Swedes in Ghana

Sigtuna Swedish flag, Ghanaians, Ghana, SwedenSurprisingly, there are a lot of cool young Swedish people in Ghana.

I say “surprisingly” only because Sweden and Swedes do not really have any strong ties to Ghana; no embassy, weak colonial connections, some mining business, but nothing major. Of course it is not surprising Swedes go south – where else would we go?

Since almost two years I know Maya Maame, a Swedish/Ghanaian blogger.  A few weeks ago I wrote about two Swedish DJ’s coming to Ghana (on their blog you currently get a teaser to their mix tape Gold Coast Rising!), but now it has exploded and I have also met engineers, business women, students, IT professionals, diplomats and a shipping agent!

To keep track of all these adventurous, beautiful and fun (the much missed irony, mostly) Swedish folks I started a Facebook group: Ghanasvenskar.  If you speak Swedish, understand the concept “fika” and you are in Ghana, you are welcome!

Pic: Some Ghanaians and a Swede in Sigtuna, Sweden.

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.

High Life in Stockholm

The other day on Facebook, I was surprised to see a friend in Sweden sign up to go listen to High Life, Ghana’s famous dance music, in Stockholm, Sweden. High LIfe is desribed by MTV’s Iggy blog as a:

“synthesis of European disco with Carribbean sounds and the influx of Reggae, Highlife is defined as uptempo, funky dance music that relies on synths for the melody. Vocals — often quickly-spoken lyrics that fell somewhere between rap and singing — have a whooshy, lo-fi feel to them.”

Further, the blog suggests,

“Ghanaian Highlife has been influencing every band of the moment — from Animal Collective to Pharell to crate-digging bands like Javelin that actually sample the stuff.”

Apparently, Ghanaian rhythms like High Life, and more recent Hip Life are really making way on Swedish dance floors. The event my friend signed up for, Klubb High Life, is described on the blog Swedish Palms. Under the heading “she be sweet like banana, she from Ghana”, DJ Cedi and Citizen Kofi (sic!) talk about their recent trip to Ghana. UPDATE: They have their own blog here.

“- Vi gjorde som Obama, vi drog till Ghana. Och det var verkligen sweet like banana, säger DJ Cedi.

DJ Cedi & Citizen Kofi är just nu i färd med att boka upp en klubbturné i Sverige och spela in debutmixtapet Gold Coast Rising – fullt med “top choice hits” från Accras dansgolv och freestyles och shoutouts från några av Ghanas största artister.”

“- We did like Obama, we went to Ghana. And it was really sweet like banana, says DJ Cedi.

DJ Cedi and Citizen Kofi (aka Märta Myrstener och John Airaksinen) are right now planning a club tour in Sweden and recording a debut mix tape called “Gold Coast Rising” – full of “top choice hits” from the dance floors of Accra and freestyles and shout outs from some of Ghana’s biggest artists.”

(My translaton)

It sounds great! Sometimes I wish homegrown music was described as confidently in Ghana, and in relation to nation branding, tourism, culture…Still, if you are in Stockholm, go shake your ass to some Ghanaian music at Strand 22-03 tonight!

And maybe some Ghanaian musicians will read this and think,

“First Sweden, then the world?”

Swedish Nostalgia

I must be missing my native country Sweden, because yesterday I heard myself say this:

“Yes, successful socialism…”

“When I miss home, I read an IKEA catalog”

“From a Swedish perspective, how can you not like Obama’s health care bill?”

>Première: Cinderama, the African Cinderella

> Greetings, my people. [..] I have travelled across hills and mountains, crossing streams and rivers, big and small and lakes and forests, thick and thin. [..] I have a good story for you. In facts it is the very reason for my journey…

The National Theatre of Ghana in cooperation with Swedish National Touring Theatre proudly presents:

Cinderama, the African Cinderella

An old tale in a new setting.
A play by Efo Kodjo Mawugbe.
Directed by Fransesca Quartey.

This Saturday the 6 March, 6pm at the National Theatre, Accra (Tickets 20 GHC, minors 10 GHC) you will have a chance to see the play before it goes on tour in Ghana, starting with the Volta region.

The play is a family play with lots of music and I am totally excited about seeing a Swedish-Ghanaian collaboration on Ghanaian soil.

Hope to see you there!

>Blogging in Sweden

>
I came across some interesting information about blogging in Sweden, compiled by the Swedish research institute World Internet Institute – I wonder where similar information about Ghana could be found?

In 2009:
– 400 000 Swedes had their own blog.
– 6 percent of all Internet users in Sweden had blogs and 37 percent read others’ blogs.
– 20 percent of Internet users 16–25 years are writing or have been writing a blog and 60 percent of users in the same age group read others’ blogs.

Amazingly, figures also show that a third of the group “young women” what ever that means, have at some point had a blog and that two out of three in this group read others’ blogs. The overall number of 400 000 blogs is also impressive.

Two thirds of bloggers (64 %) write about everyday life, one fourth (26 %) about a hobby or special interest. Only 6 % blog on politics and 4% about work.

I don’t know how I’d categorize my blog, as I feel I write on politics, special interests (blogging especially!) AND everyday life. Also I hope to blog more on work…I should maybe call it a work blog to be more unique…

On a more serious note, the World Internet Project which the Swedish research institute discussed above is a part of does not have any partner organizations in any African country! How can they then be called the “World” Internet Project? Even though there are no figures (?) for Africa and Ghana, I have the strong feeling there is room among the 44,3 million Internet users for much more blogging! (and mapping of the same phenomena!)

Pic: The Africa Facts courtesy of World Famous Design Junkies via Holli and Scarlett Lion, thanks!

>CinemAfrica: African Film in Sweden

>Tomorrow, CinemAfrica opens this year’s African film festival in Stockholm, Ubuntu! According to the program 14 films will be shown. None of them are unfortunately from Ghana, but one from Senegal (Mother) and one about Liberia’s President (Iron Ladies of Liberia). See the trailer on YouTube here.

Tickets for the festival can be bought at BioRio.

Interestingly, the Urban Africa Movement that I blogged about here is showcasing some of its photos during the festival.

Oh, I love all of this. I think I have to arrange a similar event in Tema.

>Blog Action Day: Climate Change

>What is blog action day?

Blog action day or BAD09 as some blog nerds call it is a day for bloggers all around the world to join forces around one important topic. Last year, the topic was poverty and I participated then too. The result of that can be seen here.

What is this year’s topic?

It is Climate Change. I guess with the UN Climate Conference coming up in Copenhagen in December, its a fairly current topic. And there is a lot to say. Check out BAD09’s inspiration page that has gathered some very interesting information about climate change, for instance.

Speaking of the urgency of the topic….Last time I went to my native Sweden, I was surprised how the word klimatsmart (translates into climate savvy or environmentally concious or something like that) was everywhere: A train journey was maybe not cheap, but klimatsmart. One brand of milk was more klimatsmart than another. My friend had gotten a colorful brochure in the mail asking her if she was klimatsmart (she wondered here how klimatsmart that brochure really was…). My cousin’s new blog even had klimatsmart in the title!

What can be said about climate change in Ghana?

Actually, what strikes me is how not current the topic is in Ghana. The website (organization?) tcktcktck.org is counting down to the UN meeting and tellingly has no story from Ghana on their cool Climate Orb application. Really, when was the last time you heard someone discuss climate change around here?

The rest of the world seems worried about climate change/higher temperatures. One of the effects that have been discussed lately is how this can increase the spread of malaria to Western Europe, South America and even Russia.

But in Ghana we don’t worry too much about that. Malaria is already one of Ghana’s biggest problems to date.

But do we really need to talk about climate change in Ghana? Shouldn’t we rather DO something?

A way to globally reduce the carbon dioxide emissions is to make sure we travel with public transport rather than individually in our own cars. Today, many Ghanaians travel in packed trotros, shared taxis or “Kufuor busses” and hence do not emit too much CO2. Can we say the same about the North/West? But as Ghanaians grow richer – our goal is to become a middle income country as soon as possible – more Ghanaians can also afford their own cars.

In my opinion the problem in the discussion about climate change is that while developed countries are struggling to be sustainable, developing countries are already klimatsmarta, but not by choice. Rather the “environmental consciousness” or sustainable living is caused by last year’s topic; poverty.

Climate change issues in the end boils down to politics and income distribution. Will my 4 year old relative in the photo above drive her own car when she has grown up? Is it really fair to try to stop her?

What do you think?

>Sibling Blogs

> My siblings Freja and Aron have finally

1. moved abroad and
2. started to blog

What took you so long?

I think your blogs are the funniest around (unfortunately only in Swedish with few additions in German (Freja) and French (Aron)). Could it be because we grew up together?

Or because one of you is a stand-up comedian/culture producer/actor and one a professional juggler/male nanny?

In the pic: Aron and Freja during a happy moment 2007.

>Henning Mankell Talks about Imagination on BBC The Forum

> Swedish writer and Africa-lover Henning Mankell was on BBC the other day in a very interesting discussion with Indian economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and Iranian British chilspsychotherapist Camila Batmanghelidj (love the “Batman-ish” name!).

Henning Mankell was making the claim that imagination is more than just an expression of creativity – sometimes imagination is used for raw survival. I was driving when I tuned into the program and it was so fascinating that I never wanted to reach my destination. Hear for yourself here.

Illustration by Emily Kasriel borrowed from the BBC The Forum to visualize the above described discussion.

>Abba World – Please Come to Ghana!

> Just read about Abba World here, an interactive exhibit that this year starts touring the world. Finally a permanent museum will be opened in Stockholm, Sweden.

It will be more of a experience center than a traditional exhibit. We let the visitors sing live with “the Abbas” in a hologram setup, they can record songs and videos and even take photos with the group.

Det blir mer av upplevelsecenter än traditionell utställning. Vi låter besökarna sjunga live med Abbor­na i ett hologramsetup, de kan spela in låtar och videor och även låta sig fotograferas med bandet.

I understand they will set off in Australia…If the organizers only knew how popular Abba is in Ghana! Not a week go by without me hearing “Fernando”, “Dancing Queen” or probably most often “I believe in Angels”…

I believe Ghanaians would sing Abba songs better than any other people on the planet.

Pic borrowed from the above discussed article.

>My Third Midsummer in Ghana

> Today is Midsommarafton, one of Sweden’s biggest holidays and just as all the other Midsummers in my life – it is celebrated! Here in Ghana the special feel of that “finally it is summer” is difficult to bring out since the tropical weather is constant, but the food and drinks and a few songs can be arranged. Also, I have been celebrating midsummer on the blog since I moved here:

2007 I spent midsummer with some Swedish friends in Accra.

2008 I hosted a big to-do in my garden with the Swedish diaspora that was here then (and later missed home anyways).

This year, it’ll be a bit more low key.

A beer on the beach with a friend and a flower in my hair.

In the pic: A hibiscus flower in my garden.