Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Mi Koy bra [I go and come]

Within minutes the sky has turned black and it starts to rain. Together with the fact that both mango and passion fruit have just gone out of season, this can only mean one thing: it is time to go home.

After dropping off Evelien at the airport two days ago, I’ve been thinking a lot more about actually being in the Netherlands again. With the neat, structured, and clean Holland in mind it is almost alienating to be here in Accra. The contrast is just so big; life here and life in Holland hardly comparable.

Only less than a week ago I was travelling passed small round mud huts with grass roofs, neatly ordered in circles. One hut for every person of the extended family. You see little children slowly tiptoeing towards a chicken, scaring it with a sudden jump and scream, having the most fun just running around and chasing it afterwards. All stark-naked of course. Grown ups just sit in front of their hut and stare, making you wonder what’s on their mind. It’s probably not what to wear on the next Friday night out or whether the new episode of Grey’s Anatomy is out yet.

The poverty up North is from a whole other spectrum than poverty in the coastal city area. Although Accra has extensive slums (with no sewers, scarcity of water, no electricity, and a fierce mafia ruling system in place), anything you can think of is available for the rich. In the North of Ghana there is just a whole lot of nothing. Chicken, goat, dust, mud, fufu. Period. I might be alienated by thinking of Holland when in Accra, but the people in those huts will not even be able to imagine how people live in their own capital, and I seriously doubt whether that ‘other’ life is even in reach with the most preferable circumstances. Would they dream of a life that is so unknown? Men in the city do definitely dream from marrying a foreigner...

Before coming to Ghana I didn’t know that my boyfriend is very jealous. Actually, I didn’t even know I had a boyfriend! But the eagerness of men here to marry a ‘white lady’ is only tempered by explaining that I have a boyfriend and that he is very jealous indeed. Sometimes they still insist on giving their ‘contact’ (phone number), so if anyone is interested, I have a Kofi from Kumasi who would very much like to marry you. Just saying.

Kumasi is the heart of the Ashanti Kingdom and with it’s royal palace and colonial looking buildings often considered Ghana’s cultural highlight. Although it definitely was very nice to get a guided tour through the small old palace (now turned into a museum with scary real looking statues of deceased kings and any random object they have used, like the first radio in Ghana), what I liked most about Kumasi was its vibrant, chaotic, crowded and enormous market. Apparently it’s the biggest market in West Africa, it sure felt like it!

Evelien and I dived into the sea of people and deliberately got lost in the maze of narrow alleys. We literally were welcomed with open arms and hugged by market women after sharing our five words of Twi with them. Especially introducing ourselves with our Ashanti name, matching the day you are born, immediately gave us a handful of new friends or sisters. Together with the fact that people even asked to be on a picture (“snap me!” and then proudly holding their tomato or dried fish to be sold) it was all just so friendly and warm!

But it was not just Kumasi we visited. In the one week Evelien was here we actually managed to dance some proper Azonto at an outside bar in Accra, go to the beach in Accra, walk with elephants and ‘pumba’s’ in Mole National Park, swim in a pool at the same park with a view of bathing elephants in the pond down the hill, cycle on the red dusty roads to the village of Laranbanga with an old mud and stick mosque, stay at a quiet and peaceful lake (in the crater from a meteorite hit!) called Bosumtwi, spend a night at Cape Coast to see the fort and a live drums and dance performance at the beach side, and to return to Accra for another day. However, the last day in Accra was mostly spent in bed by Eef due to food poisoning... Unfortunately that is also Africa.

As for now I am going to sit on our roof, look over the large variety of roof tops of Accra, listen to the call to prayer from the mosque and enjoy a bit more sunshine before I head off to Holland. But no worries Ghana, mi koy bra!

Mini Pumba :)

Our guide at the walking safari

And so close!

A whole pack of elephants around us

Picture time...

The obligatory picture with an elephant

Laranbanga mud and stick mosque


Scary Obruni's :)

Dutch as can be :)

Kumasi market roof tops

Hard work

Crowded Kumasi

Lake Bosumtwi

"If you want to picture Ghana, snap me!"

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