As I said before, I have made the conscious decision to only see the good side of Ghana, as much as I can. I suddenly have the urge to take a break from detailing the beach chronicles to express a range of emotions that have gripped my belly this morning, chief of those being one: Appreciation.
Perhaps it’s because this is the first time in a long while that I’ve been anywhere alone – sans children and husband – but I’ve really had a chance to appreciate Ghana for myself and not had to divide my time between being tour guide and entertainer. I’ve had a chance to just sit back, reacquaint myself with the country, and soak it all in for myself.
On the way back from Axim, Emefa and I took the bus back to Accra because there was no space in the one car we had left among the 6 of us. It took 5 hours from the time we bought our tickets to the time we left for the bus to fill up. The driver refused to set off until every seat was full. Emefa and I led a small rebellion and demanded a refund so that we could get on a different bus line.
“Your business plan doesn’t make any sense,” she pointed out. “You have been idling the bus, with air condition, for 5 hours so that you can get an extra 60 cedis? What sense does that make?”
“Oh. That’s be business plan!” countered the enormous driver, who glared at us through aviator lenses and spread his legs in order to assert his dominance. All the same, we left within minutes of that conversation as more and more passengers filed off the bus to demand their money back as well.
Now, one would expect to have to urinate in that amount of time, at least once. The only facility available was a three wall tin shack with a sign posted on one of the walls. I could tell you about it, but I was so intrigued that I shot a video. Some things are just better said with pictures.
OHHH! Malaka?!?!, you say. But when will I ever get the chance to squat piss outside again? It’s a crime to do that in public in the states. Sure I did it all wrong – I was supposed to stand on the two larger stones and pee between them (I thought one of them was bulls eye and whizzed right on it) – but it took me back to a time when I was kid and had no control over my bladder. It was an exercise in nostalgia.
The other thing that has been nice is seeing SO many Black people EVERYWHERE. I’m not being xenophobic or anything, but it’s nice not to stand out in the crowd for a change. I live in the Roswell/ Alpharetta/ Sandy Springs triangle in Georgia, and because I’m a stay at home mom, I feel like there is always some sort of value judgment of me based on my gender and race, and where I’m supposed to be in a certain space in time based on those factors. I often get quizzical stares in the grocery store from other customers for unknown reasons. I think it’s because they assume that I’m on welfare and unemployed and whittling away my time when I should be out looking for a job…but that could just be me projecting. The point is, no one stares at me in Ghana, and I love it.
In the last three to four years, there has been a surge in the use of local prints for everyday wear. Previously a woman dressed in print was either going to a funeral, church, or a traditional function of some sort. Everything Western was “better”. I’ll never forget when one particularly cantankerous Ewe woman looked at the beads I’d strung around my wrist and told me to take them off.
“You look like a villager,” she spat.
I’m so glad that times have changed and we’ve embraced the vibrancy and allure of our cotton prints. My sisters and I are finally at liberty to wear attire and jewelry that celebrates our heritage, that is comfortable, and that makes you feel regal in the process. Even the brothers are getting in on the phenomenon and sporting button down breathable cotton shirts in the most kinetic of colors!
There has also been a swell in the number of women wearing their natural hair in creative ways. I have to confess that it has been amusing and confounding about two trends that are rampant in the capital, those being women who are strongly on the Weave Team and others that are on Team Dread Locks. Weaves are more glamorous, but locks are more practical. I shared a taxi with a woman this morning who was sporting a sew-in down the middle of her back, and I watched with humor as the foreign hair clung to her sweaty back.
I am tempted to concede that this may all be enthusiasm based on my own version of exoticism of my culture, but darn it if it doesn’t feel good. The evidence in an abrupt encounter I had with a stranger just the other night. I went into Jokers with a friend from elementary school and followed him in as he greeted the bouncer at the door. There I was in my African print halter dress, hair all twisted up in flip flops looking very out of place in the midst of women in Lycra, heels, and enough weave to stuff a warehouse full of mattresses. I made eye contact with a girl who had been waiting at the door. As is customary in Atlanta, I nodded and gave her a half smile, just to say “I’ve seen you.”
She cut her eyes at me, looked me up and down, and tilted her head in disdain.
I laughed uproariously in return and walked into the bar/club. It was wonderful! Even getting “eyed” by a whore (which is what I found out later that Jokers is – a place for whores to pick up Johns) was a soul stirring experience!
I’m glad I’m leaving before the novelty wears off, however. I want to hold onto these feelings as long as I can.