Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Day Like This

(for Hetty)

A day like this,
like no other recorded
A day like this
like no other created
Or composed, or ordered
or painted
but allowed to drip water colours
the tears in my eyes
glimpses of affect
which pass between
my heart and my mind
reflecting thoughts of you
in pink and purple
only you
while paths connect
in degrees related
by your being here
on a day like this

Sunday, July 29, 2007


Especially the children enjoy the sound of the drum and the activity of drumming. "Listen to the rhythm of my soul!

Friday, July 27, 2007


So what does it mean to be fourteen? Is the world your oyster? Not yet, I hope. There are dreams and hopes of eventful days, discoveries... all kinds and possibilities. July is one of those months which mean so much to me. Apart from it being the heart of summer and holidays there are dear ones to celebrate: There's Yaw, Kofi, Dorothy, Ako, Araba, Matthew and a little girl who is one today. Happy Birthday!!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Storytellers of Canada-Conteurs du Canada

Cellphone picture of the storytellers at the Niagara Doll house on the Freedom Trail. In this picture, we sing the chorus as Lorne sings and plays his banjo.

July 4-7th was the Conference of SC-CC held at MacMaster University in Hamilton. Storytellers gathered from accross Canada to support the beloved ART which has kept humanity in remembrance from the earliest days, before the advent of rock painting, literature, radio, tv or film.
We heard that the organization was the brain-child of Rosalyn Cohen of Montreal. We heard the story of the organization and met the earliest members who had carried the organization this far, and the many others who have come along to support and learn from it.

During the conference there were lovely stories shared at the evening swaps and it was my pleasure to meet Jan Andrews, author and storyteller who's current project is the Story Save, Jennifer Cayley (co-counders of MASC), Laurel Dee Gugler, the irrepressible Denise Markhame, Kevin MacKenzie and Judith and Mariella who graciously gave us rides in their cars. Celia Lotteridge is a founding member, and Mary Eileen McClear was my favorite teller at the concert. Rene Meshake presented as a Storykeeper, taking us to the roots of his inspiration. I am deeply honoured that I was invited to present a Storykeeper session. I have a sense of kin with these other lovers of story and a deep respect for the way they render story professionally. Three cheers for Carol Leigh Wehking , Glenna Janzen and Barry Rosen , gracious and tireless hosts of this great event.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Ghetto Dude

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty apologized Sunday to a young job applicant who received an e-mail from a cabinet staffer referring to him as a "ghetto dude."Evon Reid, who is one credit short of a political science degree fromthe University of Toronto, applied for a position as a media analyst with the Ontario government and last week e-mailed the cabinet office to follow up. Aileen Siu, an office worker, replied: "This is the ghetto dude that I spoke to before."Ms. Siu intended to forward the message to co-workers, but mistakenly sent the response to Mr. Reid, who is black.
Source: Globe and Mail

How fortuitous that the email writer hit reply instead of forward. Every now and then it is good to expose the things which reside deeply in our subconcious, behind the political correctness and the well developed outward etiquette of our business and social worlds.

The email was sent by Ms. Siu about Mr. Reid who was seeking a position as a media analyst in the Ontario government. It is interesting that a part time contract employee, (not even a full time worker) had enough confidence to attempt to forward this email with such a racist comment to coworkers with no fear of sanctioning of any sort. The question is how do the full time workers conduct themselves? Are they laughing at racist comments and jokes and encouraging themselves to out do each other in such performances?

As one who is considered a visible minority, I, like many have come into contact with the subtleties of racism. Once, after speaking with a manager for 20 minutes, she asked me while reading through my resumé, "Do you speak English?" We had been speaking then, face to face, for twenty minutes, and she had never once misunderstood me. It is interesting that I now earn most of my income speaking.... and in English.

At another time, I heard a co-worker ( a nice person) make a similar joke about another person she had interviewed, and I protested. What about the many professional level organizations who repeatedly fail immigrants as they write exams of one kind or another to qualify as specialists in medicine or nursing or veterinary medicine or engineering, or law, citing always that the immigrants are in some way inferior, when many of us have met the professionals, trained here and are often amazed at their levels of competence or incompetence ? Yet, the lie continues in spite of the promotion of multiculturalism and political correctness.

So, some people look down on sensitivity training but I think it is a good thing. It speaks to behaviour if not to motives. It gives us time until a new generation grows up on diversity and anti racism training. As cultural beings, we are often programmed to discriminate in one form or another but it is absolutely crucial that people do not use their positions to close doors in other peoples's faces. Believe what you want, as limiting as that is for you. But keep it inside your house, for out here we must not tolerate it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Ansahs at Niagara Falls

If only for once,

we stop

and experience a wonder of God,

the great river Niagara

which won't freeze,

tumble under the finger of God

making splashes and waves

raising mists

and fog

calling people from afar to stop and declare

this beauty inherent

in all
We were the happy hosts of the Ansah family of London, England on this brief, oh so brief turnaround to Ontario and back! Missing from the photo is the indomitable Araba who makes such things uniquely possible.

Monday, July 23, 2007

BME Church, Niagara

Ben Hockley was rescued (twenty miles off course) from the gate he was floating on, as he tried to cross the Niagara River in 1853. Josiah Henson, rolled in the dirt for joy when he crossed the Niagara River on a ferry boat. Oliver Parnall, Burr Pilandro and Dett are some of the names you hear proudly spoken of in Nathaniel Dett BME church in Niagara. And there was this photo of a man who swam across the Niagara River many years ago in pursuit of freedom. His reason, no money to take the ferry across and perhaps fear that the slave catchers were watching the ferries for runaway slaves. He had made it on the Underground Railroad as far as Buffalo, USA where he stayed for a while working for this little girl's dad. The little girl followed him everywhere and one day this old photo was taken. The girl grew up and many years later, the photo was donated to the exhibit at the BME. For me this photo stands for the courage of those who crossed the Niagara river centuries ago, in pursuit of freedom.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Purple Hibiscus

photo credit : www.africacenter.org.uk

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is an award winning writer of contemporary literature. Her first book Purple Hibiscus is set in Nigeria during a time of political upheaval. Her book explores contemporary Nigerian life and follows a rich and religious family, through an unusual situation of abuse by a very strict and authoritarian dad, who is also a rich businessman and paradoxically, a conscientious employer.

It isn't that abuse is unusual in W. Africa but the reaction of the opressed wife is what is somewhat unusual. Even though she micarries several pregnancies through this man's heavy handed abuse, she covers for her husband and pretends it doesn't happen. Secrecy of this nature is not so common even within the more westernized suburban homes of the nouveaux riches of Africa. Or is it?

Chimamanda tells her story in the soft first person voice of fifteen year old Kambili, a nervous young girl, whose inner voice has been hushed until it is a mere whisper in the continuing noise of her father's superfluous devotion to the Catholic church, his conflicted love for his family and his strange and deviant ways of punishment. A visit to an aunt provides them with a new view of the twin cultures of contemporary and traditional Nigeria and releases them gradually from the silences they have kept inside the high walls of their father's house.

This book sings of freedom and a coming of age. It adresses the nature of the issues of our lives which are never black and white, but all kinds of conflicted greys, which we encounter as we try to negotiate the often layered and intersecting paths of love for family, loyalty, choice, tradition and responsibilty. Chimamanda's prose is engaging. Her setting comes alive before my eyes, making me smell frangipanis in my fledgling North American garden. She is understated for an African, while the story flows out easily, compelling the reader to follow her closely throughout the journey of this family. She has achieved excellence on her first novel and promises more. Her second book, "Half of a Yellow Sun" is on my table waiting to be devoured.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Computer Trouble

Two days ago, I was taking a therapeutic stroll through the mall, trying to free my brain of the tensions created by hours of creative writing, when there was a power hiccup. The lights flickered on and off and all the escalators stopped at once- 'no grinding to a halt' as I might have expected, being a reader and a writer and a storyteller. I used to love expresions like that until I met the term cliche- the 'e' is accented but I haven't figured how to do that on my new laptop.

Anyway I climbed up the dead escalator and went home, and my computer, (the desktop) which I much prefer for emailing and blogging was dead. I'm thinking, I must have left it on and that power hiccup or surge, (whatever) may have damaged it. Well, the next morning, I could not access my internet service and I spent an entire day unable to connect with the cyber world, my close knit community which keeps me connected, (even loved) through emails, comments, google research etc.

Suffering from cyber withdrawal, I focussed my dark energies on my novel and wrote twenty-two new pages on my laptop. With twenty-two desperate pages, I hit page 100. After supper (in the mall), I rented the movie "Miss Potter" and watched it all by myself. It's my kind of story, about woman, dreams, writing , overcoming and becoming. Today, I'm writing this blog from my laptop computer but I have no photos to share with you yet, as all my photos are on the fried desktop.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The King of the Forest "Kwaebibirem"

Photo credited to Ghanaweb. Osagyefo flanked by Honourable Paul Boateng and Honourable Isaac Osei in London.
Okyeman (or the kingdom of Akyem Abuakwa) is a large traditional area in the Eastern Region of Ghana comprising about five hundred towns and villages. Okyeman is watered by two large rivers, the Birim and Densu, which flow from their source in the Dokyi hills, near Apapam, seven miles from Kyebi – the capital of Okyeman. The Kingdom is home to two mountain ranges. At its highest point, the northern scarp stands 2,585 feet above sea level. The Kyebi or southern range runs from Bunso, 2476 feet above sea level to Akyease.

The density of the Okyeman forest means that it is known as Kwaebibirem, and due to its strategic and geographical location, the Okyenhene has earned the appellation, Kwaebibiremuhene, King of the Forest. He is Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin . The land is rich and endowed with gold, diamond, bauxite, manganese, iron and other mineral deposits. Its lands are extremely fertile and have supported vast plantations of cocoa, cola, rubber, oil palm, coffee and groundnut.

His special interests are the Environment and Reforestation:
Osagyefo is the Chairman of the Governing Board of the Environmental Protection Agency, Ghana. He has also established the Okyeman Environment Foundation.

In 2003 The Okyeman Environment Foundation won the International Green Apple Environment Award in the United Kingdom, held at the House of Commons in London, on November 6, 2003. The Okyeman Environment Foundation is aimed at preserving and protecting forest resources, which are currently under indiscriminate exploitation.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

On the Boat to Bojo Beach

We found Bojo Beach at Kokrobite in Accra, with the purest white sand on the shores of the Gulf of Guinea, no less. A short canoe ride takes people across what must be a lagoon to get to the beach proper. There were life jackets hanging on the boat ramp but nobody to instruct about safety or our choices, to wear or not to wear. When Ako asked the canoeist about safety instructions, he said the water was shallow and there were never any accidents. Accidents wait for precisely such thought. Bojo is a beautiful beach which I would like to visit again.

Monday, July 16, 2007


View message
This blogging thing is getting complex. I have managed to forward a photo message from a cell phone to email, to my blog. (What a mouthful!) But it has become a secret photo which won't show unless you click 'view message.' So go ahead and click on
it until I figure things out.
Doors (under construction)

Doors hold secrets.
They let you in, and you belong
They shut you out,
Alone, excluded, despised.
Doors imprison or set you free
Opens into a garden
Fragrant with memories,
Refreshing the soul,
While another locks thought
Inside a constricted cell,
Of bitter emotion
Or plain old boredom- ennuie.
Coccooned, embraced and reassured,
Forlorn, forsaken in the cold and rain,
One door is death, another is life,
May your door open to the light.

The secret photo hiding behind "View Message" is of our guide on the Freedom Trail, standing by the secret door inside a basement of a house in Niagara where escaped slaves were kept secure after they had crossed the Niagara river, following the North Star to freedom. I only had a cell phone for a camera but one other storyteller on the tour, promised to send me pictures from her camera.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Last Day of School

In Ghana, the last day of school was typically called "Our Day!" It was usually a day of feasting and games, when teacher's straps (canes) lay still and forgotten. Why, one could even dress-up for the occassion. In boarding school where most of us spent our high school years, the night before the morning was when we held our midnight feast, then in the morning we cleaned house and waited for our parents to pick us up for home. This June, my son Wynne reminded me when his last day came. The last day of high school, the final day of exams. I could hardly believe it. So fresh were my memories of preschool and the first day of kindergarten. These days he hardly wakes up with enough time to eat breakfast, so we always have breakfast bars, all kinds, to pick up and go. The next thing I knew, the door was open, "Bye Mom,". In the nick of time, I found the camera. I rushed outside with it and said, "Wynne, stop. Say 'bye' again". Then snap! It was an historic moment, made just for Moms. He is due for university. I think he wants to get away from home and find himself, mainly. These days he is thinking about happiness, wondering if he ought to take a year out and pursue his dreams of producing hip- hop. What would I do if I were his age? I went to school to achieve my dreams, granted they were my parents' dreams as well, but I ended up achieving subconcious dreams. I'm still hoping I have the power to achieve all the dreams I ever dreamt. At 17 which path should one take, with the whole world at one's feet?
You can hear Wynne's beats and music at http://www.myspace.com/eardrumaticsbeats

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum

I thought it right to show The Honourable Dr. Kwame Nkrumah in his glory.
Inside the museum of the Nkrumah mausoleum, you will be told not to take any photos. The walls of the room are lined with photos of all the dignitaries that Nkrumah met on his ascent to the highest echelons of Ghanaian and Pan-African power. The photos are framed in a way to make them difficult to see, as they appear to be pre-wrapped in cellophane. There is also a furniture exhibit including a three-bulb lampstand boasting red, yellow and green pearl lamp bulbs. There are two small single beds, his beds and mattresses used in both Achimota School and Lincoln University in the U.S. (Gosh, I hope it is Lincoln University. I'm pretty sure it starts with an L.) There's a couch which bears an uncanny resemblance to a car seat and I think an armchair. I know there are more things, but this is all I remember.

What would I like to see? Perhaps a film or two starring Nkrumah giving one of his famous speeches; write-ups or audio-visuals of discourses, debates, representing his ideas and ideology, what he did right and what went wrong. What influenced him, who his mentors were, what his fears were and what his detractors had against him. Although it is a mausoleum, I do believe it should be more dynamic, propelling Ghana with its uncertain history of democracy toward a more stable and effective future.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Coup d'Etat

In the sculpture park of the National Museum in Ghana, there are a number of pieces. Here is a damaged piece of sculpture: a statue of Dr. Nkrumah with his arms broken off during the first coup d'etat in 1966.

Is there any justification for coup d'etats? Since the end of colonialism, African countries and Latin American countries have had an amazing number of coup d'etats. Ghana in its 50 years of independence has had the Kotoka-Afrifa coup, the I.K. Acheampong coup, the Akuffo palace-coup (debatable if this counts as a coup d'etat), the JJ Rawlings coup 1 and the JJ Rawlings Coup 2. -all this in 50 years of independence. For about 20 of those 50 years, JJ Rawlings was the head of state of Ghana, first as an autocratic self-imposed leader and then in his rebirth as a democratic leader. JJ is still fighting for behind the scenes control...ugh!

Recently when I was in Ghana there were frustrated party members of the opposition breathing coup d'etat in the national newspapers. Even in private conversation with a Christian, highly educated woman ex-politician, I was amazed to hear her preferring a coup d'etat as a likely solution for current governmental mismanagement, or whatever. Eiii! When some of us are praying that we could go through the next 8 years with succesful elections, bringing our fledgling democracies, whatever their problems into maturity!

Good governance is key to our survival as citizens of today's world, within our countries. It is important to our health, prosperity, social and mental well being as people. Those aspiring to leadership should know this and commit to this. They ought to study, think, desire, dream, design, debate and hold themselves up to the highest moral standards and commitment. It is important to remember that these days, coup d'etats, no longer involve a small group of leaders and a quick change. More and more blood is spilled in long civil wars and nothing can justify the years of loss, pain, devaluation, devastation, destruction, decay and death.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Nkrumah Mausoleum

click on photo to enlarge
Stephanie and the mmenhyenfo, (hornblowers) announcing the elder statesman, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. This is one of the sites to visit in Ghana, built in memory of Ghana's first president Kwame Nkrumah who was also the first African prime minister , beginning the era of post colonization. Acclaimed as a visionary and pan Africanist he unfortunately resorted to the tactics of a dictator, promulgating into law, a one party state in which the rights of individuals were horribly suppressed. With such a controversial legacy, Ghanaians have often either tended to see only the good (Nkrumaists) or chosen to see only the negative. The party he started, the CPP is still represented in Ghana while other parties often define themselves as sympathetic or opposed to the sentiments aroused by the very idea of Kwame Nkrumah.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Family Tree

photo credit: Kofi Twum-Barima
Nana Twum Barima was the kyidomhene of Kyebi, aka Kibi, Akim Abuakwa up to the mid 1940s. Ooh, I really must check up on dates. I'm using the second world war as my compass because I know my father travelled during the war to study at Trinity College, Cambridge University and his father, Nana Twum- Barima died during his stay in the UK. I never met my father's half-brother. Of his family we knew his sister, our aunt Mary, her children and some of his cousins. Our grandfather was the chief of Kibi, in a position much like the mayor. He was a farmer and a builder. He built (with his bare hands) the popular dance hall of Kibi, and as well the current courthouse and rooms which are presently owned by the extended family, through the Akan matrilineal system. He also built a unique farm house at Potroase, a two story mudhouse. He was educated and would have become a catechist if he hadn't accepted to become a chief, as quoted from some old literature 'ne'er the twain shall mix'.

My father remembered him as very hard working. He kept a vegetable garden in which he grew lettuce and cabbage, which he supplied to the European missionaries, teachers and government officials. He also regularly enjoyed the cakes that the middle school house-craft teachers baked for him in gratitude. It is believed that the cakes may have led partially to his demise as he developed a sweet tooth for desserts while he had diabetes. He could not resist cake! Here is a photo of some of his grandchildren and great grandchildren through his son, the late Professor Kankam Twum-Barima, my father.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Birthdays: a time for celebration, again and again. Life deserves to be celebrated for all the good energy released for healing and mending. On birthdays we celebrate for no other reason than that we are alive, we do belong and are grateful. Felicia celebrated her 10th birthday party in style, (I mean style) and we were fortunate to be there to celebrate with her. Today is her Dad's birthday and I hope he finds time to celebrate. God is good and in His time He makes all things beautiful.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Space and Process

Here I am at the amphitheatre, acquainting myself with the space and the good energy available for me. I'm working out a tentative program for the afternoon. I'm in the moment. Photo by Fulé.

On July first, Canada Day, Fule and I were at Franklin's Garden, Centre Island in Toronto performing stories for children. In the outdoor amphitheatre I had forty people as my audience- participators including little children and adults. The drum was an instant draw and we had a pleasant hour together telling stories with music song and dance.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The View

July 1st, Canada day, Fule and I went to Toronto Island with the rest of Toronto...literally! The ferry ramp was so full but armed with a Toronto parks and rec. pass, we were able to eat breakfast and still find a good place in the line-up. Coming back, we found the best view of Toronto from Centre Island. Isn't Toronto beautiful to behold, once one is not trapped in traffic and sweating it out millimetre by millimetre on the Gardiner Expressway? That expressway has humbled me on more than one occassion. Stay posted and I may reveal why we went to Centre Island with a pass.

Saturday, July 07, 2007


photo by Adwoa

Dundas Valley Conservation Area: A workshop for Child Care Supervisors.

Curiousity may have led to the kitty's trouble but hopefully, satisfaction is enough to make up for everything else. This little boy hid in the bushes to watch us drum, of course his parents weren't very far off. Oh, that we may still be curious about this world's offerings, that we may see, hear, smell, taste, try, travel, engage, interact, understand and assimilate in the things that make us human.

Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Storytellers of Canada Conference July 4-7 2007

The annual conference of the storytellers of Canada is being held in Hamilton Ontario from July 4-7th and that is why you haven't read from me because I was away at the conference. I have had to return early because of other commitments but will fill you in on the conference in the days to come. It has been great for me in many ways.


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Naming of HIV

The Naming of HIV

We are required to give you a name
So speak up Kitikrata
Or are you Sonponno?
We are hard pressed to assign you a place
As spirit of air or water or immovable rock
We have asked the carver to make you a mask
And to dress you up in raffia skirt and beaded ankle rings
The song-makers are lost for words
Overwhelmed by inspiration for soulful melodies
At your parade we walk before you
And iron strikes stone at the midnight hour
Ears close to terror
Eyes shut to the wasting of fragile bodies
And the paper thin coffins we carry on our heads
Look and be cursed we call out before you
And mothers cover the eyes of the children
Before they can peek on approaching doom
Sonponno dies Kitikrata lives
What shall we call you?
The talking-drum speaks to those with ears
And strangers dance in your famed masquerades

by Adwoa Badoe

Monday, July 02, 2007

ABCs of Anti-HIV Campaigning

In the Ugandan HIV/AIDS campaign, designed by the government,

A: stands for ABSTINENCE

B: stands for BE FAITHFUL

C: stands for CONDOM use.

Is it possible to teach such virtues, one may ask? Yes, it is difficult but possible. I have heard that behaviour change takes up to ten years to achieve if one is committed and focussed. But once that happens what an impact on society! It's important to involve communities, educational institutions and religious institutions in massive campaigns to change whole nations for the better and to put HIV down. Time has passed since the 1990s and ARVs have been developed- Anti-retrovirals which have prolonged life expectancy among victims of AIDs and almost completely reduced the mother- fetal transmission. This means greater quality of life, fewer orphans, and lower incidence of disease. The campaign is on to make affordable drugs available in Africa. What shall we do to help this situation?

D: therefore stands for DRUGS-life saving ARVs.

This however is not all there is to anti-HIV education. There are human rights issues at stake in this war.

E :stands for ETCETERA.

Poverty is a monster, Malaria and TB are still endemic and inspite of laws, Women and Children's Rights are non existent in communities in Africa, leaving large percentages of the population vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation. Here is the chance to change all this as the war on HIV is declared.

Adwoa has written children's books on social issues for Africa: These are published by MacMillan UK.

1. My Sister Julie also translated into French and Kinyarwandan.

2. It's OK to be SAD

3. Malaria

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Picture of AIDS

The story of HIV/ AIDS is well known in Africa, East. Musician Philly Lutaaya of Uganda was one of the first to announce publicly he had AIDS and to lead an awareness campaign in Uganda. Uganda has been one of the first countries to be open about HIV-AIDS. This has paid off as they have decreased the prevalence rate of the disease considerably over the years, through education.

Recently Stephen Lewis has campaigned tirelessly for the situation of HIV in Africa, focussing very much on Lesotho and bringing the HIV epidemic in southern Africa to the fore, for active intervention. Rock stars, businessmen and national leaders Bono, Geldof, Tony Blair, Bill Gates and others in the fight against poverty have identified HIV and Malaria as prime targets in the effort to save Africa. But who talks about West Africa and the HIV epidemic?

I came across 2005 figures on the web and was surprised to find that more people were infected with HIV in Ghana than Lesotho. Albeit the prevalence is 2.3% in Ghana compared to 23% in Lesotho.
Here are some absolute numbers of people living with HIV in West Africa in 2005: www.avert.org
Senegal 61000
Gambia 20,000
Guinea 85,000
Sierra Leone 48,000
Ghana 320,000
Togo 110,000
Benin 87,000
Burkina Faso 150000
Ivory Coast 750,000
Nigeria 2,900,000
Cameroun 510,000
Mali 130,000

In considering disease, prevalence may be as important as incidence, because it gives the percentage of a population that is affected and therefore a measure of the impact of the disease on all aspects of life in the affected country: productivity, poverty, orphaned children etc.

The figures quoted here are the 2005 figures and in most cases things have gone worse. This is food for thought for West Africans who may have felt somewhat complacent about HIV. Very soon we may each know a close someone affected by the disease. What are you going to do about this? Read about HIV on the web or in the news, start a concerned group, look for ways to help by raising funds or supporting some related initiative. Do something. The Ugandan campaign which was started in the 1990s was called the ABC campaign. What do you think ABC stands for? Check in here tomorrow to find out.