My #2016bestnine on Instagram

Last year I increased my presence on Instagram and ended up with 244 posts which were liked a whopping 6971 times! Thank you!

(and if you are not part of the 800+ people who follow me yet, I am @KajsaHA there too!)

You apparently like:

  1. Me graduating with a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in African Studies from University of Ghana
  2. Me taking a selfie with an umbrella and a yellow Ginko Biloba tree at the Mall in Washington DC (steps away from where people did NOT assemble for someone’s inauguration last week)
  3. My daughter Ellen zipping up my dress.
  4. Smiley husband and I on a night out at the National Theatre.
  5. An intimate sibling embrace.
  6. Girls being silly in new swim caps.
  7. Garden marvels (it is palm nut kernels!).
  8. Long shadows on one of the shortest days of the year.
  9. Live broadcast technology that allows my mother in Sweden to follow my graduation in Ghana (see #1)

Comment on what you want to see in 2017!

 

My Children on the Blog

So in-between blogging, researching, and teaching, I do have a private life. The main part of that life is my two children. I have mentioned them every now and then here on the blog, like when they were born: Selma in 2011  & Ellen in 2014, and in a post on our racialized lives “You are yellow and I am brown” and in a post on how to carry a baby Ghana style (one of my few videos). 

2016-08-23-07-31-39

However, I would like to write a little more here on the blog about my children, things we do together, and challenges we face as a family. I will do so under the category: Parenting.

While some might feel one should not “expose” children online, I see my online life as a part of my life and it feels strange to “hide” them away from my blog. Also as my children grow and frankly become more fun to hang out with, I think I have more to say about them, their activities, and about life with children more generally. I am mindful of that they are their own people who should get to tell their own story, but until they start their own blogs (oh, what a dizzying thought!), I think I can say quite a bit more without compromising their integrity.

If you have ideas on topics you’d like to read relating to life with children, do leave a comment!

What do you have in common with your spouse?

Holding Hands

You know these couples who you can see about town together – busily chatting while driving to work, shopping for the weekend, elegantly dressed and smiling at an evening event? Clearing the farm silently side by side, donning matching funeral blacks, walking the beach hand in hand? Mr and Mrs, enjoying each other’s company? Well, I don’t have that and I am not sure its what makes unions last.

I do envy the “Mr and Mrs”-couples (or the “Mrs-and-Mrs” or “Mr-and-Mr” as the case may be), especially when I am at an event on my own and drive home alone. Or do I? Because at the event, I will stay as long as I find it fun, socialize with new people,  and in the car home, I will play the music I love, on high volume and sing along. Is that really bad?

I am in a relationship since 13 years and married for about half that time. When we first met, I bragged to anyone who wanted to listen (and probably a few more) that I had found someone who was just like me, a twin-soul. I believed that the “Mr and Mrs”-coupledom was equal to happiness and planned my week around time with my man.

However, soon I could not hold back a yawn when watching football with my spouse and he could not keep his eyes open for yet another art-exhibit. We discovered one of us was more of an extrovert and the other more introvert in personality. Where I have made a name out of my blog and social media presence, my husband belongs to the few who never even got on Facebook! (He does like LinkedIn, the one social media site that does not interest me much). My husband is big on Ghanaian traditions; funerals, family sit-downs, and chieftaincy politics – I enjoy keeping my weekends open to cooking/baking, house parties and time with close friends and family.

After 13 years together, my spouse and I have accepted we are different people. We do converge around late night talks on politics or “Sunday”-special type meals in our garden. We have our children, bank accounts (sort of, but that’s another post), and some future plans in common. But when it comes to interests, we are like night and day. My spouse simply says “opposites attract”, but I think we actually have some key values in common, like freedom, joie-de-vivre, and not-wanting-to-pretend, that we honour by following our own path. That means more often than not, you will see one of us in town alone or with friends, later going home with much to tell.

Photo: Soulascriptura.com

This post is the first in my new series of more personal posts to be posted on Fridays, Personal Friday.

Did President Mahama Go Too Far? State of the Nation 2014 #SOTNGhana

Screenshot 2014-02-28 11.30.30This week, the Ghanaian mediascape was cluttered with comments about the state of the nation address, held on Tuesday. All well and good. The problem was, most commentators were upset about the light tone of the speech, at a time that is hard for the wo/man on the street.

See for instance CitiFM or InformGhana‘s storify-summaries of the discussions on Twitter.

Read the whole State of the Nation address here on the presidency website.

Interestingly, my last post here on the blog was on Ghanaian political humor and I personally felt the president just “joined the grammar” (“Mr. Speaker, who said ‘Tweaa’?”) and spoke about politics in the most Ghanaian way possible, with some jokes and a hearty laughter.

But clearly, I was in minority. Most commentators sighed (or even booed) and said that our politicians have lost touch with the reality on ground. What do you think?

 

Pic borrowed from InformGhana, BloggingGhana’s new project.

YesiYesi, Falling Cedi and Laughter: Ghanaians and their Political Humor

Screenshot 2014-02-18 10.29.06Probably I should not put this in a blogpost, but rather write an abstract together for an academic paper with my inspiring colleague who writes about Ghanaian politics in just this way.

Anyways, I am thrilled that YesiYesi now provides almost daily, online satire with “the onion”-like twists of Ghanaian daily news. It is the first time someone (who?) has put together online versions of the very typical Ghanaian, political humour online in such a consistent manner. In a blog! (Please join BloggingGhana!) In the last few days we have read about …Justin Bieber moving to Ghana, Ghanaian women refusing Valentine’s gifts if the Cedi can stabilise, Ghanaians soon being able to go to UK without a Visa, and my favorite, KNUST charging  toll for walking on the pavement, the rate based on your foot wear…chale wote was cheapest…haha, I have to laugh just by thinking about it!

Finally, Ghana has its own news satire, and, YesiYesi, it is on point!

 

Research Friday and Ghana Style Gagnam Style (Azonto)

Today, I am all about research. Finally! This semester, it has been more than difficult to find the time to sit down and read, write and theorize due to everything else I am doing, like teaching and Frontlining. But today, it is happening.

I have already had two cups of coffee (the second one as ice coffee as its already hot out).

I have sorted all my research related papers in five piles: unread articles and reports, read – but not incorporated, African studies research not directly related to my dissertation, teaching related research and my own drafts of conference papers, timelines and dissertation chapters.

I have realized its been so long since I worked on my documents I don’t even know what version is the latest! The one in Dropbox? In my computer PhD folder? In my email? On Google Drive? Arggghh.

But then I was sidetracked and found this cute Ghanaian version of Psy’s Gagnam style:  Cp3 Ghana style (She likes Ghana style) ripe with Azonto dancing, sleek Accra vistas and gorgeous people in slim jeans and everything was alright again.

Enjoy!

Black Out, Media Ban and Coup D’Etat in Mali

Phew, what a busy news day!

It all started yesterday around 7.30 PM when the lights flickered like they do before an unplanned “power off”, then complete darkness followed.

Apparently the black out affected the entire nation of Ghana and still GRIDCO cannot account for how this could happen again – this was the fourth country wide black out this year. I had just completed by dinner and this power outage sent me straight to bed. Unfortunately, it also sent three very sick people at the ill equipped Komfo Anokye hospital in the Ashanti region into eternal sleep as their life support machines went off and the generator was not kicking in.

In the mornings we listen to popular radio channel Joy FM, belonging to the Multimedia Group. I especially like their morning show in which government representatives are often called upon to explain to us why development projects ahve stalled, salaries not been payed, goals not met. Today they announced that Ghana’s government had placed a ban on the Multimedia group, not allowing them to government press conferences and not granting interviews anymore. The deputy Information minister James Agyenim Boateng was reported to have said:

“We’ll find other platforms to carry out our messages. Multimedia journalists are not invited to cover state events”

This might sound very strange for a government to do during an election year, especially since the Multimedia Group is so popular. However on Twitter far from everybody was worried or surprised:

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/nautyinaccra/status/182760268399521792″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/nii_ayertey/status/182794155846672385″]

Kojo Pumpuni Asante from the Center for Democratic Development was more concerned and suggested the move to ban a media house from state events was unconstitutional and a threat to press freedom,

“Chapter Five of the constitution on the Bill of Rights is very clear: it guarantees the freedom of the press. Chapter Six, on the Directive of State Policy, imposes an obligation on the executive and all arms of government to ensure that we have a democratic state. Article 21 of the constitution talks about our Right to Information, Chapter 12 of the constitution guarantees the independence of the media.”

In the evening, the government issued a clarifying statement outlining their grievances and events leading up to the decision. Also the statement ended on a hopeful and peace seeking note:

“Government remains committed to press freedom and would ensure that these freedoms are guaranteed at all times. In this regard, the Ministry of Information has accepted a request by the management of Multimedia for a meeting”

Follow the continuing discussion on Twitter under the hashtag #MultimediaBan

Finally, Mali, a West African country that has been a stable democracy for 20 years however with a growing conflict in its northern provinces, had its military take control of the country in a coup d’etat.

A foreign researcher in Mali, Bruce Whitehouse shares on his blog, a detailed and personal account of this tumultuous day starting at 7.30 am. The last section reads:

8:00 p.m.: Africable TV airs a pre-recorded interview with Capt. Amadou Sanogo, leader of the CNRDR. The journalist asks him, what assurance can you offer that you won’t organize fraudulent elections and cling to power yourself? Sanogo responds by saying he is an honest, sincere man who knows what he wants. At several points his remarks elicit applause from the soldiers gathered around him. He reiterates his goal to preserve Malian national unity. I notice he wears a US Marines eagle, globe and anchor pin on his fatigues: has he undergone USMC training at some point?

Asked what will become of overthrown president Touré, Sanogo replies in a roundabout way that the Malian people “know who is who, and who did what,” and that everyone must answer for what they have done. The final question concerns whether Sanogo is being manipulated by “certain members of the political class”–to this, Sanogo responds that he is so apolitical, he has never voted in his life.

Living in West Africa is most days not at all eventful, but rather relaxing, intriguing and fun. Today was a day when I instead felt drained and saddened by what seems to be steps backwards instead of the much awaited leap ahead.

Ghana’s Happiness Culture

Ghanaians are often described as a “happy people” and just the other day in a group of Ghanaian young adults I was thinking to myself, somewhat grumpily: “what on earth are they laughing about?”

So it is roaring with laughter that I read my GhanaBlogging colleague  Graham‘s grumpy, but on-point, observation about the “enforced happiness” (Graham’s words) or “happiness culture” (mine) of Ghana. He takes us through everyday life cheer, party fun, church enjoyment and with an eye for detail he notes that Ghana’s most popular radio stations are called Happy FM and Joy FM! Graham continues his rant:

Even the music coming from the radio is happy! Hip-Life, High-Life, Happy, Happy, Happy. The music’s light and fluffy drum beats and the synthesised sounds have far too much sugar in them – give me vinegar any day!

Almost in a reply, Anti-Rhythm argues that the play in learning was taken away by the colonial influences on Ghanaian education.

In these our lands, many years ago, we used to learn by playing. Through song and dance and theatrics, we learnt what was relevant for our circumstances then.
When the colonialists came to inflict their cut of formal education on Africa, we left the fun behind.

Does that mean that Ghanaians were even more happy in ancient times?

Magnus in Ghana on Swedish TV

tv4 Ghana Magnus Ericsson

Yesterday, I was seated in my friend Magnus Ericsson’s house to see how his TV-debut came out in the TV4 program Felix stör en ingenjör (translates into: Felix – a well-known Swedish TV-personality – disturbs an engineer).

Well, Magnus did wonderful!

The program provided (a tiny bit of ) information about the Sweden Ghana Medical Center Magnus is working on and featured some truly wonderful footage from Ghana. There were also some funny episodes including a wall gecko, a fetish priest known from Facebook (see pic below) and a tailor made fantasy coffin that made us Swedes present in Magnus’ living room shriek with laughter!

See the program on TV4 play.

Today’s Best Email

In the name of research, I am sharing this email I just found in my inbox with you!

Subject: Do you know caves with bats?

Dear All,

If you know locations of bat caves you could help a research team in Kumasi
and earn some money, see file attached.

BAT CAVES
REWARD FOR INFORMATION
An interdisciplinary team of scientists from Ghana and Germany
have established a research program into bat ecology and human
health. We will be happy if you could provide us with information
about caves with bats in high numbers in Ghana.
A reward of GH¢30 will be provided for new information on cave
locations that we then decide we can use in our study.
We require information on:
• location
• size of cave
• whether bats use the caves and their number if known
Please contact Prof. Samuel Oppong on 0322 060 381 or 0244
535 692 or email heather.baldwin@uni-ulm.de.

Thank you for
your assistance!