My Africa: Swedes in Africa

Photo credit: DN/Benedicte Kurzen

Yesterday, as a part of the South Africa World Cup report, Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter featured five interviews with Swedes living in Africa under the heading “Mitt Afrika” or “My Africa” after Karen Blixen‘s novel with the same name ( in English it was called “Out of Africa”).

I must say I enjoyed reading the interviews by DN’s Africa correspondant Anna Koblanck, (with people like me!). I especially liked the interview with the newly wed Swedish woman in Soweto, Maria Westlund Malepa.  Still, I found that some clichés were repeated about life in Africa: “I have learned how to wait” “Sure I am scared sometimes.. is it soldiers who had too much to drink and shoot, thieves or a new war happening somewhere?” and “the weather, the people, the colors”. But to be fair, other images were shared as well, such as Botswana/Africa being a good place to raise children and Tanzania a place to further your career.

The cap article stated that there are fewer Swedes in Africa today than earlier due to that aid agencies these days post less Swedes in Africa and make more local hires. But I wonder if this is really making the number of Swedes in Africa smaller? Is there a way to find out?

I think Swedes in Africa are more than ever before. I was recently surprised by how many Swedes actually do live in Ghana for example.  The globalization is opening up for many more opportunities. Also, people in my generation seem to to a larger extent value “experience from abroad”and then particularly from developing countries. I have the feeling we rather seek the opportunity than expect to be heavily compensated if it arises.

The mystique and lure of “My Africa” might be bigger than some think.

Also, I should stop saying I have learned how to wait in Ghana and blame Africa when I am running late to meetings!

Ghanaians in Ghana Can Vote in the UK!

Ghana election give your vote
Borrowed from GiveYourVote.org

“While many Ghanaian farmers struggle to fight poverty, the staple rice is American, water is sold through Dutch companies, telecommunications are run through the UK, and Ghanaian tomatoes fail to compete with heavily subsidied European counterparts. A vote in a national election alone is not enough to give Ghanaians a say in the processes that decide this.”

This is the motivation between the interesting initiative Give Your Vote offering UK citizens to give their vote to a citizen of Bangladesh, Afghanistan or  – yes, thats right, to a citizen of Ghana!

How to vote in the UK elections?

First read up on the BBC election site, then learn more about the Give Your Vote /Use a Vote for Ghana initiative and finally, vote by text message! Text your name, location, and party of choice (LABOUR, CONSERVATIVE or LIBERAL DEMOCRAT) to +233241561918 or visit a UK election centre in Accra on 30th April.

Read more: Give Your Vote website, the Independent, the Guardian, Ghana Web/Diasporan News.

Volcanic Ash Cloud Consequences in Ghana

Iceland volcano Ghana airplane

On BBC we could hear how the Kenyan flower industry was suffering from the recent Icelandic volcano outbreak leaving an ashcloud over Europe which hinders aviation. So what are the consequences in Ghana?

When searching for information it first it seemed like 22 Americans stranded was the main effect, but as I have myself heard of three people being caught up in this mess (one in London going to Ghana, one in Ghana going to Sweden and one from Ghana going to Oslo but getting caught at his overlay destination…) I figured this could not be all. Also, just like Kenya, Ghana is an exporter of fresh items like pineapple, papaya, mango, chillies and heavily intertwined with Europe for other business too.

After continuing my search, I found a good article from The Ghanaian Times in which Aviance, a Ghanaian company air-freighting fruits and other goods from Ghana to the UK and Europe estimated loosing USD 10 million daily. The same article stated that KLM, Afriquiah and Ghana International Airlines had all canceled their flights, but (this was on Thursday) AlItalia and Lufthansa were still operating.

According to the same article,

Clearing and exporting agents of the Ghanaian exporters handling the exports, declined to talk to the Times, saying they had not been authorized to do so.

I really do not understand why they could not comment on the effects, however, this might explain why so little has been heard about the consequences of the volcanic ash cloud in Ghana.

For the environment, it might be a good thing though, see above visualization from Information is Beautiful comparing the emissions from the volcano and the planes…