definition of development (revisited): beauty in the palm of your hand

Last summer I wrote about the definition of development after having a conversation with an incredible Peace Corps volunteer in Ghana who was really making the most of his time and abilities. The conversation that we had really made me think about the term 'development' and what it really means.

rastafarian confusion

| December 20, 2007 - 12:11 am

Tags: Bob Marley, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haile Selassie I, Jamacia, Marcus Garvey, rasta, Rastafarian

This summer while in Ghana, I befriended a group of Rastafarian drum makers and performers. The Rastafarians became the good friends and highlight of my study abroad group's time in Ghana, but I remained skeptical. The day that I first met the Rastas was a day in the market. I am an avid (extreme amateur) hand drummer and was drawn to their drum stand in the National Market for Art and Culture in  the capital of Accra. Well these Rastas became our good friends and guides around the city we were constantly warned by others to be wary because Rastas are known to steal your things and women. I remained wary as the talks of their beliefs did not match up with their actions. I began to wonder what exactly were the beliefs of a Rastafarian and why? Why did they always seem high with happiness and love? "One love" was their favorite phrase. They would always tell us that we were all brothers ans sisters, no matter the color of our skin because we bleed the same underneath and we had the same color pupils. While many told us to be wary others revered the Rastas for the skills that they shared and the knowledge they imparted. With the great rhetoric they spoke, there always seemed to be an underlying end goal.

the crouching tiger and the curse of black gold

| October 18, 2007 - 5:14 pm

Tags: crouching tiger, curse of black gold, Ghana, militants, Nigeria, oil

Oil fouls everything in southern Nigeria. It spills from the pipelines, poisoning soil and water. It stains the hands of politicians and generals, who siphon off its profits. It taints the ambitions of the young, who will try anything to scoop up a share of the liquid riches--fire a gun, sabotage a pipeline, kidnap a foreigner.

the caramel apple of globalization

| July 15, 2007 - 9:09 pm

Tags: Africa, black gold, caramel apple, fast food, Ghana, globalization, hip hop, Uganda

From the When not in Africa. . . blog.

Crunch, Mmm, the peanut chunks trapped in delicious caramel tastes oh so good. You bite and are rewarded with a mouthful of inticing caramel and nut flavors - all of a sudden that deliciousness is tainted by an odd sourish, crunchy, mushy apple flavor. What? Where did this apple come from, I like the outside best. This is the caramel apple of globalization - the outside is so delicious and appealing, but once you hit the apple and core, the fun has ended. Granted this all matters if you run with the majority and toss aside the age-old wives tale of eating an apple a day to keep the doctor away. Too many of us see this doctor everyday - there is no escaping this doctor because all too often globalization is used for ill, just to get the caramel and nuts, not the healthy fruit of the free market, fair trade, and multi-lateral agreements.

bombs bursting in air. . .

From the When not in Africa. . . blog.

Independence Day, the 4th of July, let freedom ring - but are we 'free at last?' Today is a day that means a lot to Americans, or at least it should. In many other countries, especially African countries, independence days receive more than just one day and have celebrations that take over weeks. Here we celebrate with fireworks, family get togethers, remembering the troops, community events, and other random events set for just one day. Independence Day is something we have come to take for granted. We know that we are independent and 'free,' but we do not really understand what that means. We shoot off fireworks, blasting explosions in the sky, shaking our bodies - but what we do not realize is that 'bombs bursting in air' means something completely different to the rest of the world. Explosions, bursts of light do not represent independence in many places - these are signs of danger and create fear. A rocket's red glare has a frightening consequence and that does not end often in freedom. I began really thinking about how people from other parts of the world would view our independence day when I attended the Seeds of Peace International Camp in Maine the summer of 2003.

when not in ghana

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From the When not in Africa. . . blog.

There is so much reflection and thought to write under this title, and the last. I will apologize now for the incohesive and random nature of my thought process and my failure of ability to express in words what you can only understand from experience.

off to the continent of my dreams

From the When not in Africa. . . blog.

It crowds my thoughts; it accompanies my dreams; it wrenches my heart; I am so close to arriving on its glorious soil: Africa.  In less than three days I am going to travel back to the continent that stole my heart. Six years ago I was captivated and moved by my travels in Uganda and now I will be headed to Ghana to continue my journey. This summer I am going as part of an official study abroad through my university, Michigan State University's study abroad program in Ghana: A Multidisciplinary Perspective. And so this blog's title is about to become a bit oxymoronic, however regardless of title this blog will cover my experiences in Africa this summer and will continue to chroncile my work in and for Africa.

the quest for development; aid to the rescue in ghana

From the When not in Africa. . . blog.

Poverty: a state of being extremely poor; inferior in quality or insufficient in amount; our generation's greatest problem; the world's worst disease; a trap. The definition of poverty is one that is not difficult to grasp, yet so many do not understand how or why it plagues our world of riches. Our world is plagued by poverty and, contestably, Africa is the hardest hit due to it's historical status of being relegated to unimportance. While poverty continues to take lives day after day the power wielding countries, institutions, and agencies argue over a solution. That solution is called development. Leaders, institutions, philanthropists all argue as to how development should be facilitated, what the best facilitator is, and how aid should be implemented. Is aid the best facilitator of economic development to bring an end to poverty?

forever enslaved: past and present

We will be forever enslaved by the deeds of the past. There is no way that we can separate ourselves from the historic wrong-doings of our ancestors. I like to think that there is only the present and that everything hinges on the present course and action. That idea is true I feel, but we cannot forget the past and we cannot discredit working towards the future. Last month there was a rememberance of slavery at the Elmina Castle in Ghana. Hundreds of locals gathered, the British Council and UK representatives were present and the crimes committed and journeys of slaves were remembered. In the BBC article Baroness Amos, who expressed pride at being a member of the African Diaspora, said transatlantic slave trade had been "responsible for some of the most appalling crimes perpetrated by humankind against its own citizens."

the greatest youth movement in history: mandela's disciples

The beginning of arguable the greatest youth activism movement all began with twelve. Twelve young boys inspired by the ideas of Nelson Mandela left on a journey that would change their lives and so many others for years to come. This is the story of how Nelson Mandela's movement began. Social movements often have symbolic leaders, but they are really comprised of thousands, thousands and thousands of local leaders and supporters. The first of these unsung heroes came from Bloemfontein. Most people have never heard of Bloemfontein, but they have heard of Soweto or Johannesburg or Cape Town. Bloemfontein is where the twelve came from.