Tuesday, 19 February 2013


This is Louisa, my Ghanaian daughter! She is one of the headteachers I try to support through their almost impossible role. Here you are paid on a scale no matter which position in the school you hold. Therefore, there is no bonus for being the person who tries valiantly, with no training, to maintain a grasp on the reins. You are appointed to headship. You don’t apply! It is, in many ways, a poisoned chalice!

Louisa has taught me so much about Ghanaian life and what it means to be an African. I shall always be in her debt. Without our friendship I would have missed much of what I have learned about Ghana and my time in Nadowli would have been a shallower experience. Since September 2011, I have gained a truer grasp of the customs, beliefs, traditions and expectations of the Dagaaba people and from that depth of knowledge my love for this area of the world has grown. I have accompanied her to funerals, a rather daunting experience alone, and been shown what I should do and how to behave. My Dagaare, though woefully poor after 2 years, has benefited from her input and patience. However, it is possibly the cooking instruction I have received from Louisa that crowns our relationship. She has painstakingly taught me the rudimentary elements of cooking many Ghanaian dishes, from buying unfamiliar ingredients in the market to helping me eat them! My lack of strength and stamina to pound fufu and stir TZ has been laughed about and excused but my Jollof Rice is widely praised.  How many of my successes I can replicate in England remains to be seen. Already I have a large container of groundnut paste in Uckfield and various types of flour will accompany me next time.

The loyal friendship of someone who has grown up in the culture of an unfamiliar country must be the most valuable relationship I could have found in Ghana and thus I shall treasure this friendship with Louisa for the rest of my life and cannot believe my good fortune. How lucky am I to have found the love of a daughter so far away in Ghana?

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