The Power of We: Three Examples from Ghana

 Blog Action Day 2012,  or #BAD12 for short, is a day where bloggers all over the world together write on one topic. Over the last years, I have participated on themes such as “poverty” and “climate change”. This year a slightly more poetic theme has been chosen: “the power of we”. I thought of providing examples of this “power of we” from three organizations I am involved with here in Ghana. The way I see it, the power of we is about both building a community internally and working for a greater good, together. There are definite overlaps in all three examples:

1. Ashesi University College

Pillars: Leadership, Scholarship, Citizenship.

Mission: to educate a new generation of ethical, entrepreneurial leaders in Africa; to cultivate within our students the critical thinking skills, the concern for others and the courage it will take to transform a continent.

The power of we at Ashesi: Except for stating in our mission statement we are interested in fostering concern for others and change in our community, we locally on campus cultivate an “Ashesi community” by

  • having campus wide events where everybody from the security man to the students and lecturers to the President Patrick Awuah are expected to attend,
  • having a shared emailing list,
  • celebrating eachother’s success and also
  • including graduates or workers who leave as part of the community.

Personally, I value this community as a treasured part of my remuneration for the work I do and try to give back by inviting the community to events I organize like  and helping to build capacity, especially in social media.

Learn more about Ashesi or read my other posts on Ashesi University College.

2. BloggingGhana

Pillars: Friendship and Technology

Mission and Objectives: to bring the Ghanaian blog community together in real life!

  1.  Serving as a forum for bloggers in Ghana to network and exchange ideas
  2. Building capacity among bloggers in Ghana
  3. Accessing new audiences for our blogs through a mutual website (aggregator) and other activities
  4. Promoting citizen journalism in Ghana
  5. Educating the general public in Ghana on the opportunities of social media

The power of we in BloggingGhana: For this organization, the power of we became glaringly apparent when we last year decided to upgrade ourselves from a group of friends who had met every month since 2008 to discuss society and social media to a registered non-profit organization.  We were hesitant of taking that step, I guess worried that it would take the fun out of the group. Eventually we dared to take the step!  Registering as an official entity has allowed us to partner with other organizations and look for funding, and only 1,5 years after receiving our documents, we have come a long way in promoting and improving social media use in Ghana. And we are still having fun!

Join BloggingGhana or read about our projects, BlogCamp and GhanaDecides.

3. Nubuke Foundation

Pillars: Record, Preserve, Promote

The power of we in Nubuke Foundation:  This art foundation located in Accra does excellent programs and bring together people from the whole artistic spectrum in Ghana. They have the NuFriend program for people who want to promote and help the organization, but that was never enough for me. I have been volunteer since the first time I set fot on their premises, and not just me, the place has many volunteers and almost every month a new face can be seen helping out! Why is this? I believe the directors of Nubuke, the Ghanian artist Kofi Setordji and the art collector and curator Odile Tevie are excellent leaders who really see the people around them and recognize how we can help. Still today when I have less time to volunteer (the few hours a month have gone down next to 0 since I had my child), they always greet me with a smile, tease me about   something and call to check in. They know, I am a volunteer for life and treat me as such!

Visit Nubuke Foundation or read my earlier posts here.

 Conclusion: Two levels of the Power of We

So all these three Ghanian groups have a strong culture where individuals feeling a part of the family is key to the success of the organization. But even more important is that they all have missions that guide us to do something bigger, something better, something  that resonates with the longing for the “we” in the human individual. Or as Margaret Mead puts it in one of my favorite quotes ever:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Read fellow Ghanaians who have written on the Power of We here: Maya’s Earth (our co-founder also wrote on BloggingGhana!), African Feminist Forum, Ghana Humanists and Obed Sarpong.

Gaddafi, Arab protests and a New Wave of Democratization

I have been thinking for a while on how to attack the issue of the recent protests in Arab countries on my blog.

There are so many aspects that could be covered:

However all these topics have been discussed already, so I will instead write a few lines about how the current affairs section of my Social Theory class at Ashesi University College this semester – exactly because of the turbulent times –  has become the most exciting time of the week.

Each week four students prepare a brief presentation of the events over the last week, for Ghana, West-Africa, Africa or the World. Neatly dressed as TV-presenters, sometimes even opening with “Welcome to the 9 o’clock news, my name is ….”, they talk us through the recent news and we try to fit the events with the sometimes ancient thoughts presented in the course.

The developments are unexpected and mind-blowing and as demonstrated above, there are so many interesting aspects (even apart from the often quoted social media angle) of these protests.

These are indeed very interesting days to follow the news, but each week something that is discussed in my class is not present in mainstream media – the situation in our neighboring country.

Have we all but forgotten about the serious political standstill in Ivory Coast?

Photos: Ashesi students presenting the political news of the week.

>Busy Everyday Life

>This week was also not a good blogging week – what is happening to me?
Well, let me tell you and at least that gives me a few days respite!

These days I teach Monday through Wednesday. It is a lot of preparation work, since I am teaching two classes that are new to me. It means all lectures, assignments, readings and handouts have to be prepared from scratch. I knew this semester was going to be heavy and truly, even though I love my work I have been very busy.

As you all know, I am also hoping to soon start my PhD at University of Ghana. The update is that my department in January arranged for supervisors and now it is up to the School of Research and Graduate Studies to officially admit me to the program. Yesterday, I was tired of waiting and wrote a letter of inquiry into the application process to involved parties. And I think that was a good thing to do, because all the three recipients were not in their offices when I came around.

Outside of work and study, I am engaging in civil society. I am a part of the Fabulous Feminists (FabFem), the Accra Book Club (ABC), the Accragio choir (but that’s a different blog post, Sppp) and the Ghanaian bloggers’ group Ghanablogging.com.

The FabFem met yesterday, a fun meeting as usual with young, female, fabulous, professionals with one or two things to say about feminism. Especially interesting for this meeting was that we talked about what we as a group can do for our community. I’ll keep you posted. (also, a new member of the group recognized me from my blog! celebrity life, here I come!)

The ABC last month read Swedish (!) writer Stieg Larsson’s book from the Millenium triology. I missed that meeting, so I look forward to saying a thing or two on Lisbeth Salander’s impact on Swedish society at the ABC meeting next week. This month we are reading Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negroes (and hey, there’s another blog post).

Ghanablogging.com
is meeting the week after that, but as I am the anchor of the group, every week there are things to take into consideration. People who want to join our network, have meetings with us etc. Last week my colleague Edward and I spoke about blogging at Radio Universe, University of Ghana’s student run radio. At this point in time we want to spread the blogging habit or citizen media to others and are planning an event around that.

Tonight there is a performance with a female flamenco group with the scariest and best name, Mala Sangre, at the Alliance Francaise. 8.30 pm!

And that is my busy everyday life!