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!