Five days in Ghana have come and gone. Now we are off to Morocco, and this voyage is drawing quickly to a close. Here are some memorable things about Ghana.
1. Warm people: It is incredible to see such big smiles. When hearing that I am from South Africa, I was invariably greeted with a joyful, “We are all African!” I liked that.
2. Warm weather: The humidity! The heat! This close to the equator, I suppose it is to be expected. But it was still a shock to the system after being in chilly Cape Town, where winter has arrived early.
3. Nature: Like most of Africa, the country has a lot to offer in terms of natural beauty. Beaches and forests are plentiful. The Kakum National Forest Canopy Walkway was an incredible experience. The government is making a renewed effort to protect the country’s natural beauty from slash-and-burn agricultural and irresponsible hunting practices.
4. Traffic: it is unpredictable. Sometimes a journey might take you three hours, and at other times the same journey may be as quick as an hour. It is a different kind of congestion than I have ever seen, owed to an influx of people into the cities and more people owning cars, while the government is unable to keep up with this growth. Fortunately there is much to be seen while traveling – I loved watching life around me while stuck in traffic.
5. History: The atmosphere at El Mina Castle is thick, tangible. It feels haunted. What dark times this world has seen.
6. Plantains: Fried, these are definitely my favourite Ghanaian food. Yum!
7. Religious names: Ghana does not hide her religious inclination and many, if not most, businesses are named for some religious term, verse or sentiment. “Mustard Seed”, “The Lord Hears Furniture Workshop”, “Psalm 23” and so on.
8. Ghanaian names: Ghanaians can have many names, but one of these always refers to the weekday on which they were born. I am a Friday-born female, therefore I am called Efua (pronounced ef-wah). A Friday-born male is called Kofi (like Kofi Annan). When you meet someone, you ask about the day they were born. It feels like a valuable social interaction.
9. Hawkers: Maybe I’m just exhausted, having dealt with hawkers in most every country. The hawkers in Ghana are very friendly, but so persistent! One needs a lot of energy and willpower to get what you want, and not what others think you want.
10. Gifts: This was funny, endearing and frustrating. “Madame, this is a gift for you!” and upon accepting the gift, a donation sheet would be whipped out. “Okay, now, can you donate anything to us?”