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.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Ben's African Adventure 16

Are you wearing you safety pants everyone?
Good now that I know you are all protected I can let you enter my world of unbridled fun and filth. Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the intrpid exploits which make up Ben's African Adventures. Number 16 even!
So let me enlighten you on my latest exploits. After I ventured into lands unknow following in the footsteps of famous African explorers such as: Captain Speke, Major Laing, Clappertoon, Oudrey, Denham, Livingstone, Richardson, Bath, Overey and Baron Von Deken I hjave returned to a life less ordinary but bizarre none the less.After all my exploits roaming around the country like a Nomad I have retuenred via a small stint in Kumasi to teaching my darling little children in Kwanyaku secondary technical school in the horrible humidity of the central region. Oh how I long for a return of the Harmatan induced dry heat of the north where it is just too hot to sweat.
While I was in Kumasi I decided to explore the city and weave my way thro8ught the jostling crwods of people to see all that I could. I ended up innthe crafts centre and immediately was desended upon by hawkers and staute sellers. My white skin shines out like a beakon and must beckon to them to all come over and harass me. But I escaped by jumping a fence to freedom!
Kumasi is Ghanas second biggest city but has a poulation twice the size of Accra's. Ergo the streets are heaving wqith people all spewing out from the mayhem which is West Africa's biggets open market. The infamous Majetia market. Where people go to find one item and 15 years later emerge married, with two children and a long beard. Even the women! While there I went to the Ghana Armed forces Museum. A grand old place with a lot of history held within. I have been reading up on all the aspects of colonial rule and the fight for independance which Ghana achieved in 1957. The first African cuntry to do so. I also learnt a lot about the Ashanti war of 1900. Where the Ashanti tribes laid seige to the Kumasi fort and held the govenor and other soldiers there for many days. It was led by the Queen Mother Yaa Asebtwaa, as the King Prempeh had been exiled. She later died in excile in the Seychelles. The guide was very knowledabel but I had to correct him on a few aspects of the tour. I giggled while I did it and many people then started asking me questiosns!
Kumasi is a nice city but it is far too crowded and all the throngs of people in the streets mean that you have to hang on to your wallet for dear life and watch out to avoid being bundled into an open sewer. Also Kumasi proably has the worst drivers on the city streets, even worse than those crazy guys and dolls in Paris!
Before I left Kumasi on a long long tro tro heading to Accra from where I would catch a tro tro to Swedru and be re-aquainted with my odd host family. I walked past the Kumasi zoo. The poor creatures looked so dejected. I was so surprised not to see Greenpeace or the WWF capiagning outside. I refused to go in on principle when somepeople I was with did so.
On my travels I have met many strange people from all the corners of Africa and far off places. One woman in a post office said to me, 'we dont live in trees, tell your country that'. I said yes I did know that and I am not so ignorant to think so. But I will delightfully inform all of my kin on my arrival at Heathrow. Some Ghanaians have a very strange view of us Westerners. But one man a muslim fellow with beard and flowing robes introduced me to the delights of Sun Tea. A wee metal teapot is placed in the sun and a fantastic potent brew is brewed inside. The result a good head rush when you drink it. 'What is in it' I asked, well the chap just loked at me and shiled. So what ever I have ingested is a mystery to me. Like most meals out here really!!
After a long tro tro ride to Accra the horrible, dirty, smelly city full of rude people I escaped to Agona Swedru as soon as the tro tro would leave. For the first time here the tro tro didnt have a preacher onboard. Wow peace and quiet for one. It was however full of those people who try and sell ointments that can cure the world but no God today! Many tro tros are boarded by these Evangelical fanatical preachers who shout and scream. When they see a white person, thats it. They hone in to you and shout directly at you. I like to toy with them and play a game called 'lets talk as loudly as possible about some rude subject and try and out doo them'. It works to a certain dergree. But this one preacher would not be beaten. He decided to take it upon himself and try to get me to join in. I refused point blankly and when I didnt say Amen with the rest of the tro tro he went ballistic at me. What did you do I hear you cry! Well my children all I did was tell him that his flies were open and he stormed off in a huff! One nil to Ben I think.
When we got back to Kwanyaku it was dark and Nana was so pleased to see us. Never in all the time that we have spent there had he chatted so openly to me. He is always very formal and regaal. Which is the customs for chiefs to be. That evening as he told me all about his 18 years in the Ghanaian army the Uber chief came to stay.
This man is Nans boss. Nana Kodjo. He is the chief of all chiefs in the Agona region and he seemed to locve me. He hugged me, spoke to me in the worst English I have ever heard. Loved the fact that I had a Ghanaian name and tried to get Nana to make me a sub chief and run the trials to become one. No thanks mate I said!
Just as he was leaving Doris in her piercing voice shouted 'Come and eat your shitto'. Yes Thats not a spelling mistake, shitto is this thick sauce stuff that she likes to serve up to us. But in all truth it is brown and I can see where the name was derived from.
It is back to school now and instead of teaching English I had to teach politica to a group of giggling girls. Only half the school has reported back after the holidays and the form 3's have exams in a month. Many do not regard their education as anthing worth while and many skip school to earn a few thousand cedis selling stuff down the markets. Also on my arrival at school the school term was officially opened by a travelling preacher and I was introduced as the 'Foreign Coach'. Talking of coaching and sports I have now been made the acting head of sports in the school. Oh great! I have to organise all the athletics teams outings and competitions and the inter house competitions. I also have to start getting up at 5am and running with the cross country team!
This morning I went o school but before I queued for the toilet. I got in an an entire fishhead was floating in the toilet water. Now that must have hurt passing that I thought. Doris was walking a bit like John Wayne so I put it down to her dirty work!
While travelling many people ask for my address. They always say that they will visit me. So about 15 Ghanaians are walking around with the address of Apsley house museum in London in their pockets, I am so mean. But I am sure my dear old Mum wouldnt want half of Ghana turning up on their doorstep! The other things I have notice are that the further up north you go the facial tribal scarring gets more intricate and some have faces covered in an almost spider web pattern. Also kids have huge protruding navals from the lack of medical facilties from when they were born. Some protrude out two whole inches!
Other news and I have found out where I am off to with VSO. Finally after months of waiting and anticipation I was emailed and told that I am going to be working with people with disabilities in Indonesia for 3 months. Then I am doing the same thing for 3 months in Glasgow! I cannot wait.
Being back down south and back into a routine of teaching has its advantages. There fruit down here is enormous and the pineapples are the best I have ever tasted. There is a distict lack of fruit up north. The finger nails on peoples left hands are longer down here, it is disgusting. The left hand in Ghanaian culture is the dirty hand for doing dirty things so is considered rude to use. So they let the fingernails grow on that hand. It really is horrible. Especially as you see them picking their ears with the long nail on their little finger! It is enough to put you off you massive Doris sized portion of Fufu!
So then I am back in Swedru and all the other volunteers have gone home. Or so I thought! In truth there are 7 new people and yesterday they came looking for me as Seth our SYTO rep told them that I was a good person to show them around. I have never met a more culture shocked bunch. They were terrified by everything and I had to be guide, confident, protector and beer master for them for a day. I reassurred them all about things that they seemed to be scared of and reassured the girls that when they get marriage propesals they are not serious. They have all taken to wearing fake wedding bands anyway!
So in the same week that Africa inaugerated its first female president I must leave you and continue to tell you of my tales another time.
Til we meet again my faithful readers.

x x x x x x


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