Thursday, 30 July 2009

Motherhood and travelling.

My life in Sweden is about to come to an end. Towards the end of the week baby M and I will be leaving our birth country, heading for rainier pastures. As a first time mother, I'm a bit anxious about this. Sweden is an extremely baby friendly country. Because of the fantastic parental leave opportunities (yes, parental rather than maternity, as father's also go on paid leave) the whole country has been adapted for mother, father, baby & pushchair. Everywhere you'll find a lift, ramp or side road to be used as an alternative to a staircase. And here in Gothenburg I have not yet seen the rumoured "no pushchairs allowed" signs that apparently have popped up in Stockholm.

So naturally, public breastfeeding is accepted and you'd rather be considered the odd one out if you have anything against it. But as we now head to London for a while, I am bit concerned about how breastfeeding and baby handling will be perceived. From my days at Starbucks, I know it's a baby-friendly place, but I can't remember seeing pushchair on the Underground or experiencing anyone being nice and helpful to a new mother (like me!)

I know that in Ghana I'll be fine. If I feel too embarassed to breastfeed (why would I, considering my own boob juice observations) in public, I am never too far away from my car and as long as the AC is working we should be cool in every sense of the word. But for London, I think I'll have to purchase a "privacy" blanket to shield myself with so I'll never have to experience of someone yelling "put ´em away!". For now let me focus on an even more difficult task: how to fit four months of living in my 20kg baggage allowance.

Do you have any advice in life with a baby in London?

Monday, 27 July 2009

Racism lives

Another event makes one doubt whether it is worth it for foreigners to live in Sweden. A fire broke out in a block of flats and six people died, a mother and her five daughters.(English link!) Heartwrenching, isn't it? What makes it extra sad and scary is that according to witness reports there was an unusual delay before the emergency services arrive, a delay which may have cost the victims their lives. Why, you ask?

The fire occurred in Rinkeby, a Stockholm suburb with a majority immigrant population. This is not the first time something like this happens. When the fire of Gothenburg broke out almost eleven years ago, emergency service took 15-20 minutes to arrive at the scene even though the closest station was a five minute walk away. Why? They claimed they couldn't understand the distress calls that were made, because of the broken Swedish that was spoken (despite the fact that the numerous calls made were by foreign children born and raised in Sweden (i.e. speaking very coherent Swedish)).

Alexandra Pascalidou (Swedish), a blogger, writer and a person who actively speaks out against racism, also adds that when she called the emergency services after her mother was the victim of a break-in in the aforementioned Rinkeby, she was put on hold for half an hour and no rescue ever showed up. What to do? If this is how the emergency services behave, what hope does the average Abdul Mohammed have?

And just this weekend I encountered my first ever verbal racist assault. Is it any wonder I look forward to leaving soon?

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Vegetarian in Ghana?

Paul McCartney, a known vegetarian has gotten together with other celebs to promote having at least one meat-free day a week. Apparently, meat-production amounts to 18% of the world's gas emissions so if we all chose to stay off meat for just one day a week these emissions could be drastically reduced.

I read the article and considered how this could be effectively promoted in Ghana. It wouldn't be a problem for me, I could have a normal breakfast, porridge and fruits, spinach and feta pie for lunch and greek pasta salad for dinner.

But how to do this with our traditional meals? At first it seemed quite difficult, how do I eat my fufu and groundnut soup without chicken, my yam and abenkwan without fish? What is Red Red without fish (just Red?), jollof without chicken and rice without meat/corned beef stew?

But on further thought, we have quite a number of lighter vegetarian dishes/snacks. How about Kofi Brokeman (roasted plantain with groundnuts), kelelwele (fried, spicy plantain) or is anything as good as fried yam with fresh green pepper?! And I guess for one day a week we can all sacrifice and have our Red Red just Red, our Wakye with only Kosya (egg) and Abenkwan with beans instead (try it at Agbamami, it's yummy). Add to the Kontomire without meat, replace the meat/fish in your Garden Egg stew with...more Garden Eggs and swap the corned beef stew for egg stew and voila, you have quite a few dishes to play with. I'll definitely give it a try when I get back.

The Ghanaian Swede obsesses about Swedish foods when in Ghana and writes about Ghanaian dishes whilst in Sweden... why is the grass always greener on the other side?

Thursday, 23 July 2009

The Ghanaian and the Flu

I did say I'd write about being black in Sweden and the ignorance of Swedes when it comes to Africa, but apart from not finding the time to do so or having constant internet connection, it's a topic that leaves me worn out when I think about it too much.

But after hearing the latest, I have to vent. A few days ago I read about a boy who sat in a hospital's A&E with clear swine flu symptoms for an hour and a half (sorry, only found a link in Swedish). I quickly commented that, in these times of a "pandemic", a swine flu patient sits in the open with other patients, but when anyone is diagnosed with malaria in Sweden, he/she put in isolation in the Infectious Diseases Department (true story, happened to my father). Please do correct me if I am wrong, but I have never heard of malaria spreading from person to person as infectuous diseases do, in fact a malaria patient is of no harm to other people around.

And as if to prove my point, a friend came to tell me about her father today. After feeling poorly, he was diagnosed with a heart condition and admitted into hospital. But because he had arrived from AFRICA (Ghana), he was put in isolation as a precaution from him spreading any diseases. Have you heard anything like it before?!

I don't even know where to start on this one. In my mind this is a clear case of discrimination and a breach of his human rights, because surely no patient should be exposed to the infectiuous diseases department if not carrying an infection? And I doubt very much that if he were a blond, blue eyed Swede arriving from Africa with any medical condition, he'd be treated the same way. What annoys me even more is that Africa seems to be the continent least affected by this "pandemic". But, like I told my friend, let's look at the bright side and think that in these times of swine flu pandemic, he'll be isolated from that and any other that would be spread by even a sneeze on a normal ward.

(If you're wondering why I'm keeping the quotation marks around pandemic, it's because I'm still not believing the hype any more than as a ploy by the media and pharmaceutical companies to cash out on natural human fear. Once you can prove to me that this "pandemic" kills more people than regular flu, then I'll start listening)

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Picture of the print

Finally, a picture of the previously mentioned Obama cloth! Now, I'm not sure there's any way it could not have been tacky but somehow it feels just so OTT with all their pictures on it, surely it could have been done in a more tasteful manner.

(pic borrowed from

Apparently there are 5 different designs. I have only seen these 2 and find I prefer the one below to the other one.

(pic borrowed from a friend's facebook page, not sure where from originally)

What do you think?

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Little Angels

Certain people come into our lives and with the smallest of gestures on their part, make a great impact in our lives. Like the woman who like an angel has made it possible for my friend M to get the labour she wants.

In my case the "angel's" name is Pierre. Pierre is no one in particular, he may be a cruel man in his personal life and in his mind all he did was his job. However, for me, he is the man who finally sorted out my internet issues after 20 days of starvation. And the fact that he did it on a Sunday (I had given up all hope and was going to call the company again tomorrow) makes the act all the more heroic.

Gone are the headaches, tense neck and shoulders and the irritated frown I've carried for the past few days after each time I've tried to go online without success. I can now erase my letters of complaint out of my brain, no need to even keep a copy in the recycle bin! Pierre will probably go ahead and call another customer after finishing with me, not realising how much his bit of weekend overtime(?) work makes a difference to us customers out there.

To make life extra sweet, the lovely babygirl decided to take a nap from just as Pierre called, for two hours right until now, leaving me just enough time to do all the necessary and unnecessary browsing I needed to do. And the fact that all this happened after I had devoured some palmnut soup with both fufu and yam (pounaa, of course) here in Gothenburg, after months without Ghana foods, makes my Sunday just about as good as it gets.

Hope you've enjoyed your Sunday as much as I have!

Monday, 13 July 2009


No, I have not gone underground, buried in my own envy over not being in Ghana during Obama's visit. I have been deprived of internet connection for the past seven days...and counting! The only reason I am online now is because I have travelled all the way across town to Mr. T's flat to use his broadband. It seems my internet provider can't handle a bit of rain, because since our first proper rainfall last week, they're mast collapsed and there are no set plans for when to restore it. What? Never would I accept such bad service from Broadband4u, Iburst or any other internet provider and yet here in abrokyi, I've had to put up with it because of their extremely long phone queues and the fact that they don't have a physical office. Even GT (Ghana Telecom)'s dial up service back in the day used to work during rainy season, and the rain we've had here is nothing in comparison.

Anyway, now I'm going to catch up with Obama reports, reply emails and blog comments, then, when I am in my best fighter mode, I'll deal with Tele2/Comviq. Sorry guys for not replying comments until now!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Ghana is the name!

Like many others, I'm in the middle of watching the Michael Jackson memorial service. As much as I didn't want to contribute further to the media frenzy around his death, I just wanted to inform those of you who are not watching that our very own Ghana was mentioned, possibly twice (didn't Al Sharpton mention it too?). Queen Latifah read a poem written by Maya Angelou for Michael, in which she mentions the Black Star Square of Ghana!

Trust my idol, the ever creative, intelligent and inspiring Maya Angelou to continue her work as an ambassador for Ghana, continously making sure our country is firmly put on the map.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Yesterday Farrah Fawcett was buried. Yes, for those who don't know, she died last Thursday, a few hours before Michael Jackson. As soon as the news hit that MJ had died, I thought "Poor Farrah Fawcett, she's gone and done a Mother Theresa".

If you can remember as far back as the summer of 1997, Mother Theresa died five days after Princess Diana and the day before Princess Diana's funeral. SkyNews, after discussing Diana's death for hours and hours spent approximately 30 seconds informing us in a very "by the way" manner that Mother Theresa had passed away. In the same way, as the grotesque media coverage of MJ's death continues, it seems the media networks are struggling to remember to mention Farrah every now and then.

And this does not only happen to celebrities. I remember a classmate's father's funeral that we went to in Takoradi a few years ago (yes, for those of you not living in Ghana, you are quite often expected to attend funerals of classmate's parents). The man in question was a former army man and High Court judge and was buried with all the fanfare attached to the army. 12-gun salute, soldiers carrying coffin and Ghana flag present, not to mention the hords of lawyers and judges that travelled from Accra. Unfortunately for her, Esther Appiah (I promised I'd remember her name to give her some importance, but to be honest I think it was something else) was buried in the same ceremony. The priest spent about 45 minutes talking about the late judge before sparing Esther about 3 minutes. I cringed as I saw her family leave the church from their mid-row seats (because of course, the judge's many guests had taken all the front seats).

Well, it all taught me a lesson I am happy to pass on. Let's make our mark on the world so as to not be buried in oblivion. And no matter what you do, never, never die on or around the same day as someone more important than you, because even in death you can be treated like a 2nd-class citizen.


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