Goodbye Ghana

1 07 2009

Ada Foah sunsetI didn’t actually cry, but I was close to it saying goodbye to people who’ve become close friends. And now I’m sitting in my mother’s dining room listening to a couple of Ghanaian hip-life tracks and thinking fondly about the noise, heat, colour and chaos that is Ghana. I’m also trying to avoid thinking about the next phase of my life looming ahead.

For years I was nervous about visiting Africa, partly because almost everyone I knew who had visited came back claiming to have “fallen in love” with the continent. I was a bit dubious about how one could fall in love with an entire continent, especially when they had usually only visited a single country. But, generally averse to forming strong emotional connections, I wasn’t going to take any risks. My initial impressions of Ghana lulled me into a false sense of security; the litter everywhere, the low, nondescript houses and the lack of impressive scenery left me cold. However Ghana (and I’d never dream of speaking for Africa) is a subtle seductress, wiling her way into your affections through subtle charms. Her flaws are so glaring that after a while you stop noticing them and the humour and good nature of the people, the vibrancy of colours and crowds as well as the heat that engulfs you like a comfort blanket all start to wear down your resistance. Add to that the companionship of a network of fellow volunteers who are kind, witty, clever and engaging as well as sharing most of my values (and some of my interests) and I will admit I was beguiled. I’ll miss Ghana, but I’ll miss my friends more.

Xmas DancingSome great memories will include travelling through the rural Upper East Region on the back of Agnieszka’s motorbike, dancing at the Navrongo St Patrick’s party, spending time in Salaga and with the old Salaga crew, possibly my best Christmas ever on the coast, dinner parties at the Peace Corps house with Kim, Fred and random Peace Corps vols, visiting schools in Bongo, helping with the distribution in Walewale, travelling up and down between Tamale and Bolga by tro-tro (including one dramatic breakdown), interminable Nigerian movies on interminable STC bus trips to and from Accra, learning to be patient while explaining what seems to me to be the obvious, teaching a class of 24 about Word and Excel with only 8 computers (some of which had Danish keyboards to confuse things), smiling children shouting “hello” and waving, discussing random things for hours with Fred and sitting in a spot with a book and a beer. The best aspect has been the other volunteers, perhaps the worse not having enough to do. I’ve learnt to cope with not having flowing water, dodgy electricity and having to burn my garbage (nearly killing Fred in the process).

Ghana hosted the Cup of African Nations and held an election while I was here. Both were spectacles and both went well (although Ghana coming 3rd in CAN was a bit of disappointment). I also attended VSO’s bi-annual volunteers’ conference which was a good chance to meet and discuss with other volunteers, plus a chance to Scottish dance and generally enjoy myself.

In my final trip around Ghana she revealed what a beauty she actually is. In four weeks of fairly constant travel we still missed whole regions, but were able to enjoy scenery and wildlife as well as history and architecture. We missed the beaches of the Western Region, the hippo sanctuary in the Upper East and I never got to set foot in the Volta Region, rumoured to be the prettiest in Ghana. I won’t talk about what we did see as I’ve done that in previous posts.

If you’re interested please read the blog (perhaps starting from from here) or look at my photos here




One response

7 07 2010
Re-boarding the responsibility train « The Fat Worm

[…] years since I left HSBC and secure, paid, employment. It’s almost a year since I got back from Ghana, nine months since the start of my PGCE and finally I’m heading back into respectability. From […]

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