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.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Ben's African Adventure 12

22nd December 2005

I opened my eyes this morning and thought I must have still been asleep. But I was wrong. My bizarre host family were playing gospel music at 100 decibels at 4.30 am. But its just another day in Ghana. You know what thats means? It's that time again to polish your reading glasses, pull up a pew and stop dreaming of what Santa is going to bring you. It is Ben's African Adventures time........... Ok so lets begin as you are all sitting down and comfy in your nice xmas slippers. I decided I needed to escape rom marking 90+ exam papers and the fact that most of them were below 30% and a fail really depressed me. I had puit so much effort and all I had into teaching these kids and to see them fail like that is a real dissapointment. So I escaped to Swedru our local town. As soon as I got off the tro tro I heard 'Mr. Ben' being shouted at me. I looked over and it was: Vincent the argiculture teacher, Ofori the sports undermaster and the other teacher who played the organ (very badly) at the carol service that I had to attend and was made to sit at the head table with the priests and local dignitaries. So I trotted over to them and before I knew it I was in a bar doing shots of Alumo bitters such as waist and power and Kasapreko gin with them. Rock on! I finished the marking of all the exams and had to add the scores from their classwork to get a total and then enter the scores onto the report cards. It made dismal reading. Ou of 90+ kids only one got an A. But many you could see really tried. Some didnt even bother and some kids I had never heard of before. These are the kids who dont turn up to ny lesson but try to scrape the exam and really annoy me. The teachers t school really like me and the headmaster bought me an African shirt for xmas from all at the school. Its lovely if you like that sort of thing. It is so nice infact that it is almost ten times too big for me and looks like a bloody tent and is made out of the most corse fabric that if I wore it I would have constant nipple rash. But the thought was lovely and I really appreciate it. The teachers like the fact that no matter what they give to me food and drink wise I will try it. Even if it looks like arse and tasts like arse. They really like that and call me 'strong' because I will drink all that they put in front of me. Even the bizarre local beverages whih look like vomit. I have tried them all. They made me do the entire line of bottles in this bar. Well I call it a bar. It was a dingy back alley room with a table with bottle son it and a woman passed out on the floor with her breats out! Yep there is always a woamn with her mammories out, everywhere you go. On bus, in a church, they wop them out. Normally it is for a young child to suckle on as many Ghanian women are employed as wet nurses, but sometimes I think they just fall out as they are so saggy and they dont realise it. Especially if they are in a drunken stupor lying on the floor. So anyway there I was doing all these shots ans my head was buzzing. Some of the stuff is so herbal that I had the most amaizing wind for 3 days running. But they loved it when I downed some brown, mud like stuff which name escapes my memory. Ihave had to invigilate many exams and it it the single most annoying task ever. I was the only teacher invigilating the exam ion a field and bloody hell do the kids cheat. I even had to chase goats away. I just gopt them all quiet and shouted that they could turn their papers over in an authorative tone when another teacherappeared,, lets just call her the pregnant one. Well she disrupted the entire exam, got them all talking then had a moan at me because they weretalking and wanted to cut the exam short by 40 minutes so she could go home. Bloody hell how ignorant can one person be. I was there for the whole exam and stalked the rows of desks like a drill sargeant. I didnt wnt to kick anyone out and ruin their marks, but I shiouted and braked at anyone who even so looked like cheating. but I know as soon as I turned my back they all looked at each others papers. I was running low on money and so decided that I needed a trip to the bank. Akim Oda was the nearest place with a barclays Ghana bank. So I caught a tro tro past the tallest tree in Afrixc with its really informative sign "The Big Tree" and an arrow pointing down a dirt track. Something to do in January I thought to myself. But bugger I got to Oda and the bank had no cash point. So Henrik and I had to go to Accra again and use the bank. That is where I am emailing from. Henrik and I on a day trip to the city. I hate Accra it is too big, American, dirty and full of crooks! We spent a whole 10 minutes in Oda as there was nothing in the town and looked exactly like Oda. Besides we had to be back at the school for the end of year assembly before all the kids break up for the festive period. I was mobbed by them all hugging me and a profeshional photographer was there and I am in loads of pictures with teachers in their special African long flowing germents. Coincidently they want me to get one of those made, or rather I think they will get one for me made as a leaving present as they keep asking what size I am. But then again I was measured by a seamstress when my host family wanted to make me a shirt for the Queen mother of Nyakrom's inaugeration and the shirt was bloody huge on me and orange! So I am not hopeful of anything fitting me at all. While we went to Oda the tro tro in which we travelled was the best tro tro in the world. Firstly it was full of chickens and when I sat down I spooked them. Resulting in feathers everywhere and mayhem. Then the dorr fell off. I kid you not the actually slide door clanged down on the floor as we sat engine running loading the back. Then the large water drums that they loaded on the back and secured with twine came loose and spilled onto the road making the following tro tro swerve and almost caused a near miss! What a ride! I still am called Obroni everywhere I go, but not so much in my home host viollage of Kwnyaku. They call me 'Obroni Koto'. It means whiteman who is now red! Yep a result to my suntan. Although to take my shirt off in public is regarded with dismay and I get shouted at. But if I do it in Nana's garden then no one blinks an eye lid. So I spend many hours reading topless in the garden and playing with the puppies who are now at the optimum cute age. They even answer when I call them. I have named the boy trouble, but he is a bit wimpy and the outgoing mad little girl is called strife. They are great. i sometimes speak to them more that my host family.As no matter what I try and tell them in basic English and pigin Twi/ Fante they havnt a clue as to what I am going on about. Oh today is Nana Ampin Darko VI's 67th birthday! Doris our host sister came up to me this morning and asked me 'Ben what is pissing'! Apparabntly in my sleep she got up to poo or somehting and heard me talking in my sleep saying something like 'stop pissing on my floor'! It is odd but ever since I have been on malaria tablets I have had the strangest dreams and have talked in my sleep. When I had the 4 in the bed German experience I was apparantly saying close the door over and over again! I must be going mad!!!!!!! The malaria drugs do send you a bit loopy. But even more so if you are on Larium. Poor old Henrik is on that and he had a horrible run in with the dreaded malaria. It wasnt nice to see! I have now discovered a place where you can buy a large sachet of gin for the equivilent of 6p. I have bought loads of them and now have a proper store for New Years when we go up north and celebrate in style in a national park.

26th December 2006

Boxing Day in Africa Boxing day in the sun eh. This is the life. I spent xmas evev by a swimmim pool at the Greenland hotel as the volunteers met up and had our unnoficial xmas doo. We thought wouldnt it be nice to have a day of relaxation before the storm of Christmas day errupts in our faces. How rong were we. The entire pool soon became full of kids, bloody loads of them. All swimming around in pants that kept falling off. Very off putting if you are trying to have a bit of escapism! Christmas eve morning I had some very sad news. Well I was told in a true Ghanaian we dont give a shit matter of fact way. Sister Bea came up to me and said 'The man you do sports and eat fufu with is dead'. She is such a bitch, I wanted to slap her dwarfish face there and then. It is with great sadness that I report to you that Kofi the deputy headmaster and sports master died in his sleep of heart complications brought on by too much alcohol and not enough rest. I was shocked and couldnt believe it. Only a few days before I had posed for a photo at the Kwanyako school carol service as he was wearing his long traditional robes. Now he is gone. The Ghanaians treat death very differently from us aas I have found out much to my annoyance and it sickens me the way that they told me. Poor old Kofi, his real name is Peter Kofi Adu Essah. I will always remember him for the strange, bombastic but throughly likeable and nice man that he was. He was very strange, for example squatting and having a dump in front of me but he was such a nice man and invited me for a meal to his house and always gave me some bizarre spirit to drink. It saddens me to think I will never hear his voice berate a starled student ever again. Rest in peace Kofi, pleasent dreams. Christmas eve in Kwanyaku was more of a celebration than xmas day. There was a massive competition between the liberian refugee camp town of Kasos. Kwanyaku beat them for the second consecutive year running at volleyball. Frank our host brother was their inspirational captain and was lunging himself around the court getting very dusty and leading by example. It is a matter of pride to beat the much larger town near Accra of Kasoa. Christmas day was very strange. Firstly I had to dress smart, so flares and cowboy shirt I went with the family to bloody church. More poxy preaching and I tried to fall asleep,but just as I was getting drwosy we had to all get up and dance. Eventually we retuerned back to the house and slobbed around in the blistering heat and scorching beams of the sun playing with the puppies and being harassed by three young children who have taken a liking to me. No turkey for us, we had chicken, rice and ome bizarre cabbage stew, it was al very nice. Then we washed it down with a bottle of cheap plonk and some apetishi and guinness that Doris has rustled up from under tone of the folds of her stomach probably. We gave every member of the house a christmas present. We went out shopping and bought them all something small. Nana got an English country gardens calendar and a bottle of schnapps and his face lit up when I gave thme to him. We bought the kids small toys that were soft so they couldnt destroy them after 5 minutes and also we bought Mr.s Nana a picture frame. All stuff like that, mostly tat really. I tried to play pass the parcel with the kids, but it was all too much for them to fathom so I thought wouldnt it be funny to let them just get confused by all the wrapping paper. It did throughly perplex them! Today I went to Winneba beach. Sir Charles beach and watched as the fishermenin their wooden boats bobbed on the waves and reeled in their gigantic catch of snapper. They all stand on the beach and pull in the giant nets. It takes about 3 hours to real in one whole net and is a sight to behold. They all sing while they do it and the movement when they pull is almost as if they are dancing. It is hypnotic to watch them all moving in syncronisation in this ritual dance. Winnneba is full of the scariest clowns I have ever seenin my life today. They are roaming the streets and terrifying small children and adults alike. They look eveil and menacing. It is a Ghanaian tradition that on this day people entertain one another. Or thats what some random in the tro tro back to Swedru told me. But seeing people all dressd up in this heat makes me think that probably they are a nomadic group of crazies who rampage accross the country!!! Tomorrow I am off travelling with a few other volunteers. We are meeting in Swedru and heading to Kumasi. One night there and then on to Tamale 12 hours away and then on to Larabanga before ending up in Mole national park and looking at elepahnts for New Years. I cannot wait. I am so excited that I know I wont sleep tonight. Not that I can sleep anyway, my malaria drugs keep me up almost all night and when I do sleep the dreams I get are very surreal and strange. We will be gone for 2 weeks and after New Years we are meeting up with yet more people who we know out here and exploring all the places along the Burkina Faso border. I want to hurdle the border and then jump back to say that I have been there! We are meeting up with some lasses tomorrow in Kumasi and then meeting 'Ze Germans' (the nice Germans who talk to you) in Tamale. So it will be one huge mass of nationalities and a great New Years party. Rock on!!! Well I have got to go now. I told Mrs. Nana that I would be home for dinner and if I am late she will probably feed it to one of the fat kids. Take care all and Have a bloody marvelous New Years See you all in 2006
Peace and Love ben x x x x x


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