Friday, 30 January 2009

Feeling hot, hot, hot!

Today I vex, paa (translation: today I am very, very angry). Well actually since last night. I know I should be used to it by now, but there is no way I'll get used to life without electricity. All day yesterday, the lights went on and off, then just before midnight, they went off and didn't come back until 18:00 today! I don't even want to think of all the food I'll have to throw out as it's spoilt by now. And let's just put it this way: I never really, erm, appreciated just how hot Labone is compared to Tema, until I tried spending a night here without AC or a fan. (In Tema I always slept with the natural breeze coming from the windows, only once in a while with the assistance of a desk fan at the lowest speed).

It is that heat I can thank for my all-day migraine, which shows no signs of leaving me. I would blame it all on the ECG, but I have to say I am slightly impressed by the staff at ECG. At first I was just mad at them as I couldn't get through on their phone line (this is always the case when they cause a power-cut), but when I did get through, both yesterday and today, they gave me very accurate and truthful answers so I knew exactly what to expect.

Either way, I'm about to turn off the laptop, turn off the lights and try to sleep off this migraine. Hope your weekend is off to a better start!

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Job seeking in Accra?

Look no further! It seems in the past 36 hours I've managed to turn myself into a recruitment consultant, and quite a succesful one as well! It started with my cousin needing a person with very specific qualifications for a part-time job, the details of which almost exactly fitted what a friend had said she was looking for in a job. So I set the two of them up for a fruitful meeting yesterday.

Earlier today, another cousin (I have many, many!) needed someone for a project and of course there was a friend I knew would be available and competent to do the job. A few minutes later, a friend needed to help his friend cover a legal position I'd had to turn down a few months ago as it would get in the way of my biggest project. I made two calls and voila! I sorted out my classmate with a potential dream job in a field he wanted more expertise in.

Cartoon borrowed from Gordon Institute of Business Studies

OK, so no papers have been signed, no employment agreements finalised but I have made three employers and three potential employees very happy. It feels a bit like being Santa Claus, only getting good jobs and good workers is probably more rewarding to the people than using the crap we're sometimes given as presents at Christmas!

Oh no. I take back the last statement. After all I don't want to be present-less next Christmas...

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Obama vs. AL Jazeera

Isn't it funny that just after writing about Al Jazeera, the station is under speculation as CNN ponders over Obama snubbing them by choosing Al Arabyia for his first interview, and Al Jazeera snubbing Obama back by not reporting his statement at all! From the reports, it seems Al Jazeera is perceived differently here (or by me?) than by the U.S. (or CNN?). After all, after watching Al Jazeera for the past few years on Metro and DSTV, I find it as westernised a station as BBC and CNN. But CNN speaks of the station as still seen as radical, or possibly just the leading station from that region.

Today I said a sad goodbye. For a few days each year we have a lovely reunion. It's all cool, straight and shining glory. I enjoy it so much, I forget to capture the brief moments by taking pictures, forgetting these days will soon be over. Then this morning I woke up, felt a bit of volume on my head. As I tried straightening my hair before my morning meeting and watched it curl up a few minutes later, I knew our time in 2009 was already over. Those first few dry, un-humid days as Harmattan enters Accra, have come to an end, and we look ahead to another 360 days of humidity before it comes again. For me this means a trip to Auntie Alice hair salon in the next few days, to cornrow my head of unruly hair. I am just so glad I managed to flash my sleek, straight, shiny hair at Captain Hooks on Saturday!

Having natural hair in Ghana? Enye easy koraa!

Sunday, 25 January 2009

The cheap African life?

Al Jazeera features a report on Zimbabwe about the “Zimdollar” and how ever since shops were allowed to accept foreign currency, nobody is willing to receive the local currency. However, because they’re accepting foreign currency, at least the shops that were empty a few months ago are now busy again. Then the reporter, Haru Mutasa suddenly looks grim. “It’s not all good news though” she says. Even though people are shopping again, you now have to pay $10 for a kilo of meat, $6 for a crate of eggs and as much as $1 for a loaf of bread! In other words people are paying two to three times more what would be paid in the US.

Eeeeh? Suddenly I feel very stupid paying a good $6-7 dollars/kilo for meat at Koala, about $5 for a crate of eggs and $2 for a loaf of bread! Is it time we also start making noise about the cost of food in supermarkets in Ghana? I can’t help but wonder if we in Ghana are complacently accepting the prices imposed on us by the supermarkets, as they’re not far off the “result of the economical crisis” in Zimbabwe.

Or is this simply (more likely) just another example of people in the West not realising how expensive life in Africa can be (I purposely say “can be” as I’d probably get the eggs cheaper at Agbobloshie market, but the report featured a supermarket, not a market so I feel the comparison is just)? After all, many ex-pats, friends and family do come to Ghana with the notion that £10 will last ten times longer than in England. They soon get a shocking reality check when their tenner just about covers their entrance fee at Rhapsody’s or buys the basic goods at Shoprite! Either way I feel like letting Haru Mutasa come to Ghana and see for herself, so that she’ll understand if her report doesn’t get such a sensational reaction in Africa as it does elsewhere.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Radioactive woman

For the past few weeks, or month I have had a recurring headache. It comes with a bang and lasts just a few minutes and it's always localised, just at the entrance of my right ear, just above the earlobe. I've been wondering what could have caused it and just this morning I thought of the fact that I always speak on the phone on that ear (and no, I don't have fancy bluetooth, nor the patience to untangle my handsfree every time there is a call).

Suddenly I was reminded of all the radiation we expose ourselves to without knowing the damage. Because really, how much can scientists tell us? Some claim using the mobile phone at an angle reduces the radiation to a fraction, some say Bluetooth and handsfree are safe while others say it's actually worse as the radiation is going straight into our ears. I say it's too early to trust anyone. After all, we've only been using these electronics for a few decades.

Take a quick trip down memory lane and you'll realise that back in the eighties, the only digital sunlight we received in our homes was from our digital clockradio.

I remember in 1988 when Annika and I were the first in our class to get microwave ovens. How many of us didn't stand in front of them watching the microwaves cook our food in seconds? Even remotes weren't in full use until the late eighties/early nineties (I know this as I bitterly remember it being the duty of the youngest person present to change the channel from Kanal 1 to TV2 on our big, white Torn TV).

Today we surround ourselves with wonders of the digital, wireless world. We cook in our microwaves, talk on our cordless phones and mobiles, work (read blog and stay on Facebok) on our laptops and browse oaway on our wireless networks without considering for a second how that wireless network surrounding our homes is affecting our health. (Although, living close to the area known as La Wireless Area and hearing of the many cases of cancer that occurred there ahs made me a bit more aware of the dangers.)

Could it be time to get back to basics for a bit? Plug the cord-led phone back in, turn off the wireless and start using the broadband cord, cook on the stove, put on a vinyl record and wonder if life was actually half-bad just two decades ago.

On that note of "gloom and doom, we're all gonna die!", have a good weekend!

Thursday, 22 January 2009

This time...

Ages ago I planned to chronicle the year that just passed but never got the chance to do it. Besides, if I did, it would probably end up being a ten page account as so many things happened in 2008. However, I feel something must be documented in cyberform after Virgo reminded me two days ago that the African Cup of Nations had started exactly a year earlier. I was immediately struck by the conflicting thoughts of "how can it already be a year?" and "but it seems soooo long ago!".

This time last year, between drafting agreements and other stuff at the lawfirm, my fellow colleagues and I (including a certain Poet) would be texting any possible contacts for tickets to the next game, rushing to finish up work by 2.30 to be able to start walking to the Ohene Djan Stadium along with a whole load of other people in our business district.

This time last year, I had one niece who had just turned four years old. My now five year and one day old niece now has a little brother and a little cousin, with another cousin joining them in a few months time.

This time last year, I was, as mentioned, working for the law firm, still doing my pupillage. Now, I work for what will hopefully one day be a major corporation, managing and structuring the business, often working from home in my own time and finding time to do independent legal work on the side.

This time last year, there was hardly any political buzz in Ghana, and yet now we have a new president and a new party in power. Rather, at the law firm, we'd frequently discuss how the hotshot Obama was actually faring quite well against Hillary and may give her serious competition. Could any of us have imagined that a year later we'd be witnessing the inauguration of President Barack Obama?

This time last year I was in a relationship but living with my lovely mother at the centre of the world (that's Tema of course!). Now I am a "newly" married woman living in the heart of Accra, somewhat missing the fresh breeze and cooler air of Tema, but definitely not the commute!

Friends' babies have been born, beautiful, important people have passed, there have been marriages and career changes all around me. What a year it's been!

And you know what? It seems life will only get better in 2009!

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Lights Out!

No, I am not bed-ridden as a result of my candy overdose, I just haven't blogged for various reasons.

It started with me focusing on work and, erm, social commitments. Then somebody ( I won't mention any names, as all fingers point at me, myself and I!) forgot to put credit on our prepaid electricity card, which ran out...on Saturday, early evening. After our only re-chargeable lamp, which the same somebody has been using as a beside lamp since somebody dropped and broke the original bedside lamp (damn, I hate not having anyone to blame!), died out after 40 minutes, I had to force myself to try and sleep as there was nothing else to do and I was too hot to even consider lighting candles.

Since Virgo had appointments all of Sunday and knowing we could only load the electricity card on Monday morning, I escaped to my dear Tema, land of constantly flowing water and electricity (well in my community anyway), prepared with my laptop, rechargeable lamp, mobile phone charger, etc. After basking in the glow from the TV, the wind from the fan, the sound of the microwave, I tell you, it's amazing what 12 hours without electricity can do to you, my joy suddenly came to a halt when: LIGHTS OUT!

My mum claims I brought bad luck with me, to my objections that "lights out is not contagious!", although even I was surprised as Community 10 has a good track record usually. Still managed to have a lovely day of reading, napping and a long walk in Community 10, 11 and 6 before heading to the Mall to watch Yes Man with Virgo. We had both decided to stay away from our dark home as long as possible.

Monday morning, I rushed to charge the ECG (Electricity Corporation of Ghana) card, blasted the AC, turned on the laptop, and the TV, but after an hour it was all taken away from me again, lights out! This seemed to mess up the internet (or was it just Broadband4u misbehaving?) a bit as well as it was slow and disfunctional all day.

Anyway, making a very short story really, really long, what I wanted to say was, lights out and internet problems are the reasons I haven't blogged for almost a week, but now I am actually beginning to enjoy it. Most bloggers took a break over Christmas and elections, I didn't, but I think the break may be necessary to enable us come back with fresh minds and more stories to tell. So I may be away for a few more days. In the meantime take the opportunity to go see Australia, it is such a beautiful movie and a must for any Baz Luhrman fan (think Moulin Rouge).

Peace out!

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

You are the weakest link. Goodbye!

Mae West once said: Too much of a good thing can be wonderful. This is a quote I have often lived by, but today I've seen the bad side of it. After scoffing my face with sweets that my dear fellow Ghana Swede brought me from the cold land up north, I now feel quite nauseous and at the same time astonished that as human beings we never learn. How could I not realise after the third handful that I ought to stop? So now, before I head to Monsoon for Sushi, I'll have to jump about a bit to digest the gelatin, colourings and other additives that are rolling around in my tummy.

In the mean time I'll leave you with some of the wickedness Ann Robinson spouts out on the Weakest Link, which has become a favourite of mine when I manage to watch. Apart from reminding me of my London days and keeping me up to date on my general knowledge it provides me with laugh-out-loud moments, as I squeal (and sometimes bury my head in shame) over Ann Robinson's remarks. Here's two examples:

-So you're a housewife? Too lazy to get a job?

- Paul, what do you do?
- I'm a charity fundraiser.
- Oh, a professional beggar!

(Of course it soooo much funnier when you see it in the moment!)

I can only wonder how Ann and the show would manage in Ghana. I can imagine the response many times being: "Kweh, what do you mean by that?! As for you you are too known!"

Monday, 5 January 2009

Boobs, fat and fuel

It's amazing what you find when looking for links on the internet. I was looking for more links to celebrities who've lost their children. After all, John Travolta lost his son last week and Mia Farrow lost her adult daughter. Here in Ghana, a known member of society lost his 3.5 year old daughter after she tragically died in La Palm's swimming pool. (Apparently she somehow got into the adult pool which is not monitored by lifeguards). Could there be anything worse than experiencing the death of your child? I think not.

Any way, whilst browsing the world wide web for more details I first came across a story of outrage against facebook for banning pictures of babies being breastfed. Naturally, as a woman, and someone who sees nothing wrong in breastfeeding in public (despite whatever I may have written before!), I understand the upset people are feeling over these pictures being likened to pornography. However, after taking a peek at the facebook group "Hey, Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene!(Official petition to Facebook)", my only question is why you would take, no, publish a picture of your baby being fed? Is it a matter of that being the only moment you catch him/her awake, or simply wanting to catch the moment and share it with friends and family? Only asking as most mothers I know feel a bit exposed whilst breastfeeding and I can't imagine them wanting to have their picture shared on facebook.

HOWEVER, what really intrigued me was the story of the doctor who took the fat from patients he had performed liposuction on and turned it into biodiesel for his and his girlfriend's cars! Surely this man is an ecological genius, no? Rather he has fled to South America as his practices were against California law. At first I thought, 'what a shame' as I am all for recycling, but after learning that his girlfriend performed some surgeries (without a medical licence!) and took out too much fat, I can see why it would be risky for him to gain from what he was taking out of the patients. After all, the way petrol prices used to go up, we'd all be tempted to steal a bit more fat from our would-be patients to keep our expenses down! Still, the avid recycler in me feels he was really on to something.

What do you think?

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Underneath our beautifully peaceful veil...

I write with mixed emotions. Had a wonderful afternoon, spent it watching "Unhappy wives & Confused husbands" at the National Theatre. It's a comedy play by James Ebo Whyte, about relationships and we all had several good laughs. It's so nice to find cultural Ghanaian activities, I hope we get more of that in 2009! Our only regret was that we made it a girl's outing as we all agreed our partners could have learnt quite a bit about relationships from the play.

Came home and as I was preparing for the first proper working week of the year, Virgo got a call informing him that an NPP supporter has been murdered by NDC supporters today. How tragic! Where the need for members of the winning party to impose violence and death on those of us who lost?

I have thought long and hard about covering this issue in the blog, but decided not to, especially after seeing the seemingly peaceful celebrations in town yesterday. But I feel it must be mentioned: the fact that we are somewhat held hostage by the fear of potential violence by NDC members. I am not in any way claiming that this is violence condoned by the NDC party itself, but it is well-known that had NPP won, it would not have been 'accepted' by their members, whatever the implications of not 'accepting' are. IN fact, the majority of NPP supporters were relieved when we heard the results yesterday as we knew the only way we'd have peace in Ghana would be if we lost.

Dr. Ohene, who was a polling agent in the Volta Region, is still alive, with one eye almost ripped out.
Since run-off last Sunday I have found it very sad that we have been unable to see a single NPP flag or sticker on a car, while NDC flags and stickers are displayed all over vehicles, everywhere. Among friends, we've laughed at the fact that we deciphred the code of the Ghana flag. If you look around I can assure you that every car you see with a Ghana flag is hiding an NPP supporter who knows that were he to display his party associations, he is putting himself at risk of having his windows smashed in. Meanwhile NDC flags are riding high on their supporters' cars, as it should be!

I hope I don't regret writing about this, as I like to keep politics out of the blog, especially when written from a partisan angle, but with the very fresh memory of three NPP polling agents murdered in the Volta Region last Sunday and what happened today, I felt the issue could not be ignored. Hopefully nothing of this nature will happen again and we can continue seeing happy celebrations from the NDC and good 'losership' from the NPP.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

We have a winner!

Never say die, they say. Atta Mills has proven it's true. After contending the presidency over and over again, against all odds, with rumours of near-death illness, he is now Ghana's president elect and will be sworn in on Wednesday, 7th January. I look forward to seeing a smooth handing over from Kuffour's government to Atta Mills. Let us hope we can continue to proudly hold our heads high as Ghanaians, as leading the way for political peace in Africa.

Meanwhile, here in Labone, the roar of joy as the Electoral Commission announced Atta Mills the president elect, was so loud that even those of us who were nowhere near a phone, radio or TV (I was in the kitchen washing dishes) knew the exact moment this ocurred. I hear NDC supporters have taken to the streets all over the country, rejoicing their victory. For now it has been reported as peaceful celebrations throughout. Sources tell me that in the Central Region, NDC supporters have dressed up in NPP's colours (red, white and blue) and are marching throught the streets weeping, some holding coffins draped in NPP colours with Akufo-Addo written on them. I had to laugh at this fantastically theatrical manner in which they are celebrating (although the coffins are a bit creepy)!

Well, for me the best way to admit defeat is to celebrate in denial. Still recovering from sleep deprivation after a party at Headlines yesterday, I'm about to head out of Accra for my first 2009 barbecue, before heading to an all weekend birthday party in Roman Ridge this evening.

Enjoy your Saturday, after all, it marks the official end to the ridiculously long 2008/2009 elections!


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