Monday, July 5, 2010

Come down come down

7-5-10 @ 4:17p

I’m looking forward to the memories of right now…

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Joy. #thatsall

Congrats George and Sheena Ellis. I wish you the best. 

Mapenzi, how’s Nas’r? I’m missing my little man. I often see kids tied to the backs of their mothers and think of him on your back. I thought of him when I saw this wood carving as well.

Fufu, chicken, talapia, goat, Jullof (brown rice), white rice, fried plantains, salad, and pepsi in a bottle. Just enough spice is used to give a kick but not make the tears flow. It’s hard to explain how good this food is. I’ve done a decent amount of traveling and MAN O MAN! I need to find a gym… My gut is back already. J

We spent yesterday at the beach. Started with a two-mile jog down the shore. I love the sound of the waves on the ocean. I was reminded of my time in Mexico, falling asleep to the sounds of the ocean. The jog was followed by lunges, feet soiled from the water pushed by the wind upon the shore. And of course, futbol with the locals. What more could you ask for?

We had lunch at the beach. At a restaurant overlooking the water. I am always skeptical of the businesses, wondering if Ghanaians or foreigners own them. Foreigners own most of the large businesses. Including the large stores at the malls such as Shoprite, Game, or the upscale bar called Rhapsody. It bothers me but I’m not sure where to channel this frustration. On one end Ghanaians benefit with jobs, but the ones making the big money are not nationals. This is an interesting contrast because I love to see foreigners in the US opening prosperous businesses.

As we sat at tables in the sand people attempting to sell their goods stopped and offered us wood carvings, bracelets, juice, bags of water, horse rides, etc. As more tourists appear they slowly migrate and leave us. It is interesting to see other tourists. You can always tell when they’re tourists and I’m sure they can tell we are. But for some reason most people won’t talk. I attempt to make eye contact but no eyes look my way. Sonny’s theory suggests that Americans take ownership of a lot and feel threatened by other Americans being in this foreign place that we have taken ownership over. I have yet to form an opinion.

One man offered to make a free bracelet with a student’s name on it. I smiled at his business plan and he winked back. 5 other students bought bracelets after seeing the first one. He made his money back plus quite a bit in profit.

We walked down the shoreline after lunch and were greeted with smiles from prostitutes and offered “pure, high quality weed” from the Rastas. People rode motorcycles on the wet part of the sand for stability. Acrobats put on shows. They did amazing flips and dance moves that you would see in a circus. Then ended the show by walking around with hats asking for money. In the midst of all this action there was a constant whistle being blown by the lifeguard demanding that swimmers remain inside of the swimming area but for me, the sounds of the ocean out sang all of the other melodies it all.

We had an amazing lecture this morning called “pre-colonial Ghanaian patterns of development” by Dr. Antwi-Danso. I can understand the pride Ghanaians have in their nation and heritage. The partnerships with dynamic world renowned leaders including Du Bois, St. Clair Drake, MLK, Richard Wright, George Padmore, and Kwame Nkrumah (I can devote an entire blog to Nkrumah).  

Riding in taxis in different countries is always an adventure. Today we flagged one down, told him we were headed to the hospital and asked how much. No matter the price they give, you always respond, “come down, come down.” Depending on the time of day and the amount of traffic the driver will bring the price lower. Traffic in Ghana is worse than Chicago at its busiest time. We spent 10 minutes stopped, drove half a block, then 10 more minutes stopped before finally crossing through the intersection. And when a light turns red, 30-40 people rush to the street begging or selling everything you could imagine. Books, DVDs, CDs, bags of water, posters, newspapers, peanuts, mirrors, fruit, candy, ice cream, most goods carried on the heads of men and women just as you would see in many other nations.

Tomorrow we head to Cape Coast. My sister, Halwa, told me just hearing the words Cape Coast brought back memories of her visit. She said she can still smell it. I’m attempting to mentally prepare for this traumatic experience. But I doubt it’s possible. We’re told you still feel the spirits and hear the cries coming from the slave dungeons. Soon enough we will experience it. We visited the national museum today and it made an attempt to illustrate the experience of Cape Coast.

There was a small exhibit about Dutch and Ghanaian archaeology students digging and finding remains at a Dutch slave castle. They summed up Ghanaian feelings towards colonial rule as bringing an end to inter-tribal war. I almost left the museum. In the lecture mentioned earlier it was argued, convincingly, that the slave trade and colonial rule did just opposite. Then the professors strategically placed the slave trade strictly within economic terms; it was eye opening. Dr. Husbands Feeling’s econ course at the Humphrey was tremendously useful. The lecturer argues that the slave trade began and ended because of economics. Claiming that Europeans did not begin the slave trade, as we know it until after the Americas were ‘discovered’ (which was long after they had set foot in Western Africa) and ended after US independence from the British.  The British issued the decree to end slavery and set up barricades off the coast of Ghana because they did not want the US to gain more economic power due to slavery.

Allow me to stop here cause this is getting long. I’m sure I will have much more to say after my visit so Cape Coast.

The life and times of amo…


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  3. What to say...what to say. Appreciate the little things!
    Abdul is so much fun watching you grow. It's exciting to see the difference in your experience and thoughts from the trip to South Africa and now.
    Appreciation- appreciate the sounds of the ocean, the ability to go for a run, the eye contact and the unsaid conversation, the professor that says the smallest thing that will forever change your thoughts, Humphrey for giving you a "NEW" way of thinking...
    "LISTEN" to all you can hear.
    I love you!
    PS-yes the tears are rolling...and I love "Jullof" rice! Don't forget my spices!

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  5. I'm still confused about what you're doing in Ghana. What are you doing there? And you did a similar program in South Africa?

  6. Abdul,
    It appears you're having a great time. I envy you in good way. Wish I had been as adventurous back in day. Stay safe and Be Blessed!

    Michael Byron