Monday, 17 May 2010

Ghana, 10 months later

Hi there!

All well here in Ghana. Now entering my last month of my African experience. Time invariably bends and twists rapidly. I know I haven't been writing for a while but c'est la vie quoi.

A lot of things have happened and been done since last time. I've travelled a whole lot in Ghana and have had some great experiences involving motorbikes, shamans, trees, mountains, friends, illegal border crossings, bicycles, slave dungeons, nature, boiled jam, roof top journeys, sun sets, shrines, vehicle breakdowns, beer, wine, swimming, chaos and timelessness. I also went on a family holiday in Burkina Faso recently, a nice (small jet-setting) vacation indeed. My parents have been visiting, and so has a Flemish friend of mine who just today went back to Burkina Faso after we've done some travelling in Ghana's extraordinarily beautiful Volta Region.

I've also gotten more integrated in my village life outside of Accra and I will sure as the eternal flames that awaits the sinning me, miss my host family and the school kids when I leave in one month. You just can't help but to love the kids in Ghana, from the smallest upwards. My language motivation has come back small and now I can actually have a conversation with people (about normal things) in Twi. Always handy when for example negotiating prices or when generally bored in a tro-tro.

Accra, the capital, also feels more like a normal, less intimidating city nowadays. Sure, it's not a city you easily fall in love with but now I feel more able to just embrace the chaos and become one with it. Something that undoubtedly is very difficult in this sweaty, noisy, crowded, disorganized, smelly, dusty place. There are great spots here however. Areas with a lot of atmosphere or beer-drinking spots with beautiful views over the Atlantic Ocean. It just takes time and energy to find them ooo.

Well, as I mentioned before, I will go back to Sweden in one month. My plane will leave the 18th of June early in the morning and I hope to arrive in Munkfors 20-24 hours later. Hoping is the correct word in this context since last time I left Africa for Europe there were a lot of problems! Anyway, in Sweden I hope to eat kebabpizza, barbecued salmon, gratin dauphinois, elk, lingonberries, falukorv and tunnbrodsrullar med tonfisk and drink coffee, loka vichyvatten, snapps for midsommar, and milkshake with fresh berries.

Next chapter is not laid out yet but it will with 99% certitude involve earning money. Where, how, and when only the future knows!

Ok, that's a general update about my life. Swim easy as you put it in Swedish.

Ik heet Marcus en ik houd van avontuur.


Friday, 27 November 2009


Long time no see (as usual)
What´s new?
- I’m suffering a serious lack of music
- I have trouble staying informed about what is happening in the world
- I LOVE to play football, and so does everyone else in Ghana
- 100 attempts to convert me to Christianity have taken place
- All have failed
- 50 attempts to disprove things in the Bible have taken place
- All have failed
- Exams are coming up in school, unfortunately many pupils will fail miserably
- I’m tired of rastas and their “respect”
- Harmattan (Sahara winds) is here, limiting my sight to a few kilometers and killing my eyes
- My wallet has been stolen two times
- One time I took it back
- I’ve been to seven of the ten regions in Ghana (although briefly)
- Ghana is very beautiful
- Ghanaians are very friendly
- They are not so polite
- My Twi is okay by now
- I have forgotten that books exist
- I’ve walked to the shore in Tema (7 hours)
- I really like the kids in school
- Some are really bright
- Others have huge problems
- My room is not very decorated, except for a huge poster of Didier Drogba
- In school I’m either called Monsieur or Mr/Sir Marcus
- I like it
- I’m lazy and eat too much
- Food in Ghana is absolutely delicious
- I use newspaper instead of toilet paper
- I don’t like to go to the toilet at night because of the cock-roaches
- They are big and disgusting
- My brother was here to visit me a week from Burkina Faso
- It took 30 hours to get here by bus
- We ate fufu and drank beer
- I won’t spend Christmas in Sweden for the first time in my life
- General knowledge amongst Ghanainas is quite limited
- Ghana will reach the quarter-finals in the World Cup and lose against Denmark
- Kebab pizza and real coffee are two things I miss
- There are 6 cats living on the school compound
- Micheal Essien is a semi-God in Ghana
- The school’s motto is “Service to mankind is service to God”
- Every Wednesday the students have worship for two hours
- Fridays we have Physical Education
- This means football, the obruni team (mine) against the obibini team.
- We have lost one game more than we have won
- I guess that’s all for now
- Yes Goyens, I know

See u later, and enjoy

/Mr. Marcus

Monday, 26 October 2009

Back to school

Hi again!

Long time no see I know but at least I'm writing a few lines here right now at 4:48 p.m. I'm in Madina, the place you go to if you live in New Legon and wants to use the Internet. It takes 30-40 minutes here with a tro-tro, a small, dirty, smelly, crowdy minibus. Not suitable for a man of 1.86 meters with long (pale) legs. It is however, dirt-cheap, and a the only means of local transport in Ghana.

Anyway, life down here is becoming better by the day. Mostly because I have more to do in my project now. So what do I do? Well, I'm working as a teacher. The thought was that I would teach French to some classes in the school (1-2). But since I prefere to teach older students (easier to help, listen more to what I say, don't give me as much head-ache etc) I'm at the moment teaching mathematics to classes 5 and 3 as well as English grammar to class 3. In addition to that, starting next week, I will be giving extra classes after school to classes 5-6 for free. The subjects will vary but my main goal is to teach the students how to actually speak a little bit of French.

Cause as it is now, the French teacher, a Togolese, enters the classroom, writes grammar on the blackboard and then gives the students homework. The students behave as living question-marks, do the homework, mostly fail and get lashed for it. And no one can speak at aaaall.

Otherwise, there are huge differences in knowledge among the classes down here. Some students in class 5 and even 6 can barely read at all. And some students in class five should really be in class 3 and so on. The difference between a normal school in Ghana and one in Sweden is huge. More of that later though.

Teaching is not easy, my pedagogic skills are at best average and the respect for a white man among the pupils is not great. Nevertheless, since I try I feel that it gets easier every day. I'm very lucky that I have a project in which I'm actually needed and where I could take any amount of initiatives in order to help the students. The more you do, the funnier it gets and the more you learn. Unfortunately for some other volunteers, they have ended up in projects where they are not needed. And when our host organisation, pardon my French, is quite fucked up it is difficult for those volunteers to change anything at all.

Well, that's all for now. I'll try to write more soon. Actually have (slow) Internet on my cell-phone now, so I can stay connected a little bit more. Yebeshia bio!


Thursday, 10 September 2009

Cultural experiences part 1 – Running on Labadi beach

Labadi is a part of eastern Accra and is situated close to the beach. Some mornings after having stayed at my friends’ place there, I’ve gone running on the beach. It is quite an interesting experience I must tell. First of all, the beach is very dirty since a lot of things are dumped on it, or in the sea and subsequently washed ashore (playing football here requires hawk-eyes and feet of steel). The running starts to get really interesting after a kilometer or two where the beach starts to get crowded. Not by jogging or swimming people (most Ghanaians can’t swim), but by men performing their morning rituals. These rituals basically consist in shitting on the beach. Yes indeed, the beach is transformed into a public dumping ground of human feces. The men, because women are rarely seen here, aren’t at all disturbed by some jogging obrunis and some of them have even asked us to join them. Well, maybe one of these days…..

God and Ghana

Here in Ghana God plays an important role. The country is mostly Christian although a substantial population of muslims live in the country as well. Everywhere you go you will see small shops, taxis and tro-tros (minibuses) with names such as “God is Good”, “Praise the Lord”, “Jesus Saves” and so on. On Sunday morning people go to church and there’s a wide array of different ones aaall over the country. The church which most of my host family attends belongs to the Presbyterian Church of Ghana. The Sunday preaching is actually performed in one of the classrooms of the school, with the pastor standing beside the blackboard. People put on their best clothes and go there at 9am. And so did I, a non-believer, for the first time in almost 12 years.

I thought it would be culturally interesting to go there, and I would have an opportunity to meet people from the community. After all, going to church in Ghana is not the same as going to church in Sweden. Here there´s a lot more singing and dancing, which makes it a quite fun experience in between the Bible readings. This Sunday however, the pastor didn’t arrive so we had an improvised ceremony of about two hours. But even though it was interesting to dance in a church, 2 hours of God-praising in Twi isn’t really my cup of nescafé. But I was lucky, other volunteers complained about 5 hours of Bible-Twi at their churches.

When meeting a Ghanaian you are bound to sooner or later be asked the question “Are you Christian?” or “Do you believe in God?”. If, as in my case, the answer is no, the next question would be “Muslim?”. Then maaaybe “Buddhist?”. After each negative response the general Ghanaian will be more and more surprised and might even become disappointed. It’s for them very difficult to grasp the fact that an obruni (white man) doesn’t believe in God. After all, it was the obrunis who brought the Bible to Ghana in the first place.

The reason why I haven’t written in a bit is that I’ve been travelling for a week, to Accra and the beaches of south-western Ghana. Very nice indeed. However, now I’m back in New Legon and am looking forward to working. I’ll prooobably, most likely, almost certainly write more frequently when the teaching starts next week!

So long


Tuesday, 1 September 2009


11 days have passed since I left Sweden for Ghana. I arrived in Accra at 3am the 21th and got picked up at the airport by a friend of a friend. One hour of sleep on his couch and I was off to meet the other volunteers and go to the introduction camp a few hours east of Accra. We were 23 volunteers in total, who spent one week learning about Ghanaian culture, language and other things. We were taught a little Twi, the most widely spoken language in Ghana (except for English), which will come in handy during the year.

After camp we were sent to our different host families or projects. I was sent to my host family in New Legon, a small town about 2 hours with public transport from Accra (although the distance suggests otherwise). It is a very calm and friendly town. The only negative is that it is situated quite far from the city, which means that I probably will spend quite a lot of weekends in Accra. My host family consists of two parents and 5 of their children. Three boys and two girls with ages ranging from 20 to 28 years. The work placement (Larris Academy) is on the family property, just 10 meters away.

So what will I do in Ghana? Well, what I know is that I will work as a French teacher for kids up to and including Junior High School. Probably I will also assist the normal teachers in other subjects as well as helping children with their home work. However, schools will not open until the 15th of September, which means that I have some vacation. Part of this time I´ll spend getting to know Accra and probably swimming in the Atlantic in western Ghana. Good to rest up before the kids arrive!

More will be written in a while

À la prochaine!