My Week Following The @Sweden Curatorship Experience, #SMWiAccra

So last week, I had the honor of being the curator of the twitter account @Sweden. With a click, I increased my following by 10 and was the seven-day temporary face of my native Sweden. In a tropical setting. I thought I’d sum up my experience and also share what this week, following all the excitement, was like.

Monday, I woke up sick, with a swollen (!) nose. Had I been in a fist fight? The doctor said it was rather a sinusitis infection in my nose and I was on antibiotics before I knew it. I am not sure it was the curator experience that made me sick, but it was a day lost to pain and rest.

Tuesday, my children both started their new school. I accompanied and excited three-year-old to Nursery school and my husband took our six-year-old to Primary 1.

My school girls! ????? #maryjane #sisters #schooluniforms #mahjong #vamlingbolaget #233moments

A post shared by Kajsa Hallberg Adu (@kajsaha) on

On Wednesday, I was well enough to share some of my thoughts about the @Sweden experience on the Citi Breakfast Show on Ghanaian radio station Citi FM. IN an interview with the brilliant Bernard Avle, I talked about 

  • Traffic (I was late to the studio)
  • Knowing my audience
  • Missing my TL
  • Thinking about Swedishness
  • Wanting to be a Ghanaian citizen

Find the full program here, I come on around 9.40am.

In the afternoon, I met with a researcher, Hanne Geirbo from the interesting research project Learning Flexibility. We spoke about social media activism, solar energy adoption and strategies for infrastructure challenges.

Last, I attended the Social Media Week Accra, and was a speaker under the heading “Social Media: The Ghana Case”.

I tried to give a quick overview of how blogging has developed in Ghana since BloggingGhana started in 2008, but also to critique the use of social media as heavily entertainment, one way, consumeristic instead of appreciating the true revolution of social media and harnessing the promise of social change. I suggested we support each-other ventures more, create and use more hashtags to curate content and campaigns, we produce more content.

On Thursday, I met with my Ashesi students for the first time. Ambitious, fresh-faced future leaders make me so happy. I also finalized the contract with two final year students who I will supervise on their papers. Two very interesting projects, I will tell you more about later.

Today, Friday is for research and preparing for next week. I will also fit in some meetings. This evening, I’ll be seeing my friend to celebrate her birthday.


I feel like this week was as intense and interesting as last week, but I was back on my own social media accounts and I had missed the people I am following and learning from. The Sweden curatorship, made me rethink what I publish and how much I share my personal life. While I have a high sense of integrity, and usually post quite minimal “this was my day”, “this is my breakfast”- content, I now think there is also value to sharing more personal details and life circumstances as that goes to the heart of the prospects of social media: bringing people closer together by showing how diverse and how similar we all are.

Do you think it’s useful or interesting to read about other people’s daily lives?

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Parenting in a New Environment

I am bringing my children up in an environment that is very different from how I grew up. Is that a problem or an added richness to their and my lives? 

Maybe I have to start with what the differences are between my rural Swedish upbringing on the island of Gotland in the 1980ies and my girls’ in the industrial city of Tema, Ghana today:

It is much warmer for once, ok, ok to be more serious, they are exposed to more inequality, malaria mosquitoes, carbohydrates, direct sun, rigid school from an early age, time on iPads, and religion than I was and that I would prefer for them. However, they also have access to more extended family on a regular basis (my parents were mostly on their own) meaning a calm and regular schedule not depending on my workdays or moods, they speak several languages, while I only spoke Swedish until English was introduced in class 4. They eat less processed foods as that is not affordable in Ghana and know from our chicken and rabbit farms how meat gets on the table.

The behavioral culture in Ghana differs from the culture in Sweden in most ways from how to greet someone (a lengthy conversation including nicknames, hand holding, asking of family vs. “hej”) to how to behave as a child (don’t speak until spoken to vs. do what you want, you are a kid!). Generally, while I am still learning how to behave – I imagine it is good to know that contexts matter.

I do not usually worry much about this, mostly because as you can see, I think it evens out pretty much. Every time and place is different. Knowing different cultures is a definite advantage in every way. But as a parent, sometimes, like today, I just long for the 1980ies Swedish playful daycare “dagis”, no pressure, no religion or threat of the cane, meatballs and potatoes with a glass of milk for lunch, stuff I know and understand for my children.

Photo: Selma and Ellen getting a weekend lesson in plucking a hen from their cousin and his girlfriend who live with us.

This post is part of a series of posts about parenting.

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Headphones in Sweden

Headphones Top Earcups

When I am away from Sweden, things change.

One year, I came back and everybody was wearing ugly glasses. Last year, when I came back, cash was suddenly not an option when riding the bus (you buy an SMS ticket or charge some kind of top up card). This year, I came back and wherever I looked, people were walking around sporting oversized, colorful headphones – like they were DJ:ing a rave party.

It looks ridiculous – really, are you a grown up walking around with purple, giant disks over your ears while doing errands in town?

It is very anti-social – hello, excuse me do you know where I can..? (response: blank stare plus head-bobbing).

It is strange – you go to town to…listen to your favorite song?

But then a month passes and actually no one talks to me anyways, it is pretty cold, especially for my ears and my favorite song is just very good when walking from the bus.

Where can I get a pair of hot-pink, big-ass headphones?



Image borrowed from here.


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Travel Destinations: Greater Accra and Gotland

I have two homes. One in Ghana and one in Sweden. Having two homes is normal to me, it is my life.

In Ghana my life centers around the Greater Accra area: the capital Accra, my hometown Tema and my workplace roughly an hour north east of Accra. In Sweden, I hail from the island of Gotland, more particularly the village Brissund and then the cosmopolitan city of Malmo in the very south thanks to my siblings who moved there.

This week, I stumbled across tourist information of my two homes provinces and WOW! they look great! I can’t believe how lucky I am to share my time between these two places…

1. Ghana: Greater Accra (as described by Virgin Atlantic)

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2. Sweden: Gotland (as described by the campaign GotlandJordenRunt)Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 1.55.13 PM








So when are you coming to visit?

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Johanna Koljonen: Nordic Media Personality Blogs in English

As someone living abroad, I of course follow many blogs and tweeps for information on what is going on in my native Sweden. Social media is beyond popular in Sweden with fast and accessible broadband and smartphones in almost every pocket.

Sweden has more than 500 000 twitter users for a population of 9 million people (according to #meg13) and I read once that a third of Swedish women 18-30 have a blog!

Not surprisingly, most tweets, blogposts and articles are posted in Swedish and although I adore my mother tongue, it is disappointing to never get to share my Swedish feeds with my  non-Swedish speaking crowds. Then today, I found Johanna Koljonen’s blog. And it is written in English!

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  Strictly speaking Koljonen is not Swedish, but Swedish-Finnish and from her blog I learned that she lives in Denmark and has a degree from Oxford. So let me not claim her for Sweden, but rather call her “Nordic”.

Still she is a central media personality in Sweden right now and apart from appreciating her style (girl next door meets thoughtfulness) and interests (literature, sex, popular culture), I really do love that I can share her with you!

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Swedish Media Personalities Visit Ghana: Gina Dirawi and Kodjo Akolor

A friend just sent me a tip about this 30 minute travel program featuring two Swedish media personalities. It aired on Swedish TV earlier tonight. In the program, Swedish Ghanaian radio profile/comedian* Kodjo Akolor visits Ghana together with his best friend Gina Dirawi, known from Sweden’s first web-TV-series*.

See the trailer below which leads you to the full program if you click on it.

I actually heard through the Swedish Ghanaian grapewine that Kodjo and Gina were here in June to record the program, but had kind of forgotten about it. I love seing Swedish productions from Ghana, last time it was Felix Herngren and my friend Magnus, because they often capture something about Ghana that I also see.

I have a hard time putting my finger on exactly what it is, but it is something like the yellow light before the sun sets, the brightly painted houses and the quirky details of Ghanaian everyday life.

(* as I have not lived in my native Sweden since they became celebrities, do not quote me on if this is how they are actually known).

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Bloggforum 2012 : Swedish Blog Event

After just having posted photos from last week’s BlogCamp 2012 in Ghana, I thought this was pretty interesting. Came across this photo from a blog conference in Sweden, Bloggforum 2012. So this is what blogging events looks like in Sweden where blogging seems to predominantly be a female thing!













This is a photo of the speakers. One of my favorite Swedish bloggers Underbaraclara spoke about Blogs and Business, she is the tall brunette second from left. Pic borrowed from Underbaraclaras blogpost on the event.

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Emigration Out of Developed Countries

It is crunch time for an important presentation next week, but let me share with you an insight that came to me through text yesterday.

Emigration rates are highest not from the so called Global South, but out of developed countries!

Migration researcher Ronald Skeldon suggests in a overview of the migration and development debate in the book “Migration in the Globalised World” from 2010 that mobility is an integral part of development:

Migration is essentially a response of populations to changing development conditions and what governments need to do is to lose their fear of population migration. Migration needs to be accepted as an integral part of the development process, not feared as something unusual…Rising prosperity brings increased population mobility and migration. (p.156)

Skeldon further points at evidence of developed nations having high levels of migration (UK is mentioned as a case in point with 5,5 million citizens, or 9,2%, living outside the country ) and concludes that developed societies are “based upon systems of high mobility” (p. 157).

As a twist, when I came home the top news on the Swedish news site I follow was that Swedish levels of emigration is higher today than under the peak emigration years in the 19th century.

Point taken.


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Top 3 Swedish Xmas Blogs

Ok, so the xmas spirit is not quite making its way to tropical Ghana. Here it is more banana, dust and business-as-usual than apple, snow and special holiday cheer.  Hence I tend to rely on the Internet for feeling.

Here are my top three Swedish xmas feel providers:

1. Nina

How much more Christmassy can you get? Answer: A little more than 100% as Nina, a professional photographer, not only covers Swedish xmas, but the Gotlandic one too (that is we come from the same island, Gotland, in Sweden). She posts xmas deluxe with lovely xmas “pyssel” (the English “craft” does not cover the entire meaning of “pyssel”), delicious and beautiful xmas treats and views of a frosty island – just like in my childhood dreams.










2. Underbara Clara

Sweden’s best professional blogger. From a cottage in northern Sweden she produces pure xmas spirit and a little jävlarannamma.











3. Linnea

For my everyday-life-in-Sweden-fix, I turn to former school mate cum professional mother Linnea. She writes about buying environmental xmasgifts, worrying about slippery roads and posting pics of her adorable child and here her belly with child number two. Ahhh, Sweden!










I am so thankful to you for helping me get onboard the xmas train! This afternoon, I am forcing the xmas spirit to arrive by putting on a xmas CD, baking some ginger cookies and packing my bags for tomorrow.

Christmas eve will be celebrated in 30 degrees celcius, but among Scandinavian friends and with some of the foods, treats and presents!

Merry xmas! God jul!

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