Should I Change My Name When I Marry?

Today, I have been married for three years.

It has been a helluvaride. If my better half read my blog, I’d send him kisses through this post, but he doesn’t (!) so I will just go ahead and say that I am happy I did.

Also, for anyone thinking about getting married, I have this advice on name change (as earlier conveyed to a dear friend in an email):

About last names and marriage. I think the best advice I can give is
do not change your name.
Do not even add one, like I did. It is a HAZZLE and also
a weird tradition – why should I change my name just because I marry?
(actually it is not the tradition in Ghana and many other countries).

In hindsight, I do not regret adding Adu, just because that is kind of the only thing that makes me blend in a bit more here in Ghana, “aahh, so you are Ghanaian??”, but I am not sure you need that in [the country where you presently live].
Also many times, people call me “Mrs Adu” without ever having seen my
name in official print and that makes me think “why was it so
important to me to take his name officially?”. Finally, the name laws in Sweden
also prohibits me to give Hallberg as a name to my children now as it is now my “middle name”…
So, read the fineprint or just keep your name and live happily ever

Photo from my wedding day by Kerstin Alm.

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Learning A Language with the Help of Your Spouse

I am not sure if this is relationship or a language breakthrough, but here it is:

My significant other has not been of much help in my quest for learning to speak Akan or Twi, Ghana’s biggest local language (much like my non-exsistant contribution to his Swedish, to be fair). He speaks a dialect of Twi, Fanti, that is beautiful and eloquent.

Anyways, since I started to get serious about my language studies, I regularly ask him all sorts of questions.

What is “this” called?
How you say “x” or “y”?
Why did you say “a” instead of “b”?
Is “c” the same thing as “d” or rather like “e”?

I understand all of these endless questions are annoying, but thought he’d happily collaborate as it was in fact his mother tongue I was hellbent on learning. But instead I was met with:

Please, not now, I am tired…
Uh, I dunno?
Ahhh, it is just so!
I don’t remember.

Recently, however, a few words have been remembered, an explication of a strange grammar rule has slipped out and the odd Akan proverb has been interspersed in conversation.

And tonight something happened that makes me believe this is a steady development, possibly leading towards me having an in-house tutor. I called my spouse on the phone, and as so many times before, addressed him in Twi.

-Mepa wochew, medu fie.

Only this time, he replied in the same language.

-Yoo. Mereba sisiara.

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On Killing Red Ants

Here is a confession. Yesterday, I went on a rampage. I killed thousands of ants.

It all started the day before when I was bitten by a red ant (also called “yam ant” or “fire ant“) as I was hanging laundry. The red ants bite hard and leave an itching swelling that later turns into a small, painful blister that stays with you for days. Anyways, so this red ant bites me twice on the toe next to the big toe and it hurts like a bee sting. I immediately decide on revenge.

So after taking the clothes down (mind you in wellington boots), I look for the ant colony and BINGO – I see some sandy mounds in the lawn with holes where red ants run in and out.

I take a hoe and proceed to work.

As I dig thousands of ants well out, some start climbing the hoe, others my boots. I have anticipated this and shake them off. I continue to dig and do not stop when I start to find white eggs and winged queens.

I dig and I dig and when I feel like I have come to the bottom of their colony, I spread out the soil/ant chaos thinly and go for the water hose.

Many thoughts cross my mind. I think of the ants unfortunate choice of settlement.  I think of how I never want to be bitten again. I look for eggs and queens and step on them. Hard. I feel like a mean King Kong. I am impressed with the ants who tirelessly try to organize themselves throughout what must be one of the worst mornings in their life. Noone stops in panic or gives up! I spray water with force onto the  fleeing ants. I think of more effective ways of killing them. Salt? Poison? Neem tree? I remember to stomp my feet. I hear by heart beating fast and feel weirdly upbeat about my killing rampage.

When I have filled the hole of what was once a proud red ant colony with water, sprayed as many ants as possible into the muddy waters and stepped on everything with wings, I withdraw.

I am now, with anticipation, awaiting their next move.

Pic from Wikipedia.

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Visiting A Swedish Blogger

Yesterday, I went to see fellow blogger Nina, just 5 minutes drive away from my parents’ house.

I read her blog every week as she writes on a couple of topics I am interested in like Gotland (the beautiful island I am from), feminism, photography, home decor and parenting (well, I can learn even though I am not there yet, can’t I?). Her blog is very professional AND personal, which is a difficult combo.

As I read her blog often, I felt I already knew her!

It was a strange and wonderful feeling as I walked through her beautiful home, played pek-a-boo with her son and had a lovely discussion about everything from relationships to racism, cupcakes to career, loving to living…

It is wonderful what connections blogging can bring! Hope to see you next summer too, Nina!

See Nina’s post (in Swedish) on our meet-up here. (or pic above).

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Send Money to Internet Love in Ghana?

I just got an email from a reader with the subject “Am I getting cheated or not?”.

As it is not the first email on this topic, I thought I’d publish my answer – minus the personal details here on my blog.
Basically, a Swedish person has gotten in touch with a Ghanaian person over Internet. They have had contact for half a year and now the Ghanaian wants to “move” to Sweden, but needs money from the Swede to do so and has even produced some kind of official document stating the sum of 2000 EURO.

Now the Swedish person is wondering what to do and asks me for advice.


How nice you have gotten to know someone in Ghana.

You asked for my advice and here it is. For a relationship to work, especially between someone from a rich country and a poor one, it is not a good idea to start that relationship with sending money. Internet frauds, “sakawa“, are very common in Ghana and poverty makes people sometimes follow a hungry stomach rather than a loving heart.

But even more important, I think you should meet a person who wants to “move to you” before he or she does so. The smallest problem you can come to have is that you lose 2000 EURO.

As far as I know, there should not be any demand of showing any money to a “migration office” to be able to travel, however a passport, Visa (see Danish Embassy in Ghana for detailed info), plane ticket, insurance, transfer etc is of course needed.

In conclusion, I’d recommend you to travel to Ghana (see the Official Tourism site Touring Ghana for example) and experience this green and exciting country and meet your friend XXXXX in a more neutral situation where you both can back out should expectations not be met. Also, I would recommend you to not in any circumstance send money to a person you have never met.

What do you think? Is this a sound piece of advice? Or is love bigger than the risks involved?

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No Planes? Words on a Aviation Free World

Air Plane, Paper plane, Alain de Botton, “recent writer-in-residence at Heathrow airport” (sic!) and also the writer of a wonderful little book On Love that had an impression on me, now dreams up a world without planes, of course relating to the volcanic disruptions of air traffic.

Everything would, of course, go very slowly. It would take two days to reach Rome, a month before one finally sailed exultantly into Sydney harbour. And yet there would be benefits tied up in this languor.

Those who had known the age of planes would recall the confusion they had felt upon arriving in Mumbai or Rio, Auckland or Montego Bay, only hours after leaving home, their slight sickness and bewilderment lending credence to the old Arabic saying that the soul invariably travels at the speed of a camel.

I urge you to read the whole BBC column by de Botton. It somehow has a soothingly effect on my nerves when I think about how the volcanic ash cloud may steal my summer in Sweden away from me…

Thanks to GeorgiaP for the tip!

Drawing borrowed from Kathy.

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>SIDA Fraud in Ghana

> A few weeks ago, I saw a job listed on that looked interesting. It was with the Swedish International Development Agency, SIDA and they needed people for a medium term project. It sounded perfect. In fact, it sounded too good to be true.

Anyways, against my gut feeling I sent in my CV. I did not think of it again, until yesterday when an email reached my inbox:

Dear Applicant,

Thank you very much for your interest in being part of our team at the Swedish International Development Agency (Sub Regional Office). We are currently responsible for the coordination of the activities of SIDA in 8 West African countries and would be happy to welcome you.
I am happy to inform you that you have been shortlisted for the position of a Project Officer. You are however required to pass a management appraisal case study to be administered at the University of Ghana Business School (Executive MBA Room B1 (Second Floor)).
You are kindly requested to report for the appraisal test on Friday June 19th at 3:00pm. The appraisal is an analysis of a case study with respect to team building, conflict resolution in a project team and general project management issues. There will be only one case study to be handled in 30 minutes.

You are requested to come along with the following documents:
a. A photocopy of your certificates (not necessarily certified, we will verify ourselves)
b. A photocopy of your passport or national ID Card (Information page)
c. The e-mail addresses of your two referees
d. A statement on your salary expectations for your position
e. A self address Global Courier Express International Envelope (You may contact Global Express Agencies at Accra Mall-Mother of the Year (Adjacent to Shoprite), Swanzy Shopping Arcade-Cover girl, Shop No 60, University of Ghana-Partners Bookshop (Central Cafeteria opposite Sarbah Hall), Javon Effects(Channel 5 Adjacent Preseco-Nungua), Challenge Bookshop (Adum- Kumasi). Your application documents are being processed in Lund-Sweden so get an appropriate envelope that can be sent from Lund.

Should you require further information kindly send us an email. Please note that we have not mandated anybody to collect money from applicants, anyone who parts financial reward for assistance to any person purporting to have control over the process does so at his or her own risk. The application process is entirely free of Charge.

Several things seemed fishy:
1. How could I’ve been shortlisted without any interview? And what evaluative case study takes 30 minutes?
2. Also I noticed the email came from a gmail account, which seemed unprofessional for a development agency.
3. I checked SIDA’s official jobs’ website, but there was no trace of any projects in Ghana (but in Lusaka and Kabul).

I finally wrote an email to the Swedish embassy in Abuja, Nigeria and got my expected reply this morning:

SIDA har inget kontor i Ghana så detta är nog en “scam”. in English
SIDA does not have an office in Ghana so this is probably a “scam”.

Probably? It is, my friend! I have heard of these things before, to recieve your price (or job opportunity in this case) you go to some deserted place (University of Ghana has vacated) and you get…thats right: robbed.

So this is a warning to all job seekers, there is no SIDA job in Ghana.

12.20 PM Update: Fraudsters get cold feet?

After blogging about this, I decided to also notify the University of Ghana about the planned fraud on their premises.

Also, just now I recieved this email.

Dear Applicant,

Thank you for your interest in joining the project team at the Swedish International Development Agency (Sub Regional Office).

You have been shortlisted as a manager in one of our 8 project offices.We will communicate back to you by the close of the week.

However if you inadvertently received an email intending for shortlisted Project Officers to participate in a management appraisal test at the University of Ghana Business School, Kindly disregard it.

Sorry for the error. Thank You.

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>The Perfect Picture : Film Review

> So I have now been to see the wholly Ghanaian produced film, The Perfect Picture, I wrote about earlier here.

Shirley Frimpong-Mansu is the super-woman behind script, directions, casting and editing. And it was perfect! I went with my husband and some friends and we all had our laughs and loved the high audiovisual quality…as well as the story line. Three good friends – so good you wish you were one of them – are looking for love. One gets married in the opening scene, one is a man-eater and the last one says she will never marry. Here the intrigues start.

The film held a high tempo and included a entertaining and believable characters, references to daily life in Ghana “you make it sound like I could just go and pick up a baby at Koala!” (Koala supermarket being a popular supermarket in Accra) or “I’m not a fan of weddings, but you my friend make it worth every pesewa!” (pesewa being the Ghanaian equivalent to cent, penny or öre) and even a fun, feminist take on car chase.

The film also contained obvious product placements that were acceptable only because we have never seen Ghanaian ones before. For instance, one can only feel excitement when the three friends even went to see a film in the same cinema complex we were watching them in!

And then sex. Appearantly, the film set itself apart from all other Ghanaian productions EVER when it showed a kiss on the lips between the newlyweds in the first scene. After that, we got both scenes from different bedrooms (see the trailer above) as well as “sex-and-the-city”-kind of girlfriend talk on the topic. I think the Ghanaian audience was shocked at times (even though the scenes never really went beyond regular Hollywood steam) and at one point a woman sitting close to me in the dark exclaimed:

Oh, will we watch just kiss-kiss-kiss?

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>Ghana High Quality Film Production!

> I am truly looking forward to see the film The Perfect Picture, premiering on Friday here in Accra. Correction: Premiers 3rd of April 2009.

The movie features the famous Ghanaian comedian KSM and some other faces also look vaguely familiar.

From the trailer, which you can see here, it looks like a high quality movie (!) recorded here in Ghana by Sparrow Productions (also the organizers of Miss Ghana). And it will apparantly be showing henceforth (correction: 17th of April 2009) in the new Silverbird cinema in the Accra mall (which I wrote about here).

I am surprised and happy, since I thought the film industry in Ghana had permanently settled for Nollywood-quality and distribution, which even though it can be interesting lacks the “fantasy element” of good, expensively-produced cinema. Also, the Nollywood movies – though enourmously popular – tend to paint a stereotyped picture of Africa, in my opinion. A film like this can paint that other picture of Africa that I am interested in. What do you think?

Just like for the play “Romantic Nonsense” I saw recently by Nii Commey, the topic of the film is the love lives of the “getting-married-generation” people about to turn 30, having to make some important desicions and getting to know the difficulties of first year married life.

Chale, I don’t know why, but that seems interesting to me!

Pic from the official website from the movie.

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>Swedish Princess Wedding

Just reading Swedish news websites here in English about how Swedish Crown Princess Victoria has gotten engaged. The news cam also be viewed on YouTube here. After 7 years of courting the Swedish gym owner, Daniel Westling, I can’t say I am surprised.

However, she is the first female to inherit the throne (after a change in the Swedish constitution in 1980) and he is , according to respected historian Herman Lindqvist, one of the very few Swedish born so called “common people” to ever become royal. And the whole thing is…almost medieval in that a 31 year old has to ask her parents and the prime minister for approval. As my journalist friend Katrine Kielos writes

“We live in a modern society…(Duh! a clip was put on YouTube by the Royal court! My comment.)…is it then not time for the next step? That we become a republic and Victoria runs for Commander in Chief?”

I do agree, but first there is the wedding scheduled for spring 2010 to think about.

Since I got married less than a year ago, I have some tips for the Princess when planning her wedding:

* Choose a comfortable dress and pretty but also comfortable shoes so you can dance and enjoy.
* Visit the bridal site Offbeat Bride for inspiration on a more fun and personal wedding. Don’t be too serious!
* Throw a big party, hopefully you just get married once.
* Involve your families in the preparations (that one will be easy for the Princess).
* Marry for love.

Blurry princess – and prince – pic borrowed from

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>Let’s Talk About Love

> This post has a topic chosen by the members of Ghanablogging for this month. I have decided to do a first attempt of blog poetry, inspired by fellow Ghana blogger Antirhytm. Please let me know what you think of it!


Months had passed
before I noticed you always used my first name

was something you had never called me

I had not noticed
I had been too busy falling in love


I felt sad, I was angry
I resented you like someone who had never loved

you would not hold my hand
you would not come with flowers
you would not make plans for Valentines day
you would not say the words!

DarlingSweetheartBabyCutiepie, let’s talk about love.
You listened like you always do.
DarlingSweetheartBabyCutiepie is not talking about love, you suggested,

more precious is your name

Pic: Tulips in the snow, Sweden Jan 09.

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>African Wax Print Fiesta!

> My love relationship with African wax print, the widely used cloth in bright colors, has just reached another level. I think I have always associated Africa with bright colors of clothing and from my very first moment in Ghana (Dec 2004), I have been on the hunt for colorful material of this kind.

I like that its most often sold in “half piece” or 6 yards at a time, I adore the colors and the wild combinations of patterns. Speaking of patterns, I love certain ones, most notably the “water well” pattern, which looks like big kind of dotted circles. I have it in several (5?) different colors.

So of course the next step was to make clothes out of it. I have two seamstresses I frequent. It is so much fun to be able to decide the style myself and most of the days here in Ghana you will see me in some kind of African garment, be it a top, a skirt or the traditional top and bottom kaba and slit.

Recently the ready wear has enetered the Ghanaian market. So recently, I have also bought a wonderful dress (and probably will add another one to it soon) at the Ghanaian designer house Kiki’s Clothing. Their designer introduced me to the wax prints deluxe that on top of an elaborate and colorful print has another pattern in gold over it!

But now Boxing Kitten has arrived. Just like Kiki’s clothing she is mixing patterns and colors without fear. Less is not more, more is more. And my love for African wax print has suddenly reached a whole different level.

Pic from Boxing Kittens fall collection, isn’t it just beautiful?

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