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Author: Daixy

Unrepentant critic, opinionated blogger, sushi addict, cat lover, foodie, amateur DIYer, home gardener, advocate, #GiveBloodGh volunteer

Enough is Enough

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I was checking out Adventures From, yesterday and read something that dug into me.  The topics discussed on that site usually jab at me for various reasons but this article pretty much sums up a lot of what’s been on my mind. The article is titled “What Exactly Are Our Attitudes About Abuse” and it’s written by Malaka.

Malaka points out a lot that’s wrong in the way our society handles victims of abuse in general and sexual abuse in particular. Victims do not get help. They’re told to suck it up and move on; burdened with a load that should not be theirs to carry. It saddens me even more when the victim is a young child. Why should children have to deal with the depravity of adults?

I’m not saying it’s better to rape an adult than a child. I’d rather sexual abuse never came up anywhere but I can’t wrap my mind about anyone thinking it’s okay to turn their sexual attentions on a child. The statistics Malaka points out are disgraceful. As always, it’s usually the females targetted and I wonder when something will be done.

In a country where less than 5% of the National Health budget goes to mental health, how are we going to provide the necessary psychological care that victims of abuse need in order to move forward with their lives? When will we realise that abuse leaves victims with PTSD which can evolve into other disorders? We’re not just talking trust issues and a few nightmares. We’re talking possible depression and suicide. We’re talking about potential multiple personalities etc, simply because people are not given the tools with which to not only cope, but overcome their experiences.

It sickens me to hear some of the scenarios Malaka mentions. It’s about time we placed responsibility squarely on the shoulders on which they belong. The abusers, the society, the security and health agencies. 

Making victims keep quiet about their experiences only goes to pile more needless shame on their shoulders. Depriving them (knowingly or unknowingly) of counseling and other support is a travesty. Making them protect their abusers is a sin my fellow Christians should never ever commit.

Adventures from is doing something about it. They’re organising “Surviving Sexual Abuse” This Friday (29th March) at Passions Cafe in Osu. More info here. Readings and performances on surviving are a great idea! Excellent group therapy, if you ask me. If you can make it, please drop in, even if it’s only to offer support.

And if you’re in a position to make change happen, please do. I think it’s long overdue for victims to not only have a voice but the proper help they need.

~Daixy~

Save A Life: Part 2

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So back in December, 2012, I worked with Blogging Ghana, StACC-Ghana and Noguchi on the “Save A Life” Blood Drive.  It was all pretty rushed but we got 30 people to Give Blood at Korle Bu  and Noguchi.
Several Bloggers (eg here, here, and here ) gave their takes on  their experiences, or asked people to go #GiveBlood. The support on twitter and facebook was wonderful and I would like to thank everyone who tweeted, texted, emailed or showed up to donate during that period. That December, a lot of people heard the over-all cry for help. 
Photo credit: Greg McGoon
On the day I went to give Blood for instance, the good men of the Ghana Armed Forces showed up to donate.  Overall, 801 people walked in to voluntarily give blood in December 2012. We need this trend to continue.  This is why I, Blogging Ghana, StACC and Noguchi are asking you to please make a habit of going in to donate at least every quarter of the year.
As promised, here  is my video of my experience. Please do not laugh at my “Ow Ow Ow face”. I do not like being pinched 🙁                        

I know, I know…I spent a lot of time ogling the men in green but what can I say other than that I love a man in uniform?

Photo credit: Greg McGoon

 A few things to note:

  1. Every last Saturday of every month, Dr. Paul Mensah of the Korle Bu Blood bank will be teaming up with the Doctors at the Accra Mall Clinic to collect blood for the bank.  For those of you who don’t want to, or can’t go to korle bu, this is a good option. Take a friend with you and chillax before and after you donate. Incidentally, this Saturday, he will be there.
  2. Drink lots of water and eat something before you go to donate.
  3. If you’ve given blood before, please be sure to take your donor card along with you. 
  4. I’ll be showing up randomly during the exercises at the mall and just may have some goodies for the people I meet there 🙂
  5. When you go to give blood, tweet/blog/facebook etc about it and tell others about your experience. Let’s create a culture of helping help ourselves. 

See  you on Saturday!

~Daixy~

Blast from the Past: National Identification?!!!

Remember when I blogged about the National Identification Scheme and questioned whether or not Ghana was ready for such an exercise? I was concerned with the amount of information that was being collated and questioned whether it was safe for our security personnel to have access to it.

It’s been four years since and since then I’ve noted the following:

1.  The website is no longer http://www.niaghana.gov.gh/ 
It redirects you to the new website
2.  The new one is http://www.nia.gov.gh/
Recently, I paid a visit to the NIA Office near Gulf House and being the curious person that I am, I followed a website mentioned in an ad placed in the lobby. The ad was inviting people to visit Ghana’s e-services hub.  Since I had my smartphone on me, I typed in the link and was actually impressed with the site. I decided to click on the NIA page there and followed a link there to the official website whereupon was promptly directed to….
3. a porn site. A Russian porn site. I thought my eyes were deceiving me so I went back and clicked the link. Same thing! So I checked from a tablet. Once again, I was directed to the porn site. NO, I did NOT take a screen-shot of the questionable content (I know some naughty ones will ask for evidence).
I informed the receptionist of the problem and she said “We know. The IT guys are on National assignment so we can’t fix it now”. For real? NO ONE was available to stop the hackers from redirecting visitors to their lewd gallery?
Later on, I was made to understand that the hack only worked on mobile devices. Computer browsers sent you to the actual NIA site so all I had to do was find a computer and save my eyes the trouble.
Still, this security thing nags at me.  This is the NIA. Information security should NOT be a problem for them. If we’re to trust them with our vital info, they should be able to handle the security of their own website, surely? 
This is what the website looks like today on both web and mobile browsers. 
I can only assume that the IT guys are finally back from assignment and are cleaning up the website. How long the welcome screen will greet us, I’ve no idea but I’ll take this to naked chics any day.
Have you registered with the NIA? Do you feel your data is safe with them? Have you experienced anything like I did when visiting any Ghanaian Government site?  Hit me up in the comments section.

ECG: Tale of an Energy Monopoly

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If you’re a Ghanaian then chances are you’ve heard these phrases before:

  • Electricity Come and Go
  • Either Candle or Generator
  • Energy Crisis of Ghana
  • Ela-TDC (yes it’s its own political party and won -0.05% of the Ghanaian populace over)
  • Dumso Dumso

Here’s the thing.  Someone let their pet monkey loose in the Electricity Corporation of Ghana. This is not a joke.  There’s someone who lets their monkey onto the premises and this little bugger keeps messing with the switches.  How else could you possibly explain the disco day and night fever that has gripped the Nation?

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m talking about  POWER OUTAGES!

I live in a part of Accra, where the electricity is virtually always out. At least four days a week, we experience some sort of maintenance or cable fault. A few years ago, they claimed we had a busted transformer and During Christmas week, we were out for five days straight.

It’s become normal for Ghanaian homes to have backup generators now.  Those things come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.  I’ve got a medium sized one which handles lights and a few TVs but definitely not my freezers. Some homes have humongous ones so they can continue to use their heaters, air conditions etc but what is important to note about all types of generator users is, it’s an additional cost to a home or business user. If I pay GHC150 a month for electricity and about GHC 80 for water (meanwhile I haven’t had water in over 6 months. That’s a post for another day) oh and tack on about GHC 100 for Internet (includes what I tack on to my phone and iPad) well, that’s over GHC300 from my meager salary going into utilities. When you throw in the cost of maintaining a car, fueling it and clothing….I pity the average Ghanaian’s pocket.

The point I’m trying to make is, what we’re paying for utilities is bad enough without having to tag on additional costs for fueling our generators. My genset will go for 8 hours on about GHC20 of petrol but egads! What of the poor sods who invest in larger ones? How much extra do they have to pay in addition to the about GHC400 that ECG collects from them monthly?

Last year, the entire country had their electricity rationed. Every couple of days, an area would go off for about 12 hours and this went on for months. The nation dubbed it “Dumso Dumso” which loosely translates into “switch on, switch off”. It became a bone of contention during the just ended elections, with people seemingly forgetting that such situations occurred even during the previous administration.

Well, all this “dumso dumso” nonsense was right down my alley. My area (near Kwabenya) is used to constant power outages and we actually welcome the scheduled outages.  When I know I’m to go off at 6am, I make sure to iron and prep everything and head out of the house early. And if I know I’m going off at 6pm, then I make sure to charge my phone and laptop in town and grab some candles so I can read a bit before bed.

Our problem is with the unscheduled outages, like what we’re experiencing now. Our power went out on Friday night. I’m typing this up on my IPad which is quickly draining of power at 8 am on Sunday, January 20. The problem? Supposedly a high tension cable fault somewhere in Kwabenya. We were promised we’d get out power back yesterday but as of this morning, my kontonmire with mutton and smoked mackerel is going bad. My dogs will no doubt be feasting on the large pot I made before the day is done. THIS is the real “dumso dumso”.  This is a real case of either candle or generator.

Calls to ECG (who have got really nice customer service agents but still haven’t got the solution bit down pat) only serve to infuriate me further.  “Oh have you reported the fault?” “Yes Madam, we did say 3pm but our engineers are still in the field and do not have an idea when they will be done.” “Please Madam, what’s an ETA?”

This morning, after being asked again whether or not I’d made a report and if it was my whole area that was off, I blew up. I’m an extremely impatient person and it doesn’t take long to get me to let loose the hounds of hell. “This is unacceptable” I said, ” I just told you my power has been out since Friday and you act as though you do not know about the problem. Does your system not tell you Kwabenya has been off since then?” The poor agent had to hush up and listen while I told him, “add this to the new report. Tell your people that if they were another service like my ISP, I would have switched to someone else by now. You people have a monopoly on electricity in this country or else you’d give us value for money.  How can you keep taking us out for 3, 4, 5 days and expect us to accept it? My food is going bad! Will you pay for it?”

Now I’m supposed to call in a few more minutes to see if the faults men have given a new estimated time for power to be restored.

Thing is, if we had multiple power companies, which really should be the case then perhaps we’d have better service. I don’t believe that state enterprises should be sold to private bodies (as in the case of Ghana Telecom to Vodafone). I believe that private institutions should give healthy competition to government bodies. We should have a choice. I should be able to make the choice to go off the national grid, if I want.  Perhaps the government should subsidize alternate energy sources for Ghanaians who want to go green.  I would invest in an affordable solar unit for my home and much as my folks hate the idea of biogas, I sure as heck would use my home sewage to power my house (they will NOT use it to cook no matter what I say).

Point I’m making is, if the government knows that Gridco, ECG etc cannot handle the pressure of powering up the nation (and yet they sell power to other countries) then they should make it easier for communities and individuals to generate their own power. We’re sick of all of this.

The next election, I am voting for whoever can give me uninterrupted power supply. Do you hear that, Hassan Ayariga? Promise me “domesticated” electricity and you will have my vote.

For now, I’m entreating whoever that monkey belongs to, keep that bugger under lock and key. He’s been playing havoc for far too long.

~Daixy~

Accra: Village, Slum or City?

Woke up this morning to see this article floating about on twitter. In this article, Eonline reporter  Alyssa Toomey writes, “The handsome boy-banders visited the impoverished village of Accra and took to Twitter to detail their eye-opening experience.”
From what I can surmise, Comic Relief (responsible for Red Nose Day)  brought One Direction to Accra. Lord knows which parts of Accra they sent them to, but hey, they saw a slum or two.
This is what one member had to say about his trip:
https://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/u/0/?ui=2&ik=179c22f4fa&view=att&th=13c42b9e2363e27e&attid=0.1&disp=inline&realattid=1424311331919495168-1&safe=1&zw&saduie=AG9B_P_VP_Hzw4NW2i-th9UwWnUb&sadet=1358329173800&sads=xWeM9eT46wLS5CbRfyeOYv0bni0
Hey Niall, thanks for visiting my country (even though you only visited Accra) and thanks for wanting to help those who are poverty stricken but here’s some thing you need to wise up to. Poverty is everywhere, even in your beloved United Kingdom. How is it that you managed not to notice that “poverty is real” before you visited my “impoverished village of Accra”?

In response to the article and the tweets from Niall Horan, GH twitter had a field day. Aside from tweets like mine which expressed outrage, a lot took to humour to voice their displeasure.

This one from Wanlov the Kubolor had me laughing my butt off!

 
I can’t blame One Direction.  They’re kids, really and hey, I can understand to some degree how in all the excitement, the band members could have tweeted like they did.  You can never see poverty and walk away untouched.  You’d have to be a cold bastard for that.

My beef is with the article on Eonline and thus, with  Alyssa Toomey. Ms. Toomey apparently failed to do her research before posting the article.  Even worse, the article either did not go through an editor, or her editor was an ignoramus. Accra is not an “impoverished village”. So I asked Niall, One Direction and Eonline to please tell Alyssa that Accra is not a village.  None of them bothered responding but that’s to be expected.  I tweeted at Alyssa herself asking her to edit the article and deliver an apology but received no response. I didn’t really expect otherwise.

While others rant on about whether or not Accra is a “modern city” and complain about the “dirt” etc, I would like to make myself very clear.

A village is defined by my common dictionary to be:

  1. A group of houses and associated buildings, larger than a hamlet and smaller than a town, situated in a rural area.
  2. A self-contained district or community within a town or city, regarded as having features characteristic of village life.

Accra is very much an urban area, no matter what people choose to say about it. It is larger than a town. Perhaps the slum that was visited could be described as a village but my Capital City of Accra truly fails to meet the description of a village.  It is a CITY! I do not understand why the word village has come to mean in some people’s minds, “a dirty group of mud houses with animals roaming freely about”. Please! Not every village comes with complimentary death and squalor. Accra has a huge problem with sanitation and we need to get our people to stop throwing their crap in the street but just cuz some so called “villagers” have relocated to Accra from the rural areas etc does not mean it has become a village.

Every city the world over has its share of poverty. I don’t really care about the author tagging Accra as impoverished.  Hey, if she thinks hotels like Movenpick Ambassador and La Palm Royal are signs of impoverishment, that’s her problem. I can take her behind Dekalb in the Bronx or walk her through Harlem and show her some poor people. Would she like to call those places villages too? Even in Memphis, I saw squalor.The abject poverty I have witnessed will not let me attempt to fool anyone that we do not indeed have impoverished sections (and a lot of them) in Accra.

My problem is with western media always needing to portray Africa as a poverty ridden “country”. They blatantly refuse to show the progress we’re making. Growing up, I studied geography and read a lot so I knew most of the states of America and of course, that the Britain was a teeny weeny Island etc. It was all drummed into my head, whether I wanted to know it or not.  So how come Western kids do not know that Africa is a continent? How could Alyssa Toomey not have checked facts on Ghana and thus not know that Accra was our Capital city?

Later on in the day, I discovered that the article had been edited and the insulting phrase taken out. I feel better, knowing that at least one more person out there will think twice before writing about my homeland in a derogatory manner.  I don’t care if you tell the truth about my country.  Talk about the poverty all you like (but talk about yours too and maintain the balance) but please do not make the mistake of belittling us.

To celebs like One Direction who love to do charity work, kudos. Your hard work is really appreciated but please for the love of all things Holy, do your homework. Don’t mar the good work you do with ignorant comments.

My final two cents is meant for all Ghanaians. Can we fix up our city? Please? Accra is a health hazard and it’s time we cleaned it up. We have town and country planning.  Why are their codes being ignored? Why are people dumping rubbish wherever they feel like? And what do we do about the mass exodus of people from rural areas to our urban centres? How long has that Slum at Korle Gono been in existence and what has been done to take care of it?

Until we make strides to improve things and better brand our nation, we will forever have ignorant impressions running around about this country and the rest of Africa. Let’s work together to paint a better picture of our homeland.  It’s the only one we have! 

God Bless Ghana!

~Daixy~

Save A Life: Give Blood This Christmas.

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Last Friday I read about the Korle Bu Blood bank’s sorry state: They have only 80 units of blood left and are contemplating closing down (They need a minimum of 200 to run properly). The Christmas Season in Ghana usually sees an increase in accidents and as such this period is the worst possible time for the National Blood Centre to be low in stock. Having them close down means families with emergencies are going to have to look within themselves for eligible donors, or pay people to donate.

The sad news about the people lining up to sell their blood at the blood centre is, they are usually the ones with blood communicable diseases (ala HIV, Hepatitis etc). They are not a SAFE bet.

I decided that this year, I would donate some of my blood. For years, I was too low on Haemoglobin/Iron and too skinny (I once weighed in at 43kg with my 5’8 frame) but now I am of a healthy weight and for the past year, my HB levels have been excellent. I asked on twitter if anyone was ready to go with me to give blood this Christmas and after talking to Blogging Ghana, StACC-Ghana and the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, I am proud to Announce the Save A Life Christmas Blood Drive!

Join us on 22 and 24 Dec at the Korle Bu Blood Centre and 27-28 Dec at the Noguchi Memorial Institute and give some Life Saving Blood. Time is from 9am to 2pm for each day. The break in-between is to allow the staff of the National Blood Service to take their holiday break.  These brave men and women deserve the two days to catchup with family.

Donor cards will be ready for all who donate their blood two weeks after the exercise. In order to make things easier, there will be attendance lists for all who participate to facilitate pickup/delivery at a convenient location when the cards are ready. The advantages of having a donor card are:

  1. They allow for speedy location of your donation records.
  2. If you or a family member ever require blood, you will be first in line for what is available in storage (You get points each time you donate). Since the number of regular donors in the country is low and the bank is always operating at a minimum, it’s only fair for regular donors to be given dibs whenever they have an emergency.

Not sure if you’re eligible to Donate?  Here’s a link to some information from the StACC-Ghana Facebook Page. You can also sign up for the event here. We need to have an estimate of the number of people attending so some form of snacks can be provided.  It is important that donors have something to drink and nibble on after giving blood. So your clicking join on the facebook event page will be very much appreciated.

I will be recording my experience on Saturday 22nd, regardless of whether or not I am allowed to donate. The blood stored in the bank only lasts for 35 days. I am hoping that my experience (and other bloggers’) will encourage others to go out and give blood on the regular.  You never know when you, or a loved one may need blood. It would be a shame for the bank to be empty if you should ever be in need of some.

This is the time of year when most people choose to give back to society.  This year, let’s do something different.  Grab a friend and head over to Korle Bu or Noguchi. Even if you can’t donate, you can help out with serving drinks and snacks. Oh and did I mention it’s an opportunity for free confidential medical screening? Let’s give a little blood which will go a long way to saving lives.

Now I want to hear from YOU:

  1. Have you donated Blood before? What was your experience?
  2. Never donated? I want to know if you would consider giving blood.

~Daixy~

Earth Child: Naptural Woman

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A few months months ago, I made the decision to transition from relaxed hair to natural hair. I began my transition with braids; I sat for hours (with lots of breaks in between) while a frustrated hair dresser twisted my hair with extensions and turned me into an earth goddess. A couple of months after my first braid, I sat in my bathroom with a pair of scissors, contemplating whether or not I was really going to go through with it. To help things along, I grabbed my hair into a ponytail and snipped it off at the base. The photo is of me after the initial snip. You don’t want to see what my face looked like after the reality of my actions hit me. Tears do not look good on Mz Daixy.
 

A week of recovery later, and I took the snippers to my hair once more and found a lace scarf to use as a headband.

 Mz Daixy’s a school girl again!

I eventually went to the barber and got the last bits of permed wisp taken off.

Ignore the ginormous smile on my face.  
Luther Vandrosss and Teddy Pendergrass were whispering sweet nothings in my ear that morning.

My natural hair is a pain to take care of.  I’ve been relaxing my hair since the 4th grade, after my mom got tired of breaking combs in the tangled mess of kinky curls. My foray into napturality has brought back best forgotten memories of hot combs burning my scalp and combs and brushes snapping like twigs. It’s impossible to comb this hair when it’s dry, it won’t lie down no matter what you do to it and I’ve had to say goodbye to afternoon naps (cuz I can’t tidy it up afterwards without getting it wet).

I’ve considered locks and passed. Locks are gorgeous, I’ll admit but knowing that the only way to get rid of them is to hack off my hair has me balking. I’m going to let it grow out and bring back the afro for a bit while I work out natural ways of making the hair soft and easier to manage. Still, I’m enjoying the fresh look and am sticking to switching up between the natural fro and braids. I even posed for this gorgeous pic.

Transitioning may very well be the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. Becoming an earth child is wonderful. I’ve begun cutting out chemicals from my diet and have also been removing checmical lotions and such from my beauty regime. In future, I will be sharing some of my homemade recipes for skin care (trying to find the best one for treating my acne prone and scarred skin) for those of you who are looking for natural alternatives also.

I apologise for my absence on here (I’ve no real excuse other than that life’s been pretty demanding the past couple of months). It will not happen again. Thanks to all who moved with me from my old blog and are still here despite my truancy.

BVR

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Yes it’s an Acronym.
No it does not stand for Beyond Visual Range.

BVR or Biometric Voters Registration is a newfangled system of registration that the Electoral Commission of Ghana has undertaken for the 2012 Elections. Basically, the old voter’s register is being tossed out and a new one taking its place.  The cool thing about this new register is that it won’t just have your demographic data and a simple photo like the old one.  Oh no,  This register is bigger and better than that! It’s going to have your biometric information.

What’s biometric, you ask?  Such a big word for a simple thing, really.  Biometric information is simply your physiological information.  In this case, the EC is taking fingerprints and high resolution photographs of voters for storage in a giant database.

Perhaps I watered it down a bit too much. What the EC is really doing is scanning your fingerprints on a sensor (it’s not placing your fingers in ink and pressing them on paper for some archaic forensic expert to go inspect with a magnifying glass) and storing the resulting computer image for later matching. Even better is the facial recognition aspect of the registration process.  Yes, those high res images of you are not for nothing.  They’re so that a computer programme will be able to match your facial features to that of the image.  Pretty cool, huh?

One thing that has to be made clear right off the bat is that there isn’t going to be biometric voting this year.  There isn’t any such thing.  Rather, what we’re going to have is a biometric registration (collection of your usual biodata and fingerprints plus facial image) and on the day of voting, biometric verification.  That means, that on the d-day, the EC is going to check to make sure that the holder of the card is truly who they say they are.  Your fingerprints won’t disappear (unless you end up losing your fingers in some freak accident or go to war with some local gangs) and unless you’re tossing acid in your own face or planning some major reconstructive surgery, your face won’t either.  So, instead of having someone look at your card and say you’ve gained too much weight so it can’t be you in a photo or that your id card has faded so they can’t be sure that it’s you, the EC is going to let the computer do the talking. And the resulting ID Card?  Why, surely it’s going to have a microchip that will contain all your information, just like a biometric passport. 

*cough cough* That’s what you would get if we lived in a CSI world. It’s all one big misconception! I was really excited when I heard about the BVR and being somewhat of a forensics fan, I ran through several possible scenarios involving computer algorithms and highly trained agents.  That, my friends, is not the case in this BVR.

See, I have various issues with the ongoing BVR.  Eight hours in a queue (and only because I was ushered into the express lane on account of I had been there the previous day)…..hours in the baking sun; tired and hungry and afeared for my safety on account of the arguing and browbeating that is oft to occur in heavily populated areas like mine,  and what I experienced when I finally had my turn was a smudged substandard fingerprint scanner which I had to insist on cleaning myself. I figured it was very clear.  Just as you can’t see out of your spectacles with streaks of oily prints on your lens, the scanner will be hard pressed to capture a lone print with several overlaying it. Perhaps I should mention that the scanner being used is an optical one. It behaves as a camera (and therefore an eye) should.

Even after wiping down the scanner, it couldn’t pick up the prints on my last two fingers.  Mind you, I’m not a wrinkly old woman.  I have not lost any fingers.  It took someone else holding my fingers down for them to finally get all my fingers scanned. And the photograph? Eugh they shouldn’t have bothered.  My last one (a black and white photo) of me unwashed and sleepy cuz I’d been dragged out of bed at 4am was much clearer than the image these search and peck typing Agents captured.  There is no way in high heaven that the image they captured can be used to identify me later on. 

And then we can talk of my new card.  My word for it is not recognised by the oxford learners’ dictionary.  SHOCKPRISED!!! That’s a mixture of shock and surprise. In this case, I was also extremely disappointed.  In the first place, It was a flimsy sheet of paper produced by a simple HP OfficeJet printer. A lady waaaay at the back cut it out (crookedly) for me with a pair of scissors and laminated it.  I have shaky hands.  I have never been trusted with a pair of scissors (least not more than once) and I can assure you that I would have done a better job than she did but I digress.

This ID card is the flimsiest I have ever had.  My university of Ghana ID was way better. The same can be said for what the National Service secretariat gave me. Even the previous ID card was more sturdy than what they gave me.  There is no magnetic strip and after speaking with someone, I discovered that the cameras being used for the facial images and supposedly to permit facial recognition are simple 2 megapixel cameras.

Really? 2MP cameras? My 10MP camera would not allow for 50% accuracy.  What on earth makes them think that a 2MP will do the job? There is a Barcode, however.  Perhaps that will be used? I shudder to think what would happen, if they attempted to use these dodgy gadgets to identify people before letting them go join the queue to the ballots boxes, come election day but that will be discussed in another post. The idea of a scan-able card sits better with me than the idea of them trying to match the data they collected, seeing as how dodgy the equipment has turned out so far. When the EC Chairman spoke about the exercise back in February, he was not really clear about how they would verify voters.  I quite got the impression we were on the same page.  Ah well…We’ll just wait and see what happens.

Dr Kwadwo Afari Gyan, the current EC Chairman stated last year, that we were not ready for BVR.  The politicians called him a fool.  They insulted him left and right on every platform they could get a hold of and so here we are, a nation undergoing an exercise which in my humble opinion, we are not ready for.

None-the-less, it is an exercise being undertaken nationally and without participating, one would not be allowed to vote, come December 7, 2012. 

As discouraging as the registration process has been so far, Ghanaians have impressed with their turnout. The EC claims that about 6.5 million out of the expected 12million Ghanaians have registered so far, and that was after 16 days into the exercise.

Hopefully the rest of the eligible population will also come out to register. Yes, the queues are long and the sun blazing.  Yes, it’s going to feel like a waste of time but one thing should get people out to register.  It’s the same thing that had me stick in the queue, and that’s the fact that no responsible and eligible Ghanaian should abstain from the exercise, no matter how tedious it is. It is up to US to choose our future leaders. Sitting on our thumbs and letting others choose for us, then complaining when they install someone incapable is unacceptable behaviour. 

We live in a democratic society. We have been given the right to choose our leaders.  It is our responsibility to exercise that right and no amount of frustrations should stop us from doing just that!

I’m still excited about the idea of biometric registration. I can’t wait for a time when we will be able to vote by simply scanning our eyes and swiping a single finger to get access to a polling booth. Perhaps that’s more Star Trek than CSI but hey, a girl can have high hopes for the country she loves. 2020 elections perhaps?

~Daixy~

Dealing with Scoliosis: The Foot Chronicles

From the very moment I was diagnosed with scoliosis (back in high school) two things were knocked into my head. One, that I should get used to the constant pain and inability to stand straight, and two, that I should forget about wearing high heels. It really didn’t bother me much, not being able to wear heels, and as I’ve always been a “tall girl” and was going through a sort of tomboyish phase (can’t be a real tomboy if you’re not sporty), I turned my attention to sneakers. 

I remember my mom’s constant battles to get me to wear flat granny shoes (which I considered to be school marmish) and out of the jeans, baggy shirts and sneakers combo.  Even when she could get me into a sexy spaghetti top, I’d pull on a pair of baggy jeans and one of my brothers’ or dad’s long sleeved shirts to cover the top.  My entire university education was spent battling my mother on what to wear (as a proper young lady).

Eventually, I hit a phase where I said “screw you” to my orthopedic surgeons and chiropractors/ physiotherapists. I’d finally reached the point when my feminine instincts rolled in and I wanted to look as glamorous as the next chic. So I began my heel collection. It’s nothing much, I assure you and consists mainly of peep toe pumps and sandals. It didn’t take long for me to realise one thing though, the docs and all were right: I can’t wear my gorgeous heels for too long or I end up spending days laid out in bed with heating pads and liniment to keep me company. My solution? Carrying around a pair of flat slippers or in recent years, comfortable flats.

No not these

You know, like these? They’re beautiful and not marmish at all!

These are so comfy!  And fit easily under my seat in the car (or in my handbag) and on those days where I can’t deal with the woes of a high heel but have one problem.  Unlike my sneakers where I wear socks which absorb any sweat off my feet (I live in Africa, people), my flats are impossible to wear stockings with. They are simply cut too low to accommodate them. What makes it worse is, they do not come with removable inlays.  As embarrassing as this is to confess, my ultra comfortable shoes have plagued me with one problem.

I can’t clean the bloody things!!!

There.  I’ve said it. I have found it impossible to care for my flats.  I’m not the only one with this problem.  Yes, I’ve aired them  like I air my sneakers but they do not smell like new shoes anymore.  I am told the slightly vinegar-ish smell is normal for leather shoes but I refuse to wear shoes that I cannot clean!!! My feet smell absolutely fine. They smell nothing like the shoes do.  The second my feet are out of them, they smell fine.  I’ve had a shoe maker remove the insoles so I could scrub them without ruining the shoes.  I have to agree that the smell isn’t bad but the thing is I’ve never had this problem with sneakers! To me, it’s simple.  Shoes are shoes. Canvas may breathe differently from leather but I simply refuse to accept something that isn’t natural to me, especially when none of my leather heels have this effect.

So I set out to do two things.  Learn how to avoid or minimize my back pain when wearing heels and also how to take care of my troublesome flats. I discovered the following:

  1. Ultra Low Foot liners by Minicci 
  2. The Proper Way to Walk in Heels 
  3. How to take care of flats the Daixy way.

I adore the foot liners.  They are low enough that they do not show when I put on my flats and  thick enough to absorb any moisture that my feet my produce.  Even better, they are machine washable for those days when I’m feeling too lazy to do anything by hand.

I also discovered that you can take away the tomboyish clothes but you can’t take away the walk.  I’m practicing in my heels every evening now for fifteen minutes a day.  Hopefully I’ll be a pro soon and quit injuring myself every time I wear my stilettos.

Finally, I have devised a way to deal with my need to have my shoes smelling like roses.  First, of course was removing the cloth lined inlays from the shoes so I could clean them.  Then I discovered odour controlling inlays that could go into the shoes, on top of the inbuilt ones. I refuse to use deodorants (why mask a smell?  I always say to attack the problem head on) and as I’ve become a bit of a home remedy junkie, I decided to find something in my home which would work as well as the charcoal inserts suggested by a friend in the USA. My solution works well with the fact that I like to clean my inlays and have thus ripped them out.  My solution?  Baking soda!  Every time I take off my flats now, I toss in a teaspoon of baking soda and shake it about.  I leave it in there when I dry them in the sun and pour it out when I’m ready to wear the shoes.  Just tap gently and it all pours out.  I wipe the insides of the shoes with a cloth and slip in my stockinged feet and away I go.  Comfort, Pain-free and absolutely sure all moisture is taken care off.

It’s been a strange journey, finding a way to deal with scoliosis.  The teasing all through primary and high school, the awkwardness of growing into my body and finally finding a “me” I’m comfortable with, and finding a way to look and feel beautiful without sacrificing my health and comfort.  I believe I’ve reached my zen foot-wise.  Now it’s down to proper exercise and diet to keep my weight stable and myself pain free.

What’s your story with shoe care or walking in heels?  Is there anyone else out there with back pain who dares to wear heels?

~Daixy~

I Know What I Did This Christmas……

I got a lot of cooking done!!!

Actually, I got a lot more baking done than cooking. Unfortunately, my camera was misbehaving so I couldn’t record the instructional video I had intended this to be.  At the last minute, I found an old camera and got a few shots of my yule log.  So, to make my readers hungry and to get some of you in the kitchen, here’s my recipe for a Christmas log.  It’s essentially a swiss roll covered in frosting.  I chose to go a step further and make it look more authentic.

Ingredients

Chocolate log
300g self raising flour
400g sugar
50g cocoa powder (don’t be stingy: get the good stuff like cadbury’s)
10 eggs (separated)
1tsp almond essence

Filling
1/2 cup whipping cream
100g baking chocolate

Frosting
300g chocolate
1cup whipping cream
1/4 cup icing/confectioner’s sugar
Mint sprigs and cherry (optional)

Making the cake:

  1. Preheat your oven (I turn mine on to gas mark 5) and line your baking tray with wax paper.
  2. Start off by separating your egg whites from the yolks.  I put the yolks in the mixing bowl to go with my heavy duty  mixer and the whites in a glass bowl so I could whip them with my hand mixer.
  3. Add your sugar and almond essence to the eggs and mix them till the mixture gains a yellow frothy consistency.
  4. Add your flour and cocoa powder and mix.  You should have a nice rich chocolaty goop now.
  5. Beat your egg whites with the hand mixer until stiff peaks form (like you’re making a meringue) 
  6. Mix a bit of the egg whites into the cake mix then fold in the rest of the egg whites. (you want to conserve as much air as possible
  7. With your rubber spatula, spread the cake mix onto your paper-lined tray and pop it into the oven.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes (you’ll know it’s done when the cake is firm to the touch but feels spongy.  don’t burn it!!!)

Roll your cake tightly (with the parchment paper) I roll lenghtwise so I have a long log. After a few minutes, unroll the log and spread the filling. For the filling:

  1. In a double boiler, melt your chocolate.  let it cool a bit, then;
  2. In a bowl over ice water, whip the whipping cream till stiff peaks form.
  3. Mix a bit of the whip cream in with the chocolate (this way, you ensure the chocolate ends up at about the same temperature as the cream) pour the chocolate into the cream and fold.
  4. Spread the filling onto the inner layer of the unrolled cake.  make sure to avoid spreading it to the edges of the log. You do NOT want it spilling outside the cake.

Roll the log tightly, peeling off the wax paper as you go along.  Place the rolled log in a kitchen towel and tie off the ends to keep the shape (or do what I do and wrap it in aluminium foil and place it in the fridge to set).
When you’re ready to frost the cake, cut off about an inch off both ends of the log.  One of these can be used to make the large bump. Now cut 1/4 of the cake off (make sure to make a diagonal cut (you’ll thank me later).  This will be your branchy thingy.

Now for the frosting.

  1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler and let it cool a bit.  You do not want to pour HOT chocolate into the cream.  That would make it curdle.
  2. Over a bowl of ice water, whip the cream till stiff peaks form.  Add the icing sugar and mix well.
  3. Mix a bit of the cream in with the cooling chocolate then fold the chocolate into the cream.  

Spread some frosting on the seam of the longer piece of log and place it on the cake board or plate. spread a bit of icing on the  diagonal cut on the smaller log and attach that to the main log. Spread the frosting in lengthwise strokes on the entire log. You can choose to glue one of the 1inch pieces you cut off earlier to the log. I thought I’d try not to waste cake and did that. the finished product will look like this.

 Yeah, I know it’s not pretty

Next, with your trusty fork of truth, lightly score along the cake. I thought this would make it look more woody and it did!  Remember you have to work fast as the frosting doesn’t appreciate heat.

It will now look like this.

I chose to place chocolate chips on the log to make small bumps.

When I think of a christmas log, I imagine snow for some reason.  So I dusted some icing sugar onto the log (this can be messy if you do not have a small sieve.  I need to buy one of those)

Next, place a few  sprigs of fresh mint (I used three as I had small ones) and place a cherry in the centre.

And Voila!  You have one very yummy Yule Log to amaze your family with.  It looks and tastes wonderful and much as I was reluctant to cut it, it looked even better as it was being hacked at. Remember to keep it refrigerated on account of the cream.  Oh and if you can avoid having a messy board like I have, you have my adoration.
Happy Holidays, Darlings.
~Daixy~