Tag: Nora Mistersky

Shea butter ‘the women’s gold of West Africa’

Shea butter or ‘nkuto’ as it’s commonly known in Ghana, is a fatty natural herbal extract that has been produced by women in the north of Ghana for centuries, and in most cases providing them with their main source of income. Recently it has become an increasingly popular ingredient used in various skin and haircare products worldwide, boosting local economic opportunities for women in Ghana, especially in the northern region, which is one of Ghana’s most economically disadvantaged regions.

With the increased demand for shea butter by the international market, Ghana has become one of Shea butter-1the largest exporters of shea butter! However, like many other businesses, the shea butter business is not fair and square, which means that the local women working really hard to produce shea butter often don’t get to benefit from their valuable (and really expensive!) produce. This is obviously a problem and in fact a threat to how quality shea butter is produced the traditional way as people migrate to other regions seeking “better economic opportunities”. To help women profit from their work, several associations have been formed such as the Tungteiya Shea Butter Association, which works in partnership with The Body Shop. By joining an association women are often empowered through the provision of interest-free loans, training, storage facilities and quality control services to ultimately offer higher quality products at slightly higher prices.

shea butter-3Shea butter in most cases is manually processed from shea nuts found within the fruits of the shea tree (Karite tree). The shea tree can bear fruits for up to 200 years, making it a very sustainable natural resource! The processing involved in obtaining smooth unrefined shea butter as we know it, is a skill that has been passed down to women and girls in Ghana for generations. The entire process is fairly labour intensive, requiring excellent attention to detail and as such is completed in several stages. Once the women have collected the shea nuts from their farms, the nuts are boiled to help break their outer shells to release the seeds that are used to make the butter, before being dried in the sun. After the the nuts have been pounded and crushed into small pieces, they are carefully separated from the broken shells and roasted, before added to water and continuously mixed into a paste. Once the fat has been separated the paste, it’s whipped into a smooth butter. To see the entire process, check out YouTube for some great videos!

So, what is the hype all about? As already noted, the benefits of shea butter are not a recent shea butter-5discovery as women in Ghana have been using shea butter for multiple purposes, such as protecting the skin from the sun and during the dry season for many many years! Shea butter has been shown to heal burns, sores, scars and stretch marks to mention a few. In addition, the use of shea butter as a daily skin moisturiser has several benefits resulting in smoother and softer skin due to its inherent protective properties and its abilities to stimulates cell renewal and repair rough and damaged skin. Did you know that shea butter can even be used to relieve pain and inflammation in some case? How can a single product provide such a wide range of benefits? It almost sounds too good to be true! But I promise you it works! How? Well, shea butter is naturally enriched with several different ingredients such as essential fatty acids, vitamin A, E, D and F and cinnamic acid, which protects the skin from UV rays.

Shea butter is not only applied topically but is also consumed by many. In some parts of Ghana shea butter is often used as a cooking ingredient in the preparation of certain dishes. Shea butter is also increasingly being used in the West and can be found as an ingredient in chocolate and margarine.

Have you ever used shea butter? How do/did you use it?

By Nora Mistersky (Ms_Nora_M)

Ghana Black Stars; “Nana Nyam3 ne kura y3n”

So I am not an expert when it comes to football… and I probably only ever watch football when the Ghana Black Stars are playing so that’ll be mostly during the African Cup of Nations or when the World Cup is on- but TRUST me whenever the Black Stars are on the field I become an instant expert on all things related to football! In fact I become a self-proclaimed coach and referee at the same time! It’s all part of the excitement!


It’s been 4 years since ‘SUALEZ’… I need not say anymore! Some of us have moved on and some will forever curse the day ‘SUALEZ’ decided to do some stretching ‘INSIDE DE GOAL’ in the final minutes of a heated semi-final! Hmm… and all you people out there who criticised Baby Jet, please go and volunteer to take the next penalty shot wai, after you have run around the field for 100 minutes! As I said earlier I don’t know very much about football but when people say things like ‘ahhh chale akoa w3i dy3 wonim ball bo kura oo, mon schw3 ne nai’, whilst they are chopping banku and fufuo with supermalt on the side I get irritated! I’m just saying!2014fifaworldcupbrazil_-Group-G-Germany-Ghana-Portugal-USA

Anyway… it’s 2014 and we’re back in the game taking on the world in BRAZIL – Group G… please let us all bow our heads in prayer; psalm 23:4 says ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.’

Despite the fact that we have been placed in a very tough group, there’s hope my fellow Ghanaians, there is hope! The team spirit of the Black Stars alone is very encouraging and commendable. Watching videos of the boys singing and dancing before games is incredibly infectious and each time I join it ends up in a full-blown praise and worship session! NOW tell me which other team do you know of that can create such an atmosphere huh?!

With music playing a key role a number of Brazil 2014 campaign songs have recently been released in support of our Black Stars and one of my current favorites is titled Ghana Black Stars by Castro feat. Kofi Kinaata, check it out ya’ll! This track is on fire- it is very upbeat and brings together familiar tunes from recent hit singles such as ‘Adonai‘ and ‘Odo pa’.

Make sure you have all your gear in check; jerseys, flags and if you haven’t its not too late- go to Kumasi Market!!! Let’s all join in and continue to support our Ghana Black Stars with full ‘VIM’#LetsGoalGhana.

Nora Mistersky (@Ms_Nora_M)

Message From the Editor: UK Blog Awards 2014 Results

We left feeling Highly Commended!



So the results are in and Me Firi Ghana nominated for two UK Blog Awards came away  as a “Highly Commended” runner up in the Most Innovative Blog Category. I am extremely  proud of this achievement, we were the only representative of Ghanaian culture at the awards ceremony. In fact we were the only representative of African culture to make the final shortlist of 28 and when you consider 900 plus blogs  entered the competition and we amongst the top 10 blogs in the Arts and Culture category and the and amongst the top 3 most innovative blogs in the UK we have a lot to be proud of.

The event was a great advert for blogging in the UK with so much talent in attendance and as the first ever blog awards to celebrate cross sector bloggers, it was an event the organisers deserve kudos for. I was accompanied to the awards by Me Firi Ghana’s Manager/Head of Marketing, Joseph Aninakwa  and one of our finest bloggers Maclean Arthur who joined me in revelling in our achievement.


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As I returned home from the awards ceremony my mind was already on next year and how we can improve the blog. You can rest assured that we will not be resting on our laurels, we are a progressive brand always looking to break new ground and the blog is a large part of that. Ghana’s involvement in the greatest show on earth; World Cup 2014 means we will be literally blogging crazy to ensure Ghana’s journey is covered every step of the way. There will be a plethora of engaging content across the categories on the blog and I am genuinely excited about what is to come.


I would like to take this opportunity to thank my team of great bloggers; Maclean Arthur, Jermaine Bamfo, Nora Mistersky, Adwoa Asiedu & Myriam Osei who have all helped to make the blog what it is today. Their passion for Ghana and tireless enthusiasm for blogging has made my job as Editor an easy one.

Lastly I want to thank you our readers! We will continue to produce innovative and engaging content on all things Ghana! Follow our journey and get involved in stimulating and facilitating the conversations that need to be had.

Ben Jk Anim-Antwi (@Kwesitheauthor)


“I have a VISION. Can YOU see it?”…..

Glaucoma leading cause of Blindness

When the 6th World Glaucoma Week was launched in March the president of the Glaucoma Association of Ghana (GAG), Mr Harrison Abutiate, presented some alarming figures. TODAY around 700,000 Ghanaians are living with glaucoma, which is the most common contributor to Ghana’s blindness burden- around 60,000 of people affected are already blind. These statistics make Ghana one of the leading countries with glaucoma cases worldwide

Glaucoma is a disease of the eye and there are many types, however the most common type in Ghana is the most severe form of the disease, called open-angle glaucoma. This type of glaucoma is mainly characterised by damage to the optic nerve and poor blood supply to the nerve, which lead to visual loss and eventually irreversible blindness. Open-angle glaucoma usually presents with no symptoms and therefore often goes undetected until it’s too late, which highlights the importance of attending regular eye screening checks- at least once a year.


Consequently the chosen theme for this year’s World Glaucoma week “Beat invisible glaucoma” reflected the importance of prevention and early detection. The Health Minister, Mrs Sherry Ayittey, rightly pointed out that prevention is not only better than cure but is also much cheaper!

Even though it has been shown that the prevalence of glaucoma increases with age, glaucoma is not a disease reserved for old eyes- glaucoma does not discriminate! A study in a hospital in the northern region found that 21.48% of patients with chronic glaucoma were between 10 and 39 years old. These results are not conclusive and further research will need to be carried out to determine the age group screening should begin, especially for individuals with a family history of glaucoma.

According to Mr Abutiate there are around 250,000 people currently affected who are unaware of their condition, he therefore stressed the importance of intensifying glaucoma awareness and added,

“By so doing, the people will be well informed about the causes, preventable measures, its severity and effects which will make them conscious in making strides to find their status and seek appropriate health care required. This statement really stands out, as it is all about promoting the fact that everyone is entitled to making an informed decision about his or her health.

And Mrs Ayittey, Minister of Health, added

“I want the education to go down to the people of the country, so this rogramme must be held in the marketplaces and the lorry stations where the public can be informed about the disease and not in this small room”.

Mr Abuitate also discussed some initiatives that could be taken to improve the situation in Ghana, which included increasing the number of glaucoma drugs available through the national health insurance scheme, abolition of duties on glaucoma drugs to maximise patient compliance and train more ophthalmologists.

Check out this really cool glaucoma awareness video: The Yvonne Nelson Glaucoma Charity Single feat. Sarkodie, Trigmatic, Iren Logan, Ayegbe Edem, Sherifa, Fresh Prince, Oga-B and many more.

Nora Mistersky (@Ms_Nora_M)

100 years of SCOUTING in Ghana!

Age old youth activity has not lost it’s appeal in Ghana

On February 1st 2014  the Ghana Scout Association launched its 100-year anniversary at its national headquarters in Accra.

The scout movement aims to support young people worldwide in their physical, mental and spiritual development, to help them play constructive roles in society. The Scout uniform has distinctive features that include the fleur-de-lis, trefil and other badges, with intend to mask all differences of social standing.

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Scouting revolves around a program of informal education with particular focus on practical outdoor activities including camping, woodcraft, aquatics, hiking, backpacking and sports.

Robert Baden-Powell, a lieutenant general in the British Army was sent to the Gold Coast (now Ghana) in 1895 to lead an expedition against Nana Prempeh I (King of the Ashanti tribe). Baden-Powel employed hundreds of warriors from the Krobos, Elimina, Mumford and Adsani tribes. When Baden-Powell entered Kumasi he was greeted by a warrior chief, who held out his left hand, which symbolised bravery and trust –‘a warrior carries his shield in the left hand and the spear in the right’. The left handshake is still used today by millions of scouts worldwide.

Skills that Baden-Powell acquired on his trip include axe manship, pioneering and knotting by building roads through the jungle and constructing bridges over rivers. Baden-Powel acknowledged that he could get the best work out of his force by dividing them into small groups and giving responsibility to the captain of each group. These skills reflect the ideologies of scouting today and contributed to Baden-Powell’s book called ‘Scouting for boys’, which was published around 1907. In parallel with publishing his book Baden-Powell formed the first official Scout troop that went on their first camp on Brownsea Island (England).

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The scout movement first arrived in Ghana shortly after the first ever scouts camp at around 1912 through Samuel Wood, who lived in Cape Coast at the time. Samuel won a drawing competition that was organised by the SHEFFIELD WEEKLY and received a prize of several books that included ‘Scouting for boys’ by Robert Baden Powell. On January 4th 1912 a charter was given for the first Gold Coast Scout group in Cape Coast, the country Gold Coast was however not given a charter for the legislation of Scout until October 15th 1914. Shortly after this Scout troops were being formed at Saltpond Winneba, Accra and Kumasi. Samuel Wood in 1914 became the District Commissioner in Accra and made every effort to spread the movement across the country, which resulted in the Gold Coast becoming the first Crown Colony to legislate for the protection of the Scout and Guide Movement.

Today over 31 million people across 216 countries are currently involved with Scouts.

Scouting continues to offer great opportunities not only for children but also for volunteers (Adults) to get involved worldwide, to learn new skills, build on ideas whilst contributing to the education of young people.

Visit their website- http://www.ghanascout.org/index.php to find out more about the Ghana Scout Association or visit their facebook page to see some of their pojects

Nora Mistersky (@Ms_Nora_M)