My Blogging Year 2011

Photo: Mattias Wiggberg

It is getting late. The year is almost ending. The time has come for bloggers to summarize the year. We all do it differently; I enjoyed  MsAfropolitan’s love letter, the book lists that hyper-readers Accra Books and things and A Fork in the Road shared and Africa Is A Country’s West African club hits!

My summary of the blogging year 2011 might not be possible to dance to, still here it is:

The year started out on a strong note. In January, I learned about Free and Open Source Software for Academics and analysed the Ghanaian “happiness culture“.

During February, I realized  in Swedish media Ghana is often portrayed like a success, economically, democratically and technologically. A more recent text buttressing my point is the top African success stories 2011 at Connected Africa.  This month I also celebrated my 30th birthday and my 500th blog post!

In March, I was inspired by DUST magazine and wrote my own You Know You Are In Accra When – jokes.

April was the month I got more serious and wrote about the mental health crisis in Ghana, sexual harassment and the unrest in Ivory Coast.

On Mother’s day I announced I was becoming a mother myself. At that point in May, my belly was so big everyone who saw me IRL knew. It was not like you needed to be an investigative journalist…  really is there just one investigative journalist in Ghana?

In June, I left Ghana for Europe. First stop was Marseille.  Then it was time for debating homosexuality. A debate that also made it to Global Voices.

In July, our daughter was born. What an experience! What a miracle! What a sweet soul!

In August, she was Virtually Outdoored. So was the Ashesi Berekuso Campus.

In September and October I was spending every hour of the day with our baby in Sweden. Taking walks, breastfeeding and blogging only sporadically.

Second week of November, I returned south and my daughter saw the green leaves and red soil of Ghana for the first time. And the green hoopoe!

In December, we had no water and I wrote about the EU Blue Card. And that was my 2011 year of blogging!

I am sure in the days to come, we will see many more chronicles of 2011 at Ghanablogging.com (soon to change name to BloggingGhana, but that is a story for 2012!)

Gott Nytt År! Afehyia pa! Happy New Year!

Ghana Internet Governance Forum: An Eyewitness Report

This morning, I decided to stop by the Ghana Internet Governance Forum (IGF) at the Kofi Annan Center for Excellence in ICT. It is a local stakeholder forum to discuss issues for Internet governance and it were to start with a session on youth and Internet governance. As one of the panelists was running late, I was called upon to talk. I quickly decided to focus on two issues that I feel are important and inter-related:

  • Access  to Internet in Ghana – currently only 18% of Ghanaians have access to the net, the bulk of this group on their phones. Internet access is expensive and limited to urban areas. For youth to gain access in their numbers this has to change.
  • Production of local content – at the moment, Ghanaians consume the Internet rather than create it. We need to write more articles, upload more photos and videos. Blogging could be one way. How can youth be encouraged to create local content? (here I returned to the issue of affordable access)

With me on the podium was GhanaBlogging members Gameli, Amma and Mac-Jordan along with moderator Godfred Ahuma, coordinator of the Ghana IGF.  The discussion was interesting and involved government agencies and their (non-) usage of social media, Sakawa or Internet fraud, Twitter vs. tv-news, if you have a right to be forgotten online/managing your online presence and what we want from the service providers (Philip Sowah of Airtel Ghana was listening when I listed 1) SMS to Twitter, 2) higher speed Internet and 3) cheaper access for a larger customer base).

I left the program early, party because no Internet access was provided in the venue(!), so missed out on deliberations on Internet governance for development and importantly affordable access and diversity.

You can follow the proceedings on Twitter, #GhIGF. Hopefully pictures will come soon.

Update: Read a report from one of the other panelists at Gameli’s World. Photo credit to the same source!

Global Voices Interview with Kajsa HA

Today, I am interviewed by Linda Annan, editor of American-Ghanaian Obaasema Magazine in the international online blogging/citizen media community Global Voices.

Global Voices is an amazing site that pulls together stories from blogs all over the world, with a focus on the areas we do not hear from every day. The community is largely volunteer-driven and is co-founded by celebrity blogger “My Heart’s in Accra”/Ethan Zuckerman.

Here is an excerpt from my interview:

How and why did you get into blogging? And why Ghanablogging?

In 2006 I was living in Paris and started blogging to keep in  touch with family and friends and write about my impressions of my new life. At the time, some Swedish friends had blogs at home. I have always loved to write and thought it was a brilliant forum, but couldn’t really find my own tone or topic. However, when I knew I was going to move to Paris, I found myself reading blogs, not books, about Parisian life. I think that spurred the decision to start blogging myself.

In Paris, I was invited to a blog meet-up, hosted by blogger Petite Anglais (who later got a book deal out of her blog). It was great to meet with other bloggers and it turned out two of them worked within the same big organization as me at the time!

So in 2007, when I moved to Ghana I continued blogging and was always on the lookout for Ghanaian blogs. When I had found enough of them, I organized the first meet-up with a friend. It was in July 2008, and eight bloggers came. We decided on the name GhanaBlogging as we wanted the action in the name. We are all doers.

What are you referring to when you say you love the shift from online presence to real life meetings?

When people think of blogging, they think about a lonely person in front of a computer, when in reality it really is a network! Blogging comes with belonging somewhere, blogging is an activity that has strengthened my relationship to Ghana. So yes, my blog is online, but many real life meetings have come out of it!

Read the full Global Voices interview here.

My 500th Blog Post

After celebrating turning 30 last week, I thought life couldn’t be more festive, but here I am celebrating again! This is my 500th blog post! Woo hoo!

So how did it all start?

Well, I kept a diary since I learned how to write (or from just before, scribble, scribble) and always loved the act of writing. In 2006 some Swedish friends had blogs, and though I thought blogging was a brilliant forum, I couldn’t really find my own tone or topic. When I got the opportunity to move to Paris, I found myself reading blogs, not books, about Parisian life. I think that spurred the decision to start blogging myself. And then the topic was clear: “Non, je ne regrette rien!”

When moving to Ghana in 2007, the blogging really took off. I wanted to write positively about Ghana and Africa, as I thought most reports from this part of the world was negative and chose the reverse image of a dry desert as my blog name: “Rain in Africa”.

In this post, I thought I’d chronicle my blogging experience with looking back at some of my blog posts.


1st Post: First Let’s Have A Song

Jan 9th 2006.

As an Edith Piaf lover on my way to Paris, I started by blogging with the lyrics to her hit Mon Grand Paris.

The post has one link, for the student hostel where I had just gotten a room.

“Paris, je m’ennuie de toi, mon vieux.
On se retrouvera tous les deux,
Mon grand Paris.”

100th Post: First Gear

Dec 18th 2007

I had moved to Ghana and just enrolled at the driving school. Some months later I had my licence, still one of my proudest achievements, and I rarely omit telling anyone who wants to hear that “I learned to drive in Ghana!”

“My goal is to sometime next year be able to navigate between goats and Mercedes-Benzes, yellow taxicabs and banana sellers.”

200th Post: Plantain at Work

Jan 29th 2009

I was now working in the corporate sector in Ghana and decided to tell this funny story about a stray comment during a meeting with suits.

It is in the “only in Ghana”-category…

“Bored, I glance out the window and see some green leaves. To be a bit funny, I turn to one of the guys in the room and ask:

– Are you the one growing plantain out there?”

300th Post: Developing Blogging, Leaving Blogger for WordPress

Oct 18th 2009

Here I took the first step into professionalizing my blogging. Its a post of the advantages of “going WordPress” and also an interactive piece where I am asking my readers for help. From the header you can also see that I now, thanks to fellow Ghanablogger David Ajao, understand how the title of the post should be filled with keywords, rather than just being witty.

“What do you think? Does the name of a blog matter? How it looks? How its posts are categorized? What topics it presents? What URL it has?”

400th Post: Minor Field Study (MFS) in Ghana

May 18th 2010

At this time, I had migrated my blog to wordpress and the domain kajsaha.com. When the blog looked as I wanted, I was motivated to write more.

This post reflects that I have added a topic to my blog: academically related texts. This particular one, outlines the Swedish MFS program and my current role within it.

“Back to yesterday afternoon. I first took Emma and Ebba to eat some fufu and drink some bissap at Buka. We talked about everything from clinics to corruption, from surveys to soup, from PhD to perfect beaches.”

A bit more than 5 years of blogging in three countries and 500 posts.

Thanks to all of you who read this blog, thanks for your insightful comments and for stubbornly coming back for more.

Out of my 500, which was your favorite post?

GhanaBlogging Progress

The group I co-founded with fellow Swedish-Ghanaian Blogger Maya’s Earth, GhanaBlogging, is in the habit of meeting monthly. Today at 3pm at Café dez Amis (former Afrikiko) it is time again.

Right now we have some interesting and positive developments and thinking about formalizing ourselves into something more than a group of friends, into some kind of organization. This is for two main reasons.

First, we are getting more and more invitations for collaborations from companies and other organizations (Google Ghana, Nokia, British High Commission etc.). This is wonderful, but it is becoming unclear who to contact and how to spread information properly. I am also proud to say we are a very critical group who feel strongly about being independent, so this is another issue when market forces knock on your door.

Second, we are growing like crazy! Before Christmas, more than 70 bloggers wanted to join us! At the last meeting we were more than 15 bloggers present! ( If you also want to join us, fill this GhanaBlogging form and we will get back to you!) This means we need to streamline the application process further – and just welcoming double the amount of members we have is a great task that requires organization.

Despite these changes the group is still very much a group of friends, meeting, discussing and laughing.

See you later!

Accra – A Boring City?

When I first moved to Accra, I found the city boring, dusty and event-less.

Three years on and counting, I am not sure if it is the city that has changed or my network that has grown. Maybe both?

Yesterday, I knew of five interesting events happening simultaneously:

the Ghanablogging November Meet-Up I arranged at cozy Cafe Dez Amis (former Afrikiko), a discussion evening with entertainment for diasporan Ghanaians and others at Golden Tulip Hotel. There was also a fund-raiser coctail at Bella Roma Restaurant in Osu, a first meeting for the new expat network InterNations at Rhapsody’s and the High Vibes music festival also opened… (click on link to see program for the following week!)

I smiled to myself as I hurriedly left the first event for the second, smiling because I felt like this was the first time I was actually missing out on something in Accra…

I only resent that events often are announced short in advance (some less than 48 hours !)  and that there is no information central for finding out about “all” events (if there is, please let me know!). I believe that makes Accra rather boring for a newcomer.

What do you say, is Accra boring?

Ghanablogging, BlogLovin’ and Afrigator

Some blogging news:

The aggregator for the group of bloggers I started in 2008,  Ghanablogging.com has gotten a new, improved, user friendly, greenish design by David Olunyi Ajao/Web4Africa. Surf there today and read one of the 70+ blogs about Ghana!

As I added the new Ghanablogging badge on my page, I also decided to update my affiliations. I joined BlogLovin’ and a Follow my blog with bloglovin badge, currently I am trying to add some other I can see my badge from Afrigator has been reduced to a line of text and when I visit their site their server is not responding. Anyone knows what happened to Afrigator?

I have also tried to clean up my Google Reader, as it makes following blogs (outside of Ghanablogging) so much easier.

How do you organize your reading of blogs?

Pic borrowed from David Maybury’s Children’s Book Blog.

Why Do So Many Blogs Fail? How To Sustain a Blog Successfully

You find a new blog and love the posts. But next time you check in, no new posts are there…

Why do many perfectly good blogs fail?

Today, fellow Ghanablogger Oluniyi David Ajao posts his answer to the question and adds:

I am wondering if the art of blogging is a calling for a special set of people who can afford to give it all the time it requires.

I am not sure it is a calling….Although I agree with him on the basic argument of what is needed for a successful blog: getting the principles of blogging, finding new ideas, and making the time to post regularly, I think two aspects that he do not touch upon are that successful blogs also are often “reborn” and linked to the rest of the Internet. Let me expand:
1. Virtually all successful amateur blogs (that is to say not company or pro-blogs) I follow have in one point or another revived its style, focus and sometimes even launched on a new URL. I think inherent in the format is a constant need for invention and novelty.

I am not sure my own blog is very successful (for instance reader numbers have been dwindling lately), but as an illustration I recently felt compelled to change the focus of my blog and at the same time moved from Blogger to WordPress and chose a new template. I both felt more inspired and got more readers.

2. Successful bloggers read other blogs! And comment on other people’s posts and mention not just blogs, but also other social media and links extensively to web resources in their own posts. For blogging to say fun and rewarding, I think being part of the blogging community is vital.

Afrigator and other aggregators is a good start. Every day commenting on at least one other blog is another step.

Are you a blogger? Join the discussion.

What do you do to keep your blog alive?

View from Ghana: Education

This post is part of Ghanablogging‘s monthly theme post “a view out of Ghana” – this month we write on education.

In school we have other names

School uniform, school bag and white socks in black shoes
Ama and myself
and many others
(but in school we have other names)

Lining up in front of  ‘new block’ (although it doesn’t look new)
On the red dirt football field
Standing still
(Longing for eating a bo’flot during the morning break)
(Thinking in Fante but) answering “yes, sah”
when asked if I swept the headmistress’ office

First period is Social science
(I have memorized the definition of marriage)
Sun is hot
Standing still
(schh Ama)
Keeping quiet

(Is this Education?)

Ghanablogging May Meet-Up

Are you a blogger in Ghana?

Then this message is for you.

This month’s Ghanablogging meet-up happens tonight,
Thursday 20th May, 6.30 -8.30 PM at Smoothies in Osu.

The theme this month is Effective Writing.
Please chose one blog post you have written where you have written effectively. Print out and bring along! Accra Books and Things is in charge for the talk, but prepare to contribute!

See you tonight!