Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Singer 2

Singer 2
Originally uploaded by borderfilms (Doug).

A member of Ghana's singing and dance troup, Wulomei, performs on the outdoor stage at the 200th anniversary of passing the Abolition of Slavery Act. Elmina, Ghana.

More images on FLICKR!

The Chief Arrives

The Chief Arrives
Originally uploaded by borderfilms (Doug).

Nana Kodwo Condua VI - Paramount Chief of Edina Traditional Council is carried to the castle grounds in a vessel called a palanquin. The words on the side of the palanquin translate to "Except God," meaning that the chief is the most powerful presence in the traditional area, with the exception of God.

Hugh Plays

Hugh Plays
Originally uploaded by borderfilms (Doug).

Hugh Masekela blows the crowd away with his amazing horn playing.


Originally uploaded by borderfilms (Doug).

Ghana President John Kufuor at ceremonies in Elmina, Ghana marking the 200th anniversary of the UK passing the Abolition of Slavery Act.


Originally uploaded by borderfilms (Doug).

Ghana President John Kufuor at ceremonies in Elmina, Ghana marking the 200th anniversary of the UK passing the Abolition of Slavery Act.

from the "racism" dept.

Week March 23, 2007

The question came during the morning editorial meeting -- between a big bite of bread and a swig of Tampico fruit juice.

SKYY TV reporter Christian Baidoo asked it, not so coincidentally, on the International Day of the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

"Since you've arrived in Ghana, have you ever been the victim of racism?"

Me? Racism? A thousand images flashed in my brain, each a part of my broad personal definition.

Rosa Parks refusing to move to the back of the bus.
Nelson Mandela, after all those years in prison, never giving up or backing down.
Martin Luther King and his dream.

Had I ever been the victim of racism? Me, a white man, from Canada, in Ghana?

"Uh, I don't think so," I answered, quickly trying to add something with a little more depth. "Everyone in Ghana has been exceptionally warm and welcoming since I've arrived."

But after considering the question a bit more, I was able to put my finger on two situations where my skin colour -- my race -- do play a role in my everyday life in Ghana.

The first is simply taking a taxi and setting a fair fare. The drill goes like this:

I stand by the side of the road and wait. Taxis in Takoradi are equipped with special radar that senses a potential tourist fare -- I know this because every single taxi that comes within 500 metres will make a beeline for me, honking like an angry goose.

I have long since stopped turning to look; in the remote chance it might be someone I know. Isn't that Steve from Vancouver? Nope.

The taxi will stop, some distance up the road. After an impromptu 50-metre dash, I'll pop my head in the passenger side and say something like "I'm going to Market Circle (Takoradi's central business district). How much?"

Most taxi drivers will ponder this for a moment, quickly trying to determine how gullible the sweaty white man in the Hawaiian shirt is, and then, nine times out of ten, quote a ridiculous fare.


Unknown to the taxi driver, I have a secret weapon: Local knowledge. As a resident of Takoradi, I know that the normal fare is about 15,000 cedis.

So I chuckle and counter with the realistic fare. Take that, hombre!

After a bit of back and forth, which occasionally turns into a serious debate, the taxi driver will fold, or at least drop down to 20,000. If I'm in a rush or if it's late at night, I'll agree. Other times I'll accept only the local fair and if not acceptable to the cabbie, I'll wave him off and repeat the process with the next hack.

Sometimes I'm surprised by a cabbie that quotes the proper fare straight away. After getting over the shock, I generally collect their phone numbers for future reference.

My local friends tell me they often go through the same bargaining process, but generally not with such outrageous starting prices.

The other time I find that my colour is a factor is, well, every day. When I walk to work. When I go shopping. When I buy beer. Even, occasionally, at work.

Obruni - "white man" in the local language. I hear it all the time.

There is a large segment of the population, especially in the Western Region, that feels the need to point out the fact that I am white -- as if I didn't know.

Of course, cultural reference points are important to consider. In my country, it would be very disrespectful to point to a stranger and say "Hey Chinese Man!" or "Hey Black Man!"
Can you imagine? You'd be dragged before a human rights tribunal before you could say "I'm not a racist!"

In Ghana, it's par for the course. Everyone says it: kids, teenagers, adults. Everyone. And not just in the local language. I hear "Hey White Man!" almost as often. In most cases it's simply a greeting and rarely is it negative.

With the children, I just laugh. Sometimes I'll look around in terror, as if some monster is about to swallow me whole. The kids laugh. I laugh and I carry on.

Usually when adults say it, it doesn't bother me -- unless I'm tired, on my way home, and have already heard it a million times.

Outwardly I smile, sometimes responding obibini (Black man!). But inside I think, "yes, yes, I know."

I am definitely part of a tiny minority, and while there aren't a lot of white people in Takoradi, a rainbow of faces fill local television screens every night. It makes me wonder why the calls of obruni haven't faded with time.

Turning back to Christian, I shrugged. It was all I could come up with and I wouldn't categorize either situation as especially racist, certainly not by my definition.

I have never been told to sit at the back of the bus. I have never been refused entry to a restaurant or club. I have never been threatened with physical harm because of my colour or my beliefs.

I was never the victim of racism in Canada. But now, living as a minority with strangers commenting daily on my skin colour, I have become a little more aware of what it must feel like.

from the "interNOT NOT" dept.

I am alive, but have been offline for 8 days. The reason: it's broken at work and I've not had time to drag my arse into an internet cafe.

However, I have been busy... images from the 200th Anniversary passing of the Slavery Act and some babble.

In fact, I can cut and paste some babble here... this also appears on the JHR site.

More soon!


Sunday, March 18, 2007

from the "Sunday Bloody Sunday" dept.

Takoradi. Sunday.

Once again I find myself at work, fighting with the interNot in my battle to download the entire Sunday New York Times for offline reading.

At nearly 90 minutes, I think there is finally light at the end of the tunnel. I hope to get out of here soon... I'm dreaming of passing the rest of the afternoon with a book on my roof. And the electroTimes ce soir.

At the same time I've been listening to an endless loop of Cher's "Do you believe in Life after Love" song-from-hell. It's the signature sports song on SKYY FM and it's blasting out of the studio down the hall.

The song is used between sports stories and to cover long breaks. I'm not sure what the alternative would be. Perhaps dead air? I will investigate this next week.

Speaking of next week: another busy one.

I hope to visit Cape Coast with one of the SKYY reporters for events marking the 200th anniversary of Britain passing the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act (March 25, 1807).

Work continues on the Flame project. And I must prepare a workshop on using the internet for research (when it works!).

And before I go, a quote I copied from John Gushue's excellent blog Dot Dot Dot:

"Nothing makes you more tolerant of a neighbour's noisy party than being there."
- Franklin P. Jones


Saturday, March 17, 2007

from the "doug @ 60" dept.

Saturday, March 17th

It was another long week here, but the weekend has finally arrived. Work is busy with various projects both new and old. And I remain healthy and happy although the lack of internet access continues to be a burden.

The latest: I can access wirelessly from at work, but many sites -- including my bank and other secure sites -- won't function on my laptop. I have no idea why.

Other than that, I am now looking forward to a weekend off, likely with a cold pint in my hand. I had hoped to go to Accra for St. Patrick's Day, but decided I was too knackered to hit the road again.

Instead I will don a green shirt and attempt to find some like-minded folks interested in hoisting a pint in celebration.

That's the latest... and for your reading pleasure I have my weekly contribution to the JHR website.


I have now been in Ghana for two months. I know this because my 60-day permit to remain in the country has expired. I was alerted to the fact when checking my passport the other day. Right beside the yearlong and multiple-entry visa that I paid $150 for is a stamp that I received at the airport in Accra. It granted me 60 days to stay in Ghana and not work.

Funny, considering I am here for eight months to, essentially, work.

I am now in the process of getting my permit extended. Originally I was going to go for a six-month extension at a cost of 600,000 Cedis (about $80). But then I learned that if I left the country between now and the end of the extended period, the clock would be reset to 60 days again. As there is a good chance that I will leave Ghana to visit one of its neighbours within the next several months, I decided that a 60-day extension was a better idea. And at 200,000 Cedis, it's cheaper too.

In reality, two months isn't a lot of time. But it represents about 25 per cent of my time in Ghana. Two months is also a good point to look back and reflect on the adventure so far. And what better way to do that than with a bunch of lists?

Things I'm glad I brought from Canada:

SHORTWAVE RADIO: With the exception of malaria medication and my bank cards, I would say a shortwave radio is the most useful thing I packed. As a media junkie without regular access to the internet here, the BBC has become my saviour.

Their World Service programming, especially the African service, is a life and brain saver. The signal is always strong and I can generally tune in at any time of day.

In contrast, I find Radio Canada International a huge disappointment. Its content is aimed not at ex-pats, but towards an international audience eager to find out more about my beloved homeland.

In Ghana, I can pick up RCI nightly at 6 p.m. The four-hour broadcast features one hour in English, one hour in French, an hour in Arabic, and then another hour in French.

The English portion begins with a painfully short newscast written in a breezy educational style: "Edmonton, a city in the Canadian province of Alberta..." Ugh.

PETZL HEADLAMP: A severe energy crunch in Ghana means that rotating power cuts are an everyday fact of life. Where I live, the power is switched off every five days. The blackouts begin shortly after 6 p.m. and continue for about 12 hours. This is called load-shedding and is meant to reduce demand on Ghana's overtaxed hydro infrastructure.

When the lights go out, I slide on my trusty Petzl headlamp, powered by nuclear batteries that never seem to die. I may look like a coal miner, but I'm able to wander around the house without walking into walls. I can also read in a wonderfully quiet environment.

LAPTOP COMPUTER: When there is power, I often use my laptop as a stereo, a DVD player or for a challenging game of solitaire. When there isn't power, I often use my laptop as a stereo, a DVD player or for a challenging game of solitaire until the battery dies (about 17 minutes).


Only one thing here: books.

Fifty pounds sounds like a lot, right? It is, if you're carrying bowling balls up Kilimanjaro. But if you're talking about the stuff you might want for an eight-month visit to Africa, it's nothing.

I found the challenge of staying under my air carrier's laughable 50-pound limit, well, laughable. In my first attempt at packing last January, I purchased a fish scale and hung it from the basement ceiling. It took the strength of ten men to lift my bag up to the hook and, when I let go, I swear the scale screamed in agony just before it blew apart.

Having come so close to death by flying spring, I realized that I would have to leave many things behind. So much for the anvil, the cast iron stove, and, saddest of all, a few dozen books.

But now, two months later, it is the books I regret leaving behind. Luckily, I've found some decent used bookshops in Accra and Cape Coast, and the hunt continues for one in Takoradi.


HAND SANITIZER. Not for some Howard Hughes inspired irrational fear of germs, but the fact that soap is rarely available in washrooms and one often eats with one's hands.

GOOD COFFEE. I thought I'd be tripping over an incredible selection of African coffees: Kenyan, Ethiopian, Ugandan, Tanzanian. Nope. Most shops stock little more than Nescafe, which barely meets the standard definition of coffee. I've found small packs of imported espresso blends, but they're expensive and the grind is too fine for my French press.

In retrospect, I would have gladly left all my socks and underwear behind for a couple of kilos of Continental Blend from Vancouver's Continental Coffee.


Carrying a lot of keys.
Getting bills in the mail. In fact, I don't even get mail.
CNN's lame attempts to fill their schedule with meaningless entertainment "news."


Family and friends.
The Globe and Mail.
The New York Times.
Dependable internet access.
Keith Olbermann.
Drinking tap water from the tap without boiling, adding drops or saying prayers.
Sushi. (Oh, how I miss salmon sashimi at Osaka Sushi in Deep Cove, BC)
Quality wines. Especially a thick Australian Shiraz.
Quality rum.


Belizean hot sauce and a back-up of my music library. Sadly, I lost more than 3,000 songs when my iPod synced iNcorrectly and eRased everything.


My Tilley hat. Yes, I own one. I bought it back in 1993, for my first trip to Europe. I have brought it on most trips since, yet I have never worn it. Why? Because it makes me look like a goof. And even though I know I'll never use it, I still secretly pack it away -- just in case.


Trying to sleep during a power cut. Without a fan to circulate the hot and moist air, sleeping is all but impossible. Even if I were able to drift off, I am too fearful of drowning in a pool of my own sweat to stay asleep for very long. It's not the way I want to go.


The people, the people and the people.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

from the "more current events" dept.

From JoyFM Online:

The nationwide load shedding exercise that was suspended during the jubilee celebrations resumes today.

Meanwhile, the Volta River Authority (VRA) is exploring ways to reduce the country’s dependency on the Akosombo hydro-electric dam in the short term.

The move has become necessary because of the declining water level in the Akosombo dam with potentially dire consequences. The current water level is 238 feet and there are fears that it could drop further to the extreme 235 feet before the rains start.

Measures being considered by the VRA include a reduction in the amount of power supplied to all consumers, including major industries and domestic users.

One of the major consumers of power, VALCO, has also cut back on its energy use by some 35 megawatts within the past week having initially reduced consumption at the beginning of the energy crisis.

The VRA’s Public Relations Officer, Mr John Tsoba, told newsmen that average lake levels has been declining since the dam was constructed in 1965 but this year’s level is threatening. He said the level of the dam has never been that slow since the draught of 1983.

“Infact if I do not tell you that nobody is worried here then I am lying. Everybody is worried,” he lamented.

To take the pressure off the dam and avoid totally running down the lake, the VRA is drawing electricity from Kpong and running the thermal plant at Aboadze at full tilt.

But it comes at a cost. The VRA is spending more than 30 million dollars a month on fuel import. It forms part of the VRA’s plan to move from total dependence on hydro-power to other alternatives.

Although crude oil and natural gas are more expensive for the thermal plant, the VRA hopes that is the main alternative because they are always available.


from the "current events" dept.

We're about to return to rotating power cuts here in Ghana.

Generally the power goes off from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. every five days. It's not really a big deal, if one is armed with a Petzl headlamp for reading. But without power there is no fan and without a fan there is no sleeping. And that's what makes the lack of power such a drag...

This story appeared Wednesday March 14th on GhanaWeb:

Load-Shedding is back

Until Ghanaians begin to think energy and reduce the unchecked wastage in the system, additional installations of generating power plants would make little impact, Abla Fiadjoe, Acting Director of Corporate Affairs of the Volta River Authority, said on Tuesday.

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency on Tuesday on the load shedding programme, which resumes on Thursday March 15, 2007, Ms Fiadjoe said about one-third of power produced in the country went to waste and noted that even in the midst of recent crisis the attitude remained the same.

The VRA and Electricity Company of Ghana have announced the resumption of the five-day cycle in the load management programme up to March 31 this month after which the situation would be reviewed. The water level quoted by the VRA for March 12 stood at 238.48 feet, which is below the minimum level of 240.0 feet.

Ms Fiadjoe said government and other independent power producers could come in with generating sets to increase the energy production, but that must have a corresponding attitudinal change on the part of consumers, especially industries.

"Energy demand is growing every now and then between seven to 10 percent (per annum), which requires increase investments in the sector," she said. Ms Fiadjoe said the current low water level tells the whole story but she expressed the hope that the inflows would start coming in somewhere from May this year to turn the tide.

She said this year besides government's purchase of generating sets to bring in about 110 megawatts of power to ease the problem, the VRA would also install 126 megawatts in September this year. President John Agyekum Kufuor, delivering his State of the Nation address to Parliament in Accra last month, said Ghana would receive power from the West Africa Power Pool whereby it would benefit from 200 megawatts of power from Nigeria and Cote d"Ivoire.

He said the Volta River Authority was poised to establish a 300-megawatt plant at Tema, while it was also building another emergency plant to supply 126 megawatts of power by August this year. President Kufuor said the Osagyefo Power Barge, which had been standing idle, would be empowered to produce 120 megawatts.

A private Ghanaian-Chinese joint venture company was also in the offing to produce, in two phases, up to 600 megawatts, while the government had contracted three American companies to produce up to 110 megawatts by the end of April.

The President also referred to a plan by a consortium of mining companies, which had offered to build a plant at Tema to be completed by June to supply 80 megawatts of power while there were plans to build the Bui hydroelectric dam designed to generate 400 megawatts of electricity.

[Source: GHP]

from the "dramged liver and green beer" dept.

Thursday, Takoradi.

There is certainly no rest for the wicked. Immediately upon my return home, my nose has been firmly placed against the grindstone.

The first priority, of course, is making something out of the 12 hours of Flame footage. 12 hours sounds like a lot but much of it looks the same. There isn't much difference between a regional minister in Bolgatanga carrying the flame and a regional minister in Ho doing the same thing. This will be the biggest challenge in creating an interesting and watchable story.

I'm spending the remainder of the week shotlisting and putting together a rough script. Asamoah, the reporter, will do most of the writing once I put a framework together. Plus, he still has his daily duties to fulfill with no extra time alloted for Flame work. It's easier for me to do the grunt work so that he can do most of the writing.

The second thing on my "to do" list is a series of stories on the Liberian refugee camp at Krisan, not too far from Takoradi. Finding time to concentrate on that has been a challenge.

I also have to renew my one-year multiple entry visa. It's valid for 60 days only. Go figure.

It doesn't end there: I am being pressured to start holding workshops in the station -- which I intend to do the moment I have some time to prepare them. The Flame has taken up so much of my time here -- and once it is put to bed, I can get moving on other, more important, projects.

I'm also considering a return tomorrow to Accra for St. Patrick's Day celebrations that are taking place at Ryan's Pub on Saturday. I've got the green shirt and the damaged liver -- I'm good to go!

If I don't report before then, "Happy St. Patrick's Day!"


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Paradise Found

Beach Front
Originally uploaded by borderfilms (Doug).

The Oasis Resort in Cape Coast was a welcome stop on the way home after three weeks on the road.

More about Cape Coast to come...

Oasis Resort, Cape Coast

Oasis cabanas
Originally uploaded by borderfilms (Doug).

One of several cabanas that make up the Oasis Resort. Single cabana with a shared bathroom: about $8 a night. Cape Coast, Ghana.

Sky High 2

Sky High 2
Originally uploaded by borderfilms (Doug).

Tighter shot of the photo below. Yikes!

Sky High 1

Sky High 1
Originally uploaded by borderfilms (Doug).

Father and daughter make the scary journey along the canopy walkway high above Kakum National Park, near Cape Coast, Ghana.


Originally uploaded by borderfilms (Doug).

Mark and Janet on the canopy walkway at Kakum National Park, near Cape Coast.

The swinging walkway hangs several hundred feet above the ground. At first, it's scary as hell... but becomes much more enjoyable after getting used to the back and forth and up and down movement.

Blah, my name is Blah

Blah, my name is Blah
Originally uploaded by borderfilms (Doug).

A few of the JHR gang getting ready for the canopy walk in Kakum National Park.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

from the "home sweet home" dept.

I'm back in Takoradi and writing this wirelessly from SKYY.

It's been a hectic week that ended on a relaxing note in Cape Coast.

My electronic hex has returned in full force: email problems, MSN issues, flickr won't let me in, and much more.

I'll spend some time tonight working on photos and stories from the last week and I hope to upload them Wednesday.

Until then, please stand by!


Friday, March 09, 2007

from the "back of my neck getting dirty and gritty" dept.

Friday March 9, 2007
Accra, Ghana

I am a large sweaty man in a hot and humid climate.

My shirts are constantly sweat-soaked and beads of perspiration adorn my head like a liquid crown of thorns.

I hate being a large sweaty man in a hot humid climate. But I take solace in the fact that most local people sweat almost as much as I.

And it is better than freezing. And the beer is cheap. :)

Meanwhile: I am still in Accra, enjoying the break from the flame and a chance to visit with my JHR pals. We've spent lots of time hanging out in Osu, the ex-pat centre of Ghana.

Osu has a nice selection restaurants (Indian, Chinese, Lebanese, etc) offering up dishes that are difficult to find in Takoradi. I also love being able to buy used books - one more today.

Earlier in the day I headed to the Ghana Survey Office in search of four detailed topographic maps of certain border areas. It was easy to find and the office was open. I had worried that they might be closed for independence celebrations.

The staff were quite friendly and I walked away happily clutching a big roll of maps. The price? 200,000 cedis in total - about $25. A good deal, I think.

Tonight I'm off to a beach side eatery with the JHR gang and tomorrow we're taking an early tro-tro to Cape Coast. Eventually I'll be home in Takoradi and able to post more juicy road stories.


Thursday, March 08, 2007

from the "capital news" dept.

Greetings from Accra.

I'm here for a few days to connect with fellow JHR folks and to recover from the last two weeks of travel across Ghana. And Ghana @ 50 celebrations. Phew!

All is good, though I have limited access to the internet. Also, many of my emails are bouncing back with "delay" warnings. I have no idea why, but I believe I get them all eventually. If you're finding this when you email me, let me know.

Ghana at 50 celebrations were pretty cool. There were 10s of thousands of people down at Independence Square. I hung out for a while, but after a few hours the constant push and pull of the crowd was too much. Plus I couldn't see bugger all.

But I can say I was there, though I didn't get the shirt.

I'm attending some JHR meetings tomorrow (Friday) and then plan to travel to Cape Coast for the weekend. Sunday night I will take the final one hour bus ride back to Takoradi and my home away from home. I look forward to that!

I've got lots of images to post, but my computer is back in Takoradi, and it is too difficult to post without resizing them. You'll have to wait.

I bought a Bill Bryson book today. One of the biggest regrets about coming to Ghana was not bringing any books. Finally, something to read!

I also visited Ryan's Irish Pub... and although they didn't have Guinness on tap, it certainly felt like an Irish pub.

And did I mention I accidentally erased all the music off my iPod? D-oh! Now I have only about 200 music tracks to grove too. Quite a difference from the 2500+ that were on the iPod. Ah well...

That's it for now. I'll be back in a few days with a much longer and more interesting post.

Until then,


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

from the "Happy Anniversary, Baby" dept.

Accra, Ghana
Tuesday March 6, 2007

We arrived in Accra early Monday morning after an all night drive from Takoradi. Along with the flame, we headed to the port town of Tema for a procession there.

After that, it was a mad rush to Accra for another, much larger, procession. Tons of people lined the streets as we passed through town. Even Jesse Jackson, in town for Ghana @ 50, took part. Images to follow.

It was a long day in the hot sun and I crashed in the early evening at Hicham's place. He's a JHR colleague and has offered me a place to stay for a few days.

I got up early this morning (Tuesday - Ghana's 50th birthday) and walked down to independence square in the hopes of meeting up with the flame folks. Again, they had left without me.

Independence Square was absolutely nuts. Thousands of excited people pushing, hoping to get a better view of the parade square. Mobile phone lines were jammed and I was unable to see or contact anyone. After about an hour of this, I decided to leave. I was drenched in sweat and ready to drop dead. There was no way to see anything, so I thought this the best option.

I'm writing this from CITI-FM, where Hicham works. We're heading to a rally this afternoon and I assume the Flame folks will head to their homes. I'm sad I missed the final leg of the torch - but it was beyond my control. And we did get great stuff in Accra and Tema yesterday.

So that's that. I'm going to hang here for a couple of days and then head back to Takoradi. It'll be nice having a break. And the chance to hang out with JHR folks...


Sunday, March 04, 2007

from the "delayed tales from the road" dept.

** Here are some offline posts covering last week and the flame fun. Standard caveats apply regarding spelling, grammar and style. They're really first drafts. ***

Saturday, Feb. 24, 2007
Takoradi, Ghana

Home! Finally! And a day off!! Sort of.

Even though I was pretty much exhausted, I still spent most of the day working on my previous supersized multiple blog posting in addition to filtering hundreds of photos.

I hung out at home and barely left the yard. It was a good, good day.

Sunday, Feb. 25, 2007
Takoradi, Ghana

Another day off. And again, sort of.

I spent the morning writing blog stuff and off-line emails before heading into SKYY to spend four hours working on the super-slow interNOT.

Exhaustion was the word of the day and I spent the evening moving as little as possible. Glorious!

Late in the evening I received a phone call from Asamoah telling me the team had decided to drive four hours north to the border between the Ashanti and Western Regions. They were going to do some sort of cross-border torch handover and then an impromptu procession through Axim.

The starting time for all this merriment? 4 a.m. I laughed my head off and told Asamoah if he wanted to go, he could. However, as this was not part of the original tour, it's wasn't critical for the documentary, which really focused on the ten regional capitals.

Asamoah decided to go.

Monday Feb. 26, 2007
Takoradi, Ghana

They left at 4 a.m. while I was midway through the second feature at Eyelid Theatre. When I rose from the near-dead several hours later I had a rather severe pain in my tummy.

Could it be the illness I'd so far been lucky to avoid? Could it be stress? Could it be hunger? Could it have been the bottle of tap water I accidentally drank?

After lying in bed whining for a couple of hours I realized that no one was going to come to my aid. I drank down some real bottled water and promply barfed it up.


I was certainly thankful that I decided against another long day in the hot sun without sleep, food or water. If anything could have pushed me over the edge, it was a repeat of the previous week.

The rotten tummy soon subsided and I spent the rest of the day relaxing and working on other projects, reports and expense reports before hitting the sack early.

Tuesday February 27, 2007
Takoradi, Ghana

It was another morning monkey f***. But more so for the others. Although my patience would soon be tried yet again.

Asamoah reported in early that the previous day had been gruelling, lacking food and long. They returned to Takoradi around 1 a.m. -- a nice 21 hour day.

The flame was scheduled to be carried through the Takoradi-Secondi metropolis and I prepared by getting up around 6 a.m. and hoping for the best.

At 7:30 our driver, Smiler, comes by to drop off the camera for charging and says he'll return at 9:30 a.m.

I wait. 9:30 comes and goes. I wait some more.

Asamoah calls at noon to say they've already started the procession without me and the camera (!) but they'll meet me at an intersection that is about 10 minutes away by foot.

Minutes later Asamoah calls again to say the route has changed, and they won't be passing by after all. They ask if I could call a taxi and meet them on another main road by the regional hospital.

I waste precious time dickering with a taxi driver on the fare. We finally settle at 10,000 and head off in the wrong direction. I call the organizers and give the phone to the driver.

Soon we're back on track, but I had to offer the driver another 15,000 to get him to drive against traffic so we could pass the long back up of cars in the right lane.

In Ghana, if you need to get through thick traffic, adopting a "me first" attitude combined with a lot of honking seems to work every time. "Ghana at 50! Now move your ass!"

I jumped from the taxi when I caught sight of the flame and started running. I ignoring the schoolchildren shouting "Obruni! Obruni" as I wheezed my way to Simler's Land Yacht.

It was like old home week when I finally caught up with everyone. There were lots of handshakes and hugs. I noted that most of them looked like the walking dead.

The bosses wife was carrying the torch and I snapped several pictures of her and the large contingent of SKYY personnell covering the event.

The procession was a long one and the day was very hot and humid. I did my best to either shoot from inside the vehicle or while clinging to the outside. Many of the images I was capturing were carbon copies of those from previous days and I've learned that there isn't much point in overshooting and wasting digital memory.

The procession concluded at the regional ministry. We grabbed some clips and then walked to the residence area where everyone was staying. Talk about nice digs! The guys told me they had excellent food service, comfortable and clean rooms and, most importantly, air conditioning.

We joined a big dinner hosted by the regional minister before heading to a nearby bar to take a beer and watch the 6 p.m. news on SKYY.

At 6:01, SKYY's playback computer melted down and the story fails to air. Are we cursed?!

We finished our beers and head home while formulating a plan for the next day: leave for Cape Coast, the capital of the Central District, early. In this case early means 4 a.m. or 6 a.m.

Where have I heard that before?

**Remaining flame tales to come week!**


from the "guest list" dept.

12:02 PM local time/Sunday...
Still have not left for Accra.
But I did find the Ghana@50 guest list:

Heads of State

* President Thabo Mbeki (South Africa)
* President Abdelaziz Bouteflika (Algeria)
* President Festus Mogae of Botswana
* President Blaise Campoare (Burkina Faso)
* President Paul Biya (Cameroun)
* President Pedro Pires of Cape Verde
* President Ahmad Abdullah Sambi of Comoros
* President Muamar al Gadafi (Libya)
* President Amadou Toumani Toure (Mali)
* President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria (Guest of honor)
* President Armando Emelio Guebuza of Mozambique
* President Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia
* President Paul Kagame (Rwanda)
* President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete (Tanzania)
* President Faure Gnassingbe (Togo)
* President Levy Mwanawasa (Zambia)
* President Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe)

Govt Representatives

* Angola: Roberto Victor de Almeida (National Assembly Speaker)
* China: Abduldhat Abdulrixit (Vice Chairman of the National Committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference)
* South Korea: Park Myung-jae (Minister of Govt Admin. & Home Affairs)
* United Kingdom: Prince Edwards (Duke of Kent representing the Queen)
* USA: Alphonso Jackson (Sec. for Housing and Urban Dev't)
* Germany: ?
* France: ?


* Rev Jesse Jackson, Rainbow Coalition
* Baroness Amos, Leader of the UK House of Lords and Lord President of the Council.
* Head of the Agricultural Development Bank
* Paul Wolfowitz: Head of the World Bank
* Head of the IMF
* Hon. H.A. Mongella - President of the Pan African Parliament


* Steveland Morris, popularly known as Stevie Wonder


* Edson Arantes do Nascimento, popularly known as Pele

from the "here we go again, again" dept.

It's another travel day here in Ghana.

Asamoah and I are heading to Accra to shoot some footage of the flame's arrival in the capital. This will allow us to be able to easily and logically end the documentary.

I'm looking forward to the completion of the shooting stage and the beginning of writing/editing. I'm also excited by the prospect of being in Accra for the Golden Jubilee (Tuesday). Should be amazing!

Ghanian Patriotism is beginning to show across Takoradi. Everywhere you look there are flags and banners. Taxis are flying Ghana's colours, as are most businesses and an incredible number of homes. Many people are wearing at least one article of Golden Jubilee clothing to show their pride.

I expect Accra will be crazy with the celebrations -- and provide an excellent photography opportunity.

That's about it for now... I best get packed and on the road!


Friday, March 02, 2007

Earplugs wanted

Earplugs wanted
Originally uploaded by borderfilms (Doug).

Another typical sign 2

Another typical sign 2
Originally uploaded by borderfilms (Doug).

Another typical sign

Another typical sign
Originally uploaded by borderfilms (Doug).

Love the business names in Ghana.


Originally uploaded by borderfilms (Doug).

A little spring spruce up in Takoradi, Ghana.


Originally uploaded by borderfilms (Doug).

More street scenes from Takoradi, my home.


Originally uploaded by borderfilms (Doug).

Streetlife in Takoradi.

from the "on hold" dept.

After spending the entire day Thursday waiting to leave to the eastern regions of Ghana, I decided to pack it in.

The reasons for this were many:

- the organizers didn't have a clue why we were there -- they thought we were having fun (!) not shooting a documentary -- of which they'd get a copy!

- in a late afternoon phonecall I was told I would have to pay for the reporter and myself if we were to continue.

- they assumed they had all rights to photographs and videos. I don't have a problem with the video -- but the photos are mine and of a public event. I had intended to give them the rights to use them, but wanted to retain copyright and credit.

- The other half of the team carried off the Koforidua leg without us there.

- There were questions about the Ho leg being delayed/cancelled.

- It was expected I would pay for the rest of the trip.

- And so on.

However, the reporter and I will likely head to Accra to shoot the final stages, so that we can put together the story of the trip. It won't be perfect, but it will certainly allow us to finish what we started.

That's where things stand as of 11 a.m. Friday.

Lower your expectations? Ha ha ha ha ha....