Tag: Ghana


Black, African, and Living Abroad: The Dichotomy of Race and Ethnicity

Imagine having to start a whole new life on the other side of the world. Well, that was me, when I had to leave the States—a place I had called home for the past 16 years—and head to Jakarta to continue my teaching career. While filled with some trepidation, as I left my family and friends, I saw this as an adventure, looking forward to what this new chapter of life would entail. I say looking forward to it because as someone who was born in Ghana, but lived, grew up, and attended school in three different countries (Botswana, South Africa, and the United States), I saw this as yet another international experience I could embrace. Little did I know what I would be getting into.

Once the novelty wore off, I became painfully aware of the way people reacted whenever I stepped outside of my apartment building, as I quickly learned how “being the center of attention” could have a negative connotation. The stares, finger pointing, laughing, and double looks (sometimes more) became something that I encountered day in and day out. As a black person, while I had encountered some negative interactions due to the color of my skin, nothing had been as intense as this experience.

Here in Indonesia, I have learned what it means to be both black and African (I say African because here, as in America, there’s not much differentiation). Colorism is most definitely in play here, as the darker your skin color, the more you are treated differently. There is a great preference for lighter/fairer-skinned people, with skin whitening/bleaching creams littered around stores, all in plain view. Lighter/fairer-skinned people are seen in commercials, on T.V., on billboards, etc.

However, one irony I have found is that even the darker-skinned Indonesians point, stare, and laugh. It’s not only confusing, but disappointing as well, because I would think that because we are both more or less in the same boat, we would be able to connect and even commiserate with each other. I suppose it’s that whole idea of the oppressed becoming the oppressor, in a bid to distance themselves, and hopefully, one day, find themselves being accepted as well. Thus, the idea is “while I may have it bad, at least I don’t have it as bad you do.” And so, the cycle continues.

In addition to colorism, there is the stigma associated with the continent of Africa. My African background puts me at a further disadvantage than my African American counterparts, in that while they are black and may encounter the same reactions/treatment I do, there is often a change in attitude/demeanor once people find out they’re American. The American passport still has a lot of sway in many parts of the world.

About three weeks ago, I went out to eat with a friend, and it turned out that there was a live band playing. My friend and I found ourselves so taken in by their performance (boisterously singing aloud) that once they were done, they came over to say hello. They asked where we were from, and my friend stated America (meaning himself). They immediately became so enamored with his answer, pointing out how pleased they were to have an American present, listening to their songs, that I made the choice not to say where I was from. I know that it wasn’t right, but at the same time, I did so because I didn’t want to see a change in their overall attitude.

I was enjoying their admiration, not to mention the anonymity—an anonymity that is often nonexistent due to the misconceptions many have about people from Africa. The perception of Africans, in most countries located in Southeast Asia, is that we are drug dealers or prostitutes, who are often “poor and uneducated.” The following passage from a recent AP [Associated Press] article I read regarding Africans living in India perfectly sums up the experiences of Africans due to misguided stereotypes: “But the worst kind of discrimination is reserved for the Africans. In a country obsessed with fair skin and skin lightening beauty treatments, their dark skin draws a mixture of fear and ridicule.”

I’ve seen some examples of this “mixture of fear and ridicule.” One of my students (originally from China) wrote me a note for Teacher’s Day telling me how initially she was scared of me, as she had never met/seen a black person before. To have people come up to my face, just so they can get a better look, takes its toll. And as one of your readers shared, all of this slowly chips away at you.

So, while having to deal with being in another country (getting used to the culture), I find myself trying to navigate through this as well. And unlike some, I struggle to see the silver lining in all this. Each time I venture out, I find myself on edge, constantly on the lookout for the stares, the laughing, etc., that I know will inevitably come. I get myself so worked up that sometimes when it doesn’t happen the way I thought it would, I find myself completely taken aback.

I also find myself questioning words and actions that others may construe as innocent. For example, while riding in a cab, the driver began chatting with me in his broken English, and I attempted to respond in my very limited Bahasa- Indonesia. When we found ourselves stuck in Jakarta’s never-ending traffic, he indicated that he wanted to take my picture. My guard immediately went up, and I vehemently refused his request, time and time again. At one point he asked why, and I explained to him (now having resorted to Google translate) my experiences.

He then stated that the reason why people stare is because “black is sexy.” I will admit, I laughed, as this was not a response I was expecting. However, as he continued to go on about it, I began to wonder, was he saying that because I was African? Was he associating black with being sexy because of the fallacy of “Africans being prostitutes”? Or was he merely subscribing to the delusional fantasy of the dark-skinned woman? You know, the whole “the darker the berry . . .”

As I sit here typing this, I keep telling myself that it was probably harmless fun, but there’s still a nagging part of me that thinks otherwise. This is me now; this continuous questioning, second guessing, has become second nature to me.

Before I end this with you thinking that being in Indonesia has been entirely “me against the world,” I must add that I do have friends here—a number of locals that I’ve connected with at my school. I share my experiences with them, and they have certainly helped me to see why people say Indonesians are so friendly. They have been true lifesavers, as they have given me positive experiences to help counter most of the negative ones. And while I am pleased that as a professional dark-skinned African, I have helped to increase other’s exposure to not only black people, but to Africans as well by challenging the stereotypes, a part of me worries that I am not really changing their perceptions all that much.

I say this because even for those who see me day in and day out, they continue to stare and sometimes laugh. This is definitely a different experience for me—an ongoing process that will hopefully prove to be benefit rather than a drawback during my last few months here.

By Akosua Frimpong

 

Nuclear science and technology is not new to Ghana

Nuclear technology has a long track record of positively contributing to global social and economic development. For more than 70-years nuclear research reactors have proven to be cornerstones of innovation in the global development of science and technology.

The African continent is no exception, the continent has 10 out of more than 240 research reactors operating globally. In 2009, Africa passed a milestone of half century of involvement with nuclear technology, dating from the initial criticality of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s first research reactor (RR) at the University of Kinshasa. The construction of Congolese RR ushered in a new era of scientific development in Africa.

Africa’s RRs are a vital component of the evolving role nuclear science and technology play in the development of society. These reactors have significantly contributed to the scientific progress made in a wide range of spheres. Moreover, RRs are an indispensable tool in the education and training of future Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) operators and engineers as well for the production of scientifically and technologically important materials, such as radioisotopes. These reactors are also used for testing new types of nuclear fuel and studying the radiation resistance of new materials and electronic devices.

For instance, South Africa can be considered a true role model for emerging countries on how nuclear science innovations can be employed to improve the quality of human lives. The SAFARI-1 RR, one of Africa’s first 20 MW research reactors, which already marked its 50-year milestone, successfully provides high quality products and services for domestic and international needs. Being the only nuclear research unit in SA the SAFARI-1 reactor is renowned as one of the leading producers of medical isotopes in the world, in particular molybdenum-99, which is a key isotope used in 40-million diagnostic procedures per annum worldwide. It is estimated that medical products, produced by the SAFARI-1, are used in approximately 10 million medical procedures in more than 60 countries per year, saving countless lives.

Nuclear innovations from Africa have made it possible to eliminate a range of harmful pests, which previously destroyed entire crops of fruits such as oranges and grapefruit. Due to nuclear technologies the tsetse fly no longer poses serious risk to famers and cattle in many previously effected regions. Moreover, nuclear techniques have enabled the increased productivity of the agricultural sector in many regions which has reflected positively on farmer’s incomes.

Ghana has successfully been operating its RR since 1994, apart from research purposes, the Ghanaian RR is utilized in support of the oil and aluminum manufacturing industries. The reactor is also used in geochemistry and hydrochemistry, soil fertility studies as well as mineral exploration.

Global experience of using nuclear technologies has shown that the research units are also widely applied for environmental monitoring and pollution assessments (air, water, and soil), food and agriculture, health, medicine and pharmaceuticals.

Nuclear-derived technologies, have for instance, helped the Central African Republic’s researchers to detect rich bodies of water in the deserts of Sahel. This region is a home to roughly 135 million people, whose biggest challenge is access to clear water, which is essential not only for drinking, but also for food production and sanitation.

In recent years, more and more African countries have seen the substantial benefits of modern nuclear technologies and realized that large-scale national nuclear programmes are able to stimulate sustainable and dynamic development in other important spheres, such as industry, agriculture and medicine.

Research reactors have the potential to adjust nuclear technologies for social development. For instance the production of medical isotopes to treat cancer and other diseases would not be possible without research reactors.

According to the World Health Organization, cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, and the rate of cancer cases is expected to rise. In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, more than half million people die from cancer every year. Such a tragic tendency can be considerably leveled down by the availability of nuclear medicine, through the development specialized local isotope production facilities and medical centres.

The establishment Ghana’s RR made it possible for the country to open a radiotherapy centre in collaboration with the IAEA. With the help of the radioisotope production facility the radiotherapy center has proven to be highly effective not only for Ghanaian citizens, but also for cancer patients from neighboring countries. The center treats nearly 15 000 patients per year.

Prior to the centre, Ghanaian cancer patients had to travel abroad to India, the Americas and Europe to access treatment. A second center in Kumasi was established in 2004 again in collaboration with the IAEA, whilst the Swedish Ghana Medical center in Accra, a private venture was established in 2013. All three facilities in the country have capabilities for 3-Dimensional treatment planning.

Today there are only three radiotherapy centers in the country which do not cope with growing cancer incidence. In order to increase the efficiency rate of cancer treatment, Ghana needs more centers in different regions of the country to treat the growing number of patients.

The National Centre for Radiotherapy in Accra experiences some challenges. On average, 1200 new cancer cases are referred to the facility every year with about 70% requiring radiation treatment, however, less than 50% of these patients complete their treatment.

A shortage of skilled man power in the Centre hampers the full potential of the establishment and limits the delivery of state of the art radiation treatment aimed at improving outcomes and reducing side effects.

The modernization of the research facility and the construction of a Center of Nuclear Science and Technology will certainly have a positive effect for Ghana’s social and economic development.

Ghanaian Diaspora Homecoming Summit

UK Press Launch: Government to Woo Ghanaian Diaspora at Homecoming Summit in a Bid to Boost Agenda for Change Nations

On Friday 5th May, 2017 the GHANA High Commission UK hosted the Accra launch of an insightful event that will shift the paradigm of development and growth within the African continent, attracting Ghanaian personalities and dignitaries such as Capital Xtra’s DJ Abrantee. The event in question is the Ghana Homecoming Diaspora Summit 2017, where prominent leaders past and present both from the sub-continent and around the world are expected to join up to 500 Ghanaians living outside the country at the biggest gathering of Ghana’s diaspora in Accra for many years.


REPRESENTING: DJ Abrantee, centre, at the launch

The Ghana Diaspora Homecoming Summit will take place at the International Conference Centre in Accra, Ghana from 5th-8th July and is organised as a direct outcome of President Nana Akufo-Addo’s election campaign pledge to involve Ghanaians living abroad in the development of their country.

At the launch of the event in Accra this week, the Director of the Diaspora Relations Office at the Presidency, Akwasi Awua Ababio said:

“The Government is fully committed to the mobilisation and harnessing of the resources and skills of the diaspora community for accelerated development of Ghana. The diaspora community is equally committed to the challenge of being equal and recognised partners in the government’s development effort.”

The summit’s agenda will cover three main themes which will set-out the opportunities for business investment and employment in Ghana, as well as the political inclusion of Ghanaians living abroad.

Clifford Mpare, CEO of Frontline Capital a major sponsor of the summit said:

“We see this initiative as a potential shot-in-the-arm for the economy and future prosperity of this country at a time when there is much work to do. Work equates to opportunity whether in employment or business building and Ghana needs proven talent and a strong work ethic to create viable and competitive industries across a broad swathe of market sectors.”

Running parallel to the four-day summit will be an exhibition where companies, small to medium enterprises (SMEs), entrepreneurs and corporate bodies will demonstrate their support for the objectives of the event, as well as showcase employment opportunities and business projects which require special talent or resources that the diaspora may be able to provide.

The Ghana Diaspora Homecoming Summit is Chaired by entrepreneur Alex Dadey who heads-up a network of country groups around the world. With just eight weeks to go before the summit opening, Dadey spends much of his time raising funds from the private sector and so far has commitments from Standard Chartered Bank, Tullow Oil, Ghana Home Loans, Broll, Forewin, Zoomlion, Ghana Gas and a number of other organisations eager to align themselves with the summit’s objectives.

The event, which is partnered by Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs & Regional Integration, Business Development and the Diaspora Relations Office, will open at 7.30am at the International Conference Centre in Accra, Ghana on Wednesday 5 July with a welcome address given by President of The Republic of Ghana, H.E Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to an expected audience of 500 eager diasporans seeking a new beginning at home.

Please click here to visit the site.

All photo’s taken curtesy of Ernest Simons Photography

Please visit the site http://www.ghanadiasporahs.org/ or email uk.gdhcs@gmail.com for more info

 

Ghana Diaspora Homecoming Summit: London Roadshow Event

As a member of the UK Diaspora Homecoming Summit committee, we are proud to invite you to attend the Ghana Diaspora Homecoming Summit London Road Show event taking place 13th May 2017

  • Date: Saturday 13th May 2017
  • Road Show Attendance Cost: FREE
  • Venue: Pestana Chelsea Bridge, SW8 4AE
  • Key Note Speaker: Minister of Information and Spokesperson for the Presidency – Mustapha Abdul-Hamid

This is a registration only event so please register as soon as possible to secure your place

Summit Registration: Click here to register for free today

(Registration is on a first come first served basis, so register ASAP to secure your place!)

The main summit is being organised in fulfillment of a manifesto pledge by H.E President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana, to engage Ghanaians Living Abroad in the transformation of the political and socio-economic structure of Ghana.

The purpose of the Summit is to bring the Ghanaian Diaspora together to dialogue on how to achieve the President’s vision of active participation by Diasporans in the economic development of the country and to fully integrate them into the political processes.

The Summit also aims to attract the full participation of Ghanaians Living Abroad in Private Enterprise by bringing them together with local businesses.

KLM have come on board as the airline sponsor and offering up to 15% off flights for those attending conference. So anyone travelling to Ghana around this time can make use of that. CLICK HERE

Please visit: www.ghanadiasporahs.org to register and for more information

Ghana, Kenya and Malawi to take part in WHO malaria vaccine pilot programme

The World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (WHO/AFRO) announced today that Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi will take part in a WHO-coordinated pilot implementation programme that will make the world’s first malaria vaccine available in selected areas, beginning in 2018.

The injectable vaccine, RTS,S, was developed to protect young children from the most deadly form of malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum. RTS,S will be assessed in the pilot programme as a complementary malaria control tool that could potentially be added to the core package of WHO-recommended measures for malaria prevention.

“The prospect of a malaria vaccine is great news. Information gathered in the pilot will help us make decisions on the wider use of this vaccine”, said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “Combined with existing malaria interventions, such a vaccine would have the potential to save tens of thousands of lives in Africa,” she added.

Africa bears the greatest burden of malaria worldwide. Global efforts in the last 15 years have led to a 62 percent reduction in malaria deaths between 2000 and 2015, yet approximately 429,000 people died of the disease in 2015, the majority of them young children in Africa.

The WHO pilot programme will assess whether the vaccine’s protective effect in children aged 5 – 17 months old during Phase III testing can be replicated in real-life. Specifically, the pilot programme will assess the feasibility of delivering the required four doses of RTS,S, the vaccine’s potential role in reducing childhood deaths, and its safety in the context of routine use.

WHO recommendations and RTS,S

RTS,S was developed by GSK and is the first malaria vaccine to have successfully completed a Phase III clinical trial. The trial was conducted between 2009 and 2014 through a partnership involving GSK, the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), and a network of African research sites in seven African countries—including Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi.

RTS,S is also the first malaria vaccine to have obtained a positive scientific opinion from a stringent medicines regulatory authority, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which approved RTS,S in July 2015.

In October 2015, two independent WHO advisory groups, comprised of the world’s foremost experts on vaccines and malaria, recommended pilot implementation of RTS,S in three to five settings in sub-Saharan Africa. The recommendation came from the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization and the Malaria Policy Advisory Committee (MPAC), following a joint review of all available evidence on the vaccine’s safety and efficacy. The World Health Organization formally adopted the recommendation in January 2016.

Pilot implementation

The three countries were selected to participate in the pilot based on the following criteria: high coverage of long-lasting insecticidal-treated nets (LLINs); well-functioning malaria and immunisation programmes, a high malaria burden even after scale-up of LLINs, and participation in the Phase III RTS,S malaria vaccine trial. Each of the three countries will decide on the districts and regions to be included in the pilots. High malaria burden areas will be prioritized, as this is where the benefit of the vaccine is predicted to be highest. Information garnered from the pilot will help to inform later decisions about potential wider use of the vaccine.

The malaria vaccine will be administered via intramuscular injection and delivered through the routine national immunization programmes. WHO is working with the three countries to facilitate regulatory authorization of the vaccine for use in the pilots through the African Vaccine Regulatory Forum (AVAREF). Regulatory support will also include measures to enable the appropriate safety monitoring of the vaccine and rigorous evaluation for eventual large scale use.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and UNITAID, are partnering to provide US$49.2 million for the first phase of the pilot programme (2017-2020) which will be complemented by in-kind contributions from WHO and GSK.

Articel via ReliefWeb

Ibrahim Mahama presents a portrait of Ghana at his first exhibition in London

The Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama, 29, has joined White Cube in London. He is the first artist born and based in Africa signed by the gallery. His arrival follows the departure of the British duo Jake and Dinos Chapman, who left White Cube earlier this month after 20 years with the gallery to join Blain Southern, and shows the continuing internationalisation of the White Cube roster.

The memory of objects

Mahama’s debut exhibition at White Cube, and his first solo show in the UK, opened to the public on 28th February. It includes five wall hangings made from the jute sacks which are used to transport goods in Ghana. Their history illustrates the complex trade networks of the global economy and post-independence Ghana.

Made in Bangladesh and India, the sacks are imported to Ghana and used to move cocoa beans, one of

Ibrahim Mahama, Crop Estate (2016) (Image: © the artist. Photo © White Cube (George Darrell))

the country’s leading exports, to the ships which will transport them to international markets. Because cocoa beans are a fragile luxury export, the sacks will move the product first and only once. They are then used multiple times to take crops such as rice, millet and maize around the country for domestic consumption. Finally, they are used to shift coal. Mahama and his collaborators acquire the sacks at the end of their working life, sewing them together to create massive tapestries which the artist has draped over buildings in Ghana such as theatres, museums, luxury apartments, and social housing projects, among others, and abroad (for the 2015 Venice Biennale he covered two external walls of the Arsenale with 300-metre-long hangings).

On some of the wall pieces at White Cube, Mahama has also added fragments of the tarpaulin which is first used to cover food transport trucks in Ghana and then recycled to protect metal objects such as engines. In another tapestry he has added discarded leather seat covers from trains, alluding to the deterioration of the railways in post-independence Ghana.

“I’m interested in looking at the artistic and political implications of these materials. What happens when you pick several different objects from different places with specific histories and memories and put them together to form a new object?” Mahama asks.

Shoe repairmen

Another cycle of work focusses on the wooden boxes used by shoe repairmen in Ghana to hold their tools. Working with a team of collaborators around the country, Mahama has assembled thousands of these boxes, exchanging them for new ones built by his assistants. At White Cube, Mahama has constructed a massive wall out of these boxes, carefully slotting them together with no external supports. Every time the piece is dismantled and re-assembled elsewhere, its “composition will change,” explains the artist.

Ibrahim Mahama, Diesel Room. Non Orientable Nkansa. Sekondi Locomotive station 1901-2030 (2016) (Image: © Ibrahim Mahama Photo: Ibrahim Mahama)

The boxes contain a multitude of objects such as the original tools used to repair shoes and the slippers worn by the repairmen to do their work as well as new objects inserted by Mahama’s assistants, for example, old issues of the Economist magazine. “The wall contains a narrative of post-independence society,” explains the artist, and deals with issues such as political crises and gentrification: many of the boxes were originally made with materials found on building sites or in houses slated for demolition to make way for new developments. “A lot of residues come out of those spaces,” says the artist.

“The boxes represent the failure of a system, a failure we haven’t yet acknowledged. The structures of global capitalism shift things such as the cosmopolitan life of the city and the structures that are built around it.” Now they have a new life as a work of art in a high-end gallery. “The potential of these structures when you look at them beyond the chaos and the crisis is also interesting,” says the artist.

Also on display are archival photographs of a paint factory set up by the Ghanaian State, then privatised

Ibrahim Mahama, Exchange Exchanger (still), (2013-16) (Image:
© the artist. Courtesy White Cube)

in the 1990s, and later abandoned. Mahama found the images in the factory when he set up a studio there for the shoe box project. Also at White Cube, a two-screen film shows the installation of Mahama’s massive jute-sack tapestries on buildings such as the National Theatre in Accra. Drone footage surveys the sites from above while hand-held cameras follow Mahama’s collaborators as they laboriously carry the massive objects up to the roof.

This ongoing project has often been compared to the work of “wrap” artist Christo. But, Mahama finds the comparison lazy. “You can’t reduce art just to aesthetics and what you see. There is a deeper, political meaning to it.”

Ibrahim Mahama: Fragments is at White Cube Bermondsey until 13 April

Article via The Art Newspaper

GHANA’S BLACK QUEENS REACH SEMI-FINALS OF WAFCON 2016

In case it escaped your attention a very important football match took place this weekend involving Ghana No it was not the Black Stars in action but the Black Queens, Ghana’s women football team

They defeated Mali a 3-1  on Saturday to book a place in the semi-finals of the 2016 Women’s African Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

Linda Eshun, Samira Suleman and Elizabeth Addo scored to hand the Black Queens all three points in their last group game, with Binta Diarra fetching Mali’s consolation at Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaounde.

With a 3-1 win over Kenya and a 1-1 stalemate with Nigeria prior, Ghana came into Saturday’s game requiring a draw in the least to make the last four.

Mali, in the other hand, had their job cut out as they needed nothing but a win to sail through.

Defender Linda Eshun put Ghana in front in after 37 minutes, capitalising on a blunder by Mali goalkeeper Goundo Samake to make it 1-0.

The Black Queens scored again 30 minutes later.

Following a neat buildup involving Juliet Acheampong and Portia Boakye, Samira Suleman had the easiest job of tapping in from close range.

Captain Elizabeth Addo made it three for Yusif Basigi’s ladies from the spot after she was fouled by Oumou Tangara.

Lala Dicko, nonetheless, pulled one back for Mali three minutes to full-time.

Ghana will face hosts Cameroon in the semi-final tomorrow, same day Nigeria take on South Africa in the other game.

The Black Queens, who are three times losing finalists, are in search for their first title at the championship.

Best of luck to Ghana’s women against Cameroon!

Skin-lightening is a $10 billion industry Ghana wants nothing to do with !

Come August, Ghana will begin implementing a new ban on hydroquinone, the primary chemical in many skin-bleaching products. The ban is the latest salvo in a backlash against skin-bleaching that pits longstanding racial stereotypes against a growing beauty industry.

Ghana is one of just three African countries—along with Cote d‘Ivoire and South Africa—to regulate skin-lightening products, and its Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) says the ban is a matter of public safety. Hydroquinone is widely considered a potential carcinogen and products containing it are already banned or restricted in Japan, Australia, and the European Union (though the efficacy of those bans is up for debate)

There is abundant historical precedent for using chemical products to achieve a lighter skin tone, but the practice has in recent years seeded a booming—and controversial—industry. In 2012, India alone used 258 tons of skin-lightening cream (such creams have recently caught on with men there). In Lagos, Nigeria, one survey found that up to 77% of all residents use skin-lightening creams. Demand for such products is currently being driven by the Asia-Pacific market—led, interestingly, by Japan—but they are also popular in parts of Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean, and Latin America. A 2009 report from Global Industry Analysts declared skin-lightening a $10 billion industry; as of last year, GIA was projecting that number would hit $23 billion by 2020.

While skin-lightening has some negative physical side effects—cancer aside, bleaching creams can cause rashes, itchy and flaky skin, and permanent scarring—the hydroquinone backlash has deeper roots. Skin-lightening is seen as a direct byproduct of colorism, a form of discrimination that deems lighter skin “better” than darker skin. Historically, colorism has led to disparities in everything from social treatment to employment, and has even been documented as a factor in US prison sentencing.

Perhaps the most infamous example of this is the “paper bag test,” a practice in American slavery whereby slave owners would compare slaves’ skin color to a paper bag—lighter-skinned slaves worked indoors while darker slaves were sent to the fields. More recently, 2011 documentary Dark Girls highlighted the lingering presence of colorism in the media, and its effect on black women’s sense of self-worth. Outside the US, skin tone continues to be associated with class in many regions, particularly formerly colonized spaces like India and the Philippines.

So far, the pushback against skin-lightening has been slow, in part because such products are still big business. (In the US, Unilever manufactures Fair & Lovely, a skin-bleaching cream with wide distribution in Southeast Asia). Celebrities like Cameroonian-Nigerian singer Dencia have been lambasted for pushing skin-lightening products, and even Snapchat has come under fire for using retouching filters that appear to make people whiter. But actual regulation has been slow.

This means Ghana, a country of 26 million, could be setting an important example, at least symbolically. “From August 2016, all products containing hydroquinone will not be allowed in the country,” FDA spokesman James Lartey told Starr FM last year. “From 2016, the acceptance for skin-lightening products is going to be zero.”

Article via QuartzAfrica

Ghana kicks off visa-on-arrival for all African Union travellers

Ghana has kicked off offering visas upon arrival to all African nationals, a step towards creating a continent-wide zone of free movement.

This, shortly after the African Union announced they will be launching an electronic passport, or e-passport, at the next AU Summit tabled to take place in Kigali, Rwanda, in July 2016.

These e-passports will initially be available only to heads of state, government ministers and permanent representatives of member countries at the AU.

Ghana rolled out its new visa-on-arrival on Friday, 1 July, allowing citizens of 54 African Union (AU) member states to get visas for up to 30 days upon arriving in the country.

While the move could lead to increased air traffic across the continent, South African Airways airline operator Gloria Wilkinson told Ghana’s Citi Business News that the West African country would have to ensure its security measures were tight to prevent possible abuse of the system.

Gershon Mosiane, Forum of Immigration Practitioners of South Africa (FIPSA) chairperson, echoes Wilkinson’s sentiment with issuing e-passports to all AU members.

Speaking to CapeTalk on Monday, 4 July, Mosiane said the AU’s e-passport ambitions might be admirable, but that “security threats like terrorism” have made implementing the passport more complicated.

“Would we in South Africa allow someone with a terrorist history be allowed to come into the country” using the all-access e-passport, Mosiane asked.
Regardless, the move from Ghana to issue visas-on-arrive, as well as the AU’s new e-passport plans marks a step towards the AU’s Agenda 2063 policy document, which includes the abolition of visa requirements for all African citizens in all the continent’s countries by 2018.

Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama announced Ghana’s new visa policy in his state of the nation address in February, saying that the measure would “stimulate air trade, investment and tourism.”

AU Commission chairperson, South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, agreed saying she was convinced “many other African countries will follow suit, in the interest of achieving an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa.”

Ghana is a hub on the African continent, as it marks a halfway point to other destinations globally, from SA. In August last year, SAA launched a route between Accra, Ghana and Washington DC in North America.

Now, AU member state passengers on this route can obtain a visa-on-arrival to explore Ghana when on a lengthy layover in the West African country.

Ghana already allows visa-free travel for citizens of countries belonging to member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)—a regional economic bloc consisting of 15 countries including Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy.

Article via traveller24

This cardiologist travelled to Ghana to save the life of a man he had never met

The hospital he arrived at didn’t even have a place for doctors to scrub their hands.

A cardiologist from Cardiff dropped everything to travel to Ghana to save the life of a man he had never met before.

Cardiologist Professor Nick Gerning at the airport with and his friend, Dawid Konotey-Ahulu

Cardiologist Professor Nick Gerning (right) at the airport with and his friend, Dawid Konotey-Ahulu

Professor Nick Gerning works at the University Hospital of Wales. A mutual friend showed 52-year-old David’s angiogram pictures to him after David fell ill with a major heart condition.

When Prof Gerning saw the pictures he said he couldn’t believe the patient was still alive.

“His arteries were a shocker,” he said. “How he was still alive with the extent and severity of the disease, I don’t know.”

Prof Gerning arranged for David to go to the Heath hospital but his visa application was refused by the UK Home Office. So, the cardiologist flew out to Accra in Ghana to insert a stent.

Prof Gerning, who is originally from Ghana, explained: “I really thought he wasn’t going to survive. The clock was ticking.

“When I got to the intensive care unit there he had only been given aspirin.

“When they opened the lab I looked around and thought ‘what am I supposed to do here’. I asked for somewhere to scrub my hands and they said there was no such thing so I sprayed alcohol on my hands. I started the procedure and it was much worse than I thought. I had no backup and there wasn’t event a resuscitation trolley.

“The screening was terrible and it was the most complex thing I have done in my whole career, under the worst conditions.”

After almost four hours Prof Gerning successfully inserted the stent and following the experience

After a successful operation

After a successful operation

he was unable to speak for the entire evening due to the intensity of the procedure and circumstances.

And while he did not even have the right tools for the surgery he said he didn’t allow negative thoughts to cross his mind.

He said: “I’m trained to think I’m going to win the fight and I kept thinking I would get out of it with a live patient. David has two young children who are the same age as my children and when it all ended successfully it was a great sense of relief.”

David’s family were waiting outside the hospital, praying as the surgery was taking place.

“I didn’t think twice about going,” Prof Gerning added. “I just had to do everything I could to save his life.”