A chronicle of Alison and Ron's trip around the world in 2009-2010.

"Not all those who wander are lost"
- Tolkien

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Last Days in Accra

It very well took me being a white American in Africa to fractionally understand what it may be like being an African American in our country. But in one sense as my views have broadened in another they have unexpectedly narrowed. Could it be that I dissolved some unconscious racism lurking just below the surface but picked up a nasty nationalist superiority? I can’t help but assume the person I’m dealing with lacks some necessary mental acuity to which I will suffer somehow in the form of misunderstanding, overpayment, or delay.

There is a concept here of “small small” or little by little, that I just love. In twi, you say “kra-kra kra-kra”. Maybe I can’t understand a continent of people in five weeks. That its necessary to love something, hate something, be confused by something, uplifted by it, then disappointed by it, to truly understand it. It’s a lot like a relationship, and however difficult it gets, it can’t be over as quick as it started. Salomey’s here. So there must be something good and pure in my heart for Ghana. Although I am very ready to leave.

I will remember songs like “if you’ll be my girl, I will be your man” playing so often Ron (who hates pop music) found himself singing along in a high, funny pitch.

Obama posters everywhere, and Ghanaians so proud of his visit.

Flicking the power switch and wondering if there is electricity, like it’s some kind-of-a daily lottery.

All the comforts of home, always broken - the remotes, the tvs, the hot water heaters, the lights, the doors, the windows, the beds….

The religious names on tro-tros, taxis, and shop fronts. My all-time favorite was “I Am Washed By The Blood of Jesus” hair salon.

The utter craziness of the markets - women with far-too-large cargoes atop their head and babies swaddled to their backs.

The dank taste of water sucked from the chewed off corner of a plastic sachet.

The great cellphone wars between MTN, Zain, and Vodaphone. You remember all those pretty yellow boats in Bortianor? MTN offered to paint all the fisherman’s boats bright yellow for free if they could add their logo. Now that’s some guerilla marketing.

One popular place we did not visit was Cape Coast where the famous slave forts are situated. Humanity has been so cruel and its too emotionally disturbing to visit dungeons, torture chambers, and prisons as I always find myself dwelling on what it would have felt like to be there. So much so that I get sick to my stomach and generally depressed and sullen. I did spend time in contemplation on the “Door of No Return” where the slaves were led to ships and their dismal fate, but the thought of walking through it was way too much for my little heart to bear.

We hold many more memories than pictures because it was rather intimidating to be snapping photos in most places we visited. Some places are rather poor to be flaunting a flashy camera, other places people are not so keen to be in your photo album, and we wished to respect that.

A final note on the Akan culture. They believe your soul is tied to the day of the week in which you’re born, so your first name is one of seven (different for girls and boys) whereas your middle name is given by the parents. It can certainly make some confusion when someone yells out Ama (Thursday born girl) in the market and 6 girls look over.

Ron and I enjoyed the ritual greetings and exchanging of these given names. Making quick friends when we found a match - a soul brother or sister. But now it’s time for Abena (Tuesday born girl) and Kwasi (Sunday born boy), to sign off from Ghana.


Anonymous October 29, 2009 at 1:58 PM  

I have noticed how few comments you have gotten on the Africa posts and wonder if, like me, others are just overwhelmed by your "foreign" experiences and have no context within which to even form a relevant observation or comment. Thank you for this summation of the experience and the impact on you both. You validate this quote from Marcel Proust: "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."
Sending you both love, Mom

There have been visitors to this blog and you are one of them. Thanks and have a beautiful day!