Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Out and about

This little blogger is currently out of town, country and continent sans laptop and internet. Will get back to you in the next few days. Will leave you with a little thought for now.

What's more worrying, the fact that our Atta Mills relies heavily on Nigerian spiritual leaders and supposed chanting in the castle OR that Gordon Brown bases the state and future of the British economy on the fact that Slumdog Millionaire (absolutely brilliant movie!) and Kate Winslet won at the Oscars?

Just a thought...

Thursday, 19 February 2009


Facebook has been all over the news since management decided to hold off on its plan to take ownership of facebook user's content. Funnily enough this seems to be making more headlines now than at the time they actually changed their terms of use to claim ownership of our photos. I remember hearing about it some time ago, but kind of brushed it aside. It seems other facebook users were more proactive, leading to facebook 'holding off' on the ownership issue.

It only hit me yesterday, the audacity of what they were trying to do. So I go out, carry my camera around, aim to take good photos, upload them onto facebook, using my electricity and internet connection, then suddenly the photos are owned by facebook even after I end my membership?! Kwasiasem!

What a smart way to steal valuable art from innocent users! A quick scour round our pages and I'm sure they've found top notch photos of celebrities, heads of states, historical moments, etc. and without paying a penny facebook can claim these and pass them on as their own.

It then hit me that if they get away with it, what's not to stop blogger, wordpress or other engines from doing the same with their users. Imagine, as a blogger, that one day, everything you've written on your blogger's site is owned by the engine supporting you! I must say it is a very cost-efficient, convenient way of finding works to be published as books, articles and columns. Considering the amount of blogs that have been turned into books, e.g. Petite Anglaise, Girl with a one track mind, it would be quite a lucrative idea, indeed.

When I thought of this, and remembered the hours and hours I have spent thinking, working, writing and editing my blog, I felt horrified. Based on that, and the general cheekiness of facebook, I'm glad it looks like they're handing back ownership of our property to us.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Good morning Accra!

The day stars at 5.30 with the sound of the neighbours sweeping the compound (a concept completely lost on me). About twenty minutes later I can hear the family in the boys-quarters screaming conversation at each other (even though they are no more than a few meters from each other, if that).

I manage to slumber back to sleep only to be woken by the sound of a bulldozer next door. I hear the neighbours yell: "Ofaine, ofaine" ("please" in Ga, excuse the spelling) as they scream and run around the bulldozer. From the comfort of my bed it seems the owner of the land is trying get rid of the squatters by bulldozing them away!

A few minutes later there's silence. I think the squatters won this battle. I turn over and fall back to sleep, only to hear "Auntie, good morning" at 6.45. I try to ignore it but it grows louder, "Auntie, good morning. AUNTIE!" Moaning, I have to roll out of bed and open the househelp. I know I've complained of her showing up late for work, but to come an hour early, today, that's just cruel!

After opening her, explaining that I am VERY tired and sorting her out with everything she may need, I go back to bed. Just as I fall back into deep sleep with my pillow covering my head: knock, knock, knock. "Auntie, Mrs. D is here for your meeting". Of course I had forgotten that my Thursday in-house meetings with Mrs D have since last week been moved to Wednesdays.

I get up, go to the bathroom and get ready for a brand new, very exhausting day. What's a girl gotta do to get one, ONE mid-week sleep-in in the city of Accra?!

Monday, 16 February 2009

Love, trust, deception

Ok, so I know I was supposed to write about love as part of our Ghanablogging group on Friday, and I know Saturday was Valentine's day and although I had a lovely Saturday (it included a pancake breakfast, fufu & groundnut soup lunch, dessert at Melting Moments and dinner at Captain Hooks), I can't help but think of all the stories of infidelity I've been hearing lately. It's enough to make any man or woman scared to trust anybody again.

How about the guy who had a regular girlfriend for over a year. She'd come over with him, spend nights at his house, feel comfortable and free there, chat to his cousin who lived with him. Until one day when she shows up unexpectedly and finds framed photos on the walls that she's never seen before, some, of her boyfriend, clearly on his wedding day! With a little help from his cousin she soon realises that he is married, has a wife who works periodically out of Accra, so that every time the wife is on location, all pictures of her (and the baby the girlfriend thought belonged to his cousin) are taken down, only to be put up when wifey is on her way back in to town.

Or what about my former classmates who started getting it on right around revision time for final exams (could that be why he failed? Ooooh, miaow), even though the girl had a fiance for several years? The only shocking thing about that story is that it seems it is only in the past few weeks that her fiance has found out, almost two years after the sordid affair started!

And just this afternoon, I was told of the most classic one yet. A girl who's been keeping two boyfriends (not that either of them knew about the other), gets out of the one guy's bed in a rush one Saturday morning, saying "Wow, I have to go, it's already ten a.m." The boyfriend innocently asks "Why, where are you off to in such a rush on a Saturday morning?"

Her answer?

"My wedding!"

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

To whom it may concern

This letter is long overdue:

Dear Ecobank,

I feel I have so much to write to you and I wonder how I'll fit it all in one letter. What has finally prompted me to write was my experience last week when I needed to cash a dollar cheque. I went into the Oxford Street branch and went to the foreign transactions counter. There, I met a sign that said foreign transactions will be handled upstairs. I went upstairs and waited in line for a few minutes. When it got to my turn, the usual foreign transaction lady shook her head and said "our system is down, oh". Since I had been waiting, I assumed it had just gone down and asked how long I'd have to wait. I was informed it had been down all morning (this was at 11:30) and she hadn't been able to handle any transactions. So why had I been made to wait. In fact, why had I been made to walk up the stairs in the first place???

In the end I had to drive to the Head Office branch at Ridge (as usual) to get the cheque cashed. Then on Saturday, I needed to cash a cedi cheque. Thinking I was being smart, I drove straight to Ridge which of course was closed. Drove back to Oxford Street and stood in a line of approximately 9 people. When the person who was two ahead of me was about to be served, a man came out of the blue and jumped in front and got served before her. Admittedly, she could have said something, but so could your staff member who agreed to serve the rude man. (At my own bank, HFC, the staff will always inform queue jumpers of where the queue actually starts).

By the time I was being attended to, I had waited 37 minutes. Do you consider that a reasonable waiting period? (to be honest, I was impressed as I have waited even longer in the past). This week, my husband was informed that the Letters of Credit he went to establish last week had not been processed, for no reason whatsoever. These L/Cs are based on his own money, not from any credit from your bank. Do you realise the consequences this has on business when we inform our international suppliers that we've established L/Cs only to find out a week later that it has not been done? Or how unprofessional your bank is perceived when transactions are not put through without any reason given?

I have long considered opening an account with Ecobank, but time and time again your bank and staff remind me of why I should not. The migration on to a new system sometime in the third quarter of last year took approximately two months instead of the one week we were told, and it seems to still be causing problems as the "system is down" at least every other time I visit your bank. I still need to find a bank as my current one is lacking in so many ways and I need a bank that will give me a VISA card, provide me with cash points (ATMs for you American bred folks) and internet banking, but it seems I'll have to consider Standard Chartered instead.

Don't get me wrong, you're not the worst bank in town, HFC is no better, but at least when I wait for twenty minutes in a queue there, I am greeted by a smile and a "sorry for keeping you waiting", which I have never heard uttered in any of your banks. I hope you take this letter seriously and use my complaints to improve your services. Why not aim to introduce first class banking services to customers in Ghana, instead of adding to the general frustrations we already face in everyday life.

Kind regards,

A former potential customer.

What do you think, should I send it?

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Green, green envy

Every day I'm hit by a sting of jealousy. This usually happens after watching CNN for a while. First there's joy over hearing my new favourite advertisement: "Talking, talking, we've got people talking" they sing in the ad, which displays the wonders of Glo. I find the whole ad so beautiful. Apart from an extremely catchy tune (or am I the only one who likes it??), the ad manages to capture the beautiful West African life perfectly. The fisherman, out at sea at sunset whilst on his mobile phone? Classic!

Apart from that ad, other Nigerian ads featured include those for the banks, ETB, UBA and Zenith. I feel a bit of pride as I see that their ads are of no different standard to the western ones, but can't help but feel jealous. When will Ghana get there? Are we even close? As it is now, I have to force myself to watch Ghanaian channels a few times a week to catch up on local news, as the content and ads are dreadfully boring with poor acting/presenting, visual and audio quality. Why are we so far behind our giant green neighbour?

Virgo passed on some wisdom to me which may partly (or fully) explain the situation. Although Nigeria has had several coup d'etats, when these occur, businesses and business men have generally not been attacked, instead they've been allowed to continuously grow and develop. In Ghana however, each coup d'etats has led to businesses being persecuted and businessmen fleeing the country. As a result, we've never had the opportunity of developing a business culture in Ghana over the years.

There are not many businesses that are more than a decade or two old and as such the entrepreneurial mind is still unique. It further explains why, despite our similar colonnial background, Nigerians value businesses more whereas Ghanaians (at least my parents' generation) have always put higher value on the civil servant lifestyle. How many of us have not been told to "go and get a good education" (that means, doctor, lawyer or accountant) and find a good job and stay there. Not many are advised to set up their own business as it's too risky, and looking at our previous history, I guess they're right, it was too risky. Hopefully those days of coups are finally behind us.

I just hope 'our' generation takes the opportunity to learn the good things from the naijas so that we too can establish our businesses and be advertising on international television, as my jealousy is reaching boiling point!

(Interestingly as I was looking for links to the ad, I came across a blogpost from my fellow ghanablogger, David Ajao. It's good to know I'm only three years behind you on the topic, David!)

Now I can't leave without today's Weakest Link moment:
OK, I may be obsessed but sometimes I can't help but wonder whether it is simply nerves or stupidity that makes players give their answers. Here's some examples:

Which D is the correct medical term for indigestion?

Which vertebrae has a name that actually means hundred feet?

In the sentence "Joe washes his car", which word is the verb?

I don't know.

Oh, chale!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

If the shoe fits

There's been a whole lot of political shoe talk in the past months. First, and notoriously, George Bush was attacked twice by a journalist's shoes whilst visiting Iraq in December.

Then the guy who threw the shoe is honoured with...a statue of a shoe!

But only a few days later, the honorary shoe is removed as it is considered offensive by the Iraqi government. Now you didn't think that was the last time I'd mention 'shoe' today? Nooo, the latest news is that the shoe throwing trend has flown all the way to Europe!

A protester threw a shoe at the Chinese Prime Minister whilst he visited Cambridge University yesterday. Fortunately/unfortunately he was not as precise a thrower as the Iraqi journalist.

I watched the news and couldn't help but wonder and dread, how long before we'll have to take off our shoes EVERYWHERE we go as they clearly are the most potent political weapon, the next public enemy number 1, just as 'communists', 'terrorists', and 'weapons of mass destruction' have been in the past?


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