Saturday, 30 May 2009

Diversity Paves The Way For A New Image Of Briton

Briton for many across the globe is seen as a grey country with a lot of posh White people. And not forgetting we have a Queen too. I can not recall the amount of times I have been in America and people have been shocked that there are Black people in Briton (with the exception of Naomi Campbell of course). I'm always having to point out that London in particular is probably one of, if not the most diverse place in the world. 

And that is part of the beauty of the dance group Diversity who won Britons Got Talent on Saturday. They are of all ages, hues and sizes and help to show a more realistic image of todays Briton. What a beautiful gift to the Queen!

Well done Diversity!

Monday, 11 May 2009

A Picture Speaks A Thousand Words - Ghana Through My Lens

At an Accra market

Weija Kaswa, Accra

East Legon, Accra


East Legon, Accra
East Legon, Accra

A Business Complex

NPP presidential candidates campaign posters still hang

Midday traffic

Accra Mall

Teenagers selling fruit on the road side

Children skipping in the street

Minister Akua Dansua at her desk

Taifa, Accra

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Ghana Minister for Women and Children's Affairs Ms Akua Dansua Speaks About Her Term So Far

Ghana Minister for Women and Children's Affairs Ms Akua Dansua

I take a seat in the Ministers waiting room alongside five others. People seem to come and go but still my name isn't called. A lady in a smart grey suit goes around with a notepad finally taking the details of the people waiting. I sit patiently watching BBC Africa on a fuzzy TV. After at least an hour of waiting the man sitting opposite me has fallen asleep whilst the lady on my left keeps nodding off every so often. Meanwhile, the rest of us are just fighting back the boredom and tiredness. After an hour and a half of waiting I ask the secretaries politely when I will be seen. The secretary to the right barely manages to lift her head and responds "just wait".

Finally, after nearly 2 hours of waiting I am called and I follow the secretary as she leads me to Ms Akua Dansua.
Ms Dansua and I

Hi Ms Dansua and thank you for taking the time out to meet with me. What are the main issues you feel are facing women and children in Ghana today?
In the political sector there is a lack of effective representation of women in the decision making process. If you don't have adequate representation you can't influence any decisions on policy, which subsequently have serious repercussions for women which cascade to all other sectors including economic and social.
In the judicial sector most women are ignorant of the laws that exist. Because they do not know about the laws that are there to protect them their rights are not protected. In addition, it is expensive to access legal services and again many women do not know about the legal aid that is available to them. Many of these issues stem from lack of education as many Ghanaian women are illiterate. These I would say are the key issues facing Ghanaian women today.

What are the main challenges you are facing so far and how do you aim to overcome them?
There are a lot of red tapes! We also lack the capacity in terms of human resources to fast track the things we want to do. It is frustrating as we want to do things quickly to help those we represent then realise we lack the financial capacity. We are talking to the government and key individuals to overcome these challenges.

How will your tenure differ from the previous administration?
I came to meet a Ministry that had been running for 8 years. It was a good idea but needed restructuring to suit todays challenges. These challenges include the empowerment of women in the political and economic sectors, reducing teenage pregnancy, child labour and prostitution.

Coming from a Journalist/Media background what made you decide to go into politics and how easy was this transition?
My decision to go into politics was driven by the experiences i had growing up and also in my professional life. Whilst working in Nigeria as a journalist I realised the difficulties facing women. It was a very paternalistic society where women had to work thrice as hard as a man to be treated equally. I participated in a conference in Beijing and this made me decide to go into politics to do something for my country and for women.

As a role model to so many young women, what advice would you give those who want to enter into politics in Ghana?
Nothing is easy for a women in this world. You have to work very hard and persevere. It takes serious commitment. If you know what you want work hard to achieve it. It takes serious sacrifices to move up the ladder as well as taking a toll on your health, family life and leisure. But these sacrifices have to be made in order to bring about real change.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Touch Down In Ghana

As soon as we touch down I am greeted by the tropical air of Ghana. It is 5am and the sun has not yet arose. The sky is filled with hues of red, purple, black and slight oranges and yellows. The morning seems still. In fact i feel like a thief in the night, sneaking in whilst everyone is asleep.

The bus ushers us the passengers to the passport check points. There are three standing points, Ghanaian nationals, Business/diplomatic and International. Clutching my British passport I head to the International check point and look over at those speedily going through at the Ghanaian stand. Does my passport really make me that much different to them I wonder? As I am called up to the check point the attendant takes a look at my surname on my passport and then a look at me. After a few brief questions he smiles, nods and says Akwaaba "Welcome".

By the time i get through baggage the sun is wide awake. And as we drive home I feel lost. I can't remember anything, the scenery looks so foreign and unrecognizable. It dawns on me that my memory of Ghana was from the eyes of a child who is now returning as a women. In my memory the palm trees were so tall I thought the head touched the heavens. But driving by today they look modest but beautiful nevertheless.

I actually feel somewhat sad to be be back, because all that i thought i knew i don't.

I am told that today is Bank Holiday so know one is at work. Every time we stop at a traffic light people of all ages try and sell us stuff. On the streets of Ghana you can get anything from shaving razors, clothes, pens, credit to Banku and tilapia (a Ghanaian dish)! And there products seem to be in demand or they know their target audience very well. I wonder to myself that if these guys on the streets of Ghana can get it right then what is up with these BBC Apprentice candidates who are supposed to be England's smartest and brightest? hmmmm!

Ghana smells beautiful, looks beautiful and the atmosphere is so welcoming. It feels good to be on this journey.
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