Ben's Ghana Adventures

A collection of all the emails that I sent while I lived, worked and travelled around Ghana West Africa from October 10th 2005 to February 10th 2006. Sorry thers a lot but I had a bloody good time living the experiences! Check out to see all my African Photos.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Ben's African Adventure 6

November 25th 2005
Welcome back one and all to another episode from the depths of Africa.
The last email I sent was rather bizarre to say the least and ergo I thought that I would write another and tell you all the good, wonderful, exotic and just surreal things that have been happening in the life of Ben.
Well today I found out that I have to write a 2 hour English exam for the entire first year at Kwanyaku school. Yep the entire thing. They do not seem to have an external exam board that will write these things so it is all down to muggins here. I had a spot test in my home economics English class today and that went surprisingly well. It was on Shakespeare and also a lot of Ebnglish words which I had taught them. After the lesson I was mobbed by them because I gave out postcards of London scenes foe their good effort. The general arts English class are just plain and simply bloody awful. They have no idea as to what I am teaching, while the others seem to have grapsed everything.
Away from school now and Yesterday some strange things happened. A lorry drove into Nana's front garden and got stuck in the lawn. So Captain Ben saved the day by rescuing the truck using planks of wood under the wheels. The driver thouight I was a genius! Then just as I was basking in my new found glory a Korean missionary turned up out of the blue and preached at Nana for 3 hours. I managed to escape by saying that I had to teach English even though I had finished for the day. So I hid in the assistant headmasters office until she had gone, he kept plying me with this slightly narcotic nut called kola. It tastes awful but he is addicted to the stuff. Then low and behold she turns up today at school and interupts all the mornings lessons with poxy preaching. She was eventually told to bugger off by Francis our pot bellied headmaster.
Last night I was sitting down writing and I heard a huge explosion, I immediately ran outside expecting to find a car on fire or something similar, But instead it was the waterworks nearby blowing up rocks which shot into the air and knocked out all the power lines! This happens at lots but most of the time I am out of ear shot so dont notice it.
Yesterday morning I was woken by such a noise. It was a group of students moving a half ton chicken hutch from the school 500 meters up the road to the agriculture teachers garden. So I joined it to chant of 'Obroni' and ended up almost disclocating my shoulder the thing was so heavy. We even demolished a palm tree getting the thing into his garden.But after wards I am seen in a new light by this kids because I helped out. The other teachers just stood around shouting instructions at them and weilding canes.
After we had managed to get the chicken coup into the garden I was stalked all day by the teachers son. Silent Richard. He is anadorbale little chap but never speaks or utters even a sound, except when some evil cow beat him with a stick for walking out of school. But he is not a mute and seems like like Andy and Myself and therefore follows us around and he thought it was the funniest thing he had ever seen when I was ushering some goats out of my classroom wielding a branch and blowing a whistle at them. The goats and achickens get everywhere and just wander freely into your class bleet a bit and deposit something on the floor. We also get random small children run in shout Obroni at me and then run off.
I have been invited to dinner at the assistant headmasters house next week. He wants to prepare fufu for us and make me drink apetishi which is an earhy spirit with twigs in it. He also has taken me to his house before where his 13 year old daughter wanted to marry me! Many people in Ghana want to marry me, they see the whiteman as a way to a better life, but some are genuine and just want you as a friend and so therefore proposed. I even had a bizarre man propse to me. I have never sbeen so scared in all my life!
Henrik the Swede who lives in Agona Swedru invited Andy and myself to his host famiulies house for a meal. It was a really nice out and it made such a change because they spoke fluent English. Our host family havnt a clue about English and only speak fante. (there are 16 varieties of fante in our area) What is odd is that even though they are fluent in fante the regional coastal dialect they canot write it at all. It is most strange and their English writing is appalling. This is just the adults, the children are beyond belief. I did an English lesson on creative writing and all they wrote abput was God. The bible and religion dominates their lives in every aspect. They all believe that women are much lower than men because the bible says so. They have even written the national constitution to state that a female can never become president.
Yesterday for the first time in my life I was hit my a car. A taxi hit me with its wing mirror as I walked to our Wednesday Swedru gang meeting at the local bar. I was knocked sideways into a woman who was balancing plaintain on her head she almost fell into a ditch but I caught her and yet again saved the day! Our wednesday meetings are becoming something of a big affair now, yesterday there was twenty of us in the bar. Although I am including the Germans who keep themselves to themselves and only speat 'ze kraut' to each other. Unsociable sods! The dutch on the other hand hate the Germans and love us to pieces.
This weekend coming is Nynke a Dutch girls last weekend in Ghana before she goes home. So we are all spending it with her. She fundraised a lot of money before she came out here and is buildiong a classroom for her school in Gomoa Achianse. There current classrooms are palm roofed and are less than shacks, they are aful with a communal black board that is shared around the teachers. So we are helping with the building works on the saturday. Yeah Ben the builder! Then on saturday night we found a bar outside town near a hotel which is cheap so we are going to go there and celebrate her leaving doo in true drunken British style. The sunday we have planned to travel to this plush hotel on the outskirts of town and go swimming. Entry to the clean, hygienic pool in the hotel is 62p for the entire day, and it is open air so a bit of sun bathing is due.
Next week on wednesday Andy, Cara the Anadian and myself are going to the Volta region which is about 7 hours tro tro ride away. We are spending 5 days there and are going to hike up the mountains to visit Wli water falls (pronounced fli). The water is safe to swim in beacuse the water is turned up by the falls and therefore billarzia does not live there. (I hope)!
My stolen diary is now replaced by a Ghanina teachers handbook and in two days I have caught up on most things that have happened with the help of looking at digital photos as reminders and other people giving me dates of things that have happened. So give me two more days and it will never miss it again. I like the challenge of writing everyhting and I will always bounce back, you know me. I wont let anything like a poxy robbery spoil my African fun.
Oh when we went home to Kwnayaku from Swedru the other day we rode on the back of an open truck. It was so fun. I was wearing my army green Che Guevara hat and looked like a revolutionary leading the invasion. We had to hide when we went through police road blocks.
I even met the DJ of the local Golden Star Fm radio station. He invited me on to his show to ttalk about English football. Wow can you imagine me slating Spurs and currsing Chelsea's dominance. I cannot wait. The trouble is he took Anndy's mobile number to contact me and as we are right in the sticks in Kwanyaku which really is the arsehole end of nowhere we cannot be reached by mobile unless we stand in a tree in the garden. Nana can get reception whereever he. Well he probably has a special chiefs phone. Coincidently he is still wearing his towl around the house but was wearing some fetching sky blue pj's earlier. That man demands respect from all who live in the area, but it is hard to bow and look respectful while his hairy nipples are hanging out of a towl. He commisioned Sister Ajuwa (Doris) to make us some shirts and when Andy and I stepped out looking like the bloody chuckle brothers he said we look beautiful. (He said that while wearing a towl and night cap combo)!
Ghana is the most surreal place that I have ever been to. I love it out here the photos I have to show you will be amaizing. Not only of the truly African mud huts with half naked women outside pounding fufu, tbut the photos of Queen mothers in all their spendours and chiefs draped in gold jewellery with an enterage of drummers, fan wavers and staff holders. The place is amaizing. I will definately come back one day.
Tomorrow is the belated staff verses year one pupils football match. I have a point to proove as the school team wre humiliatingly destroyed in every game that they played. So I have got to go out with all guns blazing and try and run the show. Looking at most of the teachers I could well be the star player unless the fatter oldre ones have some tricks hidden up their baggy colourful sleeves! I am now in chanrge of the school athletics team as the football season is over. This entails more 5 am starts and lots more running. Apprantly every morning I have to run to Swedru and back with the students. That is an 8 km round trip, bloody hell I am either going to be super fit when I get back or a shell of a former man!
Last night in the bar before we left to eat Jollof rice at Henriks we looked at everyones photos. I somehow have a knack of appearing in many peoples pictures in the most strage and random poses. Sommethimes I know I am in the shot but most of all I am chasing pesky kids away in the back ground or some local is painting my hands red with this strange leaf that they have. That strange when someone comes up to you and starts painting you. My hands were red for two days aftre and I looked like I had been in a slapping competition. Oh some Enbglish boy turned up in our town. He was only in Ghana for 11 days before he decided that he didnt like it and went home. The moment I saw him the Dutch girls and I agreed that he was a proper mummies boy and wouldnt last long. Another Canadian lad bailed ship not long ago as he got malaria and felt homesick. But 11 days is hardly worth the plane ticket, what a bloody wimp!
There is a local girl called Abena who likes to turn up at Nanas and ask for us. Frank who lives with us but is of no relation to anyone in the house but lives there none the less calls her the pale girl. This is odd because yes she is less black, but they consider her to be almost white and therefore not quite acceptable. Strange! But anyway I digress she is another stalker that we have, she keeps trying to hold my hand but I end up dancing away from her. All Ghanians even men love to interlock your fingers with theirs and hold your hands as you walk. At first I was put off by trhis but now I am used to it and just accept it. Althoiugh when Nana a 66 year olf man with a towl and a night cap on did it to me I had to try really hard not to burst out laughing!
Well thats all I have time for now folks. Ihope you enjoyed this elongated catchup email from the land opf drums, dancing and hot hot weather (we havnt even reached the Jannuary dry windy season with sahara winds yet).
Take care all and make sure you are all keeping healthy. Be nice to your Mothers and wash behind your ears.
This is Ben Whateley-Harris in Africa signing off.
Love to you all
x x x x x x x
P.s. I was dressed up like a chief in full ceremonial robes and special golden sandals and made to sit on the httrone. Wow they actually want me to take the chiefs tests to become an underling to the Barina (strong man) chief!!!


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