February 29, 2012
By the time you are reading this, I would have spent sixty days in the second most populous country in West Africa. When it was clear that I was moving here, I looked forward to a number of things: new people, some adventure, a new house, the new job I was coming for and maybe most of all, the truth or not of the fairy tale we heard back in Nigeria that power never fails in Ghana. Take note, ‘the fairytale’.
My first impression at the Kotoka International Airport was that there were some shared traits among African Government workers. There was a bit of extortion going on, just a bit, not really like the Nigerian Airport. Well I was surprised at first but then I decided that maybe it was because I was coming from Nigeria; the somethingth most corrupt nation in the world. (now where’s that Blackberry emoticon that covers its eyes).
The have very nice houses and hotels around the airport and I discovered later, very pricy apartments to let too in the so-called Airport Residential area. Foreigners appeared to be ubiquitous: Other Africans, Asian and Caucasians from the West. Who wouldn’t want to live in a quiet town with stable power and water led by a stable democratic government? Further into town, on my way to work daily, I passed through the Kanda Estates, moderate middle class residential area. Cutting over to Ring Road, one began to see banks, hotels and businesses up till Kwame Nkrumah Circle, a major bus stop which reminded me of Mile 2 in Lagos Nigeria. Further down that road, one could connect to Adabraka on the left and North Kaneshie/Industrial Area ion the right where I now live.
Well, away from the airport, I did meet very nice people, well very nice smiling people or maybe you could say very smiling people all over town especially at the Hotel. Everyone smiled, I guess it was part of their training. But beyond the Hotel, everyone still smiled. At my new office, everyone, at least the Ghanaians, smiled. They were very courteous too. Even the cleaners asked me ‘How are you?’, the waitress at the restaurant would ask ‘Are You OK?’. I heard the last phrase a number of times before I realized they were just asking out of courtesy not that I looked sick!
Sooner I started hearing the ‘Massa’and ‘Chale’ and so on. The first time I heard ‘Chale’ I thought my colleague had mistaken my name for Charles or something. This strange new Pidgin English was really rampant amidst the excellent regular English (with a Ghanaian twist) that I heard everywhere in the capital city Accra. Most of all I heard the local language either Akan or Ga. The first language a taxi driver, market woman, waiter and all spoke to you was a local language until you indicated you did not understand. I wondered how come this was in the capital city. Well I guess they have much fewer languages and are possible very proud of their culture.
While on loving their culture I should mention the food. I have seen women dressed in English suit eating foofoo dumped in a bowl of white soup with their hands in the office canteen! Wow! The way that combination looks, the first time I tried it and subsequently, I definitely used a spoon. I have also tried the Banku a lumpy meal made from maize and eaten with soup or sauce and beef, goat mean or more often, Tilapia fish. The one I kind of liked was the Eba and Palava sauce. (by the way, do not assume all my spellings are correct by any means). I learnt Palava sauce is made from spinach leaves and fried eggs! The food is Ok generally but I mostly eat one out of the several variants of rice.
I haven’t been about so much but I did visit the Accra Mall where the well-known Shoprite, The game and a Theartre were located reminding one of The Palms Shopping Mall in Lekki, Lagos Nigeria. I will probably have more to tell you guys when I visit the beach and the pretty looking ‘African’ hotels in the Labadi Beach area. Cheerio!
P.S. I found a nice map of Kwame Nkrumah Circle here: http://www.maplandia.com/ghana/greater-accra/accra-tema/alajo/squares/kwame-nkrumah-circle/