Accra, Africa, African Diaspora, aGING, Ghana, Optimism, Positive Thinking, Spiritualism, Uncategorized, Village life, West Africa



© Bernard W. Saunders
May 29, 2014
Iture-Elmina Ghana,
West Africa

It is the rainy season here in the Central Region of Ghana where I live. It is my understanding that this season can run from June until August. During that time it can rain at any time, and range from sprinkles to torrential storms, while lasting from moments to hours. On May 27th, the day I am writing of I experienced the range.

It is also a time of “lights out”, wherein, the powers that be selectively choose areas to deprive of electricity, allegedly to conserve power in the power grid. It goes along a published plan, with an established criteria, the criteria, and priority of which I have not heard any discussion of. Yet people are able to say to me as I was told today, that lights will be out again this evening. That follows lights being out overnight into late morning. Maybe it would help if I listened to local radio, some of which are broadcast in English.

Some folks have come to think that the plan includes depriving power to areas inhabited by the less powerful according to the estimate of the people in power.

Then there is the matter of no water, or intermittent government supplied water in the outside pipe, the consumption of which is metered to determine the amount to be paid.

This day began with sprinkles, by the time I completed my morning regimen of prayers, meditation, exercise and breakfast, the sprinkles had diminished enough for me to decide to go into the post office at Elmina to mail two letters to the United States, and to see if the shoe maker, located next to the post office, had repaired the second of two pairs of shoes that I had paid him to do, a couple of weeks prior.

I took the equivalent of a 40 cents shared taxi ride to the post office, in lieu of a twenty minute to half an hour walk, that I usually make, giving into the health challenges, I joking call, “too much beer”, that is actually a yeast overload (Candida) that I have been treating with natural remedies for a few weeks, under the directions of a natural doctor.

I was in and out of the post office in minutes, being the only customer, then walked the few paces to the shoe repair shop, in the rear of a little shack, from the front of which hung sandals and rebuilt shoes. The shoemaker was not alone, his apprentice, a young boy, who speaks of his trainer as “master” was sitting outside, there was also a female squeezed into the space with the repairman.

The apprentice started smiling when he saw me approaching, as did the repairman, when he saw me. He again told me that the shoes were not ready as he had purchased the wrong size sole in Cape Coast, and would have to go there once more for the correct one. He promised as he had done several times before to have the shoes ready and would personally deliver them to One Africa when they were done.

I asked him to return my stripped down shoes as they were, and my GHCD 20.00 (about $10.00). With laughter, he asked me to have patience, even if it took a month, he would repair and bring me the shoes.

I think it was the laughter, and the one month comment that pushed me to the edge of anger. I told him that he had said the same thing over a two week period that that this was business and no laughing matter. By now the woman in the shop was looking at me as if I had two heads. Feeling myself regressing to the point of no return, I left the shop.

A frustrating experience, not atypical of attempting to do business as an “abroni”, foreigner in Ghana.

I walked to the market, seething, where I bought a pineapple, two apples, an avocado, some greens and beans; then walked home, stopping in route to pick up some paper towels from the store at the gas station, as well as prepaid credit cards that allow access to the internet and phone service.

Dropping my load at my place, I took the five minute walk to One Africa, along the red clay pothole riddled old road, by now a hazardous course of mud, and broken tar, to take the greens and beans which would be prepared by the wondrous, One African kitchen as my meal the following day.

One of the young women who staffs the kitchen, said to me, Uncle Bernard, “the rain is coming so you should not leave now.” The sky was filled with dark brooding clouds that soon burst, releasing the rain.

The One Africa staff rushed to set up tables under a covered sheltered area for what looked like a touring group of six to eight students to have lunch who had arrived by bus with a guide.

There was yet another group of four college students staying at One Africa, accompanied by two professors. This group, at least two of whom were from the Bronx, would go out daily to teach local students to digitize film. They returned around 2 pm during the deluge. The young woman who was part of this group, went to her chalet and returned with two bottles that turned out to be shampoo. Dressed in a tee shirt and shorts she began to wash her black shoulder length hair, then two of the young men, one with dread locks, washed their hair also; one of whom drank a beer while doing so.

I watched this unfold while comfortably seated out of the rain under the covered porch of the main house with the dread locked owner of the health resort, who shortly announced that she too was going to wash her hair. She went into the house, took off her white dress and returned in red shorts and a halter top to join the students in the rain.

After watching the touring group run from the sheltered area, protecting their straw colored hair with whatever was handy, to my surprise I stripped my 77 year old health challenged body down to my skivvies and spiritual beads, then joined the others who were frolicking in the rain, walking barefoot over the gravel to the grass edge of path, facing Mommy Waters (the ocean) and holding my arms up in the air called out the names of African, specifically Yoruba, manifestations of God, that the beads I wear symbolize in their diversity.

I jokingly said to no one in particular, tongue firmly planted in cheek: “to think I left civilized America to be with people who do not have enough sense to come in out of the rain”.

My tongue was planted so firmly in my cheek, due in part to a phone conversation I had a couple of days prior with a fellow expatriate who had returned to Philadelphia on business, where nine people were shot his first week end in the City of Brotherly Love. I needlessly urged him to watch his back, because we needed him here in Ghana.

Returning to the porch I dried myself with my tee shirt, stripped off my wet shorts shielded with a towel conveniently left by the owner, put on my ever present 20 year old red brown and blue shirt from my back pack, “my medicine bag” and my dry pants.

My frustrating day no longer having me in its clutches, again centered, I calmly sat on the porch, talking with the owner and two expatriate sisters who had come to have lunch, until the rain abated enough to allow me to walk home, in what was once more sprinkles.

The deluge had lasted long enough to form puddles in the yard of my place, from which the croaks of frogs would add to the nighttime symphony of sound nature provides accompanied by the background of the ocean.

The shoes were delivered Friday having been reconstructed. In that process they had gotten a size smaller, so when coupled with my swollen feet and ankles, they are a difficult fit. I had already released that process to the Universe and see no reason to revisit it.

By the way, the beans and greens were cooked to perfection, making the side order of baked chicken almost superfluous. Almost. Not quite. As it is said here in Ghana when a person is sitting down to a meal, to those around her/him: You are invited.

Bernard W. Saunders
May 29, 2014
Iture-Elmina Ghana.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s