which can only be stopped if a girl is “sacrificed” and made a slave of a shrine.

This documentary is fantastic as it shows how striving for understanding of wrongs made against you can free you, how returning to the scene of the crime and remembering together can let your courage spread to others. Our heroine travels the region and speaks to everyone from an Uber-driver, a group of elders, academics studying the practice at the University of Ghana, her trokosi friend who also managed to get free, her family, and to all of us who want to listen to her story. I spent another half-an-hour with Brigitte and cherished every moment of it.

Thank you Brigitte for reclaiming and sharing your story with so much courage and truth-telling!

Trokosi, or ritual servitude, was made a crime in 1998, but no one has been prosecuted for a practice that is still ongoing and affecting many lives.

My Last Graduation at Ashesi University

Saturday, June 1st, 2019 will be my last graduation as a lecturer at Ashesi University in Berekuso. After the summer, I will explore a new path in my career journey.

I have been an employee at Ashesi University since August 2009, I even experienced the ground-breaking ceremony for the Berekuso campus! I can look back on 10 years of joy, incremental learning and meaningful meetings on two different campuses. I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve been provided and I have been proud working for the important mission of Ashesi University – to educate a new generation of ethical and entrepreneurial leaders in Africa – if even in a small way in the classroom and in off-campus interactions. See some photos in the gallery below.

Over this past decade, I have written many blog posts about my time with Ashesi University, here are some of them: Teaching a summer course humbly called Thinking Like a Genius! Fall semester 2012 teaching Written and Oral Communication and Text & Meaning, Teaching Social Theory 2012. Career Fair 2013  (with photos). Reading Mahama’s biography for Social Theory class 2013. Doing a “Grown Woman Internship” with Citi FM. About Ashesi students being cool! Passing on the baton of teaching from my mother to my daughter(?). Getting extremely excited about Virtual Reality in the Classroom in 2016 (now Ashesi alumni led company Nubian VR are doing research on how science instruction in Ghanaian high schools can use VR technology). Having a writing team kickoff and welcoming new talents. On my fav assignment personal artefact speeches in 2018. On my sabbatical – time to think, read and write in 2019.

I also wrote an article for Swiss newspaper NZZ about Ashesi’s approach to ethics which was published in English for University World News as well.

For some moving images of me on campus, see this interview from 2016. (Pulse Ghana)

Recently to my joy, two of my students started blogs of their own. Do also read: Theresa on getting a Visa for her study-abroad when the time was running out, and Masateru on helping his family’s cake business in Malawi with the skills he picked up at Ashesi University. Alumni Karyn went to Sweden for a Master’s and won the Global Swede award!

So on Saturday, it will not just be Class of 2019 leaving the Ashesi community – I will be clasping my handkerchief and remembering the good times as well! Thank you to all fantastic individuals: students, colleagues, alumni, parents, support staff, foundation folks, board members, friends, all who have crossed my path at Ashesi since 2009!

One Month since Ahmed Hussein-Suale was Murdered

Something that makes me feel like I live in epic times, in just the right place is the investigative journalism happening in Ghana. The brave reportages by investigative journalist extraordinaire Anas Aremeyaw Anas have exposed corrupt harbor workers, the terrible ways of the Electricity Company of Ghana, the shockingly brazen wrongdoings of 34 judges and last year, soccer association FIFA and its local organization, leading to a massive fall out from the highest ranks of the game in Ghana. See a full list of Anas/ TigerEye’s exposures here.

Last month, one of the journalists from the TigerEye team was murdered in cold blood. Ahmed Hussein-Suale was shot in his car, first from a distance and then assassinated on close range right in his neighborhood in Accra suburb Madina. This longform article by Joel Gunter, BBC, explains both how central Hussein-Suale was to the Tiger Eye investigative team, and how he was a family man feeling at home in Madina, despite threats to his life.

In an opinion piece in the Washington Post, Hussein-Suale’s boss, Anas Aremeyew Anas writes about his colleague and what would be his last project:

We produce journalistic investigations targeting organized crime and corruption. Last year, we completed an exposé of corruption in international soccer. The BBC broadcast our findings, shaming powerful figures in sports and politics. Sprawling across 16 countries, the investigation required a large team. Ahmed was one of the lead journalists.

We had expected to find corruption, and indeed dozens of officials were filmed taking illegal payments, including a referee scheduled to work the World Cup in Moscow. But then the stakes were raised much higher.

Ahmed Hussein-Suale was murdered on the 16th of January, 2019. His murder sends a message to all truth-lovers in Ghana and beyond that, the stakes indeed are very high. Perhaps higher than they have ever been. Ghana is a country that usually do not see violence against journalists and President Akufo-Addo has condemned the crime. However, we have now all been exposed to the ferocity of evil forces.

One month has passed today since the heinous — and unusual crime– that took one of Ghana’s best journalists and defenders of what is right away, and I am so angry. We need to know free speech is revered in Ghana! We need more people on the good side! We need more exposure of the people who think they are too powerful to be exposed! We need more Ahmeds!

You and I can join TigerEye to do more.

You could join me in writing about and asking questions about free speech and Hussein-Suale’s death.

You could convince me to believe that the future of investigative journalism in Ghana is still bright and that Hussein-Suale’s life’s work fighting corruption with everything he had will be taken forward by others.

My story up on the PhD Career Stories Podcast

Kajsa is holding a mic.
Photo: OP studios

Do you want to know…. what a morning in my home office sounds like?

What I did when I wanted to quit the PhD program?

How activism and teaching are very good companions to research?

…and what I did after completing my dissertation and finally sleeping properly again?

Yes? Then what are you waiting for? Tune into my story on the PhD Career Stories Podcast.

The Recent Royal Visits on Africa Is A Country

At the end of last year, I saw how Prince Charles of Wales was welcomed to Ghana – pomp, circumstance, and reverence – during his royal visit to West Africa.

I had an eerie feeling until I saw the billboards where Prince Charles and Ghana’s president stood together under the text “Shared History, Shared Future”. How could we understand this? To understand (but also fuelled by anger and disgust at this public, at very best, omission), I blogged and attended an event at Libreria to decolonise and discuss, but only this year with another visit, that of the Hollywood actors in the FullCircleFestival, I could tie it all up in a bow in an essay for Africa is a Country.

Find the essay here.

Tema – Center of the World (Call for Presentations)

The Ghana Studies Association is organizing its triannual conference this summer and together with two fabulous colleagues, DK Osseo-Asare and Kuukuwa Manful, I am organizing a Visual Roundtable with Flash Presentations. If you are a researcher who has taken an interest in the city of Tema, Ghana (an extremely interesting space, if I may say so myself as an inhabitant since 12 years), do apply to join us, details below!

City of Tema: Center of the World

While the harbor town of Tema geographically is the center of the world as it encompasses the Greenwich meridian and is the closest landmass to the equator passing Ghana in the ocean, as a planned urban space it also can be understood as central to Ghana’s historical modernization efforts and hence nation building.

In the words of Nkrumah at the official opening of the Tema Harbour, Tema “represents the purposeful beginning of the industrialisation of Ghana”. From the late 1950s to mid 1960s, Tema, true to intentions was both a symbol of and an experiment in modernity and modernisation. Furthermore, Tema was a global city interlinked with the global community through the siting of multinational companies, internal and international migration as well as the harbour which was a hub for West Africa. Paradoxically, the proximity to the capital Accra made Tema peripheral in certain ways and this was exacerbated by the downfall of industries and the decline of Nkrumah’s modernisation project.

What is Tema today and what are unique experiences of Tema like? Is it still central to Ghana, West Africa and the world? What are the contemporary (legacies of) expressions of modernity in Tema?

This session aims to discuss the centeredness of the town of Tema as part of a local and global network of ports and places, from both a historical and contemporary perspective – with a focus on lived experiences, urban planning, design, art and architecture, borders, boundaries, commerce, the state, and transnational entities.

This 90-minute session welcomes 5-minute flash presentations with up to 10 slides and will include a closing conversation making it a visual roundtable.

Chairs: Kajsa Hallberg Adu, Ashesi University; Kuukuwa Manful, SOAS University of London; DK Osseo-Asare, Penn State.

Please submit your flash presentation or a 250-word abstract by email to khadu@ashesi.edu.ghby 27 Jan

Sabbatical or Time to Think, Read, and Write

I am lucky enough to work in a sector where there is a tradition to allow a block of time every 6-7-8 years of employment to focus on research. The time has come to me and this spring, Jan-May, I will be 100% focused on thinking, reading, and writing.

It is exhilarating – so much potential! – and scary. I am worried I will somehow squander the time, get derailed by emails, or just get less productive when the walls of structure that I am used to are gone.

Three weeks into the sabbatical, I am still a bit worried, although have read much more research already than I did all of last semester, and asked senior colleagues for help and guidance. I am also walking more, both to lessen the anxiety and to think better. But should I continue to work from my house with all distractions that come with it or should I find an office space away from home? For now, I am taking up colleagues on their offers of co-writing sessions and paying a short-term visit to a research environment in Sweden for focus and inspiration.

Potential Outputs

  • I hope to finish four papers that are almost (some just halfway) done and send them off to academic journals (and attend fewer conferences and workshops). 
  • I also want to publish shorter texts with more popular outlets (and write fewer emails and blog posts). 
  • I also hope to read more, especially classic texts like Nkrumah and Mamdani but also new ones, especially on decolonial theory and higher education, as well as monographs by researchers I know and aspire to write like (and do fewer lists of books and articles I should read). 
  • I want to do two-three sets of interviews to deepen projects already started (and not only rely on previous data I have collected)
  • I want to apply for research funding (and not think too much about what I am teaching next). 
  • Finally, I want to relax my body which has patiently supported a four-hour daily commute for years!

What would you do if you had five months of work time to plan yourself?

Becoming Ghanaian: Registration as a Citizen Part 3 – The Interview

After 11 years in Ghana, I have applied to become a Ghanaian Citizen. This is the third post in the series of my experience of the application process. Read part 1 Submitting the application and paying the fee and 2 Submitting the Application to Ghana Immigration Service.

Just before the holidays, I sent a few WhatsApp 

messages to my Ministry of Interior contact to ask of my citizenship application. I wanted specifically to know if the application had reached the stage where they would make a home visit and interview my husband and me. After a little back and forth, we decided on the last Friday before Christmas.

It was a brief affair. After arriving almost two hours late, due to Christmas traffic and phone network disturbances to clarify our location, the visit / interview seemed to be centered around two issues:

  1. Did we live where we said we lived?
  2. Had my husband written the “consent letter” to support my application included in my docket?

Everything else was pleasantries that reminded me of cordial, although formal, family visits before an engagement or similar where you take turns to welcome/accept the welcome, offer water/drink the water, and state the purpose of the visit/ accept the purpose of the visit.

At the tail end of the two officers’ visit, we enquired how long it would be before my application was concluded and were told it would most likely be finalized in the first quarter of this year.

So there we have it, step three toward my Ghanaian citizenship is now behind me. End of this month, it will be one year since I started the process and took the selfie that illustrates this post at the Ministries in Accra. 

If you have any questions on this process, please post them below and I will do what I can to help.

Akwaaba Re:Publica! #rpAccra

The Digital Festival Re:Publica is coming to Accra end of this week. See the exciting program for 14-15th Dec here.

I am participating in three events:

  1. “Tired of Manels? Crowdsourcing for better representation” – a diversity conversation with Ashesi University students Janis M’imiemba and Molife Chaplain (Sat 15th at 12.30pm)
  2. “The Importance of Local Languages and Informal Sciences in Africa” – a conversation about the opportunities of the current moment in academia (Fri 14th at 14.45pm)
  3. “Open Science in Africa” – a meet up following on the session above (TBA)

Find all the details of my participation here.

You can get tickets on the Re:Publica website or follow the conversation on social on #rpAccra

My Tentative Conference Program: ASA 2018 #africanstudies2018

I just landed in Atlanta, Georgia and am looking forward to spending the rest of the week at the African Studies Association conference networking and learning from my researcher heroes. The conference has the theme Energies: Power, Creativity and Afri-Futures and is expecting about 2000(!) delegates in 300 events over three days. You can follow all of it under the hashtag #AfricanStudies2018 across social platforms and Ghana studies’ scholars use the hashtag #GSAatASA2018

I have crafted my own mini-program which starts with my own panel at the conference – a discussion on Politically Motivated Internet Shutdowns will happen in this AfricaNOW! special series of issues that are ongoing or new. I also look forward to listening to talks by Finnish/Nigerian feminist and blogger MsAfropolitan Minna Salami during the Women’s Caucus Luncheon as well as the President’s Lecture by Prof Jean Allman, Prof Ato Quayson on Kofi Annan and Prof Mahmood Mamdani – all personal heroes and role models of mine!

This is my tentative and quite busy schedule – still I hope to also have much time for networking and one-on-one-talks! See you there?

Thu

10.30-11.30 My AfricaNOW! panel, see description below

2:00 pm  [Room L403]   Reframing anthropology

2-3.45 publish that article

4-5.45 pitch that article

7.30-9.30 Welcome reception at Morehouse College

Fri

8:30 am [International Hall C]  Registers of Belief, Creativity and Power in Ghana

2-3.45 CCNY Publishing in for Africa

4-5pm Kofi Annan by Ato Quayson

6-7pm President’s Lecture Jean Allman

 7:15 pm in M302 Ghana Business meeting

Sat

7.30-8.30 Queer African Studies association meeting

10:30 am    Roundtable: Futures—African Studies and the Racial Politics of Knowledge Production, 1998-2028 

12.45-2pm Womens Luncheon: Minna Salami

2:00 pm  [International Hall C] Roundtable: Ghanaian Popular Culture Studies: (also Advocacy, also Flash presentations)

6-7pm Mahmood Mamdani Hoormud lecture

7-12pm Awards and Dance party

AfricaNOW!

The increase of politically motivated Internet Shutdowns in Africa: Lessons from democracy research and activism

This session seeks to frame a discussion on internet disruptions as a frontier of democracy research and activism on the continent and seeks to be highly interactive. After an introductory presentation on the state of internet disruptions in Africa, an academic discussant will highlight pertinent issues for democracy scholars and an activist discussant will report on new strategies to curb these disruptions.

Recent elections where shutdowns have been an issue: Mali (August), Cameroon (October),

Dr. Kajsa Hallberg Adu, Ashesi University (presenter), Dr. George Bob-Milliar, KNUST, Ghana (Academic Discussant), Mr. Peter Micek, General Counsel, AccessNow (Activist Discussant)

Becoming Ghanaian: Registration as a Citizen Part 2

After an initial application, payment to MINT, or Step 1 of the Ghanaian Citizenship process I covered in an earlier post, you get called to submit additional, but mostly overlapping documents to the Ghana Immigration Service located just behind MINT. In my case, the processing took just three weeks, but as I was called only once and not mailed, I only went back to check on my application months later, so here you need to be proactive.

The new docs are:

  • A police report which cost 120 GHS. You need a passport picture and your residence permit. The process takes a week.
  • Getting a tax clearance certificate can take long, so start in time. If you are employed, it is your employer who applies for you.
  • As the government last week rolled out the National ID card, getting the Non-Citizen ID card has been impossible, but I was allowed to submit my paperwork without the non-citizen ID card (which ironically I have never needed to use before since its inception in 2014).

Next, I will be visited by an immigration officer in my house with my husband to make sure we are truly married and cohabiting.

After that we might be called for an interview to clarify if the visit was not satisfactorily.

Citizenship applications are approved in batches and I was told I just missed one, so waiting for the next.

So far the process has taken me almost a year since I started thinking about it and gathering the documents and since the beginning of June, since I originally submitted my application, that is effectively six months and about five visits to MINT/GIS.