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!

Becoming Ghanaian: Registration as a Citizen Part 2

On Wednesday, I submitted my application to register as a Ghanaian citizen to the Ministry of Interior (MINT). I described the first step of the process in Registration as a Citizen Part 1. Between then and now, I was making sure all paperwork ( see a checklist in the earlier post) was in order and properly copied. 

Next steps

I was told the next step (to be expected in a few weeks) is a letter sent to Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) for them to start their investigation. GIS will call me in for an interview. Then GIS will write a report to be handed back to MINT. The folder will then be sent with a recommendation to the president. The whole process takes 6-12 months.

 

Group effort

I am part of a group of several foreigners living in Ghana applying this year. We are all members of the International Spouses of Ghanaians (ISAG) group. We have a WhatsApp group where we share information and cheer each other on. It has been very helpful and I encourage anyone who has to go through larger application processes to organize with others or join already available groups, for instance on Facebook. The group I Väntan På Familjen for instance shares info on family-related residence permits to Sweden.

The officers at the ministry are also very helpful and friendly. I spent less than 15 minutes getting my application reviewed and submitted.

 

Clarification on completing the application

Submitting the paperwork to office 17 I learned:

  1. The application sponsors ( in my case, a lawyer friend and a family member in the public sector) should ideally use their STAMP under their signature when signing the form. (Nowhere is that indicated on the form or checklist). I had letters from the sponsors in addition, one of them luckily with a stamp, so it passed with some frowns.
  2. The MINT officers did not ask for a police report (something we were told when buying the forms but was not on the checklist).
  3. Before submitting, a Notary Public stamps the application. You can find one to put a red seal on your application at the High Court (around the block from the Ministry of Interior) for GHS 50.

If you have any questions about the process, I will try and answer them. I will also continue reporting here about the progress of my application to naturalize!

Becoming Ghanaian: Registration as a Citizen Part 1

About two years ago, I saw a newspaper article about a citizenship ceremony held in Accra. In the photo illustrating the article was a small group of well-dressed, brand new Ghanaians smiling widely. One of them was a fair-skinned woman. I think I was at that moment, a lightbulb lit up in my mind and I thought to myself, “But of course! I will also be a Ghanaian!”

Last year I discussed this idea with the members of the International Spouses of Ghanaians (ISAG), who were most helpful when I was applying for permanent residence eight years ago. Now a handful of us agreed, it would be good to become Ghanaians! One of us went to enquire at the Ministries about the process, another talked to someone who just passed through the process. We were happy to find out that it would not take more than six months and cost GHS 3000, a quite reasonable sum for adding the rights and responsibilities of a whole new country to your person.

 

Why going for a Ghanaian citizenship?

I can think of many reasons ( I will list them all below), but it is based on the general feeling that one should hold a citizenship for the country where one resides permanently, and return readers will know I have lived in Ghana for 10 years now.

Here are all my reasons for going for a Ghanaian citizenship:

  • I live in Ghana and would like to hold all the rights (like voting) and responsibilities (like being involved in local government) as others who live here.
  • My current status could be revoked. I hold an Indefinite Residence permit, but have to ask permission to leave Ghana for more than one year. The Ghanaian government could say they don’t like my reason for staying away, and revoke my indefinite residence permit. If I get divorced, I am also not sure what happens to the indefinite residence permit as it is based on being a spouse of a Ghanaian.
  • My children and spouse are Ghanaians. At this stage, my husband has no reason to apply for Swedish nationality, but it would still be practical and nice to all have the same citizenship.
  • I would also like to inspire and perhaps even surprise jaded Ghanaians who think there is nothing to gain from being a Ghanaian citizen. I would be proud to be part of the nation that has such rich cultures, languages, and practises, that first gained independence from the colonial power, that has gold and diamonds, vast forests and beautiful shores…
  •  Easier African travel is a plus!

 

Starting the process

 

 

 

 

 

 

Together with my fellow applicant Nancy we signed in at the Ministry of Interior at 10.20am. We were directed to Room 17 to share details. In the small office, three officers sat by their desks. We were asked how long we had resided in Ghana and the room fell quiet when Nancy calmly said “41 years”. My 10 years seemed feeble in this context. We were asked for our nationality and brought our passports to show our full legal names. There was a Notice on the wall that a third party cannot come for the registration or naturalization form.

We were told to go to Room 24 to make payments. After we had paid the GHS 3000 and been issued with a receipt, we went back to the first room, obtained a checklist (see below) of all the documents we need to attach to our application, a form for sponsors to fill, and the application form. We asked some questions to clarify. We found for instance that although not specified in the checklist, we also need a police report, two sponsors to fill forms AND write letters on our behalf. Sponsors should ideally be a senior government officer and a lawyer. After only 25 minutes in the ministry we had come to the end of the first step of the process, we asked one of the officers to take a photo of us with our brown envelopes containing the application forms to let us remember this big day and at 10.46 am we signed out!

 

First Step of the Process of becoming a Ghanaian citizen

The first step definitely was most fact-finding, psychological and personal, and just to a small extent administrative. The process seems to be quite straightforward, the hardest part at the ministry was finding parking! Now I have some work to do to complete my application. I will keep you posted on the next steps.

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

 

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Checklist: Requirements (taken from the Ministry of Interior’s website).

NB: Applicant should reside in the country for at least 5years

  • Purchase (Application form 3)
  • Copy of Passport (Bio Data Page)
  • Current OR Indefinite Residence Permit page
  • Copy of (Spouse) Ghanaian Passport (Bio-data page)
  • Consent letter from Spouse
  • Copy of marriage Certificate
  • Naturalization Certificate (if spouse is a naturalized Ghanaian)
  • A citizen of age and capacity of any approved country may upon an application, and with the approval of the President be registered as a citizen of Ghana if he satisfies the Minister that;
  • (1)He is of good character, (2) he is ordinarily residence in Ghana, (3) he has been resident throughout the period of five years or such shorter period as the Minister may in the special circumstances of any particular case accept, immediately before the application, (4) he can speak and understand an indigenous language of Ghana.
  • Application letter addressed to the Minister, Ministry of the Interior (P.O. BOX M42, Accra)
  • Four (4) Passports Size Pictures

 

Last Chance: Orderly/Disorderly BlaxTARLINES Art Exhibit

Here is an important Public Service Announcement:

The Orderly/Disorderly Art Show curated by Blaxtarlines (follow and support on FB, read the curatorial statement here) opened at the Science and Technology Museum in Accra at the end of June. If you did not yet see it yet, you only have until Friday 1 September to do so. 

The magnificent show where young artists both from KNUST and the professional fold in Ghana treat the order and disorder in our society, spans installations, video, cartoons, photography, textile and new techniques I cannot even describe. The show makes you happy, sad, marvel and it is miraculously free!

The show closes in grand style with a talk by the grandfather of Ghanaian art, Prof. Ablade Glover at 4 pm on September 1st, 2017.

UPDATE: Meet-the-Artist Series featuring Adwoa Amoah, Ato Annan, Francis Kokoroko and Shimawuda Ziorkley, in collaboration with Foundation For Contemporary Art,Ghana (FCA-Ghana) and @thestudioaccra

Date: Wednesday, 30th August, 2017 
Time: 4pm
Venue: Museum of Science & Technology, Barnes Road, Accra
Rate: Free

The event will be broadcast live via Facebook

After that, it is over! Take your chance!

See my slideshow with a small selection of the works on display from my visit at the Orderly/Disorderly art show with my kids.

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Today I am all about Black Girls Glow…

..the album is finally out! If you want to listen to contemporary Ghana, tune into this beautiful collaboration between Ghanaian artists Poetra Asantewa and Dzyadzorm featuring fellow creatives Adomaa, Ria Boss, Cina Soul and Fu under the name Black Girls Glow.

From the first time I heard of this creative collaboration and its lineup, I have been excited. These artists are fab on their own, but often when women collaborate, the sky is the limit! However, the world we live in; patriarchal and commercial structures, make it more common that women compete.  “BGG is a concept that aims to raise the profile of female artists locally, regionally and globally by highlighting and showcasing the brilliant and talented young female artists making waves in the Ghanaian entertainment industry. Black Girls Glow is based on the notion that musical collaboration is a uniquely powerful way to connect people across political and cultural barriers.”, says one of the two initiators, Poetra Asantewa. It is powerful! These Ghanaian creatives are connecting, and it is an immediate creative win.

It is a playful album and even has a track called “Child’s Play” that is like a medley of songs and rhymes we sing to children and concludes with childhood ending? My favorite song is the passionate defense for the selfie: “it is the house you go braless in”, “selfie taking is reclaiming the value of self-love”… The album is a bit cryptically called Mother of Heirs, perhaps the Black Girls Glow collective is envisioning the woman that ought to be respected? The mightly mother of our future children? The track “Mother of Heirs” charges “step aside for the mother of heirs” over suggestive beats, and in sarcastic verses, “silly girl”, “little girl” and “pretty girl” are contrasted with this mother. But could we not also respect the silly, pretty girl for her playfulness, her humanity? Can we women not self-love before we realize we might (also) be the mother of heirs?

The sound is rich, the content critical (and often funny), and I want to sing along, I want to dance! Today I am all about Black Girls Glow!

You can listen to the full album here:  https://soundcloud.com/blackgirlsglow

Ethical Higher Education: The Ashesi University Case

My article from last year on how we educate leaders with a focus on ethics was in the news again this week, this time in English!

I wrote:

“Africa is still the continent with the lowest level of university enrolment, at about 6% of the population compared to a 26% world average, according to UNESCO. What this means is that extremely few Africans ever get a chance to go to university. And those who do are destined to become leaders in society.

With this analysis, Ashesi University College has aimed to bring scholarships to deserving students, quality education to those who can afford, and making sure the future leaders of the continent are both ethical and entrepreneurial.”

But educating ethical leaders in a corrupt environment marred with inequality is a challenge.”

I also mention my taxing commute, here is one small section of it as recently shared with Facebook Live.

Read the whole article over at University World News.

Enjoy!

Celebrating 10 Years of Living in Ghana

This week, I have a major life anniversary: 10 years of living in Ghana! On April 17th, 2007, I stepped on the Kotoka tarmac in Accra with two big suitcases, and was hit by a hot wind of promise. 

And Chale, Ghana has delivered…

(Our wedding slideshow has more than 21 000 views!)

But despite worldly successes, the transition from a cold, Scandinavian country to a hot Tropical one has not always been easy. In my home of 10 years, I continue to be an outsider who hear “Welcome!” every single week. While I smile and say “Thank you!”, it hurts to know I can never fully be accepted here. I often say “I am a 7-8-9, now, 10-year-old in this context…” and I like that image as it often accurately reflects how much – or how little –  I understand of my surroundings. Many things (traditions, greetings, events, ideas, relationships, ends of relationships) here still surprise me, actually surprise me more than during the early days in Ghana.

In addition, 10 years away has made me start to feel like a stranger in Sweden. Swedish politics, fashion, topics for discussion throw me off, makes me raise my eyebrows. While I can walk the streets in Sweden totally blending in…ok, maybe not when I sport my colourful wax print in the sea of black, gray, and beige…but, at least, without hearing anyone welcoming me, I increasingly feel like a stranger who look around with a surprised face. I am reminded of what a family friend who grew up somewhere else said about living a life abroad: “soon, you don’t belong anywhere”.

Missing being close to my Swedish family is unfortunately a feeling that grows with time.

I am not saying the above because I want to complain, no! Life in Ghana for 10 years has undoubtedly been good to me,  or else I would not have stayed. My dreams have come true! But life in Ghana is not just good, rather it is continuously the adventure of my life.

I am still thinking of how to mark this milestone, if you have ideas, write a comment below. Thanks!

 

 

New Year, New President

It is a new year and in Ghana (and very soon in the US) that means a new president! Nana Akufo-Addo, 72 years, was sworn in last weekend and the major event featured one positive media storm concerning President Akufo-Addo’s attire, and one negative concerning the heavy use of unreferenced material in key sections of the speech.

The negative aspect has gotten ample attention online, culminating in being ridiculed by Trevor Noah (who suggested Akufo-Addo also plagiarised Melania Trump, who in turn recently plagiarised a speech by Michele Obama). The administration’s new speech writer also apologised.

So let me move on to the positives…I was completely in awe of the President’s bespoke Kente/Adinkra/Gonja cloth. It was colourful (almost to the point of being psychedelic), regal (Kente is worn like the Greek toga over the shoulder, or perhaps it is the Greek toga that is worn like Kente?), and filled with symbolism.

The Kente cloth is traditionally woven is narrow strips later joined together. However here, it was not just Kente in the box of stripes, it was a national blend. Journalist Charles Benoni Okine explained in an article in the Daily Graphic:

“He’s taken the best of the various peoples represented throughout Ghana, and created a beautiful patchwork tapestry reflecting the traditions and the unity of the Ghanaian people. Ashanti kente with proverbs such as “Akokobaatan” – compassion and discipline, and “Nkyimkyim” – life is not a straight path. Obama kente which is derived from the Ga and Ewe people’s Adanudo cloth, and created with embossed and appliquéd patterns. Adinkra symbols, an Akan tradition, such as “Akoma” the heart and a symbol of love, “Bese Saka” a bunch of cola nuts and a symbol of abundance, and “Ohene Aniwa” which is a symbol of vigilance.  There are also pieces of Gonja cloth from the North of Ghana.”

Wasn’t it interesting it included an Ga and Ewe form of Kente known as Obama kente? And that textile from south to north was represented? That adinkra symbols were included with messages for the Ghanaian people?

In an article with more photos by OMGVoice, Twitter sources offered more clues. Apparently this type of joined, adorned, and appliquéd cloth is the highest form of Kente and reserved for kings (and Presidents), it is called Ago.

I wish we could know more, who designed it, who made it, how long time it took. Do let me know if you read it somewhere! Or perhaps the mystique around this centre stage piece of clothing adds that extra flair and elevation to Ghana’s new President? If so, I rest my Kente case.

Photo credit: Nana Akufo-Addo’s official website.

Sunday Reads are back! #KajsaHASundayReads

sundayreadsThis week I read:

  1. First things first: Bank of Ghana orders Swiss Gold watches for half a million USD.
  2. This touching article about Serge Attukwei Clottey and how he keeps the memory of his mother alive. (If you never read my Ashesi colleague Eli Tetteh’s piece on Clottey, do!)
  3. A passionate support for feelings by one of my favorite contemporary thinkers Martha Naussbaum, brought to us by the brilliant Brainpickings site.
  4. About our time: Post Truth Politics by the Economist.

This Swedish article I wish was available in English for all (ok, more folks) to read:

5. A fantastic article on the modernity of Swedish writer Sara Lidman’s work in the 1950s, by literature prof Anneli Bränström Öhman.

This week I watched this video, because: Standing ovation even before he said teachers are underpaid!


 This post is part of my #KajsaHASundayReads series. Inspired by personal role models, Ory Okolloh Mwangi and Chris Boatman,  I want to share articles I read with my followers on a somehow regular basis. 

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!

Ghana 3rd in Miss World! Introducing Naa Okailey

MissWorld2013

She is a medical student and Ghana’s best placement in Miss World ever!

Although I have a very double feeling about beauty pageants (women being judged on their looks like horses on sale), I guess this could be celebrated in the name of publicity for Ghana.

Read the whole story by Kobby Blay/Ghanaian Health Nest.

Ps. The Video has some very graphic images of health problems in Ghana. Putting down your sandwich is advised.

My 10 Favorite Ghanaian Brands (2/2)

Some time ago, I shared five of my favorite Ghanaian brands, here is the second part! In no particular order, here are companies that deliver in Ghana:

5. Star Beer (no web presence, it seems!)

I am a Star. Woman.

Favorite product: Big bottle (625 ml)

Pic courtesy of Chiara Atik, guestofaguest.com

6. Kayobi Clothing

Favorite product: The classic “Make Fufu, not war!” or the print with mother and child, “Sweet mother”!

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7. Goody Cashew Nuts (No web presence, either!)

Perfectly salted. Healthy snack that can be bought in traffic (stay clear of the others!)

Favorite product: Small bag – lasts surprisingly long

cashew

8. Yenok

The Koney family’s well made wood craft from Takoradi.

Favorite product: A well crafted chair

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 5.07.54 PM

9. Eden Tree

Fresh greens is just a basic necessity, this company does it well!

Favorite product: Herbs like Mint and Basil and Fresh Green Beans

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 5.12.41 PM

 

10. Upcountry Coffee Company (like them on Facebook!)

One of the items I have been carrying to Ghana from abrokyire since I moved here is coffee. I need a big cup of it every morning, so as someone who both loves coffee AND local produce I was besides myself with happiness when I found Ghanaian coffee! And it is very good!

Favorite product: Ground coffee (250g ) Lasts me two weeks. 

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 5.15.28 PM

Now it is your turn, what local products do you love?