I am attending Nordic Geographers’ Meeting #NGM2017

On Sunday, I’ll be in Stockholm for the 7th Nordic Geographers’ Meeting. I am excited to be presenting my work to a completely new audience – geographers, and a wider audience of social scientists – as I usually meet with Africa scholars or Migration scholars. The theme is “geographies of inequalities” which is almost a perfect topic to capture student migration out of the global South.

At the meeting, I hope to:

  • get some new ideas on how to take my work to the next level (Where do I publish?  What are others doing on students and migration?) and
  • pick up some clues on how I continue to do relevant interdisciplinary research. (What methods should I use?  Who can I collaborate with? Who else is interested in my work?)

I’ll be presenting two papers out of my dissertation research for the following two panels:

Session A3: Youth and Inequality: Perceptions, experiences, and aspirations. (PDF details)

Conveners: Prof. Katherine Gough of Loughborough University and Dr. Thilde Langevang of Copenhagen Business School.

Session description
Rising unemployment and sluggish economic growth are widely predicted to further widen income and wealth inequality worldwide. Young people, in particular, are being disproportionately affected with the OECD claiming that youth have replaced the elderly as the group experiencing the greatest risk of income poverty. This has widespread implications for the opportunities and constraints young people face as well as impacting on their aspirations for the future.This session will bring together papers which explore how young people’s lives and aspirations are being influenced by the inequality they experience and imagine both in situ and in faraway places. Papers are welcome from societies across the globe where young people are being affected by real or perceived high levels of inequality. Topics which may be explored in the session include, but are not restricted to, the implications of rising inequality at a range of scales for young people’ perceptions, experiences and aspirations of: Mobility and immobility /Education and skills training/ Work experiences and job prospects/Housing and home

Here my paper “Migration aspirations among university students in Ghana” will discuss my choices to focus on university students and not youth in general as well as aspirations and intentions and not migration per se . I also will share some results from the survey I did with university students in Ghana, in particular looking at social backgrounds of students and their view of migration. (20/6/17 1.15-3.00 pm. Room: William Olsson, House Y)

Session J7: The Politics of Movement. (PDF details)

Conveners: Dr. Nancy Cook & Prof. David Butz, Brock University.

Session description
The politics of movement  entanglements of power, social inequality and mobilities – is an abiding preoccupation in social geography and critical mobilities studies. Both scholarly fields identify mobility as a fundamental structuring dimension of social life. They also demonstrate that the capacity for movement under conditions of one’s choosing is a valuable resource that is unequally distributed in social contexts structured by hierarchies of power. In other words, movement is socially differentiated; it reflects and reinforces structures of power to configure inequitable social hierarchies. Critical geographers and mobility scholars are tracing the ways in which relations of gender, race, class, sexuality and citizenship shape discourses and practices of mobility that produce beneficial movement for some people and too little or too much movement for others.

For this session, I will discuss some thoughts around what a global South student really is in relation to mobility in my paper “Conceptualizing academic mobility and mobility exclusions from a global South student perspective”. Based on the data I collected for my dissertation research I will suggest some trends in the politics of movement from a student point of view. (19/6/17 at 5.15-6.45 pm in Room: U26, House U)

I am also looking forward to keynotes, especially with Dr. Brenda S.A. Yeoh who has a distinct global South perspective in her work and meeting new friends – and at least one old! I want to thank my good friend Michael Boampong who sent me the initial info on this conference, and who is also attending the conference as well as and my department at Ashesi University which made this trip possible.

Hope to meet you at #NGM2017!

View from Ghana: Education

This post is part of Ghanablogging‘s monthly theme post “a view out of Ghana” – this month we write on education.

In school we have other names

School uniform, school bag and white socks in black shoes
Ama and myself
and many others
(but in school we have other names)

Lining up in front of  ‘new block’ (although it doesn’t look new)
On the red dirt football field
Standing still
(Longing for eating a bo’flot during the morning break)
(Thinking in Fante but) answering “yes, sah”
when asked if I swept the headmistress’ office

First period is Social science
(I have memorized the definition of marriage)
Sun is hot
Standing still
(schh Ama)
Keeping quiet

(Is this Education?)

>Kwame Nkrumah: Known by Many Names

> This collection of Nkrumah’s (positive) nicknames is being showed at Nubuke Foundation, more details on the exhibit here.

The Messiah
The Saviour
Fountain of Honour
Teacher
Redeemer
Leader
The Infallible
The Ideological Mentor
Show Boy (Which Maya Maame blogged on here)
Osagyefo (Redeemer in Twi)
Asomdwehene (King of Peace)
Oyeadieeyie (Repairman, someone who puts things right)
Kasapreko (Someone who speaks her/his mind)

Blogger AntiRhythm adds two historically interesting names to the list. His christian name “Francis” – and the confused misspelled name that FBI used in their file “Ukrumah”, read the stories here and here.

Time Magazine, in August 1962, added “Africa’s biggest ego” to the list.

>Kwame Nkrumah: The City of Tema (Part 2)

>Landmarks in concrete.

The Cocoa Silos

The Kwame Nkrumah Motorway

One of these monolithic structures were never used. The other is the backbone of the Greater Accra economy.

I amuse myself with thinking about if the two had been used – and developed – since the 1960s.

What do you think, does it matter?

>Kwame Nkrumah: The City of Tema (Part 1)

> Over this week, we have a Kwame Nkrumah theme at Ghanablogging.

I thought I’d write about an important aspect of Nkrumah’s legacy. The industrial harbor town of Tema. My new hometown. (I know its beside the point, but also there is almost nothing about Tema, GH, online!)

Let’s start my exposé on Tema with Nkrumah’s own words. We go back to February 10th, 1962 and the Official Opening of the Tema Harbor. Kwame Nkrumah walks up to a podium and gives his speech.

“By taking advantage of the river systems of West Africa, it should be possible – again, by concerted action – to connect the hinterland, far outside the boarders of Ghana, with this great port of Tema. Thus, in this harbour of Tema, we see a unifying force and an essential requirement in the progress towards African Unity”

Hence, Tema was just one part of the grandiose plan of Africa rising. Tema should be a harbor not just for Ghana, but for Africa. Still today, Burkina Faso, Mali and other landlocked countries are highly dependent on the Tema harbor. What whould they be today without this sea port?

Nkrumah continued his speech with comparing the existing Takoradi harbor “designed by the colonialists to facilitate the exportation of the wealth of the country” to this new sea port. He said:

“Tema is the sign post of the future. It represents the purposeful beginning of the industrialisation of Ghana. It is the signal for industrial expansion, a challenge to our industry and intelligence and a hope for the future.”

Tema and its connection to a bright Pan-African future will be my starting point for future deliberations on Tema.

Pic: My first view of the Tema harbor, Xmas 2004.

>Next week: Blogs on Kwame Nkrumah

> All of next week, a group of Ghanaian bloggers including myself has decided to dedicate to Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumah.

The week leads up to Nkrumah’s 100th Birthday, celebrated on the 21st of September.

As Kwame Nkrumah had enormous impact on Ghana and all of Africa, I hope you will read some of the other Ghanaian blogs this upcoming week. They can be found on or Ghanablogging aggregator here.

Pic: One of the most used photos of Nkrumah, tinted purple by me. Who was the photographer?

>Obama’s Visit – A View out of Ghana

>

Why has Obama chosen to come to Ghana as his first stop in Africa? Does it mean he chose not to come to the regional big brother Nigeria and his paternal home country of Kenya? Will he give a policy speech on Africa whilst in Ghana? How are Ghanaians preparing? Are they happy to host the first black American president?

These are questions that have already been debated thoroughly (see Ghanablogging.com’s Abena being quoted here for example), hence I’d like to write on an issue much less discussed.

How can we living in Ghana at this time take part of the visit?

It has been made clear that president Obama will not address the general public directly, nor will there will be any parade in which we can see the Obamas, wave or take photos. Weather has been blamed for this decision, and yes, it has been raining extensively lately, but maybe it is more a security issue?

So here I give you the 3 places one will get the Obama fever up close:

1. Airforce One will land at Kotoka Airport at 8 pm tonight, at least one can see his plane there.

2. La Polyclinic is his second stop tomorrow morning after meeting the recent presidents of Ghana for breakfast (Rawlings, Kuffuor and Mills). I’m guessing they will convene at the Osu Castle and then drive (??) to La Polyclinic just 5 minutes away on the beach road.

3. The African-American Association in Ghana (AAAG) will watch Obama’s speech together at the Mensvic Grande Hotel in East Legon Saturday morning (starting 10 am). I think that will be a good place to get the Obama vibe for us who sadly were not invited to the International Conference Centre in Accra where he will give his address.

And on Saturday evening 7 pm at the Dubois Centre in Labone, Accra there will be a concert (Featuring among others wonderful singer Bibie Brew) saluting the popular visitor who at that point will have left beautiful, and rainy, Ghana.

Ill update you on how it all went on Sunday.

This is is a shared blogpost for ghanablogging.com.

>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!

DarlingSweetheartBabyCutiepie

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

DarlingSweetheartBabyCutiepie
was something you had never called me

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

DarlingSweetheartBabyCutiepie

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

DarlingSweetheartBabyCutiepie,
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.

>If She Could Blog: Yaa Asantewaa

> Since Prempeh and Ejisuhene, my own son, were sent away I have found some power within me I didn’t know I possessed. I miss them and I fear what the white men might do to our people, now that they are gone. My life has changed.

I have taken my son’s seat in the council and yesterday I had to sit and endure the speech of our white enemies. Hearing the British Governor demand, DEMAND, the Golden Stool made my vision get blurred with emotion. At the secret meeting, just after the ugly, lanky Governor had left, when I saw these old men sit and argue – as if we had all the time in the world – my anger just bubbled over.

When I stood up to deliver my speech, I saw surprise in some of their faces, but also respect. I am Queen Mother of Ejisu Yaa Asantewaa, and the future of our Asante Confederation now rests on me. My voice was strong when I spoke at the meeting:

Now I see that some of you fear to go forward to fight for our king. If it were in the brave days of Osei Tutu, Okomfo Anokye, and Opoku Ware, chiefs would not sit down to see their king to be taken away without firing a shot. No European could have dared speak to chiefs of Asante in the way the governor spoke to you this morning. Is it true that the bravery of Asante is no more? I cannot believe it. It cannot be! I must say this: if you, the men of Asante, will not go forward, then we will. We, the women, will. I shall call upon my fellow women. We will fight the white men. We will fight till the last of us falls in the battlefields.

After I had spoken it was like the quarrels had died down. The room was quiet. Apart from my auntie smiling at me from a corner, everyone else had a very serious expression on their face. The silence continued and wasn’t broken until my carriers had taken me out of the council room and into the family palace. As I heard their angry voices, I thought of that I had meant every word; if I have to I will lead the Asante people to war. As a royal, this is my responsibility.

Let’s see if any of these fearful chiefs will come and visit me, else it will be Yaa Asantewaa’s war.

(In the picture, I am wearing my warrior outfit and carrying my rifle, I hope some of the damn British will see it and realize the Asante Confederation must still be feared!)

This post is a joint effort with bloggers from ghanablogging.com. We decided to this month blog from the perspective of a (famous) historical person who might have been a blogger had he or she lived today. The quote is an authentical quote from Yaa Asantewaa who lived 1860-1921 and led her people to war in 1900. She died in exile in the Seychelles.

>View out of Ghana: Fotball

> Ghana is the golden country of football. On every small patch of land there is a game coming on in the early mornings and weekends. The European leagues and African derby’s are followed closely on TV. African Cup of Nations hosted by Ghana earlier this year let to even more fotball fever. Fotball is fun. Fotball is entertainment. Fotball is also a possible way out of poverty.

He is a compact, well-built 22 year old I met in front of the Danish embassy earlier this year. Since a young age, growing up in poor circumstances, this young man just knew he was going to be a professional footballer. He was good, he trained a lot and really enjoyed his play. However, his father would not hear of it, but instead wanted his son to work long hours to make money for the family. He moved away from home in his early teens, forced to support himself to be able to continue developing as a footballer.

His talent shone through and soon a prominent Ghanaian football club signed him on for their junior team. They made sure he was put though football academy to further develop his skills with the leather ball. Then last summer, a Swedish coach came to Ghana to look for young talents. His eye fell on my friend and in September he was flown to Sweden to do try outs. Back in Ghana, he was approached by an agent and currently also teams in other parts of the world is showing an interest for the young footballer, a striker who can shoot with either foot. Now he is up in the air, will any of these teams sign him on?

Smiling, he tells me this story over a chilled bottle of Soda water in a nice bar in central Accra. I laugh admiringly and can’t help but ask, but how could you possibly know you would make it?

His eyes grow dark, his jaw tightens.
-I just knew it, I know I am good.

The Ghanaian Dream has been lived by my friend Daniel. His amazing story has all the ingredients of a good tale, except for that the happy ending is – how can I put it – pending.

In the pic, Daniel is showing me pictures and newspaper clippings from his fotball career so far.

>View out of Ghana: Poverty

>They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

The meaning of that concept is that we all have different glasses though which we see the world. In this post, as in all others I have ever written, I intend to write about the world I see. Here are my thoughts on poverty (spurred on by Blog Action Day).

With my sheltered and sometimes outright naive Swedish background, coming to live in Ghana has in many ways been being confronted with stories about poverty. I have come to understand the depressing effects of poverty: that there are people who are so poor they buy food and spices for today’s meal only, hoping that tomorrow they will afford rice and pepper again. There are men so poor they can’t afford the transport fare to go look for a job, women so poor they cannot afford to go to church (offerings and sunday clothing requires money) and families so poor they cannot afford contraceptives or an abortion even when their resources are not enough to feed the kids already at their feet.

Then again, Ghana is a relatively well off country in the region, see for instance gapminder for figures. And the person buying pepper for today, at least is buying something. The man not able to find a new job will be fed by his wife who is a successful trader in the local market. And interestingly, the poorest families rarely see children as anything else than a resource and a joy.

Poverty is in the eye of the beholder. I argue, so is glamour.

Pic taken in the Makola Market area, downtown Accra, Ghana.