Monday, August 03, 2009

Some Thoughts on "situational blogging" in Ghana

I have wittingly used this picture, which I took in 2005 of the roundabout as a testament to my decision to take you dsown memory lane.

Now, in a bit of a departure from merely quoting articles from what I consider the "best" articles, I thought I would give you some insight into what I would call "situational blogging". There are some 207 "entries" on google as I write this, but permit me to offer a definition.

Even if no-one has defined it, let me coin it: in my view "situational blogging", or "in-situ blogging" is...

blogging on location.

Elaborated, it refers to a kind of blogging that can only be done almost-real-time. So this means that supposing you find yourself in the Central region of Ghana, rather than wait to come back to Accra to blog about your experiences, you decide to blog in situ--on location, as it were. The same would apply to blogging from another country. The advent of more sophisticated mobile phones has given vent to many vistas on the blogosphere including, in my humble opinion, this type of blogging.

Reviewing some of my blog entries, I thought I would refer to some of them to give you an insight into where I'm coming from.

1. My UN trip to Tunis in November 2005

Suffice to say, I am now in Tunis, at this place called Hotel Oscar. The street name? “Rue de Marseillaise”. For a country that is situated right between Algeria and Libya who have dubious histories of French involvement (remember how Nobel Peace prize winner Albert Camus refused the prize for his classic ‘L’Etranger’, which blazed the trail for existentialist thought, because of his perception of French imperialism. That was one of the reasons anyway).

So how does delay and trepidation come into the story? Very easily.

I wonder why people still fly with Alitalia. Last time I took it–in 2000–to come to Accra from Brussels, we weren’t particularly impressed. There was, then also, a delay, and the serving of the food was late. This time, the food was on time, good, and very enjoyable, but the equipment looked like it needed to have “relic” parenthesised to it–and hey, if that word doesn’t exist, I am coining it right now:=)

Seriously, we were supposed to take off at 23h45. Instead, it was around 30 minutes later that we took off, when most of the passengers were dosing in the airport lounge. There was an apology over the tannoy, but being warned about the weather in Italy–misty and cold as it was–did little to assuage fears that we would get there on time.

Thankfully, we did. Most were asleep within 15 minutes of the plane taking off, but had to be awoken to be brought food.

The trepidation, thankfully, was allayed. The delay too–as we miraculously arrived on time in Malpensa, Milan. The treatment of those of us of a darker shade, even with our visas already processed, was nothing to laugh about. Being bungled in a room with around seven others, excluding my work colleague, tantamount to a cell and asked to have passports kept for about twenty minutes when it was clear that the Embassy had issued a transit visa for all of us, was humiliating. But that’s another story that deserves discussion on Trials and Tribulations of a Freshly-Arrived Denizen

BTW, went to the Exhibition parc today — Kram it’s called. Tunis is many parts of Europe, especially Paris, in a time warp!!

2. Watching the eclipse in February 2006

I didn't need this eclipse to remind of the greatness of God, but it has definitely re-inforced my belief that there is a God...

...especially hearing very shortly from my parents, by way of a phone call, that Charles Taylor who had escaped Monday from his villa after hearing that he might be taken to Sierra Leone for war crimes has been caught on Cameroon border in North-Eastern Nigeria.

3. Attending and Observing the first-ever International Africa Media Summit

Conferences like these are rarely for the faint-hearted: there's a good dose of solid, interesting, and often-times voluminous documentation to take home; not to mention a phalanx of elegant and gorgeous hostesses who, regrettably, look like they are clones of each other, what with the beautifully permed hair and the identical dressing. Do they honestly have to have teh same hairstyle?. How will you be able to tell the difference when you want to ask one of them about the fluctuating air-conditioning in the room?;-)

In any event, the summit started off with countries on six/seven rountables, with I believe Joy FM/BBC's Kwaku Sakyi-Addo opening the summit, and asking random people seated in front of sheets of paper of an AU country to describe the country, off-the-cuff, which they saw on their desk.

People described Sudan; Botswana; Mali; to name but three, and all very good general descriptions. The uncanny thing about it all was that the descriptions were ALL positive.

Not bad for a conference that aims to dissect a "re-branding" of the continent.

4. Attending UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) XII in 2008

I have spent the better part of the day uploading documents for the[sic] website, whilst simultaneously experiencing pangs of hunger. Currently located in the heart of the NGO/Press epicentre of UNCTAD XII, with two/three UNCTAD officials to the left of the room I am in, where computers and printers are located. You could say it is the secretariat, for there's plenty of paper and people wondering why their wireless is working with their laptops, yet their desktop computers are not.

5. Attending the Sixth ACP-EU Summit in 2008

his was how it all started:a quiet room that would not quite be filled to capacity, but would resonate with the francophone and anglophone voices, chiming along with Arab-looking faces, glum, bright, broad-smile, contemplative faces.

That most of the people in the room were in smart suits, and mostly men only went to remind one of the gender equality challenges that exist--note that the theme of the Sixth ACP summit is "Promoting Human Security and Development"--as well as the challenge on keeping one's time. I don't want to believe that if the world were run by Africans, we would all be late! Ghanaman time (gmt) is bad enough; I do not want Africa Man Time!

The Council of Ministers was supposed to start at 9h00. It is some two minutes to 10! Although I have had the opportunity to do some mobile blogging, I would have preferred we start on time so that we finish accordingly. Still, it has given me the opportunity to observe and witness sycophancy and deference at work.

Sycophancy as exemplified by posse of delegates hovering around a plenipotentiary who might know next-to-nothing about the meeting, but have the lucky break of being a career diplomat who has happened to pull strings to become ambassador; and deference as evidenced by men and women dressed in sharp suits giving muted bows to passing plenipotentiaries.

If I have given the impression that I am this side short of cynical about this whole process, you would not be far off the mark!

6. Twenty minutes after former President Kufuor's accident in November 2007

Some twenty-five minutes before I arrived here from a work-related press conference to see this scene--and take a picture of it--my Mum called me to ask me whether I had heard the news about no less than the President of Ghana John Kufuor being involved in a near-fatal car crash that involved the car somersaulting THREE times, after a car, travelling at top speed hit it.

Here is how Reuters reported it:

Ghanaian President Kufuor involved in car accident - witnesses

Wed 14 Nov 2007, 13:34 GMT
[-] Text [+]

ACCRA (Reuters) - Ghanaian President John Kufuor, chairman of the African Union, escaped unhurt when a car crashed into his vehicle on Wednesday, rolling it over several times, officials and witnesses said.

7. Spintex Road diaries of traffic situation:

It,s 18h39 and the tro-tro engine has burst to life, taking the order-of-four-seated commuters to "bush road! nungua side" destination. Ofcourse some of us will stop closer.

Have to say that it seems rather incongruous listening to Natasha Bedingfield's "These Words are My Own";, and have a few commuters whistling to the lively tune behind me.

Go on, call me a snob.

While ur doing that, spare a thought for those languishing in hospitals out of family negligence, or those who have broken up on Valentine's day.

Those seem to be the small things, but they really are the bigger scheme of things.

Good health is a virtue, and having someone to call your partner or lover are two of the age-old and time-tested formulations that remind us of our humanity. and make it simultaneously meaningful.

Can't wait for CSI tomorrow morning--even if it might make me soporific the subsequent couple of hours!!

It sure is great to be alive, and have and make choices.

8. Ghana Parliament's discussion of Ghana Telecom privatisation deal in August 2008:

As I write this, I am both enthused and sad listening to the insults being carried by some sections of MPs over...

Information from CITI-FM's Richard Skye:
1. NPP Flagbearer has put down two names: Hajia Ali Mahama and former deputy governer of Bank of Ghana. Choice is the latter (Dr.Baumia)

floor of parliament...

Ghana Telecom has not been able to realise its own potential...not making as much money as other competitors. All over Africa, how come the workers are so supportive? In the whole of all the English-speaking African countries, the state-owned companies have been sold off. There must have been a reason. I am amazed that you are raising objections...document from ITU--65% of state-owned companies have been cannot allow Ghana Telecom to remain in the state it is in...

How come Westel has gone away. The spineless of them all is Ghana Telecom/ONETOUCH. It cannot compete on that basis. We cannot go on othat basis, that is why the workers have supported it.

SPEAKER: Exercise patience

MP: Kasapa is the smallest. Everyone knows that. He is misinforming the public.

MP Honorable Kan-Dapaah: technology for both hardware in this industry is proving...former MD Mr Aggrey-Mensah who said in the papers. One expert is a former MD. I want that particular office to remember that he himself...wanted to repair ??? he was told it haad gone out of production.

You cannot be small in the telecoms industry and survive. LIsten to the pleas of the GT workers...I appeal to you honorable Bagbin to cut out the politics, and let us move forward as the nation...

12.48--BAGBIN:You mentioned me...Mr.Speaker, the Honorable Kan-Dapaah is my good friend. He has mis-led everyone in his submission. When the elephant starts behaving like the kangaroo, it is a fatal...[boohs and cries...] has a fatal injury. Mr.Speaker, the point he raised and quoted the appeal is not the issue we are carrying on this side of the house. We want to put our case. Our position is different from the CPP, so he should not mislead the workers there against me by propagating a different position...

SPEAKER: Honorable member for Boli Bamboi!

MAHAMA:...I cannot begin without addressing a few issues my colleague raised in respect to issues to do with GT. When he talks about the issue of frequencies being allocated, Mr. Speaker, I forgive him because he is not an industry the time mobitel was licensed in 1991, GSM technology had not come in yet. No space for GSM. There was no reserve allocation for GSM...when it gave it to Mobitel, it did not know it was going to come...

KAN-DAPAAH:...he is not an engineer...I wonder where...I take exception to what he says

9. Attendance of Aid Effectiveness Forum in Accra

Earlier this morning, I sent a text message to my significant other who is unfortunately in the Ashanti region for a funeral that I was looking like a carrot! I mean, come on: check out the orange attire. More precisely, the orange top, which has "Secretariat" written on the back. Look more closely, and you'll see "AID EFFECTIVENESS/GHANA CSO AID/EFECTIVENESS FORUM/31 AUG-1st SEP 2008/ACCRA-Ghana". Not to bore one with trivialities, but I think it gives you a sense of atmosphere. If you consider the fact that my colleague from the office who is an IT officer came dressed in tie and shirt--and looking rather swanky--you can imagine his horror when he, too, had to turn into a carrot;-)

That I was wearing brownish trousers that looked more green than brown underscored the Clarke-Kentish evolution I underwent.

How my girlfriend laughed her head off, though I guess she did it discreetly, considering how odd it might have looked at a funeral, you know...

Still, the headline was apt as a txt message later to her, as it reminded me of Areeba, when it was changing to spacefon". That was back in August 2005. It appeared I was not to impressed with the evolution, because I felt the quality was poor.

Well, here, today, as I sit at the Ghana college of Surgeon's makeshift secretariat in room 12, I know in my heart of hearts that the quality being delivered by the "volunteers" is sound.

Since this morning, we've mostly been running around like spring chickens trying to ensure that those coming for today's meeting and the main conference will be happy people holding hands, as it were

10. Radio Netherlands interviewing of me about significance of Ghana CAN2008

I spent the better part of 4pm yesterday trying to craft this entry. To me, the day seemed like an all-African affair.

I had woken up to a beautiful harmattan-yet-dry day which, in retrospect, would augur well for the rest of the day. I would hear local station CITI97.3 FM reporting the build-up of excitement of the duel between Ghana and Nigeria.

BBC Worldservice would report on the imminent ousting of Chad's Deby; the station's Have Your Say would host one whole hour on Kenya and the violence there, trying to ascertain the extent to which it was an ethnic-driven conflict. Meanwhile, Saturday's news of Tanzania's Kikwete, newly-elected African Union Chairman, denouncing the crisis in Chad, as one which would see an "excommunication" of the country, only went to underscore--along with a BBC "From Our Own Correspondent" report on the recovery of Cote d'Ivoire five years after the 2002 coup -- that on Sunday, we were all Africans.

Then my Mum reminded me to check the Internet for the download of an interview granted me, Ndesanjo Macha, Sub-Saharan Editor of Global Voices and one John, a football consultant, a week ago on Radio Netherlands International.

Amy Walker, of Radio Netherlands, would ask me a few days before the interview on the significance of Ghana 2008 on Africa.

One of my more specific questions were on how football is a great "equalizer"--or not.

At 5pm on the dot, the whole family was seated behond the tv set, with the stage set for an explosive match between West African rivals of Ghana/Nigeria.

So. There you have it--for now. I appreciate comments and queries on technical aspects associated with this kind of blogging.
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