Saturday, July 29, 2017

Ghana 2017 - Day 29. Sharing the last few hours with our Ghanaian friends

I woke up early, as usual, and having nothing better to do I cleaned my room, put all the excess paper I have fluttering around in the trash, and consolidated all my plastic bags into an enormous ball. You may or may not know that in California we no longer get a plastic bag for our groceries, and that I hate every moment of it. In Ghana, on the other hand, they give you a plastic bag (and sometimes two, one inside the other) for anything you buy. The result is that now I am the proud owner of several dozen plastic bags, for I don’t use them for trash disposal at the same high rate at which I receive them. I know I will look with longing at my happy days in Ghana next time I come out of the supermarket back home, joggling my purchases all the way to the car!

I also packed, which is a silly thing to do because I still have three days before departure. I did find, however, that I have too much stuff, and that it is going to take a miracle of packing to be able to fit everything inside. Where has all this stuff come from? I know I acquired four beautiful shirts and several books, but surely I had lots of empty space when I got here. I will have to compress everything as tight as I can if I am going to be able to close the zipper in my travel backpack, and will probably overload my regular backpack, all the time pining for the 5 kilo carved rhinoceros that I saw at the Handcrafts Market the other day.

At 11:30 am I headed for the International Student Hostel, to meet Kaleb and our five Ghanaian student assistants. Kaleb and I have planned a trip to the mall to share lunch with our friends, and to go see the movie Dunkirk. We had invited all the other USAC students as well, but nobody took our bait, so it was just the seven of us that walked to the trotro stop and headed for Accra Mall. Once there I suggested going for pizza, and we stormed the local Pizza Hut (which claimed to be the largest in Africa but was indeed not much larger than the take away outlets back home). When asked what we should get, everyone at unison asked for meat, so we ordered the meat deluxe, double pepperoni, and spicy chicken pizzas, plus a spicy vegetarian just in case any one amongst us had seditious vegetarian tendencies. In contrast to our young people, however, young Ghanaians are decidedly carnivorous, so Kaleb and I were the only takers for the vegetarian pizza.

Our five friends include two young women, Charlotte (aka Shasha) and Ewurama (aka Ama), who couldn’t be more different from each other. Shasha is sweet and a bit shy, but always wears a smile. In contrast, Ama is always ready to give the boys a piece of her mind, is the spokewoman of the group (and is the one I can depend on to get a cup of coffee at the USAC office). Of the three boys Yunuss is the easy going one; he is in charge of taking the photos and is one of my main informants. Theophilus (aka Theo) is a pretty cool guy as well, but he comes across as being the serious one; if you ask him a question he will probably answer “Let me think about it” and after a few minutes comes back with the requested information. Edward (aka Edde) is our computer whiz. I know that their involvement with the project helped the foreign students enormously, as they were the guides to eating places, laundry, email access, theater outings, and so many of the student activities. But they were also angels to me, as a professor, making sure I knew what was going on, where the class was going to meet, having the digital projector ready on every occasion, and in general being available to do any odd chore, which they always performed in a cheerful and prompt fashion. I very much enjoyed spending the afternoon with them.

I am on purpose not telling you anything about the movie Dunkirk. It was a really good movie, so I will not spoil it by telling you what it is about.

Our Resident Director, Auntie Abigail, organized one last event for us this evening: Dinner at Afrikik, one of the hot spots for night entertainment in Accra. She was going to pick me up at the front of Volta Hall, so I made sure I was at the curb, waiting, a few minutes before the appointed time. This gave me the opportunity to sea the flood of young women that were coming out of Volta Hall, lining up in a long queue to await for the next bus, which would then take them to the temporary church they have erected by the stadium. Yes, they are all from different Presbyterian churches across the country, here at University of Ghana for their annual retreat (I think I will go to church tomorrow to see what that is all about). They are a very nice group of young women, many of which greeted me with a “Good evening” as they streamed past me.

Afrikik was a lively place, with a life band, and we had a delicious buffet waiting for us. There was something for everyone, and I managed to try mostly new dishes (e.g., cow leg stew, palava sauce, refried beans, corn tamal) and a few of the ones I had at the beginning of my stay (e.g., okra stew). After the meal the younger generation was getting ready to go dancing and stay up until the wee hours of the morning, but Ama, Kaleb, Edde, and me took the opportunity to say goodbye and go home with Auntie Abigail. A fine ending to a fine day.

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