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.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Ben's African Adventures 20 - The End

Here it is my very last installment of Ben's African Adventures. Dont cry dear readers as I will return in another series of adventures.
The fat lady waddles up on stage and the floor board creek under her weight. She is about to open her mouth but she is just so fat and her arteries so clogged with yellow puss like goo. That her heart canNot take anymore and she falls clutching her chest and arm on to the stage floor and has a heart attack. They say it is not over til the fat lady sings and she is now in hospital so cannot.
That means that it is time for the final installment of my grand adventures in the dusty continent of Africa. My travels my Ben Whateley-Harris or 'Sunburnt, Dusty and Confused' as I like to call them.

But before I start why not add some visual stimulation to these words. Check out To see some photos of my Adventure that has changed my life.

These emails which I have been sending are only a small slither of a slice of cake that is Africa. My journals are massive but alas I cannot write all in my emails that I write in my personal diary. Mostly because I wtrite too much but also because its so bloody rude.
On my blog where I put all my emails so people can read them. TRhis chap put this comment about one of them.

I have never laughed so much in my life. Such vivacity, such sense of humor and such an eye for details – the good, the bad and the ugly. Not to speak of the fantastic memory. Some of the scenes you describe brings to mind my own childhood. I grew up in Ghana and during my tender years my parents used to take me on some of the routes you describe. I imagine that if I had had your eyes and sense of humanity I would have probably stayed in Ghana, instead of moving to and making my home in the US. You are amazing! Don’t lose your common touch and sensibilities. They would come in handy in what I envisage would be a fulfilling and happy life.Kwasi AppiahChicago

I am glad that some people like my emails and seem to love reading them. I know that most of them are far too long to make enjoyable teatime or bedtime reading even. But really when I write I write them as much for myself as I do for all of you readers out there in the real world. This is my way of writing something more tangible than my journals that now amount to a massive 5 whole books (not including the full one that was stolen).

This is my last goodbye to Momma Africa. The place that I have fallen deeply in love with. For all her foibles and madness that seems to overpower everyhting and makes people life with no rationality in their lifes, she has captured my heart and I will return one day and see more of her wonders.
I am off home now to a world of fresh coffe, book shops that actually sell books rather than just bibles, proper tv, the cinema and music. Oh how I have missed the beautiful caress of music.
I was planning on rocking up back home with my hair still in the braids and bunches that sister Doris did for me, but alas I took them out and was surprised just how long my hair was. Although I malted like a blody Yetti, there was hair eveywhere. I had to sweep up the room that I took the bands out in.

If I can give out one peice of advice to you all, it would be to travel. See the world, see all that you can, enlighten yourself. Experience other cultures. Dont just be a bloody tourist (that is a word I hate) be a traveller, an explorer, an intrepid hero daring to go where no one else does. Immerse yourself into a culture and swim in it. Dont just dip a tow into the tepid waters. Travelling and indeed working in another country (especially a country that gives you a high position such as acting head of sports in a school, form master and hed of year one English) gives you such an insight into how others live and work. It maeks you appreciet what you have already and what you dont. It opens your half shut squinting eyes to new ways of approaching obstacles that are in front of you and also teaches you a lot about yourself. Like I really must smile more and frown less as I have ben told by both Ghanaians and other volunteers of numerous nationalities. I have also I think become more chilled out and less bothered by western things, such as technology. Although the internet is a great way to express yourself, such as I am doing now. Even though it is few and far between I do like to have a good old type to get things off my chest.

I will miss Africa. Even though I am only home for 6 weeks before I jet off to Indonesia to work with disabled people in Malang for 3 months and then I go off to Bonnie Scotland to do the same for another and this is just a half time period in my year of adventure, I will miss the African way of life.
I will miss the tro tro's that no matter what time you can catch to any destination and the 'mate', thats his actual title is like a magician and can fill spaces with people where before their were no spaces and the driver thinks he is in banger race and cannot bare to take his foot off the floored excellerator.
I will miss the street foods that are like a game of Russian roulette. You never know if you will get soemthing that you like or whether it has worms in it and smells like arse. The food out here is abundant and that at fiorst shock me for Africa. When I first decided to gfo to Africa I thought of all the famine that you see on the TV. In truth Ghana has too mauch fod and it is always fried in fatty oil. I have never in all my days seen so much oil used in so little time. No wonder some of the Big Mumma's are exactly that. So in my ignorance I thought that maybe I would have to either become fat buy overeating before I come to Africa or put on some weight by going down the gym a lot. I didnt like the idea of becoming a 'Chubba', so I went down the gym all the time at home. So I now think that even though I have done loads of running, football, climbing mountians, swimming in lakes and the sea. I have probably put on a few punds here and there. But on the bright side I have a lovely tan!
The one thing I wont miss will be the fact that you cannot for love nor money get cheese or milk anywhere, real milk not this cream shite that they have.
SYTO the host organisation I have volunteered for I would highly recommend to anyone that wishes to come to ASfrica. The boss Tina Duah and our rep in Swedru Seth Tenkerang are the best people for the job. I cannot criticise them one bit. Seth has such a cool sense of hunoir and Tina tells me the funniest stories ever. Like the Dutch volunteering Father and daugheter who came to Ghana volunteering. Now thats strange in itself, but even stranger when I tell you that the father wanted them to share the same bed for the entire time. Needless to say the daughetr kicked up and stink and ran away.
Tina is also going to write me a reference saying that I have worked in Africa etc etc.

I cannot believe that I am going home. I am rather lookijg forward to going home and having cheese again.
It is odd travelling on your own though. The people I meet are cool, and travelling on your own means that you hve to tlk to everyopne otherwise you can get a bit lonely.

I am so glad that I came to Ghana and the people I have met hve made my trip. The other volunteers are all fantastic and the host family great, very odd but great. Nana in his towell roaming around the hoise with his royal hairy nipples out saying that I look beautiful is a sight and memory that I will take to the grave with me.
The school that I taught in. Kwanyaku secondary technical school was a great place to be. Where else would your class be interupted as you are giving a written comprehension test in English so that the students can go and cut the grass with their sharp cutlasses. Also where in the world apart from Africa is a bloody lethal cutlass part of a pupils kit list?
All these things are the little ideosyncratic things that have made my trip. So many stories have I to tell when I return. Many of which are too rude or involve a good deal of gratuitious nudity to tell in these emails.
One reason I write so much in my emails is that when I return I wont have to tell you all about the things that I have done. Because you have the choice to read about them before I return. This is so I do not bore you all to tears with things that you already know.
They have now installed mini tv's on the back of the seats on the KLM planes. So I will not sleep at all on the flight. This is goint to be a killer as when I land I have so much to do at home and then I reckon someone will pull me down the puB for a good old pint of fine English Ale. Then the following day I have arranged to play for my beloved lacrosse team Buckhust Hill against Croydon in the league and we will be in new spanking brand new kits. Wow then Football on sunday. Its all action Ben when I return. I am looking forward to a good pint though. As I have no car insurance when I get back I wont have to be the designated driver and can have a wee drinky! Rock on!
Ghana airways and Nigerian airways have been grounded as something like 25% of air accidents occur in Africa. When Africa makes up only 4% of the entire sky traffic. I am glad I am on a Dutch airline. But why do the Dutch Volunteers fly to Ghana via London on British Airways while the Brits fly via Amsterdam on Dutch run KLM?
My theory why the planes crash a lot in Africa is that they are piloted by goats. Well the goats must go somewhere at night as they seem to be roaming around on the strrets during the day and vanish after dark!

Final day
I write this last section of my final email to you all back in Accra. Yesterdayb I returned to Swedru and then on to Kwanyaku to have one last night with my host family and their strange ways. I arrived and straight away went to the school where all the children were weeding and cutting the grass of the entire school fiels as the athletics seasons starts today. As soon as the kids saw me I was mobbed. They ran over and hung off me, some shook my hands, some jumped on my back and others kissed me on the cheeks. One poor girl was caned accross the palms because she stopped weeding to talk to me. Then as the teacher (Another Kofi, ythis one is a rude old sod) raised his cane to smack the girl for a second time I thought sod it I am leaving tomoorw and left into action. The cane came flying donw with tremendous force and I reached out my hand and grabbed it in mid flight. The teacher was shocked and the kid smiled at me. The teacher then in a huff pulled the cane from my kung-fu vice like grib and stormed off. I bloody hate caning and think that Ghana should follow our example by outlawing it.

So aftre I had really offended one teacher I went around meeting all the other members of the staff. The groundstaff and drivers who for some reason really love me all came charging over and mobbed me in the same fashion as the kids did, but minus the kisses thank goodness. One man has a big olt tash and no teeth and I would rather that he didnt pucker up and try and plant one on me.
All the teachers were sad to see me leave and gathered around to hear the tales of my last travels. Before long I had escaped before they were going to take me down to the store room to meet the strange lady who lives within I ran back to Nanas. For one Nana Ampin Darko the chief was fully dressed and had turned my old room into his counselling room where he holds deep discussions on village affiars with the elders. But the piost cards of London which I had given him, I was proud to see mounted in a frame on the wall!
I stayed one night and Sister Doris was so glad to see me that she fussed around me and soon became very annoying. But she gave me the most beautiful leaving present. A shirt made just for me in a truly African style. It is long sleeved with a grandad collar and very long. It flows down to mid shin. Of course it is in some weired and wonderful artistic pattern and is made from quite a thick material, but none the less I was over the moon with it.

So in my time back in Nana's house I talked at lenght woth Mrs. Nana about London and she told me about in her youth she saw a man commit suiside from Brixton town hall roof. She told me she felt guilty as she egged the man on and her with some other friends shouted coward at the man. She is a dark horse really, but is great to talk to.
I also had a date ti meet the new volunteers in Swedru, so soon I was back on a sweaty tro tro being called Obroni by everyone and thing that moves and found my way to the Shaduf spot where they all were hanging out drinking cool refreshing beer. Once again the lady with the green face was there and when the owner of the bar a friendly man called Francis whos little daughter wont leave me alone, found out I was going he seemed very sad.
After lots of drinks and a Ben;s jacakanory session about the Yeji ferry antics and drivers being arrested I left for my final night innthe rural wilds of West Africa.

Now I am going to spend the rest of the day haggling with the people who sells carvuings on the street, go to SYTO to say goodbye and re-opack my bag and dump all my clothes that are bloody ruined now. They have holes in from Sister Bea's washing and are all bleached, faded and stretched.

So thats all folks. The fat lady has re-appeared after her minor heart attack and now fitted with a pacemaker is warming up in the wings. Soo it is over for me and as I board the plane home she will thunder out her roar of a singing voice to signal the end of a fantastic life changing experience in Africa.
Africa, what a place. You must go!

So fotr the least time, where ever you are,. what everr you are doing.

P.S. Remember to check out the photos on they are a surefire thing!
If you cannot be bothered to navigate yourway through the website to find the photos here are a few links for you to follow:
There are loads more, all you have to do is look. I unfortunately only have a point a click PAS film camera. None of this high tech digital mularky so I cannot uplaod any untikl I get them developed and put on to a CD. The trouble is though, that I have so many films to develop and not the money to do so. It may take a while before you can see all my pictures (I bet you breathed a huge sigh of relief)!
Also if you go to and type in Nana Ampin Darko VI you are given an option of visiting my blog at how cool is that!


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