Friday, August 22, 2008

My village

Today, early in the morning, there was this fresh breeze sweeping through community 2. I could smell the sea. And it smelled like home. Like it smells in my "village". Yes, I have decided that the little village my mom comes from is now MY village, like everyone in Ghana has their village, whether it is where their father or mother comes from. So Ekkerøy is my village, and some beautiful village it is!

The fresh breeze disappeared quite fast after 35 degrees, humidity and millions of Ghanaians entered it...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Busy Internet??

Yeah, busy being sloooow.
nothing is working today. Why...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Aware so

Sister in law is married off.

Who is next?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bad news

I am getting used to seeing horrible images when I watch the news in Ghana. If there are any accidents or murders, the bodies are very often shown. I thought the worst thing I had seen so far was a dead baby found floating in a big gutter at Circle in Accra. But today there was reportage on the frequent car accidents in the country, showing very disturbing pictures of the accident sites and victims. One particular accident had 14 dead, and the bodies lay in a pile on the ground, and you could clearly see their injuries. But the disturbing part is yet to come. The dead were later thrown onto a pick-up truck, like bags of garbage are thrown into the bola car. It looked like a war scene and I got a feeling I was watching images from the genocide in Rwanda. In a country where death is taken very very seriously, and the funerals are lavish and extravagant and a lot of care is put into celebrate the life of the dead person, I found it extremely amazing that dead people can be handled with such carelessness. I accept the fact that the accident happened somewhere where they couldn’t get hold of ambulances or such to transport the dead, but still. You don’t have to throw them.

I just had to get this off my chest, even if its not very pleasant reading. Kafra.

The day I should have taken pictures, but was too shy to do..

On Saturday, me and bf were on our way to the Grand Sales at the Trade Fair Center in Accra. On the way, bf stopped at an electrician who had a little kiosk on the road side to fix his laptop charger. There I saw two great things that would have made nice pictures which I didn’t take. On the cement floor next to the shop, two young boys were playing some kind of intricate game (I thought). They had emptied a trash can and made small squares of paper which they placed all over the floor. It seemed to have a system though. They used the small pieces of paper to shoot a little pebble around on the floor, and they had a really neat technique to make the pebble go far. On each side they had put two stones and in the middle of the two stones, a big paper triangle was standing. I then realized it was the goal keeper and the boys were playing football. It was so cool and ingenious. A woman was opening her shop next to the boys, and while opening the gate of the shop, she walked all over the football field, messing up the boys’ team line up. She didn’t bother to say: can you move your things so I open the door, or simply MOVE!, she just walked over it and kicked it all around. The boys didn’t seem to notice. Fast and efficiently, they put all their players back in position and continued the game, totally ignoring the woman’s destructive footsteps. I just had to think to myself what some Norwegian kids would have said if a grown up came and destroyed their carefully and tediously built up game just like that. They probably would have cried and screamed. Then again, they probably wouldn’t be playing football with paper squares on a little patio of cement squeezed in between two shops along the main road. And the grown up would probably treat the little angels with the uttermost respect and politely asked them to move their things so that the person could pass…

The other cool thing was the electrician’s shop. He has one of those container shops, and his office is a table outside the container, where he was soldering and fixing irons, computers, car speakers, water boilers, fans etc. His container was full to the brim of broken electrical appliances. They were so many, they were coming out of the door. And there he had components he could use again and again. And in 5 minutes he had fixed bf’s laptop charger with some cutting of wires, some soldering and paper tape. It would have cost him 200 dollars in Norway, and he wouldn’t get his old one fixed, he would have to buy a new one. The re-use of things in Ghana never cease to impress me. And I wish I had a great photo of his shop and the boys.

Stealing cars

I’m a bad grown up. Bf (from now on also referred to as Kofi) has put the immoral game, Grand Theft Auto 3 on my pc. For those who don’t know the purpose of this game, it is driving around, stealing peoples cars, running over people, killing or beating up people on contract from pimps called Luigi or Joe. It’s a bit bloody and gory though the graphics on my version is very bad. Anyway, I thought it was funny and have been playing it when I’m bored. On Friday, Kofi’s little cousin was with me, and watched me play. For every person from whom I stole a car, and every person I unscrupulously ran over, she went: “Oh! OooH! Sister Ama, Oh! Heey, blood!” im sure this game has an age limit
in Norway and im sure its not 9, which is the age of the small girl. Anyway, in a while she begged to have a go at it, and she soon became a vicious road maniac, stealing cars and running people over without remorse. I have created a monster! I made bf tell her in PROPER twi that it is WRONG to steal cars and run over people like that. Im sure she learned a lesson.

She was getting quite good at it….

Friday, August 8, 2008

Ghana favorites

No particular order...

1. Kelewele (red plantain fried with ginger, pepper and salt (and garlic if I make it..))

2. Kebab (grilled meat on a stick with lots and lots of red pepper)

3. Fufu with groundnut or light soup (made by sisters in law)

4. FanIce ( so nice...)

Bola car

Every Tuesday afternoon, the sound of a loud truck comes through the windows of my room in Com. 2. Then an even louder sound comes when the guy driving blows the horn and all the people around starts running and shouting "Bola Car, Bola Car"!! Bola is garbage in twi, and the much appreciated Bola car drives fast through the neighbourhood allowing people to throw all their accumulated rubbish into it, if they are fast enough. I'm just glad it comes at all, even though it would be nice if it came maybe twice a week. The size of our dustbin in our common kitchen (where we dont cook, we cook in our room...) is small and the mice that live in our roof (...) probably enjoys the bola... Anyway. Ghana IS improving when it comes to waste management. At least people on my street dont have to burn their rubbish outside the house everyday.

The picture is of people running after the bola car outside our house with their bola. I unfortunately was too slow to get a picture of the actual car, and I didnt feel like going outside taking a picture of the bola car like a weird obroni. After all it looks just like a Norwegian bola car...

Monday, August 4, 2008

Party with pomp and circumstance

I went to a party on Friday. Sister in law celebrated her belated birthday, party arranged and paid for by her boyfriend who returned from USA for holidays last week. There was LOUD music, there were lots of drinks in a barrel full of ice, there was a kebab guy, ice cream, fruits and loads and loads of plastic chairs in the small garden of my mother in law’s house. We live about 500metres away, and we could hear the music as soon as we started on our way to the party. Though a fun, irresponsible party for youngsters, the ceremonial part of it will never be left out in Ghana. There was a master of ceremony and a prayer was held, before the gang could get drunk and dance their dances that leave nothing to imagination, in the garden of a staunch catholic lady. She came home from church in the middle of the party, and sat inside the house wondering when she was gonna get to sleep. She was reassured that they were going to close “very soon”. I guess she was disappointed.
I came wearing jeans and a nice top and realized I’d totally missed the dress code, cos the beautiful girlfriends of sister nurse (she is studying to become a midwife) looked like the girls dancing in hiplife and 50cent music videos. In their supersexy extremely short outfits they were tempting the few boys around. And I felt like a 50 year old. If I was in Norway I wouldn’t think much about it, its normal to dress like that (if you can pull it of), but here knowing the puritan morals of the society, I cant help but thinking: how the hell were they allowed to leave the house dressed like that??
Anyway, it was the topic the next day between bf and friends – “its bad, the parents should talk to them bla bla bla” while I tried to tell them that the development is inevitable, it happens everywhere, Africa can’t hide from the powerful fashion trends of the world, and the older, more conservative generation will sooner or later have to let go, cos nobody will stop the Americanization of the world and we will one day all look the same. But they don’t believe me though.


The friends of Assemby Woman have got a new hobby apart from talking and gossiping on the porch. I think they have just gone and bought a Ludo board cos I’ve never seen them play before. But now they sit there the whole day playing Ludo with great passion, screaming, shouting and arguing over who is cheating. While their unattended kids are visiting our room by force.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The cries of the children

More negativity to way up for all the positive posts of Kajsa and the rest...

Last year I was here I needed something to do, and coming straight from working with children from D.R. Congo in kindergarten in Norway, I had realized children might be the way to go for me. My bachelor in African Studies has brought me back and forth to Africa, and opened some doors I didn’t expect, but working with children appeals more to me than anything else.

So last year I was introduced to the Community 2, nr. 1 Municipal Day Care Center, who were more than willing to take me in as free labour. And I was more than ready to gain experience in educating children, in a totally different environment. But I wasn’t up to the task. I couldn’t avoid being witness to regular beatings of tiny children, who most of the time had done nothing apart from just being children. Sometimes I ended up between the child and the vicious bamboo rod held by terrifying “teachers”, and I realized the situation was absurd. I know kids are beaten in schools, nurseries and homes in Ghana, hell, I’ve attended secondary school here and watched 18 year old boys cry after getting lashed by an over-eager, frustrated teacher. But at least, the 18 year olds who brought knives to school or deliberately breached the uniform dress code by tying their shoe laces around their legs instead of on the shoe, kind of had it coming. They had the sense to know what they did was against the rules, and they knew very well the consequences. But a 2-year old who cries cos he is scared on his first day in a nursery where all are strangers and the grown ups are intimidating instead of safe, when he is afraid of going to sleep in this unknown place, he gets beaten. And it tells the child: the teachers are dangerous, they will beat you. While the teachers feel it tells the child: it is wrong of you to cry, don’t cry, expecting the 2-year old to learn from this lesson, while the 2-year old has forgotten what happened the next day, and he cries again. His brain doesn’t even connect the crying with the beating.

Realizing that my plan wasn’t to try and change the old women working in the kindergarten, and realizing that none of the children really respected me cos I didn’t beat them, made me give up. A shameful thing to do, but being there made me depressed and sad and I had watched babies being beaten for too long.

Still, now I live right across the road from a similar nursery and the cries of the children in there is the backdrop to my morning activities.

Yesterday I was watching the TV3 Evening News and they had a report from Korle-Bu (regional hospital) from the burns unit at the hospital, showing horrible images of people with burn injuries, while the focus of the report was the lack of staff in the unit. 50% of cases reported at Korle-Bu involved children under 5 years of age. How do so many young children suffer such injuries? Well, yesterday afternoon the same thing could have happened at my house. Assembly woman told me she was going out somewhere, and I said ok, while realizing her 4-year old daughter was alone on the porch with a 2 year old neighbour kid. No one around to watch them, and she didn’t ask me to either. Minutes later I found the girl with a box of matches, trying to light it. She has easy access to an big, rusty gas cylinder in her moms kitchen and I didn’t like the grim alternatives minding my own business could bring forth. I confiscated the match box, and therefore had to suffer the wrath of Adwoa as she demonstrated how infuriated she got from my display of power. Trying to explain that matches can be dangerous and are for adults to use, was lost on her as she stood pressing her face against the wall, refusing to look at me.

I know we overprotect our children somehow in my own country. But am I hysterical to react? I wouldn’t know.