Ghana – Potpourri

Greetings and salutations,

This post will feature a mixture of unrelated subjects with the only thing in common is that they happened in Ghana! So let’s get started. First up is the use of religious themes in the names of businesses, often having little or no relationship to what they are selling. Here’s one I found interesting.Ghana-Good bye-0758

And then there is the use of pop culture figures (in this case Puff Daddy Sean Combs) that I found amusing for a business that sells agricultural products.Ghana-Good bye-0744

Speaking of selling stuff, this church didn’t want people “hawking” products out side their sanctuary.Ghana-Accra-0910

Hawking stuff is a way a lot of people make their living. These young school age girls, Josephine and Doris, are helping their family out by selling mushrooms by the side of the road on the way to the village. Just so happens mushrooms were in season while I was in this part of Ghana. The mushrooms are harvested in the early morning when the soil is soft and moist and pulled straight up to get most of the long root that is edible.Ghana-Accra-0856

They weren’t the only people hawking stuff, here’s a couple of photos taken from the car of some of the sellers along the road especially at intersections or speed bumps or toll booths.Ghana-Accra-0864Ghana-Accra-0868

And then there the small “convenience” stores on almost every block, sometimes two or more on a block. This was a very common site every place I was in Ghana.Ghana-Accra-0895

Also common sites were women with sewing machine such as the one below either mending or sewing new clothes for customers. This sewer handles the fabric with one hand and runs the machine with the other therefore she can set up any place where is traffic, no need for electric power.Ghana-Accra-0877

This photo is of a garden center in Accra. Note the bright colored decorative pots and slate stone in the foreground. There is small but growing ceramics and clay industry in Ghana for functional use not art purposes.Ghana-Accra-0888

I was in Ghana during the Easter season. The peoples of Ghana are very religious with about 3/4 of the population being Christians and about 1/5 Muslim and the remaining other religions or non-religious. The photo below was taken on Easter Sunday of the large Presbyterian church in central Agogo. I’m told the typical Sunday service at all churches in Ghana will last between 3 and 4 hours, they do take breaks but can you imagine sitting in a hot church (no air conditioning) for that long. Some people were taking in the service by watching through the window on the other side of the church. One day during the lead up to Easter, we returned from the village at about 6 PM, I heard loud singing and then speaking from some place off in the distance. When I inquired what was going on I was told that the Pentecostals were having an evening service at their church about three blocks from the hotel. Can’t imagine how loud it was inside the church!Ghana-Easter-0739

I mentioned in an earlier post that there were Christians and Muslims in my classes with the farmers. I asked my handlers if there were any biases or prejudices based on religion. They told me no, they are equal, they live together, eat together, intermarry, do everything together except worship together. With all the anti Islamic noise in the US, I found this very refreshing. The next day in class without my knowledge (because it was in the local language) my handlers told the farmers about my question and my response. The farmers really appreciated that I asked and recognized their tolerance for different religious beliefs. They told me they were peaceful and got along just great. A fine example for the US to emulate.

On Easter Saturday, Patrick invited me to attend an Easter festival in his home town, Juansa. The main part of the festival was a parade of cars and people, a run from an adjoining village back to Juansa (also call J town) followed by a football (soccer) tournament. The first photo is of the young people in J town revving up the crowd. Mind you, this is the main road through the village so every so often the crowd had to get off the road to let the traffic through.Ghana-Easter-0667

This is the starting line for the race. Note the truck with all the speakers, it was so loud I’m sure people could hear them talking for miles around. Below that is a photo of the speaker truck taking off to catch up to the runners with all kinds of mostly young men and boys catching a ride. An adult young woman riding with us commented on the lack of any thinking by those boys!Ghana-Easter-0707Ghana-Easter-0716

This is one of the runners, people would drive along side to hand him water as it was very hot as usual. I don’t know who won the race but it really didn’t matter, the build up and excitement was the most fun.Ghana-Easter-0717

While in J town, Patrick took me to meet the village chief or king. We participated in a formal ceremony this introduction. I was presented a bottle of schnapps, I had to check and make sure it was sealed! Then the chief’s assistant opened the seal and poured a glass of the schnapps. He took a drink followed by the chief to demonstrate to us, the visitors, that it wasn’t poison! Then Patrick and I were provide a drink. The Chief was very funny and courteous. His son is a student in agriculture at the University of Wisconsin here in Madison, so it’s a small world after all! Here are a few photos from our meeting.Ghana-Easter-0630Ghana-Easter-0631Ghana-Easter-0637

After this meeting, Patrick took me to his family compound where I met some of his family, aunts, cousins, a great uncle and others. They were gracious enough to allow me to take their photos.

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This is the compound where Patrick grew up, it now is inhabited by some of his father’s relatives. There are living quarters around the courtyard where most of the family activities occur such as washing clothes, cooking, eating, and socializing.Ghana-Easter-0720

The sign over the doorway was seen by the young Patrick everyday, that someone was keeping an eye on him!Ghana-Easter-0721

After meeting all his relatives, Patrick took me to meet his wife. She’s high school math teacher, they have two small children ages 5 and 2. Ghana-Easter-0727

I could keep going on and on about my experiences but I’m running out of words, not really just kidding! But I’m running out of decent photos to help tell the stories. I didn’t take that many photos, I worked a lot and didn’t have many chances to get out and about. Next time, I’m either going early or staying after my volunteer gig is over to travel, sightsee and take more photos.

Next week, its a farewell to the farmers and the village.

Until then,

Tom

6 thoughts on “Ghana – Potpourri

  1. There is a Swahili saying that I can’t remember. It ends with Africa! It means that your heart will always be in Africa. I think it was also in Isak Dineson’s novels or that she had repeated it after leaving her plantation for good. Whoever said it, for some it is true. It is true of me. It sounds like it is true of you. Wonderful people. Kind and cordial. They do so much with so little but most importantly they love to live their lives together–unless they are of a rival tribe. Your story stirs many memories as well as a sad heart to have not returned for over 40 years…but that is how vivid my memories are. Thanks- good memories to you, j

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    1. Thanks Jim, your words and thoughts are so right on. Let’s meet for coffee sometime after I return from Scotland. Our trip is going great staying on a little farm about 10 miles from Inverness in northern Scotland. A wee bit cold and rainy but still a glorious day! Tom

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