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

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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

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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. 

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

Taiye Selasi and the Ghana Must Go Frenzy in Accra

I have a handful of emails in my inbox about events with Ghanaian/Nigerian/Afropolitan writer  and filmmaker Taiye Selasi taking place on three different days  in three different venues this week. Her book Ghana Must Go came out recently and with favourable reviews from the right outlets, the excitement among book nerds in Ghana has been palpable!

Tonight, I get to hear her speak (at the Yale Club of Ghana conference), so before her persona clouds my judgement of the book, I wanted to scribble down my mini review.

The story was not the usual returnee/ IJCB* story as it chronicles a whole family’s return to Africa rather than just one, hip 30-something. That means we have a nice gallery of people: two parents, four children, later a few partners, house keeper, friends and one new wife, but the basic frame is those six. Maybe I am biased to this group size, being one of four kids myself, however I believe it creates a certain space for the story to unfold.

The Ghana Must Go book is divided into three parts: Ghana, Must and Go. I love authors’ quirks like this – it is elegant and fun! “Ghana” about the father in Ghana and his house (oh, how I love this house…the slowly built, carefully designed dream…with rooms for all the children and a wild center of greens, grass that you can feel under your soles…almost an allegory to the Ghana Must Go Book?), “Must” about the troubled, beautiful and brilliant siblings, left in the US. Go about a return that heals.

And wow! There are many things to heal in this book. Wanna-be-authors get to hear there must be at least one major conflict and this book is overflowing of them! It is definitely not a feel good book, but to me it rings true.

The language is not overly decorated, but one that provides vivid images, maybe it is Ms Selasi’s filmmaker side that shines through? We also get served with insights – I kept highlighting little gemstones of them when I was reading.

To conclude, the hype is not for nothing – it is a great book in my opinion – one I will reread and recommend to many friends and students. And I heard the two prior events were full to the brim, oh how Ghana has been waiting for a literary star!

* I Just Came Back, read it in the last New African of African Business Review Magazine!

A Word from Late President Mills’ Son: Samuel Atta Mills

For the first time (that I am aware of anyways), our late president Mills’ son, Samuel Atta Mills, talks to media about his father, their relationship and his own ambitions in life.

He debunks the idea of that his relationship with “Prof” was strained and says he respects his stepmother and talks about his year living in the castle! He is a well spoken young man who towards the end of the interview does not decline he has political ambitions of his own…

The interview for BBC’s Outlook is a good one, but I wonder why he never (or did he? Please correct me if I am wrong) talked to Ghanaian media if he felt Ghanaians had the wrong understanding about his family?

Listen here.

 

Back in Ghana and Green Wood Hoohoe

Saturday, Selma and I returned from the cold north to the warm south. Waiting here in Ghana were Selma’s father, her paternal grandparents and our big extended family including many good friends. Some of them we have seen the last couple of days, other we are still to meet this weekend.

Coming back always entails thawing aka getting used to the heat. First night is almost always fine, the second I woke up panting for air. The third day, I woke up to empty taps. I think I am halfway thawed so far…(Selma seems fine. Babies take this much better!)

Much is like I remember around our house, but plants have grown a lot in six months and our house was repainted by Selma’s father to welcome us home!

This afternoon, Selma and I sat outside admiring our newly painted house. But that wasn’t the only thing new! This beautiful tropical bird with an orange-red beak and long tail (called Green Wood Hoopoe I have deduced after some googling of “red beak and long tail”) also jumped around our backyard. Seemingly looking for insects to munch on. Smiling in the sun.

Picture borrowed from Wikipedia.

I Love Mango!

Someone I recently met here in Ghana said she missed some berries from home. I was surprised:

How can you miss any berry or fruit when there is sun ripe mangoes ?, I asked.

This time of year in Ghana might be dusty and “cold” (as low as… brrr… 25 degrees celsius), but it does bring something invaluable…

…Mango season!

I love the small ones, the big ones, the reddish ones and the still green. I like the ones that smell like pine sap and sunshine. With time you learn how to predict how the stone stands in the middle of the lovely fruit. You cut close to it and have a big chunck of sweet fruit. I like cutting thin wedges, but sometimes I do diagonal squares and gently push the half inside out. The sun colored fruit begs to be eaten! The consistency of a perfectly ripen mango is velvety and smooth. The feeling when you dig into a mango half and the juice drips along your hands, arms towards your elbows…

The big ones are 50 pesewas a pop at the fruit stand opposite my house. You want one?

Pic borrowed from YKWYA.

>PhD News

>Last Friday I got a phone call. It was late in the afternoon and I was in the Accra Mall stocking up for the weekend with a friend. I had to run into a quiet place because I thought I heard something like:

…Graduate…University…Ghana….

I was right. It was my first call back from the university. The message was short.

Please bring your birth certificate on Monday.

Here I have been waiting since March last year, or at least since November when I did my presentation, to hear back, and now they are giving me a weekend’s notice to produce my birth certificate. BIRTH CERTIFICATE.

Well, thanks to Sweden’s excellent governmental ICT services, I was there Monday morning with my certificate. Now it looks like I might be a PhD student very, very soon.

>New Year’s Eve Ghana Style (does not involve goats nor champagne)

> Seriously, Ghanaians!?
Noone is throwing a New Year’s Eve party? Not even a small one?

”Traditionally” (would be interesting to know when and where this practice comes from), New Year’s Eve in Ghana is a day for contemplation, gratitude and prayer – clearly a Christian holiday! Most people dress in white (celebratory clothing) and head for the churches around 8-9 pm. The final hours of the year is spent praying, listening to sermons and singing hymns. Many times, the sermons are held outside the church room, as the crowds cannot fit inside the chapels and churches. The transition to the new year has nothing like the festive ”10-9-8-7…”, rather it is a very serene and gradual change with nothing special to mark midnight. However, around 1 pm, many people start heading home. (And from what I hear, some of these churchgoers then changes into other clothes and head out for a drink, but this is a different story).

So, what is the problem? Well, it is strictly personal, I suppose: I just miss the European way of celebrating New Year’s Eve. I miss having to choose between parties. I miss the anticipation for the New Year. I miss planning ahead for a most luxurious evening with shiny and glittering outfits, chilled champagne and beyond good foods. I miss the obligatory chant of ”10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1-HAPPY-NEW-YEAR!” I miss kissing friends and family in a delirious state and then topping it off with more bubbly and dancing!

However here in Ghana, it seems no parties are planned for tomorrow night and I am still the only one considering Christmas the main Christian holiday in December.

Pic: Party outside of Ghana.

>13 Things Not to Miss When in Ghana

> An acquaintance who is going to Ghana for the first time in December writes to me:

What should I not miss when in Ghana?

And even though I wrote about Ghana Highlights not long ago, I can’t help but to craft a list as an answer to her very open question. Here are the 13 things you must not miss when in Ghana.

1. Fufu- Ghana’s national dish of a spicy soup with fish and meat and a delicious gooey ball of fufu.
2. A funeral (!)
3. A cold Star at sunset.
4. Omo tuo with Groundnut soup – Northern Ghana’s national dish.
5. Ripe mango and sweet green “Fanti” pineapple.
6. High life music (some of the big hotels in Accra have live bands) and contemporary music ( such as the one performed at Bless the Mic on Thursday’s at Cinderella’s in Accra)
7. Cape Coast or Elmina castles for an insight into West Africa’s history.
8. Kakum rainforest, see WikiTravel page here
9. Grilled tilapia – this ginger and chili infused sweet water fish smells so good my vegetarian friend recently crossed sides…
10. Blue Skies ginger and pinapple smoothie
11. Buying colorful wax print or tie-n-dye cloth and getting clothes sown for you.
12. Chasing crabs on the beach. Mission impossible?
13. Braiding your hair. The best souvenir!

As I live to eat, this list is in hindsight a bit biased towards food and drink (1, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10 and possibly also 12). Which Ghana musts have I forgotten?

Pic: Bon appetit!

>Ghana Guide on the Web

> The Bradt Travel Guide to Ghana (most recent edition is 2007) by Philip Briggs is now available on the web with Google books! See link here.

This guide is positively personable, amazingly accurate and dot on detailed (including great maps of places before Google Maps even existed!). I recommend it to anyone coming this way!

In the pic: Me and my husband being tourists in our country, I think around xmas 2007.

>No Ibrahim Prize for Kufuor

>It was just announced (see for instance BBC here) that Sudanese business mogul Mo Ibrahim will not be awarding any former African leader his The Ibrahim Prize this year. The prize is the largest monetary prize in the world with its 5 million USD over 10 years and 200 000 annually for the rest of the recipient’s life. The idea with the prize is to create debate around governance and provide positive incentives for democratic and transparent leadership in Africa.

Ghana’s ex-president John Kufuor was one of the favorites for the prize along with South Africa’s ex-leader Thabo Mbeki. Earlier this year, when Kufuor stepped down after eight years of rule, he was much applauded. Currently, he works with the UN-WFP. However, his name has also been mentioned in the questionable deal in which Ghana Telecom was sold, including the cable that connects Ghana to the rest of the world, to Vodafone Netherlands. I have blogged about Kufuor here, here and yesterday here.

The founder of the prize, a business man profiting on the telecom business in Africa, says in an interesting interview – to be found in whole here – about his success:

“I’m the same person. I still drive the same type of car. I live in the same house. Most of the money I made has gone back to Africa, or is going back to Africa. I decided the money will go into something really effective and worthwhile. That’s what I hope our foundation will do.”

Interestingly, the only way forward for Africa’s leaders is suggested to be the opposite: large sums of wealth.

Still, I am sure the desicion to not award the prize (“no specific reason” was given according to BBC) will give cause for debate on good governance in Africa. Which ultimaltely, in my humble opinion, is the most important goal with the prize.

Well done, Mo Ibrahim!