Saturday, December 28, 2013

saying goodbye to 2013

We want to thank everyone who has followed us this year and wish you a peaceful slide into 2014.
We hope that the new year brings many cultural collaborations into your life and few cultural collisions.

When people come to Ghana we tell them to bring their sense of humor. In that spirit we share this with you       

If you'd like to know what we're up to you can receive our monthly newsletter by signing the mailing list at

Friday, November 29, 2013

the Asante

This is a documentary about the Asante- the largest ethnic group in Ghana. As you will see in the film, animal sacrifice is part of African rituals. In the USA a ritual was just celebrated where they sacrifice a turkey. It's usually the chicken who looses in Africa.
If you saw the photo of a ceremonial umbrella in my living room, you can see them in action in this film.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Interesting perspective

We all know the stereotypes about Africa. Would it surprise you to know that Africans have some strange ideas about "others"? Africans believe that foreigners (especially white ones) have no problems, have unlimited money, cars and all have high status.
They see outsiders as delicate. After all, they usually ride instead of walk and rarely carry heavy loads.
I was once in a farming village and walked a few miles to my hosts farm and then a few miles back. As we came out of the bush a crowd was gathering and they all started to clap. It was later explained to me that the enthusiasm was because they were surprised that I could walk so far.
Interesting perspective, as all the people returning from the farm (except me) were carrying heavy loads  on their heads and I felt like such a wimp for walking unburdened.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

If you are a textile artist , buyer or just like to look at beautiful handmade textiles check out THE TEXTILE AND FIBER ART LIST at
This is a very active forum that you can join or just browse.
If you are interested in Kente cloth you can read a post on their blog

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Indigenous Roots of Expressive Arts Therapy

Cross Cultural Collaborative is offering a very special workshop in GHANA with Kate T. Donohue,registered Expressive arts therapist.

To be held August 12 - August 25, 2014 at Aba House. Here's all of the information:

Interact with African drummers and dancers, artisans and  storytellers.

Questions about the workshop:
Questions about: trip logistics :

Sunday, November 3, 2013

How about Taiwan?

We usually write about Ghana,but we'd like to tell you about our friend Jane Ingram Allen who curates a residency in Taiwan.

It's an annual project using natural materials that are found in the wetlands where the residency is held.

Go to where you'll find all of the information for applying and some interesting photos. Deadline for applying is January 18, 2014.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

African Textile Workshop

We focus on bringing people from different cultures together to work on creative collaborations and in that spirit we are offering an AFRICAN TEXTILE WORKSHOP in GHANA from March 2 - March 15, 2014. Stay in our guest house across the street from the ocean - learn African textile techniques from Master artisans - visit galleries - museums - dealers - large outdoor markets - traditional villages.

If interested contact and we will send full details.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


We're doing it again!
COME HAVE FUN AND SUPPORT OUR KIDS - all proceeds pay for educational needs for the Aba House kids

OCTOBER 25, 2013    CAMBRIDGE YMCA - 820 Mass Ave. Cambridge,MA
                                       9-5 p.m.
tickets: $15.00

if you buy a ticket online you'll be entered to win an African basket:
can buy from PAYPAL (send money) or
if you can't attend but would like to support the kids, buy a ticket and we'll give it to a local student

African drumming and dancing by Benkadi - free refreshments - African vendors - silent auction - door prizes 


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

patchwork pocketbook

Alena came all the way to Ghana to model our bags. Well,maybe she also did some other things while she was there.
These bags are made of patchwork African cloth, have 2 zippered compartments and measure approx. 6" x 61/2". They are for sales ( in the USA) for $15.00 each plus $3.00 shipping.
It's just another one of our fundraisers for the Aba House kids.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

summer visitor 2013

Ann-Bridgit Gary visited us in July to study the traditional and contemporary pottery scene in Ghana.
This is her first diary entry:

Recycle,recycle, my spirit is a recycled carnival of oddities, eggs on head,the market spirit,the 27 cedis for 6 yards of exquisite batiked fabric,beautiful fish and crabs and pigs innards and so much....plastics!

I find constant care here at Aba House with Aba,Talk True and Ben. Even the boys join in to welcome me in an attempt (failed) to set me up with a modem. Oh well - all things on Ghana time, now or later or even never. Aba takes me to a goldsmith because I liked her charming watch - a long very convoluted route to travel. Down this out of the way place and soda from the rest is as refreshing as the conversation I am having with a Ghanaian man who once lived in Toronto and has returned to be with his family. The stoutly goldsmith gives me designs to pick from and promises to bring them the next day on my Indian bracelet-now I have both India and Africa. Aba tells me what each piece means.

I touch down wondering what lies ahead-will I be picked up? Can I trust anyone? I find my name card - what a relief. But while my luggage is whisked off, I find myself giving a street peddler 2 bucks.

The rumbling car - the world at 11 p.m. I don't know where I am going. I must accept this dark, dreamy place and I can't believe I'm here. I find a soft room, an oh so welcomed bed and breakfast at 8 a.m. A bucket with a shower and in one week, I have come to love the spirit of Africa.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

summer in Ghana
We are off to Ghana for our summer program.
Pretty soon this yard will be full of awesome kids. They compete with each other to see who can be more creative. In September we will share their creative writing with you.
If you're thinking ahead, consider volunteering to work with them in Ghana.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

vendor opportunity

We have space for 10 vendors at our fundraiser on October 25 at the Cambridge (Massachusetts) YMCA. Each space costs $50.00.
Last years fundraiser was very successful and we are going for bigger and better this year.

If you're interested in renting a space please send one or two photos of work you sell to

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Why go to Ghana with Cross Cultural Collaborative?

We'll take you to the bead market and then to a workshop to see how the beads are made. Want to make your own beads? Why not....
Besides being beautiful beads have significance. In Ghana recycled glass beads are most associated with the Krobo. From birth to death beads are important in their journey through life. When a Krobo child is born a bead is tied around their wrist. When the child's father cuts the bead he is claiming paternity and then the child is given a name.
A much publicized Krobo ceremony is the Dipo. A ceremony taking girls from childhood to adulthood. After the Dipo they can get married. During Dipo the girls are covered with beads, either from the family collection or rented for the occassion.
Yellow, red and brown beads are considered a sign of maturity.

Even people who claim that they are not shoppers buy a lot of beads when they get to the market. If you don't, you will be the first.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

awesome kids

The Aba House kids make paper from sugar cane leaves and then bind journals using the handmade paper. We wanted to make the books "Ghanaian", so we decided to stamp the covers with adinkra symbols. The resulting books are unique and beautiful. We started this project because kids would come and beg for things. We don't give, but they now know that if you work by making paper and books it's a win-win situation. We sell the books and all of the proceeds are used to buy school supplies for the kids.
If you'd like to volunteer to work with us in Ghana and make a difference in the life of an awesome kid,
let us know. We work with whatever skills volunteers have to offer.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Charlie and his students at Aba House

Charlie Michaels and some of his students from the University of Michigan came to Aba House for 3 weeks as part of a service learning program.
This market scene and other photos in the story are by Charlie. If you'd like to read about their trip and see some nice visuals :
Are you a professor- a student? We can arrange a program for you too.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

summer in Ghana

We'll be there from July 6 - August 29. We always have several projects and this summer I plan to concentrate on "Books by Girls", a creative writing program with the Aba House girls. Our goal is to encourage creative thinking and by self publishing the stories our girls will also learn computer skills.
Our plans include donating the books to schools in Ghana so that students can read culturally relevant

                      Here is an excerpt from my book "HARDSHIPS and GOODSHIPS in GHANA"
       There is a rythm to life in Ghana, both literally and metaphorically, and once you get into step, you
        fit right in. It's difficult to explain, but it's something you can feel. The people, the traffic, even the
        fishermen who are sometimes accompanied by drums as they pull in their nets. Weavers hum as  
        they work to keep the rythm ....... it's a slow dance. "No hurry in life". No straight lines. To follow
        the beat it's best to circle around, do a few back steps and slide right in. Then visitors start to

 Like to dance? Think about joining us in Ghana.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013



Saturday, May 11, 2013


"Greenie", an inspiring teacher at the Francis W. Parker School in Chicago, comes to Aba House every summer for an art "fix". Not trained as an artist she just needs a little help getting started, but once on the right track there's no stopping her. Here are a few photos of ADINKRA being taught in "Greenies" classroom. 

ADINKRA is a good hands on way to introduce students of any age to African culture. The stamps are easy to handle and each has a meaning based on an African proverb.

We sell the stamps. Our best customers are artists and teachers.
Interested? Contact us

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

more from Lou

If you're wondering what it's like to shop in Ghana,here's a dispatch from Lou:

Now I'm feeling much more at home in Africa. We took a taxi through all parts of crowded Kumasi to a street that has some bikes in front of the shops in addition to all sorts of hardware and housewares. Some shops sold new bikes. The taxi driver was somehow able to double park amidst the chaos while I haggled with the guy over a cheaper 18 speed mountain bike called a Sportek that had stuck shocks and  looked to still have some life left in it. People were loud and I mean the place was hectic with shoppers and small taxis. With Ama's help my price was $65.00. After 10 minutes the shocks started working so I am happy. I found a way back to the hotel that we first stayed at so that I can get on the internet without needing a taxi.
I'm soaking it all up because it sure is different from where I live.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Honeymoon at Aba House

Lou and Ama came to Aba House for their honeymoon. Ama is from Kumasi, Ghana and Lou from Idaho, USA so they both experience living in two different cultures.

This is an excerpt from something Lou wrote on a trip to Ghana. If you'd like to read more about him his website is

Many years ago a friend told me he was planning to go to Africa for the soul he was searching for. I understand now and I feel it. And as much as I want a piece of that, maybe it would be best to just pass through and not try to live with my values in it for very long. There is an African personalty, perhaps caused by the heat, that sucks the energy out of people who want to dig down and get things done.
So I go through the culture shift - not shock - of loving the place while thinking I'm in a big amusement park of amazing venues.
Come and see for yourself and enter the world smoothly with a guide like Ellie. You will feel welcomed by Ellie at Aba House, not far from Ghana's capital. I sure was. Cross Cultural Collaborative immerses you in the culture and Ellie's background as a teacher keeps one's curiosity alive.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

storytelling at Aba House

This is a guest blog from Sharon Kennedy ( a professional story teller who came to Aba House in Jan. 2013.

In January this year I went to Ghana in West Africa for three weeks. I am a professional storyteller and I perform many kinds of stories including folktales and historical stories for children and adults. Sometimes the desire to collect folktales instead of just reading them in books leads to an urge to travel. This is what brought me to Ghana.
And so the story starts: we were on a rooftop in Nungua, a suburb of Accra, at a place called Aba House, a cultural compound for visiting and native artists and educators. One visiting sculptor had carved giant crocodiles all around the periphery of the roof. The night was hot and humid and the light was from the moon and the stars and one hanging lantern. The ocean waves provided part of the soundtrack.
The cook at Aba House, Talk True, had arranged for three nights of storytelling. He invited two friends from the Ewe tribe “And then,” he said, “I will tell on the last night. I will be the ‘last killer.’”
When storyteller Big Joe told his tales in the original Ewe, Talk True translated, but the sounds of the Ewe language were so much more musical and intriguing than the English. Two Africans and three Americans, all drinking Talk True’s delicious, cold hibiscus drink (made with a dash of hot pepper), formed an appreciative storytelling audience and we all laughed and laughed at the punch lines. The translation was certainly conveying the story’s main message.
“Pig and Tortoise went into business together thinking they could make money. They did well until Tortoise and his new wife got greedy and started skimming the money off the top of every deal. When Pig realized that he was being cheated, he came to Tortoise for his money. Tortoise put Pig off for weeks with all kinds of tricks.
“One day Tortoise had a new idea. He folded his legs and hid inside his shell. He told his wife, ‘This is your new granite stone so you can grind pepper on it.’ Then Pig came and said, ‘Where is your husband? Where is your husband? If you don’t answer me I will take your stone and throw it into the bush.’ The woman didn’t answer, so Pig grabbed the stone and threw it away. A few minutes later Tortoise appeared and heard his wife and Pig arguing.
“‘Oh, Pig, there is no need for arguing. Your money is ready. Just go and get that stone wherever you threw it. Your money is safely hidden inside.’
“To this day Pig is still looking for that granite stone. After searching for days, he decided it must have sunk into the earth. So if you see Pig digging and digging in the ground, now you know why.”
By the end of my third night at Aba House, I had heard fourteen stories. Cephus Mensah Amabale told a story about a beautiful woman from a wealthy family with more suitors than she could count. Her family constructed a series of tests to determine which man really loved her for herself rather than for her money or her looks. Ben Kwao Adipah told a story about a chief’s wife who is unable to give him a boy child so he keeps marrying more and more wives, all of whom have girls.
But it was time to leave Nungua and travel along the coast to Kopeyia, another cultural compound specializing in drumming. On the way we stopped at Keta for lunch outdoors on the beach: fried tilapia caught that morning and fou fou (pounded cassava) with “red red,” a spicy sauce made with vegetables and red peppers. I pictured Tortoise’s wife pounding those red peppers on her granite stone.
At every beach we passed in our un-air conditioned van, we watched fishermen in brightly painted wooden fishing boats bobbing on the waves and women sorting many different kinds of fish in wooden baskets. We went to market day in Denu and everything was for sale from shoes to auto parts to towering piles of mangoes. We saw what amounted to a “fish aisle” with twenty or thirty women selling every kind of fresh and dried fish from their baskets. It had the feel of an auction as men yelled out types of fish and their prices, but not in English!
In Ghana most people speak English but when they speak to each other they use their native language. And also, although most people are Christian or Muslim, many of them practice a much older, animist African religion as well. In the small villages, the native culture--fetish priests, traditional health cures, drumming, dancing, singing, storytelling, and pottery making--is still very much intact.
Happily for tourists, friendliness in Ghana is abundant. In Kopeyia, Kofi Agbeli, our guide at the “Dagbe” compound, organized an evening of storytelling just for us. He told three stories and then I told one. Everyone sang and danced and drummed, for his stories, and for mine as well.
After we left Dagbe, Kofi called the next day to make sure that our travels were going well. At the time we were visiting two “Kente cloth villages” and buying some of the famous (and gorgeous) fabric. We told Kofi that everything was great, little knowing that we would arrive later that day (a Friday afternoon) in the city of Kumasi to find that every hotel was booked. We were hot and tired and getting a little desperate when the third hotel said “no.”
I used my storytelling skills to describe how much we needed a room and this brought quick results. Within ten minutes the hotel clerk introduced us to a former employee who hopped in our van and led us to “The Pink Panther Hotel.” There we were shown to the “Executive Suite.” It had two huge rooms, red velvet couches, an exercise bicycle, a stereo, a microwave, and best of all, air conditioning and two beds.

Friday, April 19, 2013

A little irony

This photo is from NBC News and goes with a story about Boston being on lock-down. All transport - schools - most businesses closed and streets empty.
So many people who want to go to Ghana with me hesitate because they wonder if it's safe. In my over 30 yrs. in Ghana I have never experienced anything like this. And I was there during 2 coups.
Maybe these same people would like to come visit me in Boston.

Friday, April 5, 2013

service learning

We offer a summer learning program in Ghana. We have a cultural center where authors, story makers and teachers, as well as Ghanaian artisans and local children, can converse through art and language, and create things together. SERVICE LEARNING programs can last from 2- 8  weeks during July and August.
Our programs explore the cultural,artistic and historical connections in Ghana through experimental learning and reflection.

Don't want to bring a group of students? Then come by yourself. You'll meet interesting people from all over the world. You can volunteer to work with local kids or artists or just sit on our deck and watch the fishermen.

Monday, April 1, 2013

interesting film

I want to tell you about Anita Loshmanova. You will be interested in her if you like African textiles,
African culture, Ghanaian textiles and culture.
Anita is working on a documentary called The Dye(e)ing art of African Textiles.
The trailer can be seen on YouTube. Take a look.
She also has a FB page if you feel so inclined. Cross Cultural Collaborative has a FB page too and we like to have friends (if you feel so inclined.)

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Pride of Ewe Kente

I have a few copies of this book for sale.

Bob Dennis Ahiagble , the author, is from a famous weaving family in Ghana.
Ewe kente is unique in that it has symbols and figures (animals-people) woven into it. Bob Dennis explains the meanings of the symbols and gives a glimpse into the life a a Ghanaian weaving family.

If you'd like a copy please send $30.00 to:        (this includes shipping in USA)

Cross Cultural Collaborative
45 Auburn Street
Brookline, MA 02446

I am also selling Bob Dennis's work. If interested I can send photos and prices.
Contact me at

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

ABA wrote a book

After many years in Ghana I just felt the urge to put my
adventures in print. These are vignettes - all true . The amazing thing about Ghana is that no matter how many times you go, there are new stories to tell.

Some of them are funny, some are sad and some "make me scratch my mind". That and the title are Talk Truisms. If you've come to Ghana with Cross Cultural Collaborative, you have met him. If you haven't, you should.

If you'd like to order a copy:

Send a check or money order to:

Cross Cultural Collaborative
45 Auburn St.
Brookline,MA 02446  USA

Each copy is $18.00 which includes shipping in the USA. If you want it shipped elsewhere, we can check the cost.

Monday, February 25, 2013


The Aba House kids are awesome. They have been making paper and journals and now, next summer, will write original, culturally relevant stories ( and of course, illustrate them) and we will self publish.
Schools in Ghana don't have story books.
Some of our books will be donated to schools.

We are looking for someone to facilitate this workshop. Can you teach CREATIVE WRITING? Want to come to Ghana this summer?

Let's talk. contact

Thursday, February 7, 2013

activities at Aba House Jan. 2013

A generous donation allowed us to cook lunch for the kids and another donation brought 50 pair of sneakers.
We had a batik workshop and Sharon collected stories. Ghanaians all have stories to tell.

If you'd like to signup for our infrequent newsletters contact

If you'd like to come to Ghana as a volunteer, workshop participant or tourist just let us know. We are planning our summer program.