Thursday, August 30, 2007


Holidays are nearly over, and school is here!
It's the time of year, the changes are bigger than occur on January 1st every year. We should be saying Happy New Year as the new school year begins. So many lives and activities follow the school calendar, other than kids going to the next class, which on its own is big enough. All over the world, millions of children are caught in the same activity whether they are advancing through university or walking miles barefoot to attend elementary school in remote villages. Extracurricular activities are linked to the school calendar: kids in sports, music and the arts are beginning new things or continuing with fresh impetus. People choose this period to relocate and purchase new homes so they can begin at new jobs, and new schools etc. And we are caught in the thick of things, with our kids advancing through the school systems, changing schools or changing classes. I am in transition as my mind grapples with what is passing and what is coming. I have struggled to end things well as the days sweep by in a big hurry and the future presses into the present. Am I ready for classes and recordings, performances and workshops? Is my writing done? When will I find the time to perfect draft manuscripts as the season changes. Transitions are hard and unsettling, yet they are real and necessary. In the rush it's important to find the time to rest and think as well as to pray and give thanks for what has been done, what there is to do, and what will be done. This the reason I have been silent for a week: TRANSITIONS!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


One week, at peace
Between the lake and the dining hall,
You cajole the sun to smile
Erasing dark lines on a sleep-starved face
Morning has broken
And among strangers
The sound of voices and violins
The clarinet, the oboe, the flute
And the jembay
In choral harmony
And for a little while
Peace fills the spaces between
Fallen leaves in summer

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Back to Blogging

So we are back from an awesome week at CAMMAC camp at Lakefield where music meets nature, and for me, a curious ability to write with ease. I finished the second draft/ edit of my young adult novel: Some way to grow. I almost can't believe it! I even have a new poem for CAMMAC and photos too.

Lakefield College School reminds me somewhat of Achimota School in Ghana which I attended in my teens, except that the dorms have two or three beds and not twenty, also Achimota School didn't have its own lake but a swimming pool. This may be the reason I have such an affinity with the CAMMAC camp. We made several new friends, Toni Riccarda with whom I share a friend from my high school days, Julia who took my class last year, Fran who took my class years ago in Guelph, Maria who has invited me to stay when I'm over at Don Mills. I also met a fellow Guelph dance teacher/enthusiast, who taught me a swing step or two.

It was great to reconnect with some of the members of the faculty: Jenny Crober, Marion Roy, Joy Simmonds, Ilana Ilic, Colin Clark and to meet others anew, Barry Peters, Gabriel Spiegelschrift and the talented Kraus family. The young people at CAMMAC were such a delight to work with even more so than usual.

I'm also very pleased to be blogging again.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

CAMMAC at Lakefield Peterborough

If you don't read new stuff it's because am away at CAMMAC camp!

For the love of music,
All paths lead to Lakefield, Peterborough
To play in orchestras and companies
Latin groove bands and Steel Pan too.
There'll be Djembe drumming,
dance and theatre
All things connected to music and fun
in nature's bosom,
complete with lake, trees, grass
And tennis courts too,
never mind the insects
they belong there
where CAMMAC meets
At summer time.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Living in Tents- new bonds of friendship

My friends Joyce and Sally at the Multicultural Festival in Guelph in June.

The idea comes clear out of the blue skies: leave your father and mother and the land you have known since birth to a place that I shall show you...., well that was more like Abraham's call from UR to Canaan where he settled, living in tents. How did the rest of us embark on this quest for the good life? The stories are many, and not only about refuge or adventure but almost always, it is about a perceived better life for self and family. The greatest disruptions, once one begins on the path of immigration, has to do with the fracturing of significant relationships, leading to loneliness, as one begins to explore and find themselves again, changed and yet the same. For me the greatest impact was on my career, and as that changed, I changed too as a result of the struggle, the letting go and the development or acquisition of new ideas of being.
The joy one finds through all this, is the forming of new bonds of friendship, a newer appreciation of the past that was left behind and the manipulation of the future to suit ones dreams. But there is always the grief for what was lost, nostalgia, intangible and persistent.

You will find a part of my story in the anthology, "My Wedding Dress", under the title Witness in Silk, published by Vintage Canada, Random House.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Pot of Wisdom and other works

After a a trying and emotional week, I tried to return to my writing, between workshops and performances. It's been an uphill task. I must admit a curious depression, such as people like I have, who live on the edge of our adrenal glands. So I have struggled but I have also managed to learn a bit more about RSS feeds, (Feed Burner in particular )and I have joined two aggregators: African women's blogs and Afrigator. I have also added Koranteng's Toli to my links, and to what I browse on the web. For the first time I submitted someone else's article on my blog- and I'm getting ideas.....oooh!
My writing finally began to pick up and my second draft has started on a good footing, my confidence grows. My working title is Between Sisters/ Someway to grow but I am sure it will change. I wonder if that is worth starting a blog over.
Koranteng is a very very interesting blogger and I suggest you read his blog by clicking on my link. He gives the definition of Toli and proceeds to tell you more. And he's got tons of photos on Flickr. If you're interested in what Africans are saying, got to Afrigator. Google will bring it up for you.

Why did I call this post Pot of Wisdom? Because Koranteng was looking at the book recently and mentioned it. Also Pot of Wisdom has done best so far, opening doors for me in performance storytelling, with rights sold in Ghana for a made in Ghana version and translated into Portuguese for the Brazillian market: Historias de Ananse.

Wait it's not my only book in transaltion: My Sister Julie is now Ma Soeur Julie and I will keep you posted on what is going into Kinyarwandan and French as they happen. But I move on, forward ever, waiting to hear from three different publishers, if they will publish my works. Oh how I hope; how I pray for good news and all the while I push on with Between Sisters soon to be named as her character develops. This uncertainty, the priceless life of a writer!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The New Ghana Cedi

Guelph is an artsy city with budding festivals, which has developed around its university. Artists and academics hang out together at the many eating places in the downtown core and the places where live music plays, where we dance, or nod or chat. Atsu is a dear friend from Ghana with a great intellect and the best dance moves. There's so much I learn from him. A.B.

Is the value of the new Ghana Cedi higher than the value of the US dollar?
by J. Atsu Amegashie

In July 2007, the cedi was redenominated through the introduction of a new currency, the Ghana cedi. One Ghana cedi is equivalent to 10,000 cedis. Currently, approximately 0.92 Ghana cedi = $1. Based on this, I have heard people argue that one Ghana cedi has a higher value than $1. This article is triggered by such erroneous arguments.Suppose your monthly salary is $4000 and the price of food is $100. Then you can buy a maximum of 4000/100 = 40 units of food. Suppose now that the government or your employer takes two zeros off your salary. Simultaneously, two zeros are also taken off the price of food. Then the new salary and price that you face are $40 and $1. Again, you can buy 40/1 = 40 units of food. So the quantity of food that you can buy has not changed. Economists say that your nominal (monetary) income and prices have changed but your real income, which is the quantity of good and services that you can buy, has not changed. It is still 40 units of food. Since money is not an end but a means to an end,economic performance is judged by real values not nominal values.In general, when all nominal incomes in an economy increase (decrease) by x% and all prices also increase (decrease) by x%, there will be no change in real income. The inability to understand this is referred to by economists as "money illusion". Money illusion is an example of what psychologists refer to as "framing effects".Suppose the price of kenkey is 10,000 old cedis, then one new cedi (i.e., Ghana cedi) is enough to buy a ball of kenkey because the price of kenkey in terms of the new cedi is 1 Ghana cedi. In effect, the government has taken four zeros off the old cedi but it has also taken four zeros off the price of kenkey and all other goods and services in the economy. Someone whose salary is 500,000 cedis will now receive 50 Ghana cedis. By taking four zeros off the old cedi, all incomes (in terms of the old cedi) have been multiplied by 1/10,000 to get the Ghana cedi (new cedi) equivalent. Similarly, all prices (in terms of the old cedi) have also been multiplied by 1/10,000 to get the Ghana cedi equivalent. So just like the argument above, there is no change in real income.Like any currency, the old cedi could be used to buy bread, kenkey, waakye, the US dollar, etc. The price of the US dollar in terms of the old cedi is 9200 cedis. Once we understand that the US dollar could be treated as a commodity like kenkey, the exchange rate of 0.92 Ghana cedi = $1 is simply the consequence of scaling all prices and income by a factor of 1/10,000. The exchange rate of 0.92 Ghana cedi = $1 does not mean thatthe cedi is valued higher than the dollar. This is the monetary or nominal value of the cedi. The real value of the cedi is measured by the quantity of goods and services that the cedi can buy. As argued above, this has not changed. Indeed, ask yourself this: can 1 Ghana cedi buy more in Ghana than $1 in the USA? The answer is no. This is basis of the distinction in economics between nominal exchange rates and real exchange rates.
What the government of Ghana has done can be illustrated by using Fahrenheitand Celsius scales for measuring temperature. We know that 32 degrees Fahrenheit = 0 degree Celsius. If we were to rescale or redefine this to be 50 degrees Fahrenheit = 0 degree Celsius, this will not make the USA warmer or colder than Canada and other countries that use the Celsius scale. We have only changed the nominal value for “measuring” temperature but not its real value.Recall that prior to 1983 when we had a fixed exchange rate regime (remember there were no Forex bureaux then), there were periodic devaluations of the cedi announced by the government. However, devaluation is different from redenomination. In the case of Ghana, devaluation meant a given percentage change in the nominal price of the dollar in terms of the cedi, without a corresponding percentage change in the prices of all other goods, services and incomes in the economy. Since not all incomes and prices were changed by the same percentage, this had real effects on the economy even more so because the cedi was over-valued. In contrast under redenomination, the prices of all goods, services, and incomes are changed (in the same direction) and by the same percentage.The crucial ingredients for sustained economic growth are good political leadership, accountability, and sound macro economic management. As argued above, this redenomination per se will produce no magic wand. The Bank of Ghana somewhat shares this view in its document titled “Redenomination of the Cedi”: However, the good thing is that redenomination solves the problem of carrying money around in plastic bags, at least for a significant period of time.

*The author, J. Atsu Amegashie, teaches economics at the University of Guelph, Canada.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Going Somewhere?

We bought the shoes on the same day. We bought them at different shops. We were going to the same place, The River Run Centre on May 10th, where we had both been nominated for the Women of Distinction Awards. We don't usually wear high heels, especially the pointy kind but this was a day we both thought elegance was in demand. We met and connected, two artsy women in similar shoes: Jessica and Adwoa. Jessica is a potter, who does fine art with ceramics. Her beautiful mural adorns the wall of the Guelph Youth Music Centre.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Strong Women

what a resemblance!

Quite by chance, I met Anna Aidoo at the offices of Kingdom Covenant Ministries. She was there to see the overseer, Dr. Pat Francis. I was there accompanying a friend who had business at the church. Anna's organization had just hosted the African Canadian Women's Achievement Awards in Toronto on the 28th of July, which she said was a tremendous success. Unfortunately I was unable to attend. She had a select group of women, including Dr. Pat Francis and Joy Nneji receive awards. Anna is a great encourager of women of Africa and Diaspora. She made a comment to me that she planned to go to Ghana, to see what strong women were doing there. "Yaa Asantewa cannot be the only woman of note in our entire history," she said.

I acknowledge that I am one of the many fixated on Yaa Asantewa, Queen of Edweso. My first novel, "Hidden Peace" which is yet to be published touches on the history of Ashanti and Yaa Asantewa. While I was in Ghana in April, my sisters told me of an excellent play they had seen recently,"Atuo ato Bari", translated "There's a gunshot at Bari", one of the many ways Ghana was celebrated in her 50th year of independence. Ghanaians love the entire legend of the courageous queen of Edweso who took the final stand against the English at the colonization of Ashanti, and lost.

Here's a fun photo we took with this rather short statue of Yaa Asantewa, which doesn't do justice to the descripton in the history books that she was a a tall and formidable woman. This statue stands in the sculpture park next to the National Museum in Accra. Contrary to what some people think, Asantewa did not fight as an Amazon or a Dahomeyan woman warrior in the last war, although she was the commander in chief.