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Otiko Djaba, Rape is not an STD.

Posted in Uncategorized

Dear Otiko Djaba,

Rape is NOT an STD. We Cannot Prevent Rape by Covering our bodies!

It is not often that I take the time to write to persons in positions of authority, as for the most part, I believe that authorities know what they are doing and do not need my input. However, on the odd occasion, I have been known to speak up. Ms Zita Okaikoi heard from me regarding her inaction, during her tenure as Ambassador to the Czech Republic, when a Ghanaian male was treated like “garbage” in that country.

Your predecessor, the Honourable Oye Lithur also heard from me, though I did not share my strong words for her here but kept to facebook, when she chose to sign the petition for the release of the Montie 3. Today, my attention is on you, and only you.

When you spoke up for yourself during your vetting and stood your ground when compelled to apologise to former President Mahama, I applauded from my home. I posted on social media about how it was high time we had a headstrong woman in the role of gender minister, who would not kowtow to the whimsy of our patriarchal society.

Imagine my joy when you turned up for your swearing-in looking radiant in your traditional garb and with your “interesting hairstyle” and hit back at your detractors when they accused you of setting a poor example for girls. Your defense for your hairstyle warmed my heart. Surely you would defend human rights as you defended your hair, no? Soon after, however, the bombs began to drop.

When videos began to circulate, in which a suspected female thief was sexually abused by a group of traders, you took days to speak regarding the issue, and even then, only to say that the police must be allowed to follow due process, and that the lady in question did not want to be found. My jaw dropped. With actual evidence in hand, the State wanted the victim to press charges before locking up those men? Even if she was proven to be a thief, did she deserve to be treated in such a manner?

The whole thing reminded me of an incident in Legon Uni where another alleged thief was stripped naked and manhandled by the males in one of the Mensah Sarbah Hall Annexes. Video footage circulated from this incident as well and some rather vile minded persons implied that she got what she deserved. I wonder why it took so long for action to be taken in the February 2017 event, when there was video evidence clearly showing the faces of her attackers.

You disappointed me, Otiko. You disappointed me so much but I had hope. I, and other women I hold dear to my heart, hoped you would “show us levels” but alas, just as Maya Angelou said, when someone shows you their character, believe them the first time.

I have actually left my sick bed to write to you tonight. I am supposed to be on bed rest while my back heals up but noooo, I needed to sit upright and take the time to let you know how disappointed I am, that you, a Minister for Gender should stand before a group of adolescent girls and declare that they should avoid wearing short skirts in order to prevent rape.

Can we stop devaluing men and their ability to think? Their brains are not actually stored in their penises.

I must thank you for warning male teachers not to coerce and abuse their charges. Warning them to desist from impregnating the girls, was a step in the right direction considering the society we live in but sadly, even this one good deed of yours stood on rocky ground. It gives the impression that the only thing wrong with male teachers sleeping with students, is the possibility of pregnancy.

You were absolutely right, in that it is an abuse of their rights but I put to you that pregnancy should be the least of their worries, but rather the emotional and physical trauma they inflict on their victims. Focusing on the risk of pregnancy ignores the fact that STDs could be transmitted and that female teachers could also be taking advantage of their charges, be they male or female students.

You mentioned something else that caught my attention, “We want to initiate a mentoring program; a girls-girls leadership program in all the schools, from basic to tertiary and as well as within the communities to ensure that we know our rights and we understand what it is to be  a woman who is an equal partner in society, no longer women behind but side by side with our men as equal partners”.

Great initiative but I wonder, can we have a mentoring program for boys as well? One which teaches them that older women sleeping with them is a form of abuse and not something they should be “proud of”? One that teaches them that they do not deserve sex whenever and wherever they want it, and that they should not be afraid to speak up when they are being forced into situations they are uncomfortable with? Our society has taught men for far too long, that their “manhood” and brains lay in their penises, and that women exist solely to provide them with pleasure.

In the next breath, you are alleged to have stated, that the girls should “…be bold, be confident, be respectful. If you wear a short dress, it’s fashionable but know that it can attract somebody who would want to rape or defile you. You must be responsible for the choices you make”.

Here is where I screamed in fury before being reduced to a weeping mess. My dear woman, that was a terrible gaffe. You revealed in those words, the fact that you are as much embroiled in the patriarchal BS that we are fed daily, as women. As the defender of human rights, you managed, in one fell swoop, to lay the blame for rape at the feet of the victims (fine, fine, potential victims). Please be informed, if you have not read my header above, “Rape is not an STD and we cannot prevent it by covering up“.

Rape Condom! To deter lusty males from infecting your body with rape.

Your statement ignores the following:

  1. Rape is not about sex. People do not rape because they are horny and want to get off. No, rape is about control, about power, about abusing a vulnerability, be it mental or physical. It is this “power thirst” that has warriors raping while they pillage villages. You think they simply miss their wives? No no it is about humiliation of the enemy and proving their weakness. “Haha you call yourselves warriors? Watch us violate your women and children”. Sex has been used as a weapon for years and so I am appalled when I meet people who miss the purpose of rape.
  2. Rape involves more than a penis and a vagina. I do not believe in the Ghanaian legal definition for rape, as it assumes just as you have, that rape only involves a man placing his penis inside of a woman’s vagina. The term defilement annoys me also, as it implies a sullying of the victim. The victim is not dirty, in the case of “defilement” so why use such a disgusting term? Newsflash, Madam Minister, men can be raped too. They can be raped by men, and by women. Once upon a time, I thought it was impossible to rape a man but then I learned that rape is about consent, and consent can be denied, even in the presence of a physical response.Research has shown that in fight or flight situations, men can have erections. The same happens with women, who often are ashamed to report rape because their bodies responded during the struggle. Most often, their attackers even point out to them the fact that their bodies are prepped and ready.I ask you, as a woman who seems to think that short skirts are the reason for rape, what would you say to a woman who told you she said no to a man but he forced himself on her and that, to her shame, she had an orgasm or two? Would you as gender Minister then decide her orgasm was proof of consent? I think you need some gender sensitivity training.
  3. Rapists have self control. Yes they do! They have so much self control in fact, that they actively search for persons they can overpower physically and mentally. A rapist who is 5’4″ and weighs 50kg will not attempt to physically overpower a person who is 6’2″ and weighs 90kg, certainly not without a weapon, or with prior knowledge that the potential victim is not mentally sound and thus can be coerced into the act.All those house helps seducing their young charges, call it statutory rape or no, there is a clear indication that these persons have had their bodies and rights violated.The idea that showing a little bare skin is enough to drive men into a sexual frenzy is absurd and should not be perpetrated any further. If a woman should choose to walk through the streets naked, it is not an excuse for anyone, male or female to touch them inappropriately, let alone insert objects into any orifices.  You liken men to animals with no self control, when we have seen dogs back off from food because they were told “NO”. Are men honestly reduced below the level of dogs when they get turned on?
  4. Rapists do not always beat their victims into submission. Most children who are assaulted will tell you their attackers did not beat them. They may have threatened violence either on their person or that of a loved one in order to get them to keep quiet, but overall, child molesters (rapists) simply prey on innocence and naivete to get what they want. Drugging an adult victim is a sure way of overpowering them without physical force. Or perhaps you, like the Ghana Police, want every victim to turn up with rope burns, swollen eyes, busted lips and vaginal tears to prove they did not consent to sex?
  5. Women in full clothing get raped too. The high incidence of rape in countries like India and Bangladesh are proof enough that no matter what a person wears, they can still be attacked by predators. Long skirt, short skirt, tights or jeans trousers, none will prevent a narcissist from taking what they want.

Pardon me for the long rant but I feel very passionately about this because this argument allows a lot of rapists to get away scott free. It allows boyfriends, dates, husbands (yes and girlfriends and wives) to simply refuse to take no for an answer, force a physical response from their victim and take from them, that which they do not wish to give.

Patriarchy has done this to us. Women are taught they are to blame if they are raped, that they are at fault if they get pregnant and men are taught that they are men when they have a high body count. They refuse to consider that they could be sexually assaulted because they cannot fathom ever having a woman or another man managing to overpower them physically or mentally.

Let’s please get this right and stop victim shaming. Giving predators excuses will never do, and teaching our young women that their clothing will drive men into a frenzy is beyond irresponsible.

Ms Djaba, i must ask you to do better. As gender minister, you are more than just a voice for the voiceless. You should never be caught perpetrating such misogyny.  Please don’t ever tell girls they make a choice to be preyed on by rapists when they dress a certain way. I don’t see us telling the lion that the gazelle was prancing about like a slut and deserved to be eaten.
And thus a closet rapist is born

The next time you talk about sexual abuse in any form, please remember to discuss consent. Let it be known that a man or woman has no right to demand oral, vaginal or anal sex from another person. Let them know even hand jobs are not to be demanded.

I and other Ghanaians want to hear you telling men and women that even if a person consented to sex, and is in the middle of the act, they still have a choice to say no and walk away. Let it also be known that if a man or woman says no to sex, that it is not alright to convince them to say yes, by stroking their bodies into submission.

This is one thing I have noticed in some Ghanaian relationships, where people assume the person saying no is playing hard to get. Disrespecting the person’s wants and choices, forcing a physical response from them, and carrying on is reprehensible. Sex is supposed to be between two willing individuals. The fact that one person has to be coerced should surely kill any vim, no? 

Oh by the way, I went out drinking on Friday night wearing a short dress and heels. The older male I was with, despite my near intoxication, thin frame and sexy clothing (the dress even had cut outs to show some flesh above my boobs) did not rape me. He had several chances, as we were in a dark and quiet section of the bar we visited and the streets on our drive back to my home were dark, to overpower and rape me, but he did not. In fact, he did not even touch my arm or leg, simply because I had already told him prior, that I was not interested in sex with him, or anyone, and that I was only interested in making a new friend. I know this must be a shock to you, and to others who hold your views that men are uncontrollable beings led by their penises but this man is a prime example of what we nurture when we, as a society teach men and women to respect each other, and make them understand that they are not entitled to anything from another person.

Oh by the by, I apologise for calling your hairstyle a chicken style on twitter. I was overcome by anger yet still, I owe you an apology. Your hairstyle should have no impact on your duty, unless the weave is sewn in too tight and making it impossible for you to concentrate.

Be the woman we expect you to be, Otiko. Show us that you’re here to protect all genders and that you are capable of doing your job.

Sincerely Yours,

~Daixy~

PS I have so much more to say but I am emotionally and physically exhausted. Should you wish to debate further, my twitter handle is @D41XY. I loooove to debate online, but only when I do not have deadlines to meet.

 

Love Upon a Time

Posted in poetry, Relationships, and Uncategorized

Love cradled me long ago
 In a life once upon a time,
 I laid beside him;
 My ear,
 Tucked beneath his heart,
 Listening to staccato beat

Love broke one day
 In the blink of an eye
 I grasped him;
 Tight to my bosom
 Legs wrapped about him
 As he drove home our last goodbye

Love went away
 Seemingly to die
 I raised a marker;
 Where my heart once bled
 Now marble cold
 Without his warming light

Love sits in limbo
 A place beyond space and time
 It floats in stasis;
 Waiting
 For cryogenic frost
 To melt beneath renewed heat

Love stirs for you
 Even within layers of pain
 It yearns for release;
 My heart,
 Straining to meet and match
 Each beat for fervent beat


Tag Teaming at the Vittles Souk

Posted in health, and Uncategorized

EnoYaa Mapa Farms
EnoYaa Mapa Farms

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Okay Okay, so my Title is a bit misleading.

There will be no wrestling at this event but there will be lots of food and family fun!

Am I shamelessly plugging an event I am helping organise and will be selling my products at? Yes!

Am I inviting you to come support two days of family fun and encouraging you to support not just my business but tons of other local entrepreneurs? Yes!

5&6 November at the African Regent Gardens for the Vittles Souk, my organic business, Orghanix and EnoYaa Mapa Farms will bring you fresh organic vegetables and homemade oils and butters.

It’s all 100% pesticide and chemical fertilizer free, grown with love by two passionate women determined to help you live the best life you can.

What will we have on sale? Oh I’m so glad you asked.

Organic carrots
Organic carrots
organic lettuce mix
organic lettuce mix
iceberg lettuce
iceberg lettuce
peppermint
peppermint
Mother of herb
Mother of herb
collard greens
collard greens
Orghanix homemade whipped body butter
Orghanix homemade whipped body butter
Orghanix massage and bath oil
Orghanix massage and bath oil

Just FYI, there will be a cooking competition on Sunday November 6. Bring your partners and step up to a jollof or Palava sauce challenge.

So will I see you there? Of course I will. Make sure to grab a selfie with us.

As always,

~Daixy~

Lesson Learned from Czech Ebola Debacle

Posted in Uncategorized

Ghanaian student manhandled in Prague
Ghanaian student manhandled in Prague

To: Zita Okaikoi, Ambassador to the Czech Republic

From: Daixy, Unrepentant Critic and Opinionated Ghanaian Woman

 

Dear Zita,

May I call you Zita?

Of course, I may. This is my platform and you are currently unavailable to deny or accept my request.

I wish I could say I was hollering at you for good reasons. Next time, we should confer over a cup of tisane, and some of my famous cupcakes, and discuss the pros and cons of running a business in Ghana.

Today, however, I have a bone to pick with you.

You see, I was scanning the news this evening when I saw an item about a Ghanaian student who was “arrested” at Prague. The item came with a video which was appalling, to say the least.

Reports say the student had been cleared by airport screenings but was picked up at a train station.

There’s a lot wrong with the situation.

First of all, the student was profiled on account of his race. Tell me that a white traveler would have met the same fate at this boy. Being covered in a plastic sheet?! Was he dead? Why didn’t they just place him in a sealed body bag and be done with it?

Second, he was chased after his initial clearance. Granted, he showed signs of being unwell but that brings me to my third point.

Being arrested at a train station, carted off on a trolley (not a stretcher) and covered in a plastic sheet/blanket before being dumped in an ambulance, is not the way to treat a human being. I do not know if it was fear on the part of the man in the hazard suit but the way he grabbed the guy’s arm and shoved him in the ambulance was awful. I am usually hesitant to call racism but this is clearly the case here.

Now let me get to the meat of my message to you.

In your Interview with JoyFm tonight, you indicated that the Ghanaian Mission to the Czech Republic was “quite shocked” at the incident. Shocked shouldn’t be your reaction. Outraged, sounds about right to me. You should be incensed at the poor treatment meted out to one of your citizens and calling for the proverbial guillotines to be mounted.

Zita, what shocked me was your statement that this incident should “be a lesson for all West Africans”. Those words should never have left your mouth. I may have misconstrued your meaning but feel very strongly that you could have worded things better.

West Africans should NEVER have to expect such inhumane treatment whether in our own country or elsewhere. We should NEVER accept profiling and manhandling, no matter where we are. If a westerner had been treated in Ghana; the way this boy was treated, heads would roll. Please, by all means, tell West Africans that they should be careful when making their travel plans; that they should be aware of overzealous health workers and a security system intent on marking them for quarantine regardless of whether or not they have visited an Ebola-struck country. Tell them they should realise that now, when white people stare at them and clutch their children to their bosoms, it’s not really because they are black, but because they have “Ebola until proven innocent”.

I applaud you for your willingness to protest the unfair treatment of this student, who in your own words, is “highly traumatised” but must call you out for your defeatist attitude when you said, you believe the Czech Authorities will simply respond by saying they were taking precautions.

Do not back down! Imagine that boy as your son and stand firm when you demand an unqualified apology for him, and the people of Ghana. I would expect that by now, the Czech Ambassador would have been summoned to the Flagstaff house to provide an “explanation” for this debacle. ANYTHING to show the Ghanaian community within and abroad that our government gives a damn about the good people of Ghana.

And for goodness sakes, please don’t ever ask us to “learn” from awful treatment meted out to us. This is how black slaves told their daughters to learn, every time they were raped by a white man. “Don look ’em in de eye, chile. Don yoo wake up de faya in ’em”. Perhaps my analogy is harsh but it’s how I feel.

I look forward to hearing your demands to the Czech Republic.

 

Best,

Daixy

 

Earth Child: Naptural Woman Pt 2

Posted in Uncategorized

So….laptop died. Got new laptop. Lost password to the site. Now I’m back.
New site, new look. I had installed a lovely gallery but apparently I cannot troubleshoot for beans and my techy person is never available when I mess something up on the site. Look out for new improvements on here.

Today, I just wanted to share with you, my new favourite look. Perhaps you remember that in October last year I hacked off my permed hair. I’ve been playing with everything since then and finally settled on a look.

Y’all should come check out the candles behind me. All home-made and scented with love

My mom thinks it doesn’t suit me. Thinks it makes my “megoshi konko” forehead look bigger. My dad thinks I look like “Sasabonsam”. Well two days after and people were coming up to me and asking, “why don’t you perm your hair?”. I forgave that question easily because it was a question I asked natrual haired girls back when I was relaxing my hair. I wasn’t asking to be annoying. I genuinely wanted to know why I should stop slathering cream on my strands. Sadly, very few of them gave me a proper answer but that’s for another day. My response to questions of why I’ve chopped off my perm is;

  • It’s my natural hair and high time I embraced the kinks
  • Studies link relaxers to breast and ovarian cancer as well as to birth defects. This needs more investigation. I do not like the use of parabens and pthalates on the body, which is why I make my own lotions and am graduating to other cosmetics. I’m removing chemicals from my diet and cosmetics. Why eat soy and other healthy foods, only to dump chemical relaxer on my head?
  • I really wanted to see what a fro would look like on me
  • My relaxed hair never got to the original length from way back when (my initial relax at age 9 saw my hair falling to my shoulders. After cutting it for JSS, it’s never been able to get to its original length) and I want to give it the chance to grow properly.

Yeah, I know. Supposed to be one answer but I never do short answers. I forgave these people because they weren’t offensive. They asked a simple question and listened to the answers.
What irked me, instead, was the people who came up to me saying, “Oh but you looked so pretty with relaxed hair. You should go back to it”. Like WTF?! So I look ugly now? My face is the same (albeit a bit fuller cuz I’ve gained weight) it’s only the texture of the hair that has changed. Why would you insinuate that I no longer am pretty because I’ve embraced my kinks? In typical Daixy fashion, my thought was to shave my head completely and watch them gaping like guppies while trying to figure out what demeaning comments to make on my hair, or lack thereof. Sanity prevailed, though (in the form of @madjetey) and my kinky head is still safe.

I don’t understand why it is that fake is the new normal. We, as Africans, are now expected to be lighter skinned with silkier, straighter hair. The longer and finer the hair, the better your chances at grabbing an eligible partner or that dream job. I wonder if job interviews these days are conducted in a salon, with the interviewer running their hands through to determine whether your mane is care of a relaxer of brazilian “lawyer”. Chances are, you would get more points if it’s a lawyer and at least 16 inches long.

Everyone should have a choice when it comes to their own appearance. Advice is always nice, considering it’s delivered tactfully but it’s up to the individual to determine what works for them and what doesn’t. For those of us Africans who choose to reconnect with the Earth Mother, let us be. We won’t judge you for not doing the same. Please, do us a solid and return the favour.
Oh and quit suggesting chemical based products when I tell you I only use water, coconut oil and shea butter. It’s not cool.

~Daixy~

originally posted August 30th 2013 on daixy233.com

This Easter: Give Blood

Posted in Uncategorized

Credit: Ghana National Blood Centre

Everyone wants to be a hero. At least that’s what I’d like to think so please do not pop my bubble.

Perhaps we’re used to super heroes like “Superman”, “Optimus Prime” “Black Widow” who risk life and limb to save the world. Maybe our ideas of heroes are of the brave men and women who fight wars to keep our ideologies safe, or of the people who jump in front of gunmen and buses to protect the lives of others.

But there’s a kind of hero that’s often overlooked. The hero who walks into a hospital or donation station and offers, free of charge, a spare organ or life-saving blood.

Last month, Blogging Ghana in partnership with the Rotaract Club of Adentan hosted a Donation Drive at Pentagon. We had 80 heroes that day.  On that same day at the Mall, Dr. Paul Mensah (who is partnering with the docs at the Accra Mall Clinic) was also receiving donors. Over 60 heroes turned up at the mall; the greatest turnout so far, for that location.

Here’s a message from Dr. Mensah from the last exercise at the Mall.

Video Credit: Gameli Adzaho of Blogging Ghana

I’ve spoken of giving blood here and here and hope by now that word has spread about the Monthly donation exercise at the Accra Mall Clinic. We may have pulled some numbers to voluntarily donate blood but now we’re asking for Ghanaians to make it a regular exercise. Every four months, please walk yourself on down to the Accra Mall or to the Korle Bu Blood Centre and give a pint to keep the Blood Centre running.

This Saturday, Dr. Mensah and the National Blood Centre will be at the Mall collecting Blood. You can sign up for the event here. I will drop in to support the heroes who turn up. I have a few cupcakes (made by moi) for people who donate (will be in the recovery room).

One lucky donor who also happens to read this blog will get a box of frosted cupcakes (vanilla and chocolate) delivered to a location of their choice.  All you have to do is go give blood this Saturday and drop a comment on this post. Tell us about your experience (was it good or bad? will you return to donate? Would you recommend blood donation to others?) and you very well may be the lucky person to get a box of my yummy treats. Winner will be announced Saturday Night.

Happy Easter everyone and thanks for being heroes!

~Daixy~

Enough is Enough

Posted in Uncategorized

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

Posted in Uncategorized

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~

ECG: Tale of an Energy Monopoly

Posted in Uncategorized

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~

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~