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 Adventures 2

October 23rd 2005
Hello to one and all and welcome to the hugely anticipated second installment of Ben's African Adventure.
So much has happened since I last emailed that I dont know where to start. I did try and email ages ago but in Africa there is something called monsoons and one happened to strike when I was just about to send a long detail and fasinating exploit of what I have done. But this bloody monsoon crashed all the internet computers in the entire region. Also it is a hard task to get to a place that has an internet connection this remote.
So here I am again hoping that this one gets through to you lovely people in one piece.
Let me start from where I left off. We left Accra after saying our goodbyes to all the others who were going to different parts of Ghana. I along with Henrik the Swede and Andy went off from Accra to a town called Swedru. The capital of the Angona district. Henrik is actually in Angona teachiong at a primary school. But Andy and I are in a small town six miles from Swedru called Kwanyaku. Kwanyaku is a small sleepy village with ramshackle houses, tin shacks and mud huts dotted along an uneven road.
We are both staying at the chiefs house or Nana as he is know. Nana is a title and not a name. So we are staying at Nana Ampin Darko V's house. The house is occupied by so many people that I am still struggling with names, they even have a house slave girl who is only 9 and does everything, she is up at 5am sweeping! The family is a bizarre extended one at that and there are so many people living there about 11 most of the time, but it can double at weekend when wives and daughters come to stay. But as it is the chiefs house there is always something happening. Many people come to see Nana and discuss their problems with him as he sits wrapped half naked in a bath towell on his ceremonial ornately carved throne! So far he has not got dresses for six days running and is still in that blue towell.
We are quite lucky as we have a toilet and an indoor shower. Many houses near us are falling to peices and have roofs made of palm leafs.
We are both secondary school teachers at the local comprehensive and we are greeted by the pupils as 'master'. We have been thrown into the thick of it. They are so happy to have two teachers who hail from England as the head teacher wants all his kids to speak English and some of them are awful. They only speak Fante or Twi. We have been thrown into the deepend and I have to teach English to first years who cannot understand a word I say let alone answer any questions posed to them. I am also the P.E. teacher or rather the football coach. I train the teams everyday after school and they are in the local Agona league. The season kicks off soon and they all call me 'Mr. Ben', which I find quite nice.
Beacuse we are staying at the chiefs house we are now his children and have been given Ghanian names. I am Kwaku Darko, pronounced Kway-ku. Kwaku means that I was born on a Wednesday and the Darko is plain and simply the family name.
Nana is quite regal, apart from the towell that is and is the chief of Kwanyaku and also the big boss chief of the entire Agona region. It is a case of what he says you do and without question. But he worked in London once so likes us. He instructed Andy and I that we are to come to a festival with him next Friday and a funeral next Saturday. Apparantly funerals are loud, colourful and a spectacle of dancing.
We also had to go to church with the family and it was as if James Brown was at the pulpit, there was dancing, clapping, hand shaking and bizarre circling of the church!
Beacuse we are the only white people in Kwanyaku and there is only a handful in the region we are quite a spectacle as we walk in the streets. I have actually been mobbed by kids. Bloody hundreds of them came running out of a primary school chanting 'obroni' at me. They reach out and touch your arms and are amaized by your colour. Some people can be a bit agressive to you and shout ;white man' in a vindictive tone and a few times I have been accussed of starting the slave trade myself by rathger angry young men. But the majority are nice and friendly. Many all just shout 'hello' and 'how are you'.
But everywhere we go we are invited into peoples homes. Now they could be shacks with l;eaky roofs and or massive colonial houses. We are mostly offered food. The food is huge and very filling. Many time I have been served up friend plantane. Everything is very, very fatty. This is because to be fat in Ghana means that you are regal and rich! Also big is beautiful and Doris our host sister is alwats trying to give me more portions. I wish they had a dog so I could feed it to him. But like true Ghanians they have flea ridden cats, some free roaming chickens and many goats that they slaughter at will.
At school Andy and I are the entire first year English department, but the syllabus is all wrong. There are so many mistakes. Like a book saying that Edinburgh was in London!
The teachers are quite lazy and sit in the staff room all the time. So that leaves us to teach and corrupt the minds of the pupils. But if a pupil steps out of line or does something as trivial such as not to know the answer to a question, then they are caned! Yes they are beatenb really harshly and I had to turn away as a small child was beaten for being a minute late. But it is their culture and I cannot question it.
I have just got back from a weekend excursion to a place called Cape Coast. Cape Coast is the regional capital and a group of 8 of us went there to get away from teaching for a weekend. It is quite nice that we have met some other volunteers. All female and from all over Europe. Although the Dutch are nicest and the Germans a bit scary. I dont think the Krauts like me much. But that doesnt bother me one bit.
Anyway we had a great weekend and I am so brown you wouldnt recognise me. But no hair braids yet!
Take care all I will email soon.
x x


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