Friday, February 26, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
Friday, February 12, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
2) They are not unattractive to the eye. I'm sure they are out there but I have yet to come across an ugly Ghanaian, and some of them are just jaw-droppingly gorgeous. I think this might also have something to do with the above.
3) They are SO polite. Call me old-fashioned but I LOVE manners. This Ghanaian attribute has obviously influenced the students at the international school here where I am running workshops because just about every student I pass offers me a friendly greeting or a smile. Anyone who has wandered through the corridors of an Australian high school recently will get why this is something I find so impressive.
4)They can carry things on their heads. Along with the baby wrapping I wrote about in an earlier post, carrying a full load of groceries on your head is utterly impressive to me. I had a little practice in the privacy of my room with a single text book and couldn't even keep it up there for three minutes let alone try to cross the floor. This also means Ghanaians have beautiful postures. See note 2.
5) They don't raise their voices. Ghanaians regard someone who loses his temper and shouts as childish and so doesn't deserve to be taken seriously. Anger in Ghana is show in three ways. Here they are in order of gravity.
A little bit angry: 'Ooh! Ooh!' This is a warning that you've displeased them.
Very angry. 'Tsk! Tsk!' A gentle clicking of the tongue
Absolutely furious: Slapping your hand into your palm. Not even slapping someone else but slapping your own palm.
I know I risk sounding like my own grandmother but all the same I will come right out and say: What is there not to love about a straight back, level temper and nice manners? Does it for me every time.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
What is there not to love about a shop called Trashy Bags? On our way home from school yesterday, my hosts made a detour past the new Trashy Bags store in Accra for me to do a little souvenir shopping. Essentially Trashy Bags employs over 60 people full-time to collect plastic bags off the street, sort them and then recycle them into these SUPER groovy hand bags, shopping bags and wallets. Impressed? I was! We pulled up outside a brand new two-storey building where out the front two women sat amongst a pile of plastic bags sorting them into colour and design. Then, inside the building the first floor was full of men and women on sewing machines turning rubbish into art. And, really, the bags are pure Art, with a capital 'A'. (see pic) Upstairs is the showroom, where all the bags were on display, and before I knew it, I had bought more recycled bags then I could ever know what to do with. (Yep, anyone close to me will know what presents they have coming to them!) I was so impressed not only by the work and design but also the concept. Streets in Accra are unfortunately littered with plastic bags but I was so inspired to think that this kind of intiative exists. If you think you're doing well getting your old milk cartons into the recycle bin on time you really should check this out: www.trashybags.org Now, if someone could only organise Posh Beckham to be photographed carrying the latest Trashy Bag tote - just imagine...
Monday, February 8, 2010
My hosts are lovely. An Australian couple who just decided one day to pack up their family and explore the world with their two daughters in tow. Since then they have been teaching in international schools and travelled extensively for over fifteen years. Their zest for life and fascinating stories remind me just how important travel is to broaden your mind and how hard this can be when you live in a country like Australia. Especially when you live right down in Melbourne and it can take many hours (and many dollars) just to get out of the country. In Europe, Asia and Africa you can just jump on a bus or train and within a few hours be in a completely new country: new language, culture and completely different environment. I have a friend who lives in London who has been known to go to Italy on weekends just to catch an opera!
Anyway - enough about Europe. Let's get back to Africa. Here are my impressions after only half a day here. I will try to attach some photos as soon as possible but, until then, imagine these as photos in words.
Babies tied onto backs with a piece of fabric. (Unfortunately the above is not my photo - I never seem to have my camera at the right time!) Forget all those complicated backpacks and front packs with confusing clips and buckles and straps, I will never cease to be blown away by watching how simply and easily African mothers tie their babies onto their backs. I was fascinated to watch the woman in front of me on the plane, swing her sleeping baby up onto her back, pull out a large square of cotton and just tie him on. Imagine getting out of the shower and wrapping a towel around your chest, except with a baby tucked into the back. That's how easy she made it look. And the baby didn't even stir - just kept right on sleeping with his head lolling about in the most awkward looking angle.
The light. It is the end of the season called the Harmattan here, where dust from the Sahara blows into Ghana for about three months and covers everything. Even though the Harmattan season has officially past, the light is strangely yellow from what remains of the dust still in the air, bathing everything in a warm glow. Photos to come - I hope I can somehow capture this light despite my pathetic photography skills!
Speaking in doubles. Not a photo as such, more an expression I am fascinated by. What I understand by this is that instead of using the word 'very' Ghanians say a word twice to convince you of its meaning. Something very small is 'small small', something happening very soon is 'soon soon'. I'm guessing that this use of these double words provides a different emphasis depending on the context, because I had lunch at a school cafeteria today called Zoo Zoo. (Don't know if this is meant as a description of the school or the food - I will keep you posted on this. So far the kids have been delightful and I wasn't served anything that resembled zebra for lunch.)
But that's all I have time for today. So that I don't get into trouble trouble, I'd better log off and prepare my next worksop. Back soon soon!
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Well, I'm packed and ready to go. Managed to squeeze a couple of pairs of undies and a toothbrush in around all the books and art materials and other stuff I need for my workshops. My request to visit my sponsor child has been approved, my visa has come back in time, I've bought presents, stocked up on anti-Malarials, and have even managed to get my suitcase closed - though god knows how much it weighs! So far so good. A mere 23 hours of flying (!) and I'll be there. Ghana is on the West coast and right on the Equator, so hot and sweaty, I'm guessing. That's fine by me - I love the hot weather. It's also almost exactly 12 hours behind so I'm hoping the jet-lag won't be too bad. Whatever happens, it will be an incredible adventure, I'm sure. Wish me luck!