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Brixton exhibition to showcase life of Ewe Royal in papers

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It is not everyday that you come across papers that give you some indication about your heritage and family history. This happened to one East London family that can trace their ancestry to a Ghanaian royal from the Ewe nation.

Ewe Fia  - Togbui Adamah II reigned from 1915 to 1963 - and thanks to a collection of official and personal letters and papers written by him and addressed to him, we know much more.

These papers - known as the Adamah Papers - were found by a family member and eventually donated to the Black Cultural Archives (BCA) in Brixton, London.

This is likely to be the first time such a find has been discovered in this way, and provide great insight into what life was like during a time when present-day Ghana was under British colonial rule. These papers give us rare insight into what life was like for Fia Togubui Adamah II, the people he ruled and his intersection with neighbouring kings and the British.

Check out my interview with Natalie Fiawoo who is project managin…

Keteke - shaping Ghanaian film excellence

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Combine love, a bit of humour, 80s nostalgia and a pertinent social message about infrastructure underdevelopment and you get Keteke. Keteke, which means train in Akan, charts the escapades of heavily pregnant Atswei (played by Lydia Forson) and her husband Boi (Adjetey Anang) who are hell bent on getting to Atswei's village to give birth. But they miss the weekly train which forces them on an adventure filled with comic and nail-biting moments. 
Debut This Ghanaian film was first screened in March 2017 in Accra and had its European debut at the London Film Africa festival in October to rave reviews.
Written, produced AND directed by relative newbie Peter Sedufia, Keteke takes a serious look at Ghana's failing train system and gives a human face to the plight of ordinary Ghanaians who have no choice but to use it. The idea behind the film came from Sedufia's contrasting experiences of accessing transport as an adult visiting Finland and as a youngster in his village in the Vo…

Why separating sexual harassment and rape is dangerous

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As the fallout from the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault scandal continues to expose more public figures in and outside the film industry, and gives a lifeline to survivors courageous enough to speak out - I thought it telling how some sections of the public have been tripping over themselves to denounce any sort of link between inappropriate sexual behaviour and rape.

I say this because I know people who have been victims of both, and in most cases it was these ‘innocuous’ acts of knee-touching that eventually escalated into something more serious. Mix that together with perpetrators being in positions of power, a culture where vocalising victims’ concerns are ridiculed/ ignored or vilified, then it stands to reason that some will doubt their intuition and risk exposure to further abuse.
Harassment and rape I keep hearing that the conflation of inappropriate behaviour with rape devalues the latter – as if both acts were somehow separate. 
This mindset speaks to those corners of society tha…

Vlog: A Blogging workshop at Pa Gya - Literary Festival in Ghana

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Blogging - by far - is my biggest passion at the moment and so it was a great honour to be able to represent Blogging Ghana (the Ghanaian association for blogging and social media enthusiasts) at this year's Pa Gya literary festival in Accra.
Pa Gya is a literary festival, which was jointly organised by the Writers Project of Ghana and the Goethe Institut, and hosted by the Goethe Institut in Cantonments, Accra between 20th October and 22 October 2017. 

Bookworm's fantasy I would describe the three-day event as any bookworm's fantasy - second to my deep-seated desire to be locked in a library!!! Although low key, the event brought together the cream in West African literature, seasoned novelists, poets, aspiring writers, publishers and cartoonists. It also gave attendees a chance to get up close and personal with their writer heroes.
African writers Mine were the venerable Ama Ata Aidoo and Nii Ayikwei Parkes, who I had the pleasure of interviewing in 2015 at the London-based …

Podcast: How important are facts when producing films on Black history?

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Three years ago (in June 2014), I was on the verge of walking out of 'Belle' - the second film by award-winning British-Ghanaian director Amma Asante. This film was inspired by a painting in Kenwood House, Hampstead, London, which featured Dido Elizabeth Belle - a biracial woman born to enslaved African Maria Belle and English officer Admiral Sir John Lindsay in Jamaica in 1761.
The painting is particularly striking because unlike many from that time, which showed black and Asian people in subservient positions next to their white counterparts, Belle holds almost equal status to her white cousin Elizabeth.
I say almost because although both ladies are dressed finely, Belle is positioned ever so slightly behind her cousin. 
The difference is subtle but that, for me, is the story of Belle's life! She does not quite fit into any complete narrative, and inconsistencies in her life story, position her as a powerfully enigmatic and mysterious character. Just like her infamous painti…

‘Trouble in Mind’ – a review of a timeless US play

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Alice Childress’ play ‘Trouble in Mind’ is the ultimate conundrum for those of us who face racial discrimination and are forced to navigate the sometimes uncertain road of being black in a white world.
Do we laugh at the unfunny jokes sometimes made at our expense just to fit in and get by? Do we grit our teeth when the unsolicited gaze on our black bodies lingers way too long? What about when that unwanted hand rests lecherously on our knee with intentions to wander and we do nothing because we need this job to pay the bills? Or do we speak our minds regardless of the consequences, knowing that our hopes and dreams may fade and we will be that solitary but brave/foolish figure speaking out.
Directed by Laurence Boswell, this version of a Childress play reflects that internal struggle in the mind. But it also shows the external trouble that voicing these feelings can also cause through an arresting exploration of identity, power and ambition - set against a backdrop of racial stereoty…

Perspectives on mental health - your stories

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The 10th of October is World Mental Health Day and as part of the day, I wanted to share some of the mental health challenges people in our communities have told me over the years.

Podcast:
Mental health and poetry - one man's story

I start with a frank interview with aspiring poet Tetteh-Kwesi who lives with dyspraxia and undiagnosed psychosis. He talks about how he has had to grapple with understanding his conditions, navigating manhood, relationships and how he has been received by the NHS and the police. He talks about his love of poetry and how writing poems has helped his to navigate this often challenging world. Click here to listen to his story.


Blog:
Misdiagnosis and mental health - one mother's journey

In this piece, mum-of-two Jayne talks about her journey to discover why her perfect daughter Ann-Marie was initially misdiagnosed by the health authorities.

She also talks about her faith, determination and the foresight of a Ghanaian doctor resulted in a positive outcom…

(3) Africa 53: Neocolonialism, homosexuality and Africa

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Imagine the stories, the knowledge and the political, economic and social oversight you would have if – like lawyer and journalist Dr Feyi Ogunade – you had travelled to 53 African countries? 
Dr Ogunade’s travels across the continent have been largely due to him working for the African Union. During his travels he has fought for the rights of Black Mauritanians to remain in their country after the government ordered their expulsion in the late 80s. 
He is now working to develop a watchdog body that aims to monitor and ensure the African Union delivers on its set objectives.
I spoke to him to learn more about his experiences, which has been broken down into three podcasts. In the final and third podcast instalment here, Dr Ogunade talks about the rise of Asian investment across Africa, the controversial topic of homosexuality and its place on the continent and his future business plans.
You can catch up on the previous two podcasts below. The first episode features Dr Ogunade who talks ab…