High Life in Stockholm

The other day on Facebook, I was surprised to see a friend in Sweden sign up to go listen to High Life, Ghana’s famous dance music, in Stockholm, Sweden. High LIfe is desribed by MTV’s Iggy blog as a:

“synthesis of European disco with Carribbean sounds and the influx of Reggae, Highlife is defined as uptempo, funky dance music that relies on synths for the melody. Vocals — often quickly-spoken lyrics that fell somewhere between rap and singing — have a whooshy, lo-fi feel to them.”

Further, the blog suggests,

“Ghanaian Highlife has been influencing every band of the moment — from Animal Collective to Pharell to crate-digging bands like Javelin that actually sample the stuff.”

Apparently, Ghanaian rhythms like High Life, and more recent Hip Life are really making way on Swedish dance floors. The event my friend signed up for, Klubb High Life, is described on the blog Swedish Palms. Under the heading “she be sweet like banana, she from Ghana”, DJ Cedi and Citizen Kofi (sic!) talk about their recent trip to Ghana. UPDATE: They have their own blog here.

“- Vi gjorde som Obama, vi drog till Ghana. Och det var verkligen sweet like banana, säger DJ Cedi.

DJ Cedi & Citizen Kofi är just nu i färd med att boka upp en klubbturné i Sverige och spela in debutmixtapet Gold Coast Rising – fullt med “top choice hits” från Accras dansgolv och freestyles och shoutouts från några av Ghanas största artister.”

“- We did like Obama, we went to Ghana. And it was really sweet like banana, says DJ Cedi.

DJ Cedi and Citizen Kofi (aka Märta Myrstener och John Airaksinen) are right now planning a club tour in Sweden and recording a debut mix tape called “Gold Coast Rising” – full of “top choice hits” from the dance floors of Accra and freestyles and shout outs from some of Ghana’s biggest artists.”

(My translaton)

It sounds great! Sometimes I wish homegrown music was described as confidently in Ghana, and in relation to nation branding, tourism, culture…Still, if you are in Stockholm, go shake your ass to some Ghanaian music at Strand 22-03 tonight!

And maybe some Ghanaian musicians will read this and think,

“First Sweden, then the world?”

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Coz Ov Moni feat. Wanlov the Kubolor and M3nsa

The world’s first musical movie in Ghanaian pidgen or slang English is soon coming to a screen near you. To start with, you get a glimpse of it here!

The theme “Coz ov moni” is smack on post-economic crisis in Ghana. Everything is because of money.

The singing stars of the movie Wanlov and M3nsa are already stars in Ghana. In the new Dust Magazine, both of them are interviewed. Wanlov, known as “the Kubolor” here in Ghana was asked if he is more known outside of Ghana – this is what he answered:

No, I walk through Holland, Copenhagen and once or twice everyday someone will recognise me and say, “You’re Wanlov, right?” Whereas over here, once every thirteen minutes or so, someone will shout, “Ei Kubolor!”

Haha, I think I might be guilty of one or two shout-outs like that. Read the full quirky interview here.

To me, the funky songs totally blends in with the almost rhytmical filming (think music video) to the extent that I’m thinking, “can this really be the first pidgen musical? It just fits so well!”

Must say I also love the scenography which I am guessing is all about finding the perfect real life setting and adding lights – nothing beats reality! Really, Accra’s backyards with its half dressed people and stuffy Internet cafés have never before looked so good!

The producer/director (I haven’t really done my homework here and I think it might be too early in the day to call him) is famous music producer Panji Anoff. UPDATE: The director is King Luu.

All in all, this movie can only be a hit. Can’t wait too see it!

(Yes, dear readers, I’ll put the details up here as soon as I have them!)

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Cinderama – Review


It gets 4 of 5 KHA’s.

Cinderama was a lovely and vivid play, easily the best I have seen at the National Theatre.

The play, which I wrote about last week here, was written by Efo Kodjo Mawugbe and had some funny and quirky details such as a storyteller who doubled as the Chief’s/King’s linguist or spokesperson and who switched between his roles with a comic “duty calls”. A prince who was studying in London and came onto stage with a hand luggage trolley. A main character in Cinderama who over all wanted to study “agricultural engineering” and who’s beads – not shoe – was left behind at the palace as an only clue to the one who caught the prince’s heart…

The direction of the crew of 16 by Fransesca Quartey was clearly successful in that the message came across (children have rights too!) and through imaginative and quick transitions between scenes (this is normally a problem in Ghanaian theatre). Also, I had to control myself to not shed a tear only 10 minutes into the play. We shrieked with laughter in other scenes. Well done!

Light and sound was coached by Technical Producer Tobias Stål and added a professional feel to the story. Afterwards someone said that the smoke maschine has not come on, well, we did not miss it!

Costumes were colorful and with that extra theatre glamour inclusive of glittering stones, gold threads and many costume changes by costume designer Fabiola Opare Darko and beads – which played an important role – by Kati Torda of Suntrade.

However, some scenes, particularly the one with the gravedigger was in local languages which left out parts of the crowd when others laughed seemingly without end. Throughout the 1,5 hours of the play the worst clichés were avoided, but towards the finale the fairytale ending became almost too sweet with Cinderama vowing to stay in Ghana to “help her country” and the prince nodding along. The interesting nuances in the evil sisters’ behavior earlier in the play were gone when curtains were drawn.

All in all, Cinderama is a heartwarming story.

And the best is yet to come, as the play now leaves the National Theatre and Accra and starts touring the country. I feel so glad many young people in Ghana will have the chance to embrace Cinderama and see family theatre at its best!

Ps. After touring in Ghana, the play travels to Sweden see schedule here or order your own performance here.

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>Première: Cinderama, the African Cinderella

> Greetings, my people. [..] I have travelled across hills and mountains, crossing streams and rivers, big and small and lakes and forests, thick and thin. [..] I have a good story for you. In facts it is the very reason for my journey…

The National Theatre of Ghana in cooperation with Swedish National Touring Theatre proudly presents:

Cinderama, the African Cinderella

An old tale in a new setting.
A play by Efo Kodjo Mawugbe.
Directed by Fransesca Quartey.

This Saturday the 6 March, 6pm at the National Theatre, Accra (Tickets 20 GHC, minors 10 GHC) you will have a chance to see the play before it goes on tour in Ghana, starting with the Volta region.

The play is a family play with lots of music and I am totally excited about seeing a Swedish-Ghanaian collaboration on Ghanaian soil.

Hope to see you there!

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>SLS Literary Contest

I challenge all the good writers I know to enter into the Summer Literary Seminars Unified Literary Contest, see a message from the organizers below:

Summer Literary Seminars is announcing its annual unified (Montreal, Lithuania and Kenya) literary contest, held this year in affiliation with Fence Magazine. We are thrilled this year to have Mary Gaitskill judging the fiction, and Mary Jo Bang judging the poetry.

Contest winners in the categories of fiction and poetry will have their work published in Fence, as well as the participating literary journals in Canada, Lithuania and Kenya. Additionally, they will have the choice of attending (airfare, tuition, and housing included) any one of the SLS-2010 programs – in Montreal, Quebec (June 13 – 27); Vilnius, Lithuania (August 1 – 14); or Nairobi-Lamu, Kenya (December).

To summarize, this contest has two really good prices,
1. publication in Fence magazine and
2. a sponsored stay at a writing workshop to develop one’s skills!

The catch? It costs 15 USD to enter the contest and the deadline is just around the corner (February 28, 2010).

Read more about the Summer Literary Seminars Unified Literary Contest here.

Pic: Write something someone else can read!

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>Tonight is Eha-Lakasa Poetry Slam 09

I’m terribly excited, a urban and outright cool event like a poetry slam for the first time in Ghana!

It takes off tonight Wednesday 16th of December 2009 at Alliance Francaise (close to 37 tro-tro station) at 8.30 PM. This is what the poets themselves say about the event.

EHA-LAKASA is the name, POETRY is the movement, SLAM is the battle. “EHA-LAKASA POETRY SLAM 09” is a unique initiative intended to redefine the poetry landscape in Ghana as a medium of communication and exchange of ideas. EHA-LAKASA is a straight talk, street philosophy, poetry and music expressed by the arts. This is the first undisputed lyric-smith battle to storm our nation’s capital; it will be a night of fire works with lyrical vibration. 15 Eha-lakasa poets will enter the ring but only 5 will survive and 1 should stay alive.

So, of course I am looking forward to the competition part which gives this program its special edge, but I am betting the best performance of the evening will be by my talented friend Sir Black. Stay tune for YouTube updates!

Pic: Sir Black, credits to Foundation for Contemporary Art Ghana.

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>Nobel Prize in Ghana


Front side of an award medal in physiology or ...Image via Wikipedia

The 10th December every year is the day when the Nobel Prize is awarded. In my native Sweden, this is a festive day – “everybody” talks about the prize and follow the gala on TV. The medias are full of information about the laureates, their ground-breaking research – but also about the guests and their fashion, the Nobel menu and flower arrangements and the world class entertainment program. Also, students in Stockholm prepare, as they have a crucial role in the evening gala following the award ceremony.

I am proud to say the Nobel Prize was founded by a Swedish businessman, Alfred Nobel, and has become one of the most well known and respected academic prizes in the world. The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo, the other five (Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature and Economics) in Stockholm as Norway and Sweden were in a union at the time of the establishment of the prize. Although it is a Swedish/Norwegian prize, prominent researchers and personalities all over the world are awarded every year. A prominent example is Kofi Annan who shared the Nobel Peace Price in 2001. Other African and diasporan laureates can be found here.

The full list of this year’s laureates – among them Barack Obama (Peace Prize) and Ellinor Ostrom (Economics) can be found here. The touching lecture by this year’s Literature laureate Herta Muller about the symbolic meaning of handkerchiefs and other things can be read here.

Jusr now, I will cook something very nice and complicated for myself – maybe even open a small bottle of bubbly I have on cooling and enjoy the festivities from behind my computer screen. Geographically far away from the Blue Hall, but in my imagination right, right there.


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>Holiday Season in Ghana or Afehyia Pa

>As the Christmas spirit this year is all around, see for instance in the Ghanaian blogosphere Maya Maame telling us about how the elections stole the season last year here, Holli discovering some unorthodox decorations here and Esi working on her Ghanaian wish list here, I thought I’d add to the festivities with a song.

Originally, it was sung at the Goethe Institute Christmas party last week. “Afehyia Pa!” in the chorus means something like “May a Good Year Come to Meet Us!” And hrm, yes, that is yours true blogger second from left.

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>Ghanaian Entrepreneurship: Maksi Clothing Starts with a Boom!

> Today, I am proud of fellow blogger Nana Darkoa who, together with her sister Abena, has creted a clothing line: Maksi. Right now the she is featured on Tv3 saying

“fashion is part of life”


“tonight, amazing models will be walking a catwalk specially built over a swimming pool.”

Indeed, 7PM tonight a fashion show is taking off at the classy African Regent Hotel. I’ve seen a sneak peak of some of the clothes on Facebook and they look young and fun with a local flare.

I think this initiative is part of something bigger, something inherently Ghanaian – entrepreneurship. Most Ghanaians I know (!) has a company on the side of their regular job. Many of them dream about one day doing it full time, but understand you have to start small. Many of them are excellent sales people who cater to the needs of their country. It is very inspiring and exciting!

Maksi Clothing might be an especially professional venture with a big launch with hired models, good photography and copy writing, but it is definitely part of a much wider trend of Ghanaian entrepreneurship.

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>Adidas Apologizes: Kente Is Our Inspiration

Do you remember the Adidas shoe which was marketed as “Kenta” style misrepresenting the West African Kente cloth that I wrote on here?

Fellow blogger Kwabena/GhanaHype today posted the reply he got from Adidas when complaining of their ignorance. The core of the message is

We regrettably made an error in the copywriting process when describing this shoe.

Read it in full here.

In the pic: A Kente weaver shows how to make Kente.

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>Review of Film About Blogging : Julie & Julia

>Just saw the first major motion picture to be based on a blog, Julie & Julia.

It was interesting to see a film (loosely) based on a blog, but I must say my friends and I much preferred the story about the eccentric cookbook writer Julia Child, whimsically performed by Maryl Streep, compared to the bland “heroine” Julie the Blogger. Ultimately, a blog should provide you with stories you otherwise do not get access to, but this blog seemed to be a rather predictable story on how to become a famous blogger.

Still, the film was an entertaining Nora Ephron construction complete with lovable supporting characters (the Julix husbands), lovely Parisian bistrot milieus and loads of butter-drenched food to love.

Enjoy the official trailer here. Bon Appetit!

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>Adidas Hidden African Inspiration: The "Kenta" Shoe

> Yesterday,Kwabena, a fellow blogger alerted us Ghanablogging members of that Adidas is using Ghanaian Kente cloth on a shoe calling it Kenta and acting as they invented it.

Kente is Ghana’s (and Togo’s) pride, being delicately woven in narrow strips by skilled craftsmen – almost always men. Kente is then sewn and worn at very festive occasions such as weddings or just a few strips over the shoulder as a sign of beauty and wealth.

An interesting debate weather or not one can say Adidas “stole” has arisen on ghanablogging’s mailing list (hopefully soon the other side of the debate can be read here and here). I’m all for intellectual property rights, but can a country or an ethnic group have the right to a weaving technique? Have we even tried to patent it? Sure, it would have been nice had Adidas recognized their (potentially huge) market in Ghana and West Africa and called Kente by its real name…but it is a crime not to do so?

As has rightly been pointed out, African Americans, Caribbeans and also other ethnic groups in Ghana have also claimed kente as of late and I don’t hear them saying it is Ghanaian/Togolese.

Actually, these days a lot of the Kente for British and American markets is made by Asians, see this book Money has No Smell by Paul Stoller for more info on this interesting transnational phenomenon.

So rather than forming a blog-war against Adidas, should we instead sue China?

Let me also offer a bonus conspiracy theory: Adidas call it “Kenta” to avoid any legal issues with people claiming “Kente”. Aha!

In the Pic the famous Kenta shoe. Photo credit to Adidas.

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