New Publication: Digital and Decolonial Experiments in the Classroom

At the end of 2018, I sat next to a man in a crowded auditorium at University of Ghana for the International Communication Association Africa conference (ICA Africa). I introduced myself and after the opening keynotes (Ghanaian Vice President Bawumiah and Cameroonian Professor Nyamnjoh), we couldn’t help but debrief together on how interesting it was. The man I was talking to was Communications Professor Kehbuma Langmia of Howard University. As we stood there, I told him about my work at Ashesi University, he attended my Policy Lab presentation on Internet Freedoms, and later invited me to contribute a chapter to a book he was putting together. Now the book Digital Communications at Crossroads in Africa: A Decolonial Approach is out!

In my chapter, Digital Communication Tools in the Classroom as a Decolonial Solution: Pedagogical Experiments from Ashesi University in Ghana, I argue digital communication tools like Twitter and Wikipedia can decolonize not just minds, but classrooms too, as the tools support students and lecturers together to rethink, reimagine, and reshape knowledge production.

In the chapter, thought hard about the idea — at this point-in-time almost catchphrase — “decolonizing the university” and what it really means, like HOW do we DO it? As part of understanding the many possible meanings, I outlined five aspects of decolonizing the university. I deduced it is ultimately about sharing power with students, examining implications about what we include and exclude in our classroom conversations and course outlines, changing the content, providing epistemological access, and finally decolonizing also the institutions.

After arriving at these five aspects of decolonizing the university, I wanted to say something about how digital communication tools can address or bridge these aspects. See figure below.

If you click on the linked button below, you can get a preview of my chapter.

I would love to hear what you think of my ideas and the operationalization of decolonization of universities into five aspects. What did I overstate or miss entirely? Do you agree digital tools can be of help or are they merely new, sexier methods to further colonize the world-at-large by the few?

I would like to thank the editors of the volume Dr. Agnes Lucy Lando of Daystar University, Kenya and Dr. Kehbuma Langmia for open arms and good collaboration, Open Foundation West Africa for assisting with Wikimedia in the classroom, and colleagues and students at Ashesi University, Ghana.

The Week When I Increased My Twitter Following by x10

This week I have the honor of representing my native Sweden as the curator of the Twitter account @Sweden. It is every week run by a new Swede or person living in Sweden (this week a Swede outside Sweden). 

The initiative aims to showcase “the country of Sweden through the mix of skills, experiences and opinions it actually consists of. Through the stories of the various curators, not one Sweden is conveyed, but several.” Housed by the Swedish Institute, the project is a co-initiative with VisitSweden and you can read more about the project Curators of Sweden and see a list of more curators here.

I opened my curatorship with a tweet+video from our garden:

 

On my personal Twitter account @kajsaha, I have 12 000 followers, but this week I have 127 000! I hope to make good use of the exposure! During my week I will discuss

  • Swedishness,
  • my best online tips,
  • weather (that’s what Swedes like to talk about!),
  • identity politics,
  • why I chose to research migration in West Africa,
  • and of course, share some breakfast photos.

I also hope to use my social media skills to have a very interactive week!

See my posts on Twitter.com/Sweden

Welcome!

Mobex16 and some thoughts on how event organisers in Ghana can better engage with social media influencers

On Tuesday, I went to the tech fair Mobex16 in the Accra International Conference Center. I had only planned to swiftly stop by, but ended up staying all morning. Networking was great!

However, this blogpost is on some other observations I made in relation to Mobex16. I came with my phone, ready to tweet, and laughingly told a friend that I have been here for 8 min and already posted 3 tweets. I was on fire!

I tweeted about the registration and started taking photos for Instagram. I am a promoter of all things Ghana, especially tech stuff, and I was happy to share the experience with my now 9000+ followers on Twitter and 600+ followers on Instagram.

At this stage, I needed to charge my computer (as I really had plans of working out of an office) and with heavy tweeting during the opening and the president’s speech, my phone as well. Now there were no electrical sockets in the seminar room. I looked around and asked an usher. I tweeted about that.

After realising that no woman was to appear on the stage for the first two programs on the agenda or the entirety of my morning visit – the info I took from a information that was passed out to visitors, I tweeted about that.

Revisiting my Twitter timeline, I was likely inspired by Omojuwa (recently named Africa’s best Twitter profile) and his tweet on female leadership:

After I had left the seminar hall in search for power, I browsed the exhibit. Noticing that many Mobex16 stands did not really have a plan to engage with social media influencers, I talked to some exhibitors and tweeted about that.

You get my drift, I was engaging with the program, capturing both highlights and lowlights.  Tweeting and Instagramming. Now some did not like that:

…and my personal favorite:

I get it, I have been an event organiser and its not necessarily fun to hear about someone’s negative experience when you have been working 24/7 to even make the thing happen, but I do listen and think to myself “how can I improve?” I also try to be mindful of that whoever takes the time to write to complain, cares a whole lot more than the people that just “come to eat”. (Caveat: I am not sure what the relationship between the people behind the sour tweets above is to the event discussed).

A few months back, Poetra Asantewa  in an AccraWeDey-podcast said some very useful things about critique and how there is little room for it in the Ghanaian creative space. We just need to change that, so in the name of constructive critique, I’ll list some ideas for even better social media engagement for Ghanaian events below.

Tips for event organisers how to better engage with social media influencers:

  • Communicate a (usable, not too long, not too generic) hashtag and remind people in every room, space and on everything printed.
  • Create a physical space for social media influencers with sockets (most importantly, but perhaps also), coffee, desks with chairs and additional info on your program.
  • Think through what is in it for the (professional) social media influencer, can you pay for live-tweeting & blogging, or provide lunch, pay T&T, organise gifts from sponsors? Every post about your event is potentially valuable to you, how can you make the relationship with influencers sustainable?
  • Retweet/ share their praise. People on their way to the venue will want to see photos and reviews from the venue.
  • Corteusly respond to any critique as fast as possible. (Yes, that includes saying thank you to someone who is finding fault with your event!)

Something like this:

What would you add to the list?

How Bloggers Prepare for #BloGHAwards16

bloGHAwards16You know you are a blogger going for BloggingGhana’s #BloGHAwards16 gala if…

…you spend more time on setting up your browsing bundle (and back-up!) than on what to wear.

…you save a winning tweet instead of preparing a thank you speech.

…you double check the hashtag (Yup, it’s #BloGHAwards16) instead of your hair before leaving the house.

…you write a blogpost about the upcoming awards instead of finding a date.

…you plan to come early to save a good seat to take Instagram-able photos from instead of setting out to arrive fashionably late.

…you tweet at your friends asking if they will attend instead of calling them.

…you are reading this to the end on a handheld device!

See you tonight!

Last chance to get your Ego-ticket for the Social Media Awards!

Not Paying the Black Queens, Is That Really Sexism?

This is a summary of the, at times heated, debate on Twitter this morning regarding the non-payment of the Ghanaian women national team and the issue of sexism. Is it an issue for feminists or rather just a mishap?
  1. After winning gold at the All Africa tournament in the Congo, the Black Queens returned to Ghana last Sunday and on Monday (8 days later) they explained to the press that the Minitry of Sports still owed them their payment.
  2. First, some of understood the issue from a feminist point of view…

  3. Sexism maths: #BlackQueens:even when u win, u lose. Win gold. Lose payment. #BlackStars: Lose every game. Win plane carrying cash. #CitiCBS
  4. Apparently its simple economics. Women do unimportant work for free.  https://twitter.com/kajsaha/status/648767195120599040 …
  5. Those who think men and women are treated equally can compare #BlackQueens & #blackstars – no payment vs flying in the cash. #feminism101
  6. Suggestions 4 a donation drive 4 #BlackQueens r well-meaning, but misplaced. Pay women what they have earned. Respect their work. #CitiCBS
  7. But not everyone agreed

  8. @kajsaha the Black Queens issue is just the irresponsibility of government. It has nothing to do with feminism in my opinion.
  9. @kajsaha I’m saying the B. Stars had to employ extreme tactics to get paid. As do doctors and teachers. For owed dues. Regardless of gender
  10. @kajsaha because men’s football all over the world has a wider audience. This isn’t peculiar to Ghana.
  11. I saw my chance to do some feminist education

  12. The dynamics are different tbh. Black Stars rake in more revenue than their female counterparts  https://twitter.com/kajsaha/status/648767195120599040 …
  13. True, we’ve many issues in Ghana. Still that does not explain the #BlackQueens nonpayment, in my view. #feminism101 https://twitter.com/kantfit/status/648777918680858624 …
  14. Enter Mansplaining and Menmoaning

  15. @kajsaha attack the government and put pressure on them to release monies for these ladies.
  16. If you thought the world was complicated. It’s been made simple for you here…… How did we all miss this?  https://twitter.com/kajsaha/status/648767195120599040 …
  17. There’s an argument there. In both. This is slightly… Inaccurate.  https://twitter.com/kajsaha/status/648767195120599040 …
  18. .@Kantfit you want to develop what is inaccurate about my statement? #BlackQueens #feminism101
  19. …making it a male vs female thing won’t get much fixed. I think.  https://twitter.com/kajsaha/status/648768582885748736 …
  20. Thanks for the advise. Talking about #patriarchy is a bit uncomfortable, but the facts here are too glaring.  https://twitter.com/ofoli_kwei/status/648769979869958144 …
  21. @kajsaha I think I’ll keep my opinion although Rousseau would have been disappointed
  22. @kajsaha he said he’d defend anyone’s right to say what they have to say. That’s profound free speech. Something that is missing today.
  23. The worst part was when I was accused of somehow being against free speech.
  24. I believe I am talking about free speech. But anyway, lawyer away  https://twitter.com/kajsaha/status/648771357900193792 …
  25. Something long discredited. Are we going to discredit free speech now  https://twitter.com/kajsaha/status/648771357900193792 …
  26. I simply meant Rousseau said several things. Please talk about free speech, I can’t read your mind!  https://twitter.com/osarpong/status/648772194525401088 …
  27. Why would I be against free speech?
  28. Why would I? This is an insult to a lecturer at a liberal arts institution and the cofounder to @BloggingGhana 🙁  https://twitter.com/osarpong/status/648772898778423296 …
  29. Alas,
  30. @kajsaha apologies if you feel it was an insult. That was not intended in that caveat
  31. @kajsaha I wasn’t questioning that. You felt I was which is why the feeling of insult came in
  32. Not much of the feminist argument was accepted, however the term “mansplaining” was adopted by Ttaaggooee

  33. If I run, how will I learn about the well-researched “mansplaining” thesis revealed here today?  https://twitter.com/attigs/status/648789964013064192 …
  34. @osarpong and Android keeps autocorrecting the word ‘mansplaining’. Why would they correct someone’s yrs of research ?@ofoli_kwei @kajsaha
  35. Stop mansplaining. It is because they are women. Period.  https://twitter.com/pkamoh/status/648791901072695296 …
  36. @paakoti Herh. Go back to sleep. Stop Mansplaining. What do you know? @kajsaha is the sports expert with all the information you don’t have
  37. A few hours later I was back!

  38. I’m my view,@ttaaggooee @paakoti#BlackQueens is a national symbol. Hence more of a governance issue than sports.
  39. And as you want to discuss my qualifications (sexist?) to discuss governance issues @ttaaggooee, I do have a MA in Pol Sci and
  40. … abt to complete my PhD in African Studies. I also teach leadership at a Ghanaian Uni and @ttaaggooee @paakoti
  41. …discuss feminism, governance and Gh issues in the media and on my blog since 2007 @ttaaggooee @paakoti
  42. @kajsaha gone back and read through a lot more of your tweets and I agree with what some of the people have pointed out…
  43. That it’s the whole Ghana payment system that’s fucked up, not just a women only thing. Essentially equal-oppirtunity disrespect @kajsaha
  44. Also @paakoti why should #BlackQueens not be compared with #blackstars, but with workers? That’s sexism right there. #feminism101
  45. Enter the supporters

  46. *takes a look at @kajsaha TL. Sits back, takes a sip of iced tea and follows the lesson *
  47. Thanks for noting my educative mission this morning *types while breastfeeding* #feminism101  https://twitter.com/mropoku/status/648777450470670336 …
  48. @kajsaha hahaha, an incredible multi-tasker. You win??
  49. Person : “this is sexist” I Too Sabi Man : What credentials do you have to claim this is sexist? It is actually *insert pseudo science here*
  50. @kajsaha its ridiculous that you have to lay out all the ways in which you are qualified before your opinion can be valued. Smh
  51. It all fits perfectly into #feminism101 @bxshola. So there is a small upside 🙂
  52. Kajsa is bringing receipts. The others bought their ish on credit.
  53. If nothing at all, @kajsaha has won at #StartingConversations101 cos all the different twitter segments are talking about this. #Medaase
  54. In conclusion, two feminism classes came out of this exchange!

  55. Hope my Webster Uni Ghana Campus class is listening to this story. Class discussion 4 gender today: Black Stars vs Black Queens #CitiCBS
  56. I’ve done some lesson prep for you under the hashtag #feminism101Have a productive class! 🙂  https://twitter.com/estherarmah/status/648771053955731456 …
  57. Good discussion under the hashtag #feminism101 today. If nothing else, do take away the term “mansplaining”. So common on #ghtwitter!
  58. I’m encouraged by that Twitter is a feminist place where feminists support one-another. Thank you! #feminism101  https://twitter.com/bxshola/status/648829263441956864 …

Impressive Kenyan Official Use of Twitter

As the horrible events at the Westgate mall in Nairobi still unfold, I want to highlight the impressive use of social media by Kenyan authorities like the police and ministry of interior. Many can learn from them!

  1. 1. Timely information

    – information too late is no information.
  2. We would like to confirm that, the official record of those who died because of the cruel act stands at 62.
  3. Through our operations this morning, we have killed 2 terrorists and we will be giving you finer details going forward.
  4. 2. Messages to the public

    – Twitter is an excellent direct channel
  5. This is a plea, keep off #WestGateMall for your own security. This is a scene of crime and it’s for your own safety.
  6. The ongoing speculations online are going to jeopardize the efforts to rescue the remaining hostages. Please heed and be calm. Pls RT
  7. 3. Personal professional accounts (here Inspector General of the Kenyan Police)

    -Creates calm as we see real people are out there doing their best
  8. Thumbs up to our multi-agency team, we have just managed to rescue some hostages. We’re increasingly gaining advantage of the attackers. IG
  9. 4. Collaboration between agencies

    – Creates calm as we see agencies work in tandem
  10. We urge those of us who have posted graphic images to remove them so as to observe solidarity with the affected families~ @InteriorKE
  11. 5. Understanding the basics of Twitter, eg. verification of accounts, hashtags

    – Creates confidence in the agency
  12. Thank you @twitter has verified account, so we continue updating and encourage you. As we said: One love!
  13. We plead with you to keep off #WestGateMall if you aren’t a security agent,volunteer or a member of the media fraternity.WG is a crime scene
  14. …though there are things to learn, we must keep a critical mind. Also official accounts do best to stick to facts, details and general warnings, and avoid judging the situation as it unfolds.
  15. The security forces are in control of the entire West Gate building and we are doing what must be done to end this.
  16. Fire shows Kenya police has lost control of situation, they seem to do their best to cover their failure. Quite hostile to journos #westgate

TechTrekGhana: Meeting Boston College

Boston College collageLast year, I got an email from Professor John Gallagher of Boston College asking if I could meet with his students during their study trip to Ghana in May. I was excited to be asked, really it is not everyday the educational city of Boston calls! – so I said yes and after some emailing back and forth, I was asked to not just meet with John’s students, but also organize a panel with Ashesi students about social media in Ghana. Here is the long overdue blog post about this panel!

First, I decided to ask my colleague Kobina Graham to go with me as we have been coteaching Social Theory, a freshman class where we tried to integrate Twitter. Additionally, Kobby worked as the Social Media Officer for the Constitutional Review Commission a few years back. To find the best students for the panel, we held a (Twitter) competition, asking students to contribute to the Ashesifun hashtag invented by Ashesi student, Edwin. This hashtag is a way of indexing ideas on how to make the Ashesi campus and consequently college experience more vibrant. Edwin was by default shortlisted for the panel, with him came Martha (a third year student) and Makafui (a first year student).

On the evening of our panel, we met at MEST and had dinner with the visitors. We talked about our experiences with social media in Ghana, the teaching experiments we had done, how we use Internet (several of us are bloggers), but we were also interested in listening to the Boston College students and hear more about what they had discovered. A Boston College student later tweeted:

Most interesting of their observations were: the low, but growing, Internet penetration; the high energy of the Ghanaian IT sector and last, but not least; the intensive use of Twitter for professional communication (“Ghanaian professionals seem to prefer a Direct Message on Twitter to a phone call or an email!”). I checked the last by tweeting about it and  got mixed feedback from (the already biased) Twitterverse. Still,  getting that comparison with Boston ecosystem was enlightening. It seems many times we are maybe too pessimistic here in Ghana?

 To conclude, thank you Prof. Gallagher for giving me the opportunity to interact with you, your colleagues and students. I also blame you for the surprising – and loudly cheered on –  end to our panel, when two of the Ashesi students did an impromptu rap battle after having been prodded by you. Really, the panel could not have had a better ending!

 

 

Plane Crash in Accra: News Broke on Social Media

The #AlliedAir cargo flight thats down @ Elwak sports stadium... on Twitpic

This evening a plane crashed through  one of the walls of Kotoka International Airport in Accra. As the airport is very centrally located, this is a catastrophe. At the time, a  heavy rainfall was coming down, potentially causing the accident, but surely limiting the casualties as the area is a traffic hub for eastern/central Accra.

The news broke on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/SamuelObour/status/209023833632555008″]

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/MacJordaN/status/209025454991089664″]

And there were conversations on how traditional media was running behind. Just 10 m inutes ago TV 3 featured the news, according toTV3 the cargo plane was coming form Nigeria and skidded off the runway.

However, there was plenty confusion.

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/freduagyeman/status/209029990057115648″]

There were some casualties, people on a “trotro” or minibus and a motorcyclist are mentioned in unconfired reports and the deathtollhas been mentioned from8-25 people. The road  from 37  station towards La Badi  beach is closed.

Online news is still scarce. See MyJoyOnline, Nigerian Daily Times, fellow Ghanaian blogger Samuel Obour.

UPDATE: Reuters report and Allied Press.

On Twitter, the discussion continues.

ECG Corruption Revealed by Anas Aremeyaw: The Reactions on Twitter

Ghana’s favorite (and only?) investigative journalist has done it again – revealing excessive corruption where the general public had a hunch something was fishy. Last time it was the Ports and Harbors (GHAPOHA). This time the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) has been monitored over 8 months as Anas Aremeyaw took up work with the company. And what stories!

This morning, as radio station JoyFM carried Anas Aremeyaw’s story, I was first alone to be tweeting on it, but soon the Ghanaian Twitterverse exploded. I’d like to share some of the comments with you here (with a little help from widget BlackBirdPie):

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/kajsaha/status/161355926832562176″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/nautyinaccra/status/161368470578139136″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/Ghanareporters/status/161371755976474624″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/SorayaSpeaks/status/161392936909668352″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/oBiii/status/161393883480207360″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/manifestive/status/161388592063713280″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/kinnareads/status/161385070756757504″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/grahamk5/status/161391241840431104″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/MacJordaN/status/161389414247972864″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/Joselyn_Dumas/status/161392577919205376″]

In Ghana, Twitter is quickly gaining ground. I believe social media can be highly useful to create momentum around a topic such as this, as many tweets or short posts, apart from showing the people of Ghana’s rage, also came with suggestions on how to move forward and who to hold accountable.

 

 

You Know You Are in Accra When…

A celebrated part of new Dust magazine (that has been mentioned a number of times on this blog already) is the section called “you know you are in Accra when…”  Basically a list of fun stuff that we can see daily and only become funny when highlighted. I have observed, similar things have been posted on Twitter with the hashtag “onlyinGhana”.

Anyhow, I have some to share with you:

You know you are in Accra when…/Only in Ghana…

…an envelope can double as a bag to carry about town.

… A meal costs anywhere between 70 pesewas and 70 GHC.

…you hear “I’m coming, eh!” when someone walks away from you.

…parking is free, but throwing your trash, going to the washroom or drinking cholera free water has a steep price.

…you have to run to cross the street, even if the “green man” is giving you way.

These are just some I thought of when driving to work the other day – do let me know your homemade ones as well in the comment section below!

Only in Ghana – Twitter in Ghana

I signed up to Twitter some time ago and am still struggling with using it.

First it is the practical stuff. At times, I can upgrade my Twitter status or tweet from my phone – but many times this does not work.

Also, Twitter rarely works at home (Vodafone Broadband). Is it a firewall maybe?

But it has not really mattered, because I just could not see the use for Twitter. It is mostly a lot of noisy small talk.  The only (useful) application I have thought of is that I’d love to get (and contribute to)  updates about traffic for instance on the Tema-Accra motorway. I even invented a hashtag or searchable keyword for writing about traffic in Ghana  #TraGha – but how do one make a hashtag be used?

And OK, OK, Twitter is fun to use at events, with event specific hashtags but then phone updates have to work! (see above discussion).

So currently, I have given up on serious usage and as Twitter today is working from home/through a wordpress application, I found this up-and-coming funny hashtag: “#onlyinGhana”. Here are some of my favorites:

#onlyinGhana a Burger is regarded as ‘high class food’.

Theres a shop at the mall called WHITEley’s that sells only african stuff. #onlyinghana.

some cedi notes look like dey have fell in the gutter #onlyinghana

#onlyinghana where #facebook gurls paint their walls wid azar paint just to clean ya #wallpost

#onlyinghana does the whole parliament go to welcome Obama at the airport

What “only in Ghana” sentence would you add?