It was around 1 pm when I decided to sign out of my trip to the Osu Childrens Home (See last entry for story) and couldn’t find anyone to travel with that day. So I decided to venture off on my own. I know what you’re thinking. I must be crazy, travelling alone as a female in an African country where I stick out like a sore thumb just because of my skin colour. Yup, I thought about all that but then decided it didn’t really matter. What could happen in Ghana to me that couldn’t possibly happen at home?
I caught a cab and 2 Cedis, equivalent to a $1.25 American, to the Accra Cultural Market. Walking in, I was immediately bombarded by vendors all trying to bring me to their shop. They would all grab my hand and try pulling me towards the direction of their shop. I just stood there and said I would find my way there on my own. There was one man who was different from the others, he didn’t grab my hand or try to parade me around. He just wanted to talk.
I spent the rest of the day with him. His name is Will. He walked with me through the market asking me all kinds of questions, like where I was from, what it was like there, what snow felt like. He was so curious of me, but then again, I was curious of him too. Walking through the market, the vendors would yell a me, and force me into their shops begging me to take a look. I kept brushing them off and walking quickly. Will just told me to slow down and said that sometimes these people just want to talk to me but don’t know how. I took his advice, I started smiling at everyone, and talked to the women who were holding babies. Within minutes everyone knew my name and I had learned some too. It wasn’t threatening anymore.
Continuing our walk we passed by a woman who sat on the floor at the back of one of the little shops. She has ratty hair, her two children which couldn’t have been older than three were lying on the floor in the dirt. They had nothing on besides a pair of loose underwear, yet they smiled at me as their mother did. She was selling mango’s in a bushel in front of her. She sold them for 50 Peswahs, which was less than 25 cents each. This was her entire income, this was how she supported two children and herself. Will walked over to her and bought us each a mango.
As I bit into the mango, which was the most delicious mango I had ever eaten, a bunch of children ran up to me and yelled “Obruni!” and then ran away laughing and screaming as quickly as they came. They did this a few times. Obruni means white person, and for some of them, I was the first white person they had ever seen. I just laughed and yelled back, “Obibini” which meant black person. Will laughed and brought me over to where they were so I could say hello. They were all so tiny, none of them knew how to talk besides a few words and apparently ‘Obruni’ was an important part of their vocabulary.
He then took me to his house, it was near the market, and lots of people were about and around so I felt safe. Walking in I noticed it was just one small room. There was a wooden door, and cement floors. Three other men were inside. One was sleeping on the only furniture they had: a park bench while the other two were drumming in the corner. On one wall they had five hooks for the five men that lived there and backpack on each hook with all of their belongings. Besides the Bob Marley poster and a few drums, that was everything they owned.
I met his housemates and we sat there and drummed for a while. They taught me how, since I was terrible at it, and then we just talked. After a while, Will showed me the beach, where I put my feet in the Atlantic Ocean. Looking out, it was like any other beach. When I looked behind me, I saw the millions of shacks all piled up on one another. I saw the mountains of garbage that had become a part of the landscape with wild pigs laying in the garbage. In the midst of all of it was a waterfall, where the water poured out yellow and green. It was devastating, yet all of it so beautiful. I was in the ghetto of Ghana, a place I really wanted to experience but couldn’t unless I knew someone. I thanked Will for everything. There was so much poverty, so much garbage, and so many people, yet everyone was smiling.
Will shared a taxi back with me to Osu where he took me to some local bars and out for dinner. He then walked me back to my shuttle to go back to the ship, where he gave me one of his bracelets and told me not to forget him. It was the perfect day in Ghana.
UPDATE ON WHEREDIDSHEGOWNOW
Everyone keeps asking me about ship life. To sum it up, I woke up at 6 am today, wrote a few papers, went to class, sat out on deck seven tanning since we are so close to the equator. After lunch I had an afternoon class and went to sunset yoga. The laundry services shrunk all of my clothes, and everyone on my deck got their underwear stolen from the laundry services. On an up note, they had plums today for dinner. It’s been crazy!
Debarkation in Fort Lauderdale, Florida: 15 Day’s Left
Landing in Toronto, Canada: May 11, 2010