Monkeying around

– by Zoe

Last week, we went on an awesome day trip.

After possibly the bumpiest journey I’ve ever been on (and that was in a 4×4, so I can’t even imagine how the people in the taxi behind us felt), we arrived at Boabeng-Fiema monkey sanctuary. The monkeys go daily to the villages of Boabeng and Fiema between 7-9am and 3-5pm. Unfortunately, we arrived at about 11am, so we had to search for them in the nearby forest. We also saw the monkey cemetery, where all monkeys are given a proper burial by the villagers.

Afterwards, we went to Kintampo waterfalls, which may now be my favourite place in Ghana…

 

Lights, camera…

Lights, camera...

The team interviewing a past board member of RAINS

Well, it’s week 7 which means that we are now halfway through our International Citizen Service project in Ghana

We’re now in the fieldwork phase of our project, which involves:

  • Filming beneficiaries of past projects implemented by RAINS, our partner organisation, for a documentary to commemorate their 20th anniversary.
  • Holding focus groups on the subject of child labour, child trafficking, and child migration, in a variety of communities, with a view to writing a briefing note on some of the key trends and issues in the Northern and Upper East regions of Ghana.

There’s an awful lot still to do and only 6 weeks left… wish us luck!

Kukere II

By Iyanu

So far we’ve been enjoying Ghanaian musical delights and testing our dance moves here and there.  Music and dancing is everywhere in Tamale, whether indoors or outdoors, so you can imagine everyone’s curiosity when my Kukere dancing challenge was announced in the office. After hours and hours of channeling my inner Sasha Fierce hard work, sweat, blood and tears I was able to produce a performance of sorts. I pretty much brought the whole office to a standstill because of my surprising lack of talent!. Let’s just agree it was interesting because it was. I enjoyed it nonetheless and I’m glad to have seen my challenge through, the whole office has now been FIZAMED! 

(Note:Definition of  FIZAMED – To be  impressed with, wowed, surprised or baffled by the amazing team of Fatawu, Iyanu, Zoe, Ali and Molly!)

Kukere challenge

Kukere challenge

Challenge week complete

By Molly

So, it seems that surviving in Ghana without the luxury of carbohydrate foods is actually possible. Who would have thought?

To say that it was easy would be a lie – not only because we spent the majority of the week with very little energy but because of the sheer inconvenience it caused to have a no carb diet in a country that is so dependent on the food group.

This was especially difficult at lunch times. Our fellow team mates would stroll around the corner to the rice man and tuck in to their fried rice and chicken while myself and Zoe would be roaming the streets looking for something we were actually allowed to eat. The majority of lunch times would consist of meat on a stick and some fruit (followed by a look of utter confusion by any Ghanaian that happened to walked by).

lunch time delights

lunch time delights

Leftover beans brought to work in a butter pot... Casual

On a more positive note – being unable to eat carbohydrates meant that we became a lot more adventurous with our meals at home. Our weekly market shop actually had some order to it and we even made a meal plan for the week.

home made chicken soup

Every cloud really does have a silver lining…

POVERTY HAS A WOMAN’S FACE

Kayaye

It is estimated that women represent 70 per cent of the world’s poor, a figure that indicates that women bear a disproportionate burden of the world’s poverty. Census figures from 2000 indicated that in Canada women had a poverty rate almost 20 per cent higher than men, earned on average 80% of their salary and experienced higher levels of unemployment.

Statistics consistently show that women are more likely than men to be poor and at risk of hunger because of the systematic discrimination they face in education, health care, employment and control of assets. The implications of poverty for women are wide ranging and millions of women are frequently left without even basic rights such as access to clean drinking water, sanitation, medical care and decent employment.

Being poor also means that women have very little protection from violence and that they have no role in decision-making. Throughout the developing world, rural women engage in multiple economic activities that are critical to the survival of poor households. Rural poor women play an essential role in crop production and livestock care and they provide the food, water and fuel their families need. This is particularly the case in some of the poorest and most marginal areas, which are characterised by extensive and increasing male migration. In these areas, agriculture has become increasingly feminised. In 1997, in fact, almost 70 per cent of women of working age in low-income, food-deficit countries were engaged in agricultural work. At the same time, the proportion of woman-headed households continues to grow, reaching almost one third in some developing countries.

Despite the essential economic and caregiving roles that they perform, women have significantly less access to financial, physical and social assets than men do; fewer opportunities to improve their knowledge and skills; and less voice in public decision-making.

Women own less than 2 per cent of all land, and receive only 5 per cent of extension services worldwide. It is estimated that women in Africa receive less than 10 per cent of all credit going to small farmers and a mere 1 per cent of the total credit going to the agricultural sector. The most extreme manifestation of gender inequality and the disregard of women’s human rights is the fact that at least 60 million girls are ‘missing’, mostly in Asia, due to female infanticide or sex-selective abortions. Added to these are an estimated 5,000 women murdered each year in ‘honour killings’.

According to the World Food Programme, 870 million people do not have enough food to eat, of which 98% live in developing countries. Of these, more than 60% of are women. Kofi Annan, the former Secretary-General of the UN, observed that poverty has a woman’s face. This was further buttressed by a woman who was asked by IBIS Ghana about what she understood by poverty. The only answer she could give was “Poverty means woman; the face of poverty is woman.”

Only 30% of major companies in the EU are chaired by women and a Forbes publication about the most powerful ten people in the world only included one woman. Five of the 50 richest people in the world are women.

In Ghana, there are no women in the list of richest people and out of 275 legislators, fewer than 30% of them are women. Poverty has a woman’s face, in Ghana and across the globe.

 

Clap-clap!

by Zoe

Walk through any residential street in Tamale (or indeed any other settlement in Ghana) and you are bound to hear a clap-clap! clap-clap! sound, from girls playing what must be the most popular playground game in Ghana…

It’s always played by two girls; as far as we can understand, one girl wins if you both kick out the same foot as each other, while the other one wins if you kick out opposite feet.

The game is exceptional training in co-ordination and timing. Forget patting your head and rubbing your belly; try clapping, jumping and kicking in time with these girls…. it’s nigh-on impossible.

Killer Kenkey

By Ali

Challenge 3

Kenkey is a staple dish of West Africa served with a soup, stew, or sauce. Two days ago, brave souls of the RAINS office were given the challenge to be the first to finish two servings of Kenkey. Although I was no match to the Champion who ate it all in less than three minutes, I still managed to finish one serving in 10 minutes, and that was the second Kenkey I ever had!

Kenkey

What were the chances I’d live to tell the tale?
SAM_1149

Iyanu’s Kukere!!!

By Iyanu

Challenge #2.

So, there’s this really great song by the Nigerian artist Iyanya, called Kukere. It came out last year and it’s quite a popular song here in Ghana; we hear it everywhere we go. After being here a month, we have become obsessed with it by singing out a few random lines here and there, in taxis, restaurants, at home, in Ali’s face and on the road accompanied with some enthusiastic dancing. As we are in our challenge week, I have been tasked with learning the lyrics and dance moves, to some sort of performable standard. I think I’m cautiously optimistic about it, perhaps not the dancing as I can’t dance, but rather learning the lyrics because it’s a very catchy song. Only thing I’m unsure about is how many hours I’m going to need to sweat it out until I master it, but anyway watch this space…

Week #5 – CHALLENGE WEEK

By Molly

Week #5 here at Team Tamale has been declared the week of the challenges. Each team member has been assigned a challenge they must complete/stick to within the week and there will be forfeits for those who fail to succeed in their challenge. 

Challenge #1 – ‘No carbs in Tamale’

One of the main questions asked by friends and family about our time here in Tamale is ‘What’s the food like?’. To say that Ghanaian people love eating carbohydrate foods would be a massive understatement; carbohydrates make up about 80% of every meal. Whether it be fried rice, plain rice, jollof rice, banku, fufu, TZ or kenkey – the carb is always the most important part of the meal.

So, myself and Zoe decided there was a little incentive here to run a ‘no carbs in Tamale’ challenge. For one week (and one week only!) we will be eating no carbohydrate foods to see if it is actually possible to survive in a country that is so dependent on the food category and we will be blogging about it at the end of the week to update everyone on our progress.

Just to give you a sneak peak of what our week will entail; Monday morning commenced with ‘egg in a bag’. A more traditional Ghanaian breakfast from a food stall would be an omelette between two thick slices of bread served to you in a plastic carrier bag to take back to the office… but without the bread for us ‘no carbers’ it was literally just egg in a bag.

IMG_6433

Wish us luck friends…

Ugly noise or media freedom?

by Fatawu

Daily Graphic Ghana3 May is a date set aside every year by the UN to celebrate the contribution of the press to the socio-economic development of humanity and to award a deserving individual who might have contributed in one or more ways to the emancipation of the media. This memorable day was marked worldwide with fora and public lectures.

In Ghana, such occasion was marked with symposia organized by the stakeholders of media freedom. In Ghana, this coincided with a report about an investigation into the alleged brutal attack on a journalist by the military during the Independence Day celebration. It was therefore expected that most of the commentary run on that particular day would be targeted at condemning the draconian act of the military, more especially it happened as on the august occasion of the nation’s Independence Day celebration.

Ghana, as a country with an estimated population of 25million people, can boast of 256 radio stations, 16 registered TV stations and numerous newspapers providing information, education and entertainment to the populace. This means that each region has, on average, about 25 radio stations and 1.6 TV stations. Because of the rural nature of Ghana, coupled with considerably high illiteracy and poverty, about 87% of the populace gets their information from radio stations.

Nonetheless, Ghana did was not given this state of affairs on silver platter; people were incarcerated without trial and even had to die for Ghana to get to where we are now. The most notable breakthrough in the annals of media history in Ghana liberalisation of the air waves and the repeal of the criminal libel law in 2001.The effect of this repeal has been captured by a statement made by Nana Akuffo Addo, the man under whose tenure as Attorney General this repeal was made possible. According to Nana Addo, the repeal of these laws has contributed to the growth of a vibrant and critical media that has won Ghana the reputation of having one of the most media friendly and liberal climates on the continent and has contributed significantly to the deepening of democracy in Ghana.

The repeal brought along with it several abuses: most of the media houses employ people who parade themselves on the street misinforming people instead of informing them. As if this is not enough, they assassinate anybody’s characters  unduly provided they hate your face; as most of the stories they publish are done without paying much attention to their own code of ethics they so subscribed to. The multi- million cedi question that easily comes to mind is; who regulates content of these media profession? Most of the stories they report lack in-depth analysis. Most of these abuses are again captured by the same persons who champion media pluralism. Nana Addo opined that excesses and acts of unprofessional conduct by the media, some of which cannot be justified under any circumstance, have partly given a bad name to sections of the Ghanaian media and provided the ready ammunition to authoritarian and anti-democratic forces to call for the reintroduction of the criminal and seditious libel laws.