Monday, 13 February 2012


It is one whole year today since I flew into Accra’a Kotoka airport and began my African Adventure. I can safely say, notwithstanding the most recent frustration and despair, I haven’t regretted one day of the past year. I have met some wonderful people, other volunteers and Ghanaians, who will reside in my memory and heart long, long after I have left Ghana. I can’t quite imagine leaving Nadowli, so I won’t try just now. Instead, I spent a thoroughly enjoyable lunchtime in our favourite Eating Spot celebrating this milestone with some good friends, a bowl of Light Soup and Fufu! (I ate dog and  Fante Kenke yesterday, which was delicious, but we won’t go into that at the moment!) When I came to pay the bill I was asked for “One eleven”. Even my friends looked non-plussed for a moment! It turned out she wanted 11 GhanaCedis and 10 Peshwas. I love it here!

 I have been paying more attention to “languages” recently. My Dagaare is still pretty poor after a year, but my Ghanaian English has come on a treat. Ghanaians are extremely polite in their forms of greeting and their horror of inadvertently insulting someone. ( I have to remember to do nothing with my left hand. It really needs to be strapped permanently to my body. I cannot touch anybody with it, raise it to draw attention or pass anything to anyone with it, and certainly not eat with it.) It is easy to cause offence without realising it.
However, through all this politeness, nobody uses “Please” in what we would consider an appropriate place. If you want another drink you call “Add one”. Requests are made as “Give me……”  But then you shouldn’t say “ Yes “ or “No” in any context without a “Please” attached. Eg. “Is this your pen?”  “No, please.” Also, “Also” is not used to introduce an addition. ie “I am also going to Wa”, when Wa has not been mentioned previously.

When something isn’t available, it is “Finished” and if it it damaged or broken it is “Spoiled”.  “I will go and come”, means “Just popping out”, but “I am coming” means you are on your way, but the time frame could be anything up to a few days! If you are eating and someone walks by, you should greet them with “You are invited” even though it would be a shock if anybody accepted the invitation. If a person is leaving they ask for permission to go, and often say “That will be later, then” (See you later!) However, if you are dying, you are "trying to leave!"

There are plenty more wonderful and delightful expressions that I love to hear and of which I wish I could remember more. My favourite is the equivalent of….”Ok, I understand!”  This is almost impossible to spell but I shall try. It also has to be spoken with a huge amount of energy and you must stress the second part through your throat….”Ah Haarr.” Fantastic, well done! Sometimes it sounds more like “Eh Hehr” with even more strength behind it!!

I wore my new clothes today too. I employed the services of a local tailor to sew a shirt and trousers in Ghanaian cloth for me. Judging by the reception I got at the District office, it has met with everyone’s approval. Evidently, I look like “a true Ghanaian.” Well, with at least one obvious difference.  I love it too and am planning a few more!

 Oh, by the way, someone in authority in our office today, suggested that we found 5 “neat girls” on a Friday, when they are not “on curriculum” to come down to the Teachers’ Resource Centre and clean it (………..for the sake of the 3 brand new computers that already lie under a ton of dust!) How is that for equal opportunities and valuing the extended curriculum throughout school hours? Dear oh dear. Never mind………and I mustn’t!

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