Thursday, December 31, 2009

End of a Decade...

This is the last post of the year, and the last post of the decade. This past decade has brought me through the beginning and end of high school, the beginning and end of college and three major trips to Europe and Africa. It has brought successes, failures, and heartache. Heck the past three years alone have led me down a path that I didn't need to be following. While in the past three years I've traveled the world, won awards and scholarships, and had amazing experiences both in and out of school, it also brought about a spiritual and moral confusion which I am only now emerging from. I used to think I was the biz-ness. That I was smart, and fun, and attractive and that I didn't need anyone's help or advice when it came to life. I used to think that all I needed to succeed in life was to always be the center of attention, to always 'appear' to come out on top, or to always look like I had my ducks in a row. But in reality, all was not what it seemed. Without going into much detail, I have decided to forgo a lot of old habits. I have decided to abstain from alcohol and negative environments, for starters. My spending habits will be under control. I will be putting dating/relationships on hold until much further notice. Most importantly, I have devoted a lot of my time in the last months in getting to know God and his will for my life. It's the only decision thats made a lot of sense for me in a long time...the end of 2009 is the end of my life as I knew it.

And thats a good thing.

Cheers and blessings for 2010!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

When Will I ever get that Good Hair??

I can always count on my hair to make me cry. Over the years, hair shedding, bald spots, and over-ambitious "I'm-just-cutting-the-split-ends" incident have induced many episodes of tearful angst. Today was one of those days.

I've been wearing some form of extensions in my hair since the time I was five. I think I first got a perm when I was eight. Ever since then, whether it was extensions of the kanekalon variety, or the creamy crack of the no-lye variety, I have had some sort of alteration in my hair. Ive worn braids, weaves, extensions, ponytails, and clip ons. I always thought long hair was pretty. Pretty girls had long hair. Silky hair. I wanted to do the pin curl styles like in the American Girl magazines I read. My mother was always ready to drop serious dime on my perms and my extensions, and she still is.

Flash forward to today. While in Ghana, I wore some natural afros and twist styles. It was the first time in my life that people were actually complementing me on what ACTUALLY came out of my head. Its a liberating feeling. Lets be honest, I'm not going to say I base my complete and total self-worth on how I look.

But it matters. It matters to me first and foremost as a human, second as a woman, third as a black woman, fourth as a GHANAIAN women (Ghanaians have some serious hair issues in my family) and lastly as a young SINGLE woman. It matters.

I've been on antibiotics recently for some newfound ailment of the month. And its taken a toll on my hair. My hair needs health care overhaul right now. Basically, the medications have caused my hair to shed and break (again....this happened back in 2007 as well). I'm sick of the weaves and oppression I put into my hair so I deweaved myself so that I could rock a natural style.

Since my hair wasnt in the greatest shape, I opted for two strand twists instead of pressing it out. Not my usual thing, but I'm kinda glad to just have my hair out.

Of course my mother is upset. She is already scheming of ways to buy new weave hair to put in my head, or thinking of putting on a fall or something of the sort. My mom is never seen without her weave, for sure. But a part of me felt a little hurt. Why cant she just say my natural hair is pretty? (BTW, my dad is happy with my decision) She said the twists are too limp, my hair is too short, and that its not full enough, etc etc...

Some natural hair bloggers out there.......Someone do a post about how it feels when mothers pressure their daughters to wear extensions/perms and what that means about the transmission of beauty norms from one generation to another. Because I know for a fact, my mother's mother in Ghana flipped out when I wore twists too. She said I looked like a rasta (quite derogatory in Ghana). So it looks like my sister and I will be breaking the mold on that one...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Memoirs of my Fulbright year...

My family story has all the makings of a crazy Nollywood film. It’s got all the yummy toppings- family curses, royal lineages, evil halfsisters, witchcraft, tales of war, and polygamy. Imagine finding out that your grandfather was a prominent Ashanti chief and that your father was next in line to inherit the stool. Imagine finding out that you have a long lost uncle who disappeared in Europe years ago and that your grandmother believes her own stepdaughter had him killed. Imagine being inspired by stories of how your family narrowly escaped the horrors of the Biafran War in Nigeria, and ended up in refugee camps in Ghana. I got way more than I bargained for when I decided to go back to Ghana for a year to do research on radio broadcasting. Learning the true stories of my family history is not an easy process. I had to, and still am, coming to terms not only with who my family is, but who I am as a person. …….

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What am I supposed to do..

...when I'm doing everything I'm supposed to do to get over this? I've changed my hair. I've bought new heels. I sought out the requisite doses of self esteem in the form of "It happens to everyone", or "You were too good for him", or of course, "You'll find someone better". No looking at photos. I've done the standard "No communication" passage, complete with no emails, Facebook, calls, name it. I've listened to every Beyonce/Rihanna/Carrie Underwood anthem about being strong and independent enough to pick up and move on.

I prayed. Jesus says to forgive our neighbor his sins like God has forgiven us. I do want to forgive. But what does it mean, that in my dreams at night, I'm cussing him out and ready to strangle him for everything? Have I truly forgiven? Or have I forgiven but just can't forget?

I'm doing everything I'm supposed to do, right? I'm not hopping into dating or another relationship for a while so that I can focus on myself. Got a new job, and started figuring out what I want for myself in life...

I know I'm better off......but then why is it still hard sometimes?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I don't know when...

...its supposed to get easier.

I've been back for almost three months now. Life has been an adjustment, in the very least. I am happy I secured a part-time job at Jack Fm 100.3 here in Dallas, which is nice because I get a bit of pocket change, and I get to meet new and interesting people. I manage to squeeze in hours of GRE prep in the evening after I come home from giving away weird prizes to listeners all over the metroplex.

I have so many conversations with my coworkers about life post college. Promotions is definitely the McJob of the broadcasting world. One doesnt need a college degree to do this job. Heck, you probably don't even need a high school degree. All you need is a driver's license, the ability to stand on your feet for 3-4 hours, a bright smile, and wittiness to engage with the listeners, most of which are about 25 years older than all of us Promo-sapiens. That being said, many of the promo staff seem pretty disillusioned with the world. After all, most of them have college degrees, and took this job because they couldn't find anything else to help them chip away at their post-undergrad student loan debt. I have had no less than three conversations about whether college is even worth it for students nowadays.

It makes me sad that so many people in my age group feel so let down by the government and by society. As for me, it makes me ponder my own educational choices sometimes. Is it really a good idea to "follow your dreams?" And by following dreams does majoring in so called "soft majors" like sociology, political science *cough* *cough* communications *cough* mean that you are deluding yourself and condemning yourself to a lifetime of unemployment because you don't have "real skills?" I find myself at a point where I am deciding what career academic option to take.

A part of me just wants to start working and getting work experience under my belt. If there is anything I've learned with my Fulbright its the fact that I feel like I learned more about the world in a year than I did in 4 years of college. But at the same time, I know that a bachelor's degree is not enough anymore. More and more people are getting bachelor's degrees, thus deflating the value of the diploma. So I know I need to get another degree (or 3) to compete.

But here's the thing. So I continue studying what I'm interested in? Or switch to a "sure path" like law. I guess when it comes down to it, my main concern is: "Can I find a job that will support me?"

Chasing dreams or chasing stability? I just feel like I'm in such an awkward stage, where anything is possible, and yet the world is telling you that youre just fooling yourself.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Some examples of my Jewelry!

One thing I've noticed since coming back from my Fulbright is that I've taken up, or re-taken up, my hobby for making jewelry. Something about Ghana inspired me. Going to the markets, seeing the beads and and beadmaking and the amazing designs of some of the jewelry I picked up out there really got my creative juices flowing. It also helps me take my mind off of the stress of coming back from the Fulbright, which is something to not be taken lightly.

Getting used to being back in the States is no easy feat, and for me its really hard sometimes. I miss my friends, I miss the work I was doing, I miss the interactions from daily life. I've realized that the superficial things I used to value, I don't value anymore. Life in America, to me is about consumption, consumption, consumption. Consumption of food, consumption of brand name clothes, consumption of gas, consumption of knowledge.... We define ourselves by what we can buy or acquire. We go to work so that we can buy more things. Its about give and take, definitely. But what happens when you cannot afford to consume all those things? Are you less of a person? Definitely not. The people I lived with, worked with had so much less in terms of material goods. But life was rich. I won't say life was easy for them all the time. But I have learned it doesn't take much to be happy. I also did not say to be happy one needs to have things go perfectly for them. But really, I think all one needs in life to be happy are meaningful relationships and meaningful work......

Ah, I could go on and on. Here's my jewelry!

These are just some of my favorites right now. My family keeps saying I should sell them! Right now I'm doing it for creative release! Feedback is appreciated!

(I really like this pink one. Im thinking of playing around with colors for the next one. The clusters remind me of berries, so for Christmas, Im imagining some holiday berry type jewelry..)


Friday, September 25, 2009

If I were a Guy I would totally date a Feminist!!!

I don't get it when men roll their eyes at the mere sound of the word "feminist". The common perception is that all feminists are bra burning, non-leg-shaving, Doc-Marten wearing types that hate men. Not so! Actually, in this day and age, feminists make men's lives easier! I guess I got all irritated after reading Maureen Dowd's article in the New York Times So let me put on my "dude hat" and see why I would date one of today's feh-men-nysts!

-Yeah, I know your bored, white, middleclass foremothers clamored for more opportunities in the workplace. And you got them! But guess what? Work in the office sucks, and it seems your forebears forgot to ask for one thing....that we men should help out more at home to ease the domestic burdens you were still expected to do on top of doing the workforce thing. Sucks to be you, dude win for me!

-It's not my fault that instead of valuing the work that women did in the home as homemakers and caring for the youth, your forebears devalued it just like the men did. Even though as a man, deep down inside I know I probably couldn't handle the truly hard work it is to raise children and care for the community, it is easier to tell myself and society that what a woman does in the home is way less important than the corporate hunting and gathering I do at the office. You know, so no one expects me to do it. And now the feminists think the same way I do, that home work is beneath them. Instead your forebears outsourced the grunt work of caring for the home to kindhearted (read: exploited) women of color to do the work for them for little pay and no respect. Hey, I should have thought of that myself! Or wait, I did....I think it was called slavery or colonization of colored nations. Whatever. Dude Score!

-Hey, with a feminist I don't have to pay for dates, or open the door, pull out the chair...etc. Little victories, little victories

-That idea of sexual revolution was awesome. Your forebears were afraid that we menfolk thought of you as just sexual objects, only with that unwanted free-will/opinion/right to say no glitch that the divine engineer in the sky failed to iron out. Now, you've convinced yourself that the route to sexual freedom is to bang as many guys as possible. Most of us men folk think like this when we hear you: Yeah, yeah yea, blahblahblah women's movement woh woh woh freedom from patriarchy woh woh ownership of your sexuality woh woh.."What...honey? Yea, I heard you, I respect you of course!! Now uh....can you hurry and take your clothes off and do that gymnatics trick you said you could do? Youre so friggin hot!!" Yea, now you give up the goods for less trouble than it used to be. (But really, deep inside, we'd still prefer if you didn't give up the goods to 20 other guys before me. Maybe 2 guys max...still gives me a sense of accomplishment if you let me hit it) Dude mega score!!

- (Dude who is the CEO of any cosmetics company, advertising agency, fashion magazine, or any doctor of plastic surgery or corrective procedure) Hey wimin-folk, is it our fault that nowhere between the 1950's and now did any of you launch an effective way for women to truly appreciate and love their bodies in all shapes and sizes? Okay, maybe part of it is. But until you women find a way to inject 250 cc's of self-esteem into yourselves, we menfolk are going to make millions of injecting you with Botox, Restylane, collagen, hot asphalt, South American chincillia urine, or whatever else you think will make you look younger and hotter to us and compete with other women. You've got your own job, so you can pay for it. Because here's a secret, for the most part, many decent men think you look fine as you are with normal diet and exercise and a healthy attitude, so I would never give you money for such things.

Okay, dude hat off. I know many would disagree, but sometimes I think that we as society have not achieved the goals we wanted when it came to women's empowerment. I know things take time, years, generations. But I think we as women have shouldered the burden of our own empowerment on ourselves alone, and not asked men to participate. However, I read statistics in America that suggest things are changing, with men taking a little more reponsibility at home. (I think a generation ago, men did 6-7 hours of house work, and now its getting to be 13 or so. Still women are taking on 17 hours a week or something. I don't feel like looking it up. Journalism fail)

Point is, men prescibed us a male lens from ages untold, and we are still returning generation after generation to refill that prescription. That is, until we come to value our bodies at every shape and age, and respect the work of raising children, education, health, etc. Sure, maybe the frames on those lenses are now cute Chanel ones I saw in Glamour that have the new anti-eye aging function endorsed by Brooke Shields.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lost In Translation...or wrong dress at the wrong time?

Victoria Rowell

I saw this this dress on the news and it would be remiss of me NOT to post about it. I'm sure many people have seen the controversy over the dress African American soap opera star Victoria Rowell wore to the Emmy Awards Sunday night..

Its the Ghanaian Cloth from Obama's historic visit to Ghana this past July! I blogged about it back then for ( As someone who has been hopping back and forth between Africa and the United States for a while, I'm finding this an opportunity to take a hard look at two VERY different cultural interpretations of one piece of fabric.

In Ghana, as I blogged, the cloth was made to commemorate President Obama's visit to the country back in July. It was the first trip he made to Sub-saharan Africa as President, and obviously, the first African-American President to visit Africa. It was, oh how they say, kinda-a-big-deal. It is an African tradition to make cloth to commemorate special occasions, and if the person is important enough, the face is often included in the design. Like I mentioned in my guest blog post, the cloth says "Akwaaba", which is Akan for "Welcome" and the golden symbols mean "Gye Nyame" (literally means, "no one but God can do it") and the symbol of the stool, which is a political symbol of governance. The cloth was produced by Akosombo Textiles Ltd, a fabric company operating near Accra. One of the other Fulbrighters was an intern at ATL, and we got to meet the designer of this particular fabric, Alfred. When Obama came in July, Ghanaians in Accra could buy this fabric for about 2 dollars a yard, take it their their neighborhood friendly seamstress and have custom made Obama Couture.

So that's the Ghanaian side. But here I am back in the good ol' Yew-Ess of A and obviously, the good intentions behind the cloth didn't really travel overseas well. I don't really watch soaps so I don't know really who Victoria Rowell is, but this morning, she obviously made everyone's Emmy Awards "Worst Dressed List". Or the "Wtf-was-she-thinking?!!- list".
Check out a woman at Obama's Departure ceremony in July rockin Obama Couture by ATL:

So that's the Ghanaian side. But here I am back in the good ol' Yew-Ess of A and obviously, the good intentions behind the cloth didn't really travel overseas well. I don't really watch soaps so I don't know really who Victoria Rowell is, but this morning, she obviously made everyone's Emmy Awards "Worst Dressed List". Or the "Wtf-was-she-thinking?!!- list".

Not that I think the readers who lurk the dark corners of comment sections on celebrity and fashion blogs are the creme de la creme of American social critics. But just check some of the responses to Mizz Roswell's dress:

From, a site that follows black celebrities in Hollywood:

-OH LAWD TAKE ME NOW FOR THAT OBAMA DRESS….when are we going to stop with the madness? I love Obama and Michelle O does too and if she doesnt sport an Obama dress then NO ONE SHOULD!!! LOL

-victoria’s dress is cute but obama face is messing up it.i’ll never wear something with someone face on messes up the outfit all the time.
if the dress was more elaborated with no one face on it, it would fit the event.
plus only african women can wear nicely african fabrics. cos when i see some non-african people wearing african fabrics, it’s always look a mess!!

-Victoria= looks like a thristy groupie. fall back with that Obama bedroom set that you wrapped around yourself.

Im VERY VERY upset that Victoria had the nerve to wear that dress! I mean Im just as happy as the next person that Obama is in office as our Prez but does she have to be so tacky and extreme with it??!! Not at all!

Now I found the debate on YBF's comment section interesting. There were some who supported at least the IDEA of the dress. Looks like we had some fellow Ghanaians throwing their two-cents into the mix:

-The fabric Victoria’s wearing is extremely popular in West Africa. In addition to Obama’s picture, it’s decorated with Ghanian Andinkra symbols.It’s so easy to not be ignorant people… Google it and learn something!

-I can appreciate the African fabric but maybe not for an Emmys dress.

-yeah i actually dig the dress. i thought it was a clever choice and i got it. african style dress with an african on it and adinkra symbols on it. i think what would have elevated the dress more to couture level is if it hand some sort of organza or toule (sp?) fabric underneath and ruffles and more sculpture to it, but i can appreciate the black conscious effort statement nonetheless.

Again, YBF caters to a mostly black readership. But the comments on TMZ took even wilder shades of crazy, many of them descending into debates on Obama's race:

Typical. Hey, i'm black, Obama is black, let me prove a point by being a stupid black attention whore. What's the point? That black people actually did something.
Wow.Posted at 9:26PM on Sep 20th 2009 by stanley roper

If the president was white and she voted for him, i am sure his picture would not be on her dress....The only reason he is on her dress is to promote that he is black
Posted at 9:26PM on Sep 20th 2009 by RACISTS,RACISTS,RACISTS

7. OK We get it, you're a black women who is loving it cause we have a black president,you can quit campaigning now. So Stupid Posted at 1:06PM on Sep 21st 2009 by penny green

I agree that the dress is a) ugly and b) cult-like, but there's no cause to bring her race into this like so many of the posters above. I don't know any conservatives with such ignorant views, it's so offensive I'm inclined to believe they were posted by sock puppets who can they say 'hey, look at all the right-wing racists!'. Sort of like the democrat who vandalized the democratic congressman's office, or the liberal professor who hung a noose on her own office door.

People, people, people! She simply wore a dress, that SHE liked... on HER body. So she supports President Obama, so what alot people do and they aren't all black. I simply will never understand all the hate in this country. Yes he is black and white...but you dont care you just want to bring him down because of the part of him that is black

So, if I were to do a brief analysis of the comment pools of the two different sites, in a nutshell I would say that the debate largely boiled to whether the dress and the print were nice enough to wear to an event such as the Emmys. Africans and those who had traveled to Africa did their best to try to explain the significance of the cloth in Ghana (maybe Mz. Rowell's PR peeps should have done the same). But TMZ, which has a large multicultural looked like an online race war.

I have my own opinions on the dress as fashion itself. I love the cloth, but the sewmanship is terrible. It does hang on her like a political bedsheet. My seamstress should have hooked her up.

I don't expect ordinary Americans to know anything about Ghana and its traditions. I don't really expect Americans to know much about anything going on outside of the U.S. borders, sorry to say. So I won't cry about how ignorant Americans are....I don't have high expectations. Plus what goes in one culture doesn't always go down well in another. Thats fair.

But honestly? Would she have raised so many eyebrows a year ago this time? When everyone from Kim Kardashian to Halle Berry to Spike Lee and Beyonce were wearing Obama's name and face on everything? Is this just a case of bad fashion? Or a young actress trying to get press attention?

Or does the reaction mark a representation of Obama eroding
popularity with the people and the American media? Perhaps this means deep down inside, the race issue is something that is all too easily brought to the surface by seeminingly innocuous gestures....?

I dunno. Its kinda sad. I still have my cloth, and lots of it. Funny how one cloth can represent a historical acheivement on one continent.....and on another, deep seated racial tensions and the end of Obama's honeymoon.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Back in the States....

....and im still trying to get over my culture shock from coming back this time.

The US is a completely different place than how I left it. My family members have packed up and gone to school, my brother has graduated and moved to NY, my father has changed jobs, friends are in jobs/getting engaged or married/having babies. Its crazy! I thought life would be on the pause button while I was away! No one said to hit fast forward!!

Okay, not entirely true, but things are different. The economy is down the drain because of a rapid fire chain of events a year ago, my president is black, theres this new thing called Twitter..... I forgot how things move at such a high octane pace here in the States. Coming from Ghana where things move at a tro-tro-getting-stuck-in-traffic-along-Spintex-Road pace at times, its a little jarring....

I know Ive been away for a while, and I know that I will have to recap a lot of my Fulbright experiences complete with pictures as I reflect on them from the comfort of my quiet neighboorhood and air conditioned, carpeted house that has running water and no mosquitoes.

But hey, Something I will post on soon will concern my one brush with greatness....working with Obama's trip to Ghana. I was writing a blog for the State Department!! Check out the link here!

Nice opportunity, yea?

Oh yes, and guess what? I may have a piece on NPR coming out about some of the work I did with serial callers!! Stay tuned...


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Back from Malawi.....

I just got back from my trip to malawi which was scary and intense and cold and wonderful and eyeopening and fun all in the same time.

I have to go back....too much of my heart is there and already, separating from him and the pressure of not knowing whats next is making my heart crack, but not yet break.

Not yet....

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Ghana Fashion Week

Ghana Fashion Week + Backstage Press Passes + Front Seats = Awesome.

Ghana Fashion week kicked off with designers from Ghana, Nigeria and Benin showcasing their talent in what can only be described as a night of music, wax cloth, heels, hip-hop, and all around fierceness. Check out some of my photos from the Night. And Ill upload some interviews I had with the designers backstage!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Internet Fraud in Ghana- A socially protected practice?

Every sunday, I help to host a show on a new station on Y FM Ghana, 107.7 FM on a show called "Fresh". The show is designed to target the Ghanaian youth, and we combine hip hop music and discussions about matters that affect the youth in Ghana. While I have been working on the show, we have discussed everything from sexual harrassment, to youth unemployment, to the "Sugar Daddy" phenomenon affecting young women. Listeners are invited to text in with their views and thoughts about the topic for the day.

Yesterday, we had a discussion about the practice of internet fraud, commonly referred to as "sacawa". People who use the internet to defraud people are often known as "sacawa boys" . Now the interesting thing about the use of the word "sacawa" to describe internet fraud is the fact that, from what I gather, " Sacawa" means "blood money" or the practice of using juju, or witchcraft, to get quick money. So the view is that many internet frauders use juju to defraud Westerners out of thousands of dollars of cash, whether it be through posing as females on internet dating sites to get money from western men, or by using email scams, or using stolen credit card numbers.

The facts are that internet fraud is on the rise in Ghana, and it is a practice that is blamed mostly on the youth. Unfortunately in Ghana, numbers of unemployed, out of school youth are very high. Thus, it comes as no surprise that many young people relish the opportunity to make quick money.

Many of the texters to our show echoed this idea. "Leave the sacawa boys alone!", one text said. Another said, "We dont hve jobs and cant afford school, so what else should we do?" Yet others said sacawa is actually HELPING the economy and is reducing crime on the streets. And many others yet said that internet fraud was a way to repay white people for the crimes they had perpetuated on Africa and blacks in general. Some of my friends in Ghana have thought about going into internet fraud but are afraid to use witchcraft. I've heard of young men buying flashy cars, computers, homes, and expensive clothes with stolen money. Even myself, I see internet fraud all the time in the cafe across my street. Young boys will come in, gather around the computer, prowling dating sites and sending messages to Western men pretending to be girls. One time, the cafe operator asked if he could use my voice to talk to one of his victims to prove he was an American girl!!

There are talks of a cyber crime bill going through Ghanaian parliament right now that would inrease jail penalties for those who are caught. But would it really work? In a society where jobs and education are denied for a large number of youth, and importance on money and Western style consumerism and materialism is growing, it comes as no surprise that internet fraud seems to be a supported practice by those in the youth. If the government really wants to combat this problem (if they see it as a problem at all, since most of those in government live plush lives anyway) there needs to be more jobs and opprtunities available to the youth.

Monday, May 25, 2009


I dont even know where to start. Yes, im here in Dallas, for two weeks while see my bro graduate....I have until June 3rd to submit a report for the embassy and June 4th to submit for a project im doing with AUCC in Adabraka. OVer the past few months while ive been away from this blog, ive experienced more sickness, more computer crashes...more trips to other regions...etc etc. But now im supposeed to write something? I have massive amounts of recordings I have to get through. There could stand to be some more interviews I could conduct. I just feel like this has crept up on me so fast.

And sometimes, I feel like I'm an amateur at all this. Maybe its because ive nver done something like this before, but I wonder..."Will anyone find this interesting/useful?" "Could I publish this?" Is there a way I could continue this in the future?

And obviously being back home for a while, Im glad to see friends and family, but I have a strange neutral feeling about being bacvk home. None of that culture shock I expected, but really I do feel like I have two homes, one in Dallas and one in Ghana. I was super sad to leave a special someone behind....but hopefully Ill see him again in Malawi in July...


I do have some things I wish I had done differently on fulbright...I wish I hadnt worked so hard at my internship, in a sense...I think I found myself doing catch up with my own work, after doing everyone elses for them. I wish I had BACKED UP MY FILES!! I wish I had travelled more. I wish I had done an attachment at a radio station. I wish I had learned more Twi... But I mean, overall its been a great experience...I cant even process everything ive been through in the past months. Maybe thats why im bad at updating.

I really do have a passion for media and development. I want to see media stand up for the populations that cant stand up for themselves. I heard the CNN African Journalist of the Year for radio's entry, by Joy FM's Israel Laryea, about a girl who was being abused and how the community responded to it. Features like this need to have more prominence in Ghanaian media , as opposed to politics dominating the airwaves. I know I studied communications, but if I do go to school, I want to go back and learn more about broadcasting...

Now I am in the point where I have to decide what to do post I stay in Ghana? OR do I come back to the states and apply for school? Honestly, I would love to get a job at an organization that works in radio for development, anywhere on the continent...(well, the english speaking ones). I know I need to learn some more languages...perhaps French and Swahili....

Life decisions.....

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

OMG some pictures

Radio Station in Tamale Me, Drew (Another Fulbrighter) and the Vice President

My Flight Some Fulbrighters in September

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Heylo Peoples...

Life has been going okay. Unfortunately around Valentine's Day, I became really sick with some sort of fever from Malaria or something. Not cool, because Valentines Day here in Ghana is apparently a really big deal, and I wanted to go out and have fun! So instead I stayed in and watched DVDs instead. But a very special gentleman helped to brighten my day by bringing in Red orchids! Going to the hospital was terrible for malaria. I was having chills and aches, like I said. I went to Akai House near CDD. Immediately I was put on IV, but the terrible thing was was that the doctors couldnt get the needles in right! It took four tries to get a vein. By this time I wanted to kille everyone in the room. I had to get blood taken, as well as some painful injections in my bottom (OWCH)!! I couldnt walk properly for a day and a half. But the drugs helped. I was given some artesinate and painkillers and thankfully I was better in about 3 days or so. But getting sick here is terrible. Besides feeling terrible, I hate not being able to get work done. I lost about a week due to being sick. So now its only this week that I am catching up.

Wait, did I mention I went to Kumasi three weeks ago?? No? Well I had to go after losing my recordings. I went to Kapital Radio 97.1 with Drew. On the good side, I had a wonderful trip. Andrew and I went and talked with the crew at Kapital Radio and they are the nicest people on this planet. In fact, Kumasi people are amazing. Kumasi is not as loud, as smelly, as busy and in general as crazy as Accra. I need the break, the change of pace. Even though I went to Kumasi to try to recover recordings as a result of a technological disaster, I did gain more insight into what broadcasting is like in other parts of the country, in particuluar, what went on during the elections. They were even so nice as to give me some of their recordings from around election time which will help greatly. Andrew and I even recorded promos for the station using our voices, lol! It was so much fun. We toured the national cultural center ( had to deal with annoying french speaking tourists who totally disrespected teh tour guide by talking and wandering around and complaining) and went to Kejetia Market and bought cloth, ate strange intestine like foods.... I got a chance to practice my poor twi a lot as well. Kumasi is a beautiful place. My father's family is from there, but unfortunately, due to family drama, I was forbidden from seeing them. Its a sad thing I have to deal with here. I dont like the fact that due to reasons beyond my control, Im restricted from one half of my identity. Here I am, half Ashanti, and I have to learn about my own culture just like a regular tourist? Its not right. Here I am with family, and I have to struggle to find a hotel or lodge on my own? It doesnt make sense. But all that is for another post.

Right now, I spend my days running interviews with journalists, media trainers, and the like, and in the evenings, I signed up for a radio and tv presentation course at the Ghana Institute of Journalism. For 150 Ghana Cedies, Im learning how to use my voice in Queen's standard English. This is the first time in my life where Im being told that my American English is not English, but slang!! What?! I was elected assistant Class Prefect, lol, meaning I have to take care of the class and voice their concerns to the professor when necessary. I dont know how I end up in these situations but I do. Partially Im doing this for my research. I want to find out how journalists are trained.

But on the other end, perhaps a part of me wants to improve my voice to actually work in the media....(DUN DUN DUNNN)

Stay tuned!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Last week was one of the worst...

It was last week ago thursday.....

I had my ipod, which has a powerful microphone attachment that I can use for recording purposes. I was attempting to transfer the files to my laptop through Itunes. I pressed Sync, not knowing that the fact that no files on Itunes means that itunes will replace all the files on Itune with what is on the computer.....

The computer erased my recordings from Nov. to Jan!!!! Almost 30 GB!!

I cried for about two days straight. How could I have been so dumb to do that? Why didnt I back up my files sooner? Why didnt I transcribe the interviews sooner? You know what goes on when things like this happen.....all sorts of defeatist and self deprecating thoughts cross your mind like...."Why the hell am I here?" "Can I even do this project?" "Why am I such an amateur?" Basically, I am now force to traipse around the radio stations and collect their recordings from around election time, which has led me to another conclusion..... People in the radio business keep poor records of their broadcasts and transcriptions, which will be a problem for those who attempt to do media research, and even for the stations themselves to monitor themselves. Its about to be a herculean task to go around teh country retreiving recordings, but ill do the best I can.

Ill say, with about 5 months left, that Ive become more focused on my project. I think that even though this mishap occured, its made me realize what is important for my peject and what is not. My thoughts and ideas are clearer, and I think what I want out of the research is more defined. I think without the recordings the data may not be as scientific as I would have liked, but I think it will still be good. As for the interviews I lost, I can reinterview, but unfortunately I cant get back the timing, the in the moment responses I would have gotten with teh elections hanging in the background. Ive also realized that even though CDD is great, I think I got too caught up in being an intern and being dragged into the election whirlwin that I didnt know what I was doing. But I am in talks with the African University College of Communications to set up an office there and make that my new base. It will be better, because there I willbe working with people who study media and who are training future journalists in communications and journalism. Its a better environment, I think.

But for now, im hustling, and after 5 months, parts of my project are taking shape. I have some great interviews back on record and some more good ones coming up. I think ill be okay.....

xoxox Karen

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

FRUSTRATED! Advice welcome.

Okay, so I keep telling people there are pluses and minuses to staying with my family here in Ghana. I love them to death, and they have helped me in so many ways with this project, especially in 2007 when I was here on the Northwestern summer grant. But lately, I have been running into conflicts with them, concerning my goings out and my comings in.

I'm going to be 23 years old this year, and there are times where I'm still treated like I'm 13! Just last night, I went to visit someone who was ill and I came back around 1 or 2 am. This morning my grandma was upset like "Where were you so late, why? blah blah blah". Its true, I'm learning by Ghanaian standards that is late. But I make a point to tell the old lady (grandma) and the Uncle where Im going, and with whom. When I go, I try as much as possible to go with my driver, and when I have to take a taxi, I dont take it alone at night. Even most of my friends have numbers of taxi drivers they trust to call. Its come to a point where I dont go out to shows, or concerts because I'm so tired of either me being interrogated or my driver being interrogated about where I was or what I was doing. I dont even go out much with the Ghanaians I meet around. Even when I traveled to Cape Coast, my grandma was so scared, like " Take care of yourself! Dont go out at night!" etc etc....

I'm 22, I like to have fun. But at the same time, Ive been on my own long enough to know how to take care of myself. I realize I'm in a different culture, where I may not speak all the languages. But how am I supposed to learn about the culture when my family is so overprotective? I remember even when I first got here, my family wouldnt even let me cross the street by myself because "They know youre American, go with your cousin!" Its at a point where I dont even know my own neighborhood that well, or even have many connections with the people in my neighborhood because going around "isnt safe". Its getting ridiculous.

Im in a house where my Uncle is a pastor, and they run quite a strict household. I notice my teenage cousins dont go out, and their friends, if they have any, never come over. So perhaps to them, the few times I go out on the weekends, or the times I travel seems rebellious. Culture clash?

I dont do anything that I wouldnt do in a big city at home. But I dont know how to make them understand that in the States, people my age already have jobs and live out on their own. Its true, I know I have to respect them. But at the same time, I wish I could have a bit of freedom! I help pay for food, water, electricity and other things around the house. I dont think im being that unreasonable. But I wish they could understand that Im old enough to take care of myself. Hell, half this fulbright project is learning how to adjust to a new culture and learn about it. Im not saying all the learning to be done about Ghana is done after 1o pm or anything. But they forget that I lived for a while in Spain of all places, where I didnt fit in because of my skin color, and not a lot of people spoke English. And I survived. So why all this mess in a country which is essentially my homeland, where the people look like me, and most speak English?



Monday, January 19, 2009

New Year, new direction....

Ive been on holiday from CDD for the past two weeks or so, and Ive realized Ive had so much more time to focus on my own project. Ive gotten more contacts at Radio Gold (Pro NDC station) , more contacts with others in the media, gone on interviews, etc etc. Ive been contacted by the African University College of Communication to come on board with a project that is being funded by the World Bank to look at coverage in the media of developmental issues during the election period. This could be something really huge for me to do, and its right in my research interest alley. But I have to remember not to overload myself. I did get an opportunity to take a little bit of a break to visit one of the other Fulbrighters in Cape Coast not too long ago. She took me along on some of her interviews and I was inspired by how passionate she was about her project and about the future plans she had for her work. Not that Im not passionate about the media, but I think for the past months leading up to the elections, I was distracted by alot of things. CDD has been a great place, but honestly, a lot of the (hard) work I did for them had nothing to do with my project. I got so caught up with elections, I didnt really have the time or the space mentally to focus on my own project. So Ive decided to reduce my time at CDD drastically.

So now, Im trying to make up for lost time. Im trying to go on more interviews, more recorded interviews, for sure. I dont know what my problem is, but sometimes, I dont record my interviews and just resort to taking notes. And then I look back at my notes, and Im like, what was I doing? Im going to do more in terms of getting quality audio, just so that I can transcribe better.

Im learning that I have to really be an independent self starter with this project. Its not like college or high school where you have professors or teachers checking up on you like "How is your paper coming" or "Remember there is an exam coming up". Here there are no deadlines, no tests, no one checking up on you. I bet the whole time could pass by before someone from my family or friends is like, "Oh yea, by the way, what did you find about about phone in radio?" Sometimes I get discouraged. There is sooo much to learn about the media here. I didnt get my degree in journalism, and there are times I feel like im in over my head.There are also times where I wonder, what am I doing this for? Do I want to take all this research and go back to the States and get a MA/PhD and just begin the academic track? Do I just want to leave here and go back and use the Fulbright as leverage to get me into a good law school? Or do I want to stay here in Ghana, and work more in the media?? Because honestly, fam, this is what Ive always dreamed of doing. Doing research radio? Its been something Ive wanted to do since high school. And I beleive in my heart that media and communication will be the thing to study in Africa and other so called "developing nations".

Not only do I really need to buckle down on getting a decent project, but I need to think about my future....

I mean, Ive gotten a lot of information. Theres no way I dont have anything. But will it make sense? Am I missing something? But all I can do is do my best and pull out all the stops right?


Monday, January 5, 2009


Ive emerged from the election abyss......

NDCs prof. John Evans Atta Mills was declared the president elect on Saturday, the 3rd of Jan, after a long drawn out election. For those of you who dont know, Dec. 28th was the runoff between Atta Mills of the NDC and Akufo- Addo of the NPP. Though the Dec 28th polls came through with Atta Mills with a slim lead over Akufo-Addo, 1 constituency, Tain in the Brong Ahafo Region did not vote. Thus a reelection was held in Tain on Friday the 2nd. Even with Tain's results, it was clear that NDC gained the mandate of the people (look, Im becoming Ghanaian....using "mandate"). I think the NPP made some key tactical mistakes in their campaign and took the electorate for granted. People were ready for a change, that is for sure.

I spent the good part of the week "embedded" at various radio stations. I was there at the station when Joy FM made the controversial projection for NDC. I was there when Citi FM was going around reporting from some of the polling stations. I was at the Electoral commission when the results were finally announced. I was there with pro-NDC Radio Gold immediately after the Electoral Commission announced, and masses of NDC supporters surrounded the station, singing, dancing and jubilating.

Im so glad and thankful to God the elections were peaceful. Its true, vicious rumors, inflammatory statements, and allegations did make their way onto the airwaves. If I could do a cursory grading of the media, I would give it a C+/B-. Various stations and print houses were obviously biased, airing unsubstatioated rumours, using militant rhetoric and playing music that was obviously used to rally the people for a particular party. Its true, even my being at the radio stations during this sensitive time was not 100% safe. There were reports of journalists being attacked and beaten by angry party supporters who viewed their media house as being biased for calling against the NPP. There were rumors of threats against radio stations, notably the threat to burn down Peace FM, and the allegations that police were coming to shut down Radio Gold. I tried to stay away from the EC for the most part, and chose not to go to Tain, just to make sure I would be safe.

I have so much audio to go through and transcribe its not even funny. So many interviews to go through.... I just want to take a break and travel...sit on a beach, hike a mountain, swim, see an animal park....I dont know....just to get out of Accra.