>International Conference on African Culture and Development (ICACD)

>In two weeks, Accra hosts an interesting conference, 2nd International Conference on African Culture and Development, ICACD. The program can be found here.

The secretariat of the newly founded organization is placed in Ghana’s commercial hub, Kumasi and it was also there the first conference was held in 2008. A participant, Erica Borgstrom, published her reflections after that first meeting here. She writes:

The conference illustrated precisely how complex the idea of ‘Africa’ is whilst physically demonstrating how competing agendas affect this notion. The premise of ICACD is to be an ‘African Cultural advocate’ to influence policy, placing culture on the broader African development agenda. For its inaugural meeting, ICACD attracted an array of individuals with varying backgrounds and aspirations. Their differing agendas soon became apparent in presentations and discussions. Primarily, this resulted in the (often confusing) multiple and differing use of the word ‘culture’, consequently affecting their attitudes towards an implementation of ‘culture’ in ‘development’.

Africa is not one! Why an initiative like this will not start with the scope of West-Africa – or even Ghana – is beyond me. Because, just like for the AU, geographically broad initiatives that recognize no difference in agendas or set any rules for membership, become toothless.

The second item brought up in the quote above, I also found very interesting since I personally recognize this problem of defining ‘culture’. Being interested in the arts in Ghana, I have been confronted with this often conflicting of interpretations to ‘culture’ – two brought out by Borgstrom are 1) the touristic and sometimes stereotypical “traditional” culture including dancing and drumming and 2) the culture linked to how we choose to live our lives. And then I’d like to add the 3) culture involving all artistic expression, focusing on contemporary expressions, that Borgstrom does not discuss.

However, the issue is critical – what kind of development do we get if culture (whatever the definition might be) is not included? Also, I’m guessing the other executives (I’m the treasurer) of Accra Cultural and Arts Network (AccraCAN) will be there. So, I might steal time away from my regular job to go see if discussions have progressed since last year.

Pic: people and sculptures of people at a vernissage in August at the University of Ghana. Sculptures by the Ghanaian artist Kofi Setordji.

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>CinemAfrica: African Film in Sweden

>Tomorrow, CinemAfrica opens this year’s African film festival in Stockholm, Ubuntu! According to the program 14 films will be shown. None of them are unfortunately from Ghana, but one from Senegal (Mother) and one about Liberia’s President (Iron Ladies of Liberia). See the trailer on YouTube here.

Tickets for the festival can be bought at BioRio.

Interestingly, the Urban Africa Movement that I blogged about here is showcasing some of its photos during the festival.

Oh, I love all of this. I think I have to arrange a similar event in Tema.

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>Jazz Festival in Accra

>Starting today and running until Saturday, Alliance Francaise organizes a Jazz festival in Accra. Every night at 8.30 pm there will be concerts with different jazz musicians. Seeing the program, I do not know what to make of it as all names, thus far, are new to me; Babu Group(Tue), Chico Freeman(Wed), Ka-Tam Trio (Thu), André Jaume (Fri)…

But I’ll gamble by letting my schedule decide and go as many nights I can.

Pic from an earlier event at AF in Accra.

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>Shirley Frimpong-Manso’s New Movie

>For you who, like me, LOVED The Perfect Picture (I posted on it here ) – I have some good news.

According to the blogger Ameyaw Debrah, Writer/producer/director Frimpong-Manso’s new film will be called A Sting in A Tale and can best be defined as an “adventure comedy”. And it’s coming in November!

What ever it is, I’ll go see it.

Also, I wonder who would know how much her previous film made at the box office in Ghana and around the globe?

Ps. There is no decent picture of this superwoman online, please NKA, do something!

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>Article about Adopted Exhibit

This week my article (in Swedish only UPDATE: Now also in some sort of English with Google Translate here. ) on the Adopted art recently exhibited at the German Goethe Institute here in Accra was published in the Swedish Traveling Exhibitions Newsletter here.

Below, I translated a brief part illustrating what the thought-provoking exhibit by Gudrun Widlok was all about.

The center of the exhibit is the adoption office where one can apply to be a “adoptive family” or an “adoptee”. Here are 100 photos of Europeans who wish for an African family as well as a painting where an African family is holding a picture of their new, European family member.

In the pic a Ghanaian family at the opening of the exhibit describes the experience of adopting a European adult .

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>UNDP Photo Contest: "Picture This"

> Stumbled upon this photo contest “Picture This: Caring for the Earth”.

The rules are as follows :

Photos submitted for the contest should also document people in Africa working to mitigate or prevent the effects of climate change or environmental degradation in general. They should be taken from a journalistic sensibility and tell a human story. They could profile a breaking news story, or an on-going project; they could also profile a particular African and her or his work, or a community and its work.

There are two categories: individual photos (up to 5 entries per person) and photo essay (one photo essay, 4-10 photos per essay, per person). You may only enter one category.

You must enter as either a professional or an amateur.

You musthave lived in a country of Africa for 12 months between August 2007 and August 2009.

There is still 6 weeks to go and I think I will enter. It would be really great to own a professional camera, but even greater having Wangari Maathai glance at something I saw through my viewfinder.

In the pic: The supposedly number one prize.

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>Ghanaian Names Return: A Trend?

> Recently, Ghanaian traditional names seem to have gained popularity. FAF spotted it first here.

He writes:

A trend that I’ve seen lately though suggests that might be about to change in the next generation. I cant say I’ve done much research into this so it’s based largely of a few friends that I’d lost contact wiht suddenly popping up on Facebook and other places with the English names gone.

It’s nothing drastic like coming up with a whole new name, just simply dropping the English one and letting the usually Ghanaian middle names take precedence.

Victoria is now Nana Ama
Isaac is Nene
Franklin changed to Kojo Ohene
Raymond morphed into Paa Kojo
Dorcas likes to be called Nana Konadu
Bright is now Kwame

The phenomenon is jokingly called “Name Dropping”, by above mentioned blogger. Remember where you heard it first!

So, Ghanaians like their Ghanaian names – and why shouldn’t they?

As a foreigner living in this country I have also adopted one. I’m EwuraAma to some friends, neighbors, business contacts unhidden joy. Sometimes I use it beacuse it is practical. My Swedish name (Tagsa? Aiysha?) is often not heard right and NEVER spelled right – but other times it isn’t even about practicality, I just want to show people I care about Ghanaian culture and that I am trying my best to be a part of it.

At the other end, I also find it easier to remember Ghanaian names since they many times can be related to a weekday, which leads to a discussion “oh, so you are also born on a Saturday, then we’re twins!” or “I have a good friend who is also a Thursday born!”.

The only problem with this trend is that sometimes when I meet with friends half of us, both men and women, are called Nana!

Pic: Painting at the DuBois Center that I snapped some time back and I now feel illustrates this topic very well.

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>Academic Conference in Ghana: Revisiting Modernization


Today, I visited the official opening of an academic conference, Revisiting Modernization, which is organized as a collaboration between Institute of African Studies at University of Ghana and University of California. I am covering the conference for University World News, will post the article in this space once it is done.

Not only does the conference have a very interesting program – it is open to the public. I am especially recommending their evening programs, the standard was set tonight with a superb dance performance (again a Ghana-US collaboration), tomorrow we can look forward to an art exhibit and on Wednesday a film screening with films such as Baby Ghana, one of the first films recorded in this country!

The conference is the first in a series of three planned in Africa. After this one comes Senegal in 2011 and South Africa in 2013!

Also mentioned in the blogosphere here and here.

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>Nubuke and New Morning

Since I the day before yesterday challenged my fellow bloggers to take a positive twist to their blog posts, I am here leading by example.

There are a lot of new cultural initiatives in Accra and Ghana, often very ambitious and heartwarming, much needed and deeply interesting. Two of them have taken names that suggests “sunrise”, Nubuke means New Dawn in the Ewe language, New morning is the other one – coincidentally they are also my two favorites.

Nubuke Foundation focuses on recording, preserving and promoting Ghanaian culture and history though art. On their website they ask some interesting questions which further defines their purpose:

How best do we preserve the rich Ghanaian legacy in the face of 21st century challenges?
How do we engage with the globally challenged Ghanaian?.
How do we pass down our oral history when families are now split between several continents?
How do we define ourselves indigenously?

They have newly opened their wonderful, spacious premises in East Legon, close to Penta Hotel. About once a month they invite us the general public to an art opening of works that have never been seen before…Like the recent photos of 20th Century Architecture in Ghana.

Tomorrow, Sunday 19th July they invite you and me and everyone we know to the exhibit “Rendez-Vous: Contemporary Ghanaian Art”. The opening with music and small chops starts at 3.30 PM.

My other favorite new initiative is:

New Morning Café which is a stage for young musical talents of Accra.

They put up a wonderful show that has so far taken place on Fridays (see review of “Slam Friday” here) and Saturday evenings at exquisite singer Bibie Brew’s private home in Tesano, Accra – but I heard rumors that the show will be moved to Tuesdays due to Bibie’s engagement as a judge with a talent show in Lagos recording on Saturdays.

A night at New Morning Café is filling for body and soul, wonderfully relaxing and interactive in the most positive sense of the word!

Look out for the next New Morning Café Evening!

In the pics, interactions with the founders of above described establishments.

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>Update: I Saw Obama!

> To update you on my three places to spot Obama, this is what happened:

1. Kotoka Airport

Airforce One came in about three hours after leaving Rome and the G8 meeting, we never knew Europe was so close! I was hanging out with some friends in a bar and when we heard he had landed with Michelle, their daughters and Michelle’s mother (I believe the fact that the whole Obama Family visited Ghana might change the image of Africa in some small way, i.e. Africa is suitable for family vacation) and we headed to the airport area…which was completely closed down. Rumors said they were staying in newest hotel in town Holiday Inn, which was in complete darkness exept for the penthouse…hm.

2. La Polyclinic

BINGO! At about 11.20 am the entourage with numerous shining cars in its motorcade swooshed by. My friend and I had been standing in front of the clinic since about 9. Although it was hot, crowded and the opportunity to view the American president very limited it was so worth it when he finally came by and we were in the smiling, waving and roaring crowd.

3. Viewing the speech with AAAG

Due to traffic out of the city we never made it. In stead we listened to the speech with the taxidriver on his radio on a channel that filled every breathing pause of president Obama with a deep voice saying “Peace FM”. Kind of killed the rhetorics.

I am so pleased! Finished my Obama weekend by dancing to MUSIGA’s “After Party”. I hope your Obama-weekend was fine too!

Pic: Obama family at the Cape Coast Castle, borrowed from lexpress.fr

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>Rain Rain Go Away! (Rain in Ghana)

>This Ghanaian musicvideo “RAiN RAiN” by rapper Scizo and music video director Nii Mantse Aryeequaye/ReDD kaT (more on the video here) is very appropriate for this season. We have rain almost every evening and floods of it. Tropical thunder is also part of the deal.

In the video a popular childrens’ rhyme is used in different ways to give a cool familarity to the song. I liked especially the part in the beginning and the end where school children were repeating it, just like one can see them do anywhere in Ghana.

“Rain, rain go away, little children want to play”

Other references to Ghanaian everyday life is Kelewele (fried ripe plantain with chili and ginger), nimtree ( a very medicinal tree) and “hustler life” – does it need an explanation?

Scizo is a new artist but soon coming out with a second video which just as this one will be recorded in Accra’s Jamestown reports ghanamusic.com. According to the comments on YouTube, “this video is the illest in GH? now”.

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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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