So, the Olympics are underway and, I imagine, the majority of the UK population are keeping up to date with most of our athletes accomplishments if not actually watching every discipline on 24 hour TV coverage. I understand the Opening Ceremony was the most impressive event ever staged in England and seen by virtually every member of the public.
I picked a bad time to come to Ghana, in some ways, although it was right for me in many others. I hadn’t anticipated that I should feel I was missing so much. As far as I can tell everyone in the UK has had their spirits significantly raised by public events that have taken place over the last year. The Royal Family seem to be evident everywhere and are working hard on their A+ celebrity status. It all sounds such fun!
I have almost no idea what has been happening in the world since February 2011. I see no TV, nor newspapers. There is the Ghana Graphic, which compares to the Mirror or Sun, but copies rarely get out as far as Nadowli. The Guardian online is helpful when the internet strength allows, so it is possible to follow the major world news events if I feel so inclined. But the fact is, increasingly, I’m not that interested nor care! The rest of the world is so far away from my life here that it fails to exist. We live alongside rural Ghanaians who manage day to day and whose past is more significant than their future. Worries are focussed on providing for families in the present and the future is unknown and therefore not of concern. Changes and developments, for most, are extremely small, as to be unnoticeable, so the future is expected to be the same as the present. The past is known and involves ancestors. Wisdom, generated from stories of their experiences, lives on by word of mouth through generations and demands enormous respect and reverence.
I am sure many of the people in Nadowli have never been, nor need to travel, further afield than Wa, 46kms away, so their world is small and focussed on extended families…………and they are very extended! Our cleaner was here yesterday and when I asked whether she had been to Accra, replied, “No, I don’t know where Accra is”. Maps are not evident anywhere so directions, distances and scale will be unfamiliar too.
It is very easy to live in this cocoon of stressless existence. I have almost no pressure of any type. There is no media encouraging me to go to places and spend money. There is nothing, except colourful cloth and beads, to spend money on. Essential ingredients for nutritious meals are available in our locality if I eat Ghanaian style, which I am increasingly enjoying. I used to travel to Wa for “European food essentials” like baked beans, corned beef, ketchup, potatoes etc, but lately would rather enjoy Groundnut Soup and TZ . It is amazing how one can adapt to circumstances and a completely new way of life relatively easily. I can live comfortably on my allowance of approximately £135 a month and have change after filling Michael’s tank & paying miniscule bills for water and electricity. A month’s water bill for under £3 was delivered this very morning.
On one level, I could stay here forever and life would be so easy! There are many things….and people, of course, I miss at home. Culturally, I am starved and long for live theatre and a museum or gallery visit. I am learning a huge amount about the culture within which I live, but experience performance arts very rarely.
Falling seriously ill or having an accident is the greatest worry. No wonder, people in Ghana here show concern if you feel the slightest bit under the weather and whip you off to the hospital. Health care is very basic and my daily prayer is that I remain well……..touch wood, thank my Guardian Angel etc etc!
Anyway, I shall be coming home early in 2013 and ending my placement in Nadowli. However, as you will be able to tell, there are times when I compare the stress, expense and pressures of living at home to life in Ghana and wonder why I don’t just buy a plot, build a house and stay. There are a few people here who would be glad if I did.