Grazing another world

21 04 2009

I’ve abused the generosity of several private sector ex-pats in the last couple of weeks, and got a glimpse of another life. A week after the whole spit roast pig party with the employees of a water company I was drinking wine and swimming in a private pool belonging to commercial shea nut buyers (after a rowdy karaoke session). I was swimming fully dressed and it was five o’clock in the morning, but I didn’t get much wetter than I had when I’d been caught in a tropical storm earlier. A few days later the executive of a telecoms company bought me lunch and dinner and provided good company. Interestingly two of the connections were made as a result of my internet presence, and the third was a random “kidnapping” (we thought we were getting a lift into town, they decided we were joining their party).

Each was a glimpse into another world. The parties were thrown by Europeans living in houses in Tamale a world from the house Fred & I share. Water isn’t worried about, there are backup generators, air-conditioning, satellite TV, good food and great booze (in apparently unlimited quantities). The buildings appear to be structurally sound but surrounded by high walls with razor wire and goats seemed totally absent. It did seem a little jarring being driven home the morning after looking at the poverty on the streets as we were travelled in big air-conditioned 4×4 blearily recovering from the excesses of the night before.

At first glance it seems wrong that such opulence should exist amidst such squalor, but distance shouldn’t make inequality more or less acceptable. The houses I visited weren’t that different in essence from the homes my friends and family live in back in the UK – why is acceptable to enjoy wealth in Europe but not in Africa? And the people whose generosity I was abusing are actually here, creating jobs, sharing skills and improving infrastructure. That they’re doing at commercial rates rather than charitably doesn’t change that they are making a difference – probably a more significant difference than I’ll achieve after nearly 2 years, and I’m extremely grateful for all of their hospitality.

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27 12 2009
Six months on « The Fat Worm

[…] feels like a lifetime since I was robbed cycling back from Vicky’s birthday drinks at TICCS. The evening I ended up fully clothed in some local ex-pats’ swimming pool at 5am during a tropical […]

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