Freedom is Corruption?

Every week in Ghana, the headlines spew out new incredulous accusations of corruption. It is millions of Ghana cedis disappearing, or millions of Ghana cedis disappearing BUT found out and STILL NOT being payed back, inflated contracts being awarded, and after the painful truth about the Ghanaian justice system, this week we got it black on white even educational institutions are not following procedure. On top of this mess – that on some level also is positive as the rot is being reported on – I find it shocking that with each new topic, people around me say “but of course, this is how it has been since when I was a young…”

How does one cope on a personal level with all of this?

I have to say: I don’t know. I think do not cope very well! I get so angry and disturbed I cannot focus on much else on many days. I tweet, blog, and rant. I make plans to leave, I take deep breaths, and I laugh about it all. I try to balance the impressions.

I say to myself: Ghana is a country that does not meddle so much with citizens lives, I can more or less build what ever I want anywhere, drive at whatever speed I prefer on whatever side of the road, do whatever I like whether a street party or a business venture. But then again, this freedom is not as fun as it sounds. Even to a Swede coming from a cold, almost excessively state controlled environment. Mostly, this freedom seems it is just a freedom to be corrupt? To walk on others to get ahead? To overcharge and connive? To say “but madam, who will catch you?”* To destroy and walk off?

In the Ghanaian blogging community we have discussed when a tipping point will come for Ghana, if at all. Is it more likely with each big reveal? Or is it less? I get royally annoyed with those around me who say things like “well, this is Ghana” or “lets pray over it” or  “It will never change” or “getting annoyed doesn’t solve anything”. But sometimes, I also understand. It all seems so big and nebulous, like a monster we have to learn to live with.

Ghana’s leading investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, recently urged journalists to do more with the freedom we have here in Ghana:

“I think that when you look at the press freedom index Ghana scores very high. Ghana is not a place where you speak and somebody will clamp down on your rights. But now the issue is not about the rights but rather what we the journalists ought to do with that right.”

It is somehow so ironic that we all admire Anas, troop in our thousands to watch his reveals, but then that is it. People are not inspired to join the lone man’s struggle with the dragon?

Recently, someone told me a story of how a relative was in trouble with the law and payed something to a person at the municipal court to walk free. The twist to the story was that person in power accepting a bribe to drop the case now holds a higher position in the national government. We all look on, we all know, but who acts?


*Migration officer in uniform told me this when I was not given a three-year residence permit without the right to work.

This post is part of my new series of more personal posts to be posted on Fridays, Personal Friday



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My Love of Numerology or #233moments

I am not sure how it started, but it feels like I have always had a love for numerology or finding meaning in numbers. For instance, it makes me happy to see the time is 12.34 (AM or PM does not matter). 

Further, I feel good about facts like:

  • The date having an interesting sequence like the 11th of December did a few years ago, 11.12.13.
  • The city Tema (where I live) lies smack on the Greewich Meridian and hence on longitude 0.0…the centre of the world. A good place to live for a numerologist!
  • I am born on the 7th in a month – as 7 is an age-old magical number (like 3, 13, and 21).
  • I graduated from high school the year 2000.

In Ghana, as most of readers of this blog will know, the weekday of which you were born is important and many Ghanaians have a first name relating to it. This also gives rise to beautiful parallels:

  • My husband is the third Kweku or Wednesday born on his father’s side. Hence his father and grandfather are both Kweku as well.
  • Our first daughter was born on a Thursday, just like the first born daughter of my husbands grandfather (Kweku the 1st), and inherited her name, Nana Aba Adua.
  • The same daughter had two different nannies, both born on a Thursday, just like her! My second daughter is born on a Monday and when she was born, our previous nanny had quit and we had to find a new one. Only after she was hired, I realised she is also born on a Monday.

A problem with this love of parallelism, is when it does not occur and the deep discomfort it brings. For instance, when we were getting married, the date 29th March, 2008 was decided on for a number of practical reasons. Twenty-nine-zero-three-two-thousand-and-eight. It was so random. So non-special. It had no parallelism. I just did not “feel” the date! Almost considering rescheduling for a “better” date, suddenly my mother-in-law pulled me aside. She told me that the 29th of March, 1967 was the day of her first date together with my husband’s father! The parallelism had been found! I never reconsidered the date again.

When our second child was born on the SAME DATE as our first born, as an avid numerologist I was ecstatic! The birthday, is also a beautiful number as the 21st of the 7th month! It is hard to explain, but in my numerology brain that makes it feel like it was somehow meant to be. On top, the water broke at 2.33 in the morning, I’m not joking, the quintessential #233moment (hashtag created by Ato Ulzen-Appiah for all things Ghana). Our second child’s birth was almost on the hour exactly three years later from the first. On top, my first born is born 30 years after I was born, and my second born, 30 years after my younger and closest sister.

Maybe it is a human thing, this looking for meaning and symmetry in a chaotic world. While I enjoy numbers looking neat and organised around me, at the same time, I can of course see that so many other things were not beautiful, numerical coincidences, but have worked out anyways.  I do not officially subscribe to any numerology faith, I am definitely an atheist. But coincidences, numbers and parallelism do have an impact on my emotions.

Recently, I realized I have never really discussed this with anyone. Do you think the same way? Or do I seem mad to you?


This post is part of my new series of more personal posts to be posted on Fridays, Personal Friday




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When your child is sick with malaria

The blog posts you had in mind to write is the last thing on your mind. I mean, in tropical Africa on the one hand, it is just another day with play at home, plenty fluids, and ice cream in the afternoon – not so much different from a weekend without play dates. 

On the other hand, it is a time where I deeply connect with parents in this region who feel a hot forehead and it means more than a few days of recuperation at home. I think of families who live much further from a clinic than we do, cannot travel there in the comfort of their own air conditioned car, and do not simply hand over their health insurance to the nursing station before seeing the doctor.

My body aches for the parents who maybe have to go door to door, knocking, to look for the money needed for transport and care of their little one, increasingly weaker by the minute. In Ghana, malaria is endemic and has affected history and continues to shape contemporary life. It kills, and according to WHO Ghana reported more than 2500 malaria deaths in 2014, but it also cast its net wide as more than 1.5 million people were reported ill with malaria over the same time. That means, malaria is seen as nothing more than a bad cold. “Take your meds and rest”.

Now my malaria-ridden kid (or maybe it is not malaria, the test came back negative, but the zealous doctor still wanted to do the treatment) is sleeping here next to me and I feel mostly calm and grateful. When she wakes up, I will give her more paracetamol. I have food in my fridge and money in my bag. I have the doctor’s cell phone number if her condition is not better by tomorrow.

Can you tell I am still worried?

This post is the second in my new series of more personal posts to be posted on Fridays, Personal Fridays. Although, I have to admit today is Saturday. 

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What do you have in common with your spouse?

Holding Hands

You know these couples who you can see about town together – busily chatting while driving to work, shopping for the weekend, elegantly dressed and smiling at an evening event? Clearing the farm silently side by side, donning matching funeral blacks, walking the beach hand in hand? Mr and Mrs, enjoying each other’s company? Well, I don’t have that and I am not sure its what makes unions last.

I do envy the “Mr and Mrs”-couples (or the “Mrs-and-Mrs” or “Mr-and-Mr” as the case may be), especially when I am at an event on my own and drive home alone. Or do I? Because at the event, I will stay as long as I find it fun, socialize with new people,  and in the car home, I will play the music I love, on high volume and sing along. Is that really bad?

I am in a relationship since 13 years and married for about half that time. When we first met, I bragged to anyone who wanted to listen (and probably a few more) that I had found someone who was just like me, a twin-soul. I believed that the “Mr and Mrs”-coupledom was equal to happiness and planned my week around time with my man.

However, soon I could not hold back a yawn when watching football with my spouse and he could not keep his eyes open for yet another art-exhibit. We discovered one of us was more of an extrovert and the other more introvert in personality. Where I have made a name out of my blog and social media presence, my husband belongs to the few who never even got on Facebook! (He does like LinkedIn, the one social media site that does not interest me much). My husband is big on Ghanaian traditions; funerals, family sit-downs, and chieftaincy politics – I enjoy keeping my weekends open to cooking/baking, house parties and time with close friends and family.

After 13 years together, my spouse and I have accepted we are different people. We do converge around late night talks on politics or “Sunday”-special type meals in our garden. We have our children, bank accounts (sort of, but that’s another post), and some future plans in common. But when it comes to interests, we are like night and day. My spouse simply says “opposites attract”, but I think we actually have some key values in common, like freedom, joie-de-vivre, and not-wanting-to-pretend, that we honour by following our own path. That means more often than not, you will see one of us in town alone or with friends, later going home with much to tell.


This post is the first in my new series of more personal posts to be posted on Fridays, Personal Friday.

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