Independence Day

7 03 2008

Yesterday (March 6th) was Independence Day here in Ghana and I decided to go and watch the march-past near the cultural centre. The march past lasts all morning and includes representatives of schools, hospitals, the Red Cross, scouts etc as well as the military. Since probably most people in Tamale knew someone marching it seemed like most of them had turned up to watch. It says something about the level of entertainment in Tamale when the prospect of watching people marching for hours followed by dignitaries making worthy but dull speeches over a distorted PA system in burning hot sun is a major attraction.

By the time I got there the place was packed, with crowds milling around, some trying to climb onto things to get a view. Fortunately I’m relatively tall here (ok, mildly above average) so I could glimpse what was going on, but a lot of people seemed content to just stroll around. Of course the normal contingent of vendors selling pure water, or carrying glass display cabinets of local delicacies on their heads or stacks of oranges plied their trade. There were quite a few “dudes” strutting around as well. Guys who seemed to have decided to dress like 1970s pimps for some reason, with felt hats and purple shirts.

Actually clothing is one of the strange things here; seeing t-shirts that were obviously donated to charity shops in the US or Europe being worn by people in the street here with no obvious connection to the “Spring break, New Orleans 2004” or “Oakdale primary school PTA”, and I doubt many of the people I see wearing t-shirts commemorating rock concerts or visits to Hong Kong have actually left Ghana or enjoy thrash metal. But I digress.

Enthralling as what I could see of the spectacle was I wondered off after about twenty minutes and spent a large chunk of the rest of the day arguing about the Iraq war with a couple of Peace Corps vols. I supported it and they attacked Bush etc and wished that they could live in a country with socialized health care. It is mildly worrying being to the political right of an American. Overall a pleasant and interesting day, hopefully I’ll get some pictures of the parade onto Flickr.
Independence Day Girl Guides March
Independence Day Kids Watch March 

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