Farewell to Joseph

Hannah, Joseph, and Alison

Hannah, Joseph, and Alison at Sophie’s and my birthday party, October 12, 2007

It’s pretty tragic that it took the death of a friend to breathe new life into this old blog. Well, the death was tragic. The dormancy of the blog is really just lameness on my part. I am not a good diarist. But then, you already knew that.

But this isn’t about me. This is about my friend Joseph Nyabire, who died December 30th, a week and a half ago, at the age of 29. My readers (still can’t believe you guys are out there) will have heard a lot about Jo during my first few days and weeks in Ghana. He was a constant presence, showing me and Kevin around Accra, teaching us the ropes, from how to eat waakye, to buying phones, and negotiating cab fares. Continue reading ‘Farewell to Joseph’


Pictures are a Start

As predicted, I have yet to follow up on my recent announcement that I would start blogging again. A major reason for that, though, is that I was way behind on my picture uploading, and I wanted to be sure that my next entries were not as boringly text-heavy as the last litany of columns. So, this weekend I went on a photo-editing and uploading spree. I’ve still December to deal with (including Mole National Park and my Christmas elephants), but my flickr page now has all of my 2008 pictures (like these headbutting Cape Coast goats) available for your viewing pleasure. So, please continue to be patient with me. And, as a reward (or perhaps a cause for more patience?) take a look at my most recent attempts at photography. (You can access my flickr account from the link in my right hand navigation.)

Return of the Hack

Wow. I owe a whole lot of you a big apology. I logged onto WordPress this week for the first time in ages to update/backfill this blog of mine for the first time in three months. Out of habit, I went straight to my stats page, and expected to find a flatline of next-to-no page views stretching back weeks, if not months. Instead I found that an average of four people have popped into this barren wasteland of a blog every day for the last month. Your faith in me based on absolutely no supporting evidence is mind-boggling and flattering. I’m honoured, and a complete bum for making you check in without recompense for the last three months.

Today I’m uploading a big pile of my unposted GO columns (including one from November 14 that was never put on the Ghanaian Observer site). In the next few weeks I will do my very best to do some retrospectives of some of my travels (Amedzofe, my mum’s visit, Mole National Park), and start putting some kind of regular updates on this thing. As we all know, though, I’m not necessarily all that good at keeping this thing afloat, so please don’t hold it against me if I start slipping through the cracks.

Briefly, though, let me fill you in on where I’m at these days—and have been lately. Continue reading ‘Return of the Hack’

Au Revoir but Not Goodbye

Uh oh. I’m going to have start writing actual blog entries, because my final column for the Ghanaian Observer was published here, and is posted (phew!) below:

I am writing this, my last GO column, from a hotel room in Tamale. Though I am leaving these pages this week, I am not leaving Ghana for another three months. My location today is a reflection of my new role, which will have me travelling throughout Ghana working with journalists in different regional capitals, without time to regularly contribute to this paper.

Many of the column inches I have filled these last seven months have focused on problems I have with the way power is exercised in Ghana. In particular, I’ve taken issue with the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (many times), the Ghana 2008 Local Organising Committee (a few times), and even President John A. Kufuor himself (at least once). I can tell you now that when I do leave Ghana, I won’t be missing any of them.

There is a lot that I will miss, though, and I plan to work hard at appreciating all of those things during my last months on Ghanaian soil. Continue reading ‘Au Revoir but Not Goodbye’

Development in Uniform?

Can you bear it? My second-to-last column was published here, and can also be savoured below:

I didn’t think the AMA could surprise me, but a few weeks ago they did. After months of criticizing the policies and practices of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, I thought I was beyond the stage where they could shock me. I was wrong. I wish I could say the surprise was a pleasant one, but it wasn’t. Just when I thought the city’s administration couldn’t get more absurd, they announced that taxi drivers would be arrested for failing to wear sky-blue shirts and blue-black trousers. Continue reading ‘Development in Uniform?’

After the Football Fever Breaks

This week’s column was published here, and is posted below:

Two weeks ago I was so enchanted with the excitement surrounding the football tournament taking place in Ghana right now, that I refrained from expressing concerns I had about the way the Cup of Nations was being run. As the competition nears its close, though, I feel the need to rant a little about some of the issues that have frustrated me.

The most obvious problem, of course, is ticket distribution. I’m not even going to try to propose solutions to the empty stadiums at all the non-Ghana games (though I think they’re appalling), and I’m not going to touch on the issues of hoarding and scalping, because I’m not an expert in these things, and I really don’t know how they can be solved. (I’m pretty sure someone knows, though, and I wish the Local Organising Committee would ask them.) What I do want to do is share one ticket-buying experience and a suggestion that occurred to me out of it. Continue reading ‘After the Football Fever Breaks’

Has Brutality Become Banal?

This week’s column was published here, and is also conveniently posted right here:

Last week’s news was dominated by an odd duet of stories, with coverage on air and in print alternating almost exclusively between the Cup of Nations football tournament and the botched bust of the child prostitution operations at Accra’s Soldier Bar. Time and again call-in shows focusing on the previous night’s game found themselves fielding calls about escaping child prostitutes (and vice versa), in an awkward but telling demonstration of the divide in Ghana’s collective consciousness.

As the week began, I was in full football fever mode, but by Tuesday I’d begun tuning out the never-ending analysis, and tuning in as more details about the bust and subsequent disappearance of the apprehended minors from government custody emerged. As the week wore on, and focus shifted almost exclusively to who was responsible for the girls’ “escape,” I was disappointed to find little attention paid to the issue that had attracted my attention in the first place. I share in people’s disbelief and anger about the girls’ release from the social welfare centre, but I wonder why they’re not angrier about another troubling aspect of the story.

I’m referring in particular to the assault on the three journalists who were present at the bust: Continue reading ‘Has Brutality Become Banal?’

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