Saturday, 31 October 2009

All Hallows Eve

The twentyone year old man gets home and hears his father calling erratically. Once he follows his father's voice and locates him in the kitchen, it is already too late. His father is heaped on the floor in an unconcious state. The young man runs to call his mother, who's shopping in town, completely unaware of the tragedy that's taking place at home. She drops her would-be purchases and calls a friend to drive her home as she knows she's unable to safely drive herself home, after hearing the news of her husband's collapse. Little does she know her husband is not only unconcious, he's actually dead.

In just a few seconds, a whole family's life changes forever. The two sons are fatherless, the wife suddenly a widow. And it is not only the family that is affected, by Thursday morning, all his work mates will come to realise what happened that eery afternoon dated 090909.

The news reaches us today, on All Hallows Eve: our good family friend, known to us for about 23 years, and in recent years my brother's colleague, died so suddenly, unexpectedly from a brain hemorrhage on his kitchen floor. His wife cries to my mother, wishing my mother were with her in Sweden as she does not know how she will cope another day.

Already before I heard the news I had decided to abandon Halloween celebrations and rather light a candle for those who have passed on. However, the heat and Labone power cut, stopped me from getting my matches out. Well, if I were to light a candle, today it would be burning for you, Åke. Rest in Peace.

To the rest of you, happy halloween from my own friendly ghost!

Thursday, 29 October 2009

WFP Productions: the Poor Ghana Child Show!

My mid-morning browsing today lands me on an article (Swedish) that has made me feel slightly sick. Apparently, at the G8 summit in July, held in Rome, Ghanaian children were flown in to be fed porridge by the wives of G8 leaders (English)!

To show the work the World Food Programme had been doing, they put on this spectacle which also included the children dancing and singing. The whole affair cost approximately (brace yourselves) $500,000! From what I have read so far, these claims are not confirmed by the UN but have been spread by the Swedish development agency, SIDA. Like their own representative says, I too can only hope that it is not completely true.

I don't even want to delve into a discussion on every human's right to dignity, the use of these school children as 'show dogs' for the WFP, etc. but I am now focusing on being annoyed at the fact that so much money was spent on a show of WFP's good work. Talk about defeating your own cause! Imagine the many homes, schools, books, clothes, shoes and food that could have been bought with that money!

Reading Sarah Brown's blog (that's Gordon's wife) gives a different angle of the story. Here the event is captured more as an opportunity for the Ghanaian children to sing and dance for the G8 leaders' wives and for the wives to see first-hand the work that is being done by the WFP. However, I still do not understand why an organisation that is dealing with poverty and how to help those in need would not see it more fit to simply set up a satellite link, Skype or in any other way communicate with a village where their work is being done and allow these wives to experience it live, rather than 'first hand' at such a cost.

(Picture borrowed from SIDA)
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. And whilst I hope your morning got off to a better start, I'm still fuming and wondering:

If so much was spent on flying these schoolchildren all the way to Rome, completely out of their natural scenery, why oh why are they still wearing those distinct yellow/brown uniforms?!

Sunday, 25 October 2009

To pierce or not to pierce...?

Over a week of hardly any internet access and so much I've missed to write about! The football! The Ghana@50 inquisition! The Ministry of Foreign Affairs fire! Thankfully Abena has summed up the week quite well. On a personal note I also managed to squeeze in a 2-night sleep in at my mother's in Tema.

Other than that, we (after all, where I go, baby goes) also made it to a funeral last Friday (sans bébé), a wedding last Saturday and another wedding yesterday. These social outings highlighted an irritating unspoken Ghanaian rule:

A baby can only be a girl here if she wears earrings! I had experienced this before, when everybody and anybody would say "what's his name?" or "what a sweet boy!" even though I'd be holding little M in her girly, often pink or purple dresses. But yesterday's experience was almost laughable.

Walking in to the reception of my Law School mate's wedding, another classmate greets me:
"Your baby is so cute, what's the name?"
"It's M".
"Oh, really? I actually have a client, a lady named M, but tell me is it usual to also call boys that?"
"No, she's a girl".
"Oh! I see...But, where are the earrings?!"

And that was just the start of the ridiculous afternoon. Every person who passed or greeted us reacted in the same way. I shouldn't be surprised, I myself don't wear earrings on a day-to-day basis and have received comments about that several times. Older lawyers in court will come up to me and (out of kindness) remind me that I've forgotten to put on earrings today, but I shouldn't worry, the judge will probably not notice that I am naked in the eyes of the court. (Since when are earrings part of a female lawyers court dress code?)

Since M was born, I have considered whether and if so, when to pierce her ears. After a while I settled on doing it around the age of three, and even then, it would be mainly to satisfy Ghanaian society, to make use of the many pretty earrings she has already received as presents and stop her potentially being bullied at school (lol!), as I couldn't care less, whether she goes earringless her whole life or not. But does that mean that I'm going to suffer the next two and a half years hearing these comments? Or the kinder, but equally annoying kind advice on where I can go to have her ears pierced (hospitals, clinics and pharmacies in case you're wondering), in case the problem is that I didnt' know where to find an earpiercer.

I just don't feel comfortable putting tiny earrings in my little girl's ears as she is of the hyper kind, pulls at everything she can hold on too and then puts it all in her mouth (this includes, my own earrings whenever I wear them). Funnily, in Sweden, there wouldn't be a question of her piercing her ears until she might want to do it, probably some time in her teens! What's your take on this strange culture clash?

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Blog Action Day: Climate Change

Every year, and sometimes every season, we notice what is happening to the world, how global warming is changing the climate. Last year I wrote about the delayed Harmattan and this year, arriving in Ghana mid-September, I was surprised by the cool, rainy season-like, Julyish temperatures that were still around.

While the Western world and parts of the East adapt their lives to protect our environment, it seems in Africa we're still too busy talking about other issues: war, famine and corruption to name a few.

When are we too going to make the environment a priority? In our case, changes made for the environment are often beneficial to us in other ways too. Changing our toilets to the water-efficient Half-flush/Full-flush system means we can reduce our water use and as a result combat our severe water shortage. Switching to energy lightbulbs (which has already quite effectively been done), lightens the load of the Akosombo Dam, as does an increased use of solar panels for electricity.

During my stay in Sweden this year, my favourite program was the World's Greenest Homes, an inspiring Canadian program that saw the crew visit households across the globe that are using energy efficient means to run their homes. Ghana is a perfect candidate for adopting many of these energy efficient ideas, after all we have enough solar, wind and water energy to power most of our daily household appliances.

While Ghana is producing ethanol to provide Sweden with one third of its ethanol consumption, one must wonder, when will we produce for ourselves? When will we use more environmentally friendly means of transport to travel within the country, instead of flying from Accra to Kumasi or Tamale to Accra?

When, in a country where thanks to the humidity, my kitchen bin naturally turns its contents into compost after being left to stand for a week, will we sort and recycle our waste and use our compost to plant new trees instead of burning our rubbish in plastic bags at the roadside?

Let's pay it forward, to our children, their children and generations to come. Let's do what we can to prevent further climate changes in the future.

Monday, 12 October 2009


Following Kajsa's lead, I too must recommend a new drink. Like with all other things, it's a bit exciting when there's something new in town to taste, try or visit. For me, the latest drink you'll find in my fridge, is Guinness new product: Alvaro. Available in two flavours, Pear and Pineapple, I can tell you that the pear flavour is scrumptious, taste very similar to Swedish Pear cider! The Pineapple flavour I'm sure is lovely too, I'm just not a big fan of pineapple flavoured things (except the fruit itself!).

Another newcomer in town is Lara Mart, located where Sotrek used to be, opposite Bywel's in Osu. It's nice to have another option to Koala in the area, the shop is well stocked, has nice neat aisles, a good meat counter and even stocks Apple Tango!

Customer service in Ghana is a whole topic on its own, but at Laramart I realised the best thing about it: Here, customer service is honest, not falsely friendly or giving well-rehearsed answers. As I drove up to Laramart, just to ask for directions to Sotrek, the security guard happily gave me directions to his employer's competitor and when asked whether Laramart actually had its own meat counter, he said: "yes, but I think Sotrek's is better"! (In my opinion, Laramart's turned out to be better.)

I decided to check out the new supermarket anyway and I was happily surprised. One staffmember approached me, was very helpful without being too forward, but as I made my way to the till, he asked "how do you find our prices, quite expensive isn't it?)!

I love the honesty! However, in both the guard's and the shop attendant's case I think they were wrong. The meat counter was good and the prices, although not cheap, were in the same range as Maxmart, Koala and Shoprite.

Friday, 9 October 2009

That One!!!!

An hour ago I thought it was just a rumour, but after checking BBC's website, I realise it is true: Obama has won the Nobel Peace Prize! Can this man do anything but go from strength to strength?? I doubt that anyone, even a hardcore Obama-fan like myself, could have imagined or foreseen this a year ago.

One of the reasons for selecting him? "Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future".

I don't think any further words are needed to describe the uniqueness of Obama. Today I am proud of the world! While Americans (well, about 30% of them) are screaming out against Obama and the proposed healthcare reform, the world is celebrating him for his vision and potential. Isn't it funny that your own people will always be the last to recognise your achievements?

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Baby on board

I knew my girl-about-town days would change once I got pregnant and had a baby. Maybe I'd only get out a fraction as often as I used to before and for evening outings I'd have to get hold of a reliable babysitter to take the baby for an hour or two. But a few weeks ago, I waas clearly informed that my out and about days are O-V-E-R until further notice from the bosslady herself (read: baby).

Heading out to see the Black Star as part of the centenary celebrations, I had gotten the most reliable babysitter of them all - my mum. I'd left some boob juice in the fridge, prepared evening porridge and even set up for her nighttim bath before heading out to relax alone with Virgo for the first time in months. After settling in to watch the play, I got a call, probably 25 minutes into the play. I could hear the little one screaming bloody murder as my mum told me to start making my way home.

The journey from National Theatre to Labone has never felt longer, as I could hear her screaming echoing in my head. Once home I ran to the bedroom...and was met by a baby who started smiling as soon as she saw me! A smile that clearly said: think twice before going out without me again. I guess it'll take some longterm gradual weaning before I try another long outing again.

Another clue to that I've been away and been off the social scene, is that I completely missed the opening of Citizen Kofi. After looking blank the first few times it was mentioned, it didn't take me long to understand what it was. This is Ghana after all, not too many places will be opening at the same time. Still, I have no idea when I'll be trying it out, when I'll go for sushi next or even head round the corner for a Twist pizza!

For now, my entertainment consists of visiting friends, having them visit me and daytime ventures to the Mall or checking out All Pure Nature for pampering items for both baby and me.


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