Friday, July 31, 2009

Blogging in Ghana: the Paradox of the Returnee --(2)

I think I owe my readers an apology for leading them up a wild goose chase with my title. So allow me to be clearer.

A couple of posts ago, fellow member Esi Cleland guest-blogged about how to avoid disappointment when you move to Ghana, and I did same on her blog about the expectation of electricity.

I believe the reason why these issues came up at all was because a lot of the time, when you return home, expectation does not match reality. Let's just say it's inversely proportional to it! When you're a blogger-returnee, you want to write about...Ghana, but you cannot help but make comparisons with where you came from. It is not that it defines you by choice; after a while, it defines you--full stop. So it is that Esi will make comparisons with Ghana and the US; Abby about the her other places she's lived and Ghana; me with Belgium.

Therein lies the paradox--that the comparison between the two cultures we were priviledged to experience defines the kind of blogging we do.

Still, all is not lost, and far be it for me to speak for any of my two lovely fellow ghanabloggers, but it seems to be a perpetual --if you will--stream of consciousness that runs through the kind of blogging we do about Ghana.

I did offer yesterday more quotations about life in Ghana, so let me just return to five more posts before the days goes out. I just quickly want to take you back to 2005 when I started this blog. I was travelling up and down the Winneba-Cape Coast road very regularly, and here are some of the more "profound" posts I made about those journies (and then some!):


77 Degrees of Separation and a Funeral
Another errant goat. Another Sunday…with a twist: rain, sunshine, and a funeral service.

Isn’t it funny how apparently prosaic things (like the death of a very old man who happened to be a pope) can connect us in so many arcane ways. Don’t get me wrong—I am no Catholic, but after Sunday, I felt like being an Anglican.

Like a scene right out of the Vatican, a portly, bespectacled priest—with a heart full of wit and humour—sang on us yesterday morning as we attended the funeral service (part three of three) of a three-day mourning service for my maternal grandmother’s cousin. He talked about sanitation (sachet water being dumped everywhere); the Kyoto Protocol and why the Americans didn’t want to sign it, because might is right; men and their big toys (read: big cars); keeping peace at home (as the grass always looks and seems greener on the other side); and…appropriately, Noah and the environment.

Noah was a reference to Noah’s ark and the great tsunami that afflicted the Indonesian region on 26 December, 2004, when most Christians were just opening, or had opened, their Christmas presents. It was a poignant sermon replete with humour that just wanted me to go back to this guy’s Church.

Seeing as I am fierce Protestant/Methodist—thanks to my late grandmother—I think it would cause a bit of a storm. But, hey, seeing the fright written over people’s faces over the election of Pope Benedict the XI, I wonder whether people aren’t thinking whether they should do a volte-face on their faith.

But that’s only me.

2. The next entry was more of a reflective one looking at why I LOVE my Accra, against the backdrop of the-then newly-contructed Tetteh-Quarshie interchange:

Of Reflections, Ruminations and Accra
Accra this time is so breath-takingly beautiful. I stole some time away during lunch break to go give a relative something in the Airport residential area. I haven't been down there in a long time. I was taken aback, en route, by the gorgeous breeze and the scorching sun that lent a paradoxical contrast to the usual scorching African weather. Okay, Ghanaian, as I am not too au fait with other African countries.

On a serious note, it was another sight to behold. As I stood outside the gate waiting to be opened inside the house, I glanced at the street, and the view was very verdant. There was a scattering of red, strangely enough, all over. Note that this particular suburb of Accra is particularly verdant, or green, anyway. At this time of year, it's even more so, and very, very plush.

There was a tree with red leaves that looked much like this one here: and all I could do was stare at it like a mad-man as I tried to process the contrast of the colours of the cars (yes, there was a red car passing, too) plying that route, along with the smoothness of the tarred road, set against the backdrop of the clear, blue sky and the buildings in the surrounding area.

Scenes like these make me so in love with the city, because if my experience in Brussels when I was seriously working in the Belgian capital (2000-2004) is anything to go by, rarely was there a time to appreciate such greenery, as most of it was in the outskirts.

In Accra--my city--the greenery is not too far away, and it enhances the city all the more.

Speaking of which, another infrastructure set against the backdrop of a clear blue sky is the newly-built Tetteh-Quarshie interchange that has been the bane to many a driver, given the contorted manner -- some would say meandering -- of the roads. The Spintex roundabout -- not considered by the African Development Bank in the disbursement (as far as reports go) -- has been, yet again, the bane of the average driver that plies that route to go to Teshie-Nungua, Regimanuel Estates, Manetville, Spintex, and Tema.


3. This entry provides an insight into some of the frustrations I received from the goats that, erm, ply the road!

Kill Speed before Billy Goat Does!
I cannot for the life of me understand the penchant that goats have for crossing roads when you're cruising at circa 100km/h.

Yesterday, on my way back from Mankessim, TWICE-not once-a goat tried to cross PK. The first had to be the funniest...

There we were, with PK crusing around a respectable speed of 80km/h, when this goat, oh so casually, decides to cross the road. We were approaching Kasoa then, so the speed had been reduced considerably, but still.

With its hips swinging, its legs doing the bop--much like Afro-Americans hooked up in gang-life ascribe to--twisting its whole body like it was trying to chat up a babe, it tried to cross the road.

As we came closer, it **very quickly** crossed the road.

That's more like it, I thought.

The second was almost dangerous, cos this time, t here was no wooing on the goat's part, it just wanted to cross the road. When PK revved the engine, it reversed. Thankfully, there was no car from the opposite direction.
Our visceral response, apart from sucking our teeth in collective defiance, was to proclaim:

"These goats are so DARNED stoo-pid!"

Or something of sorts in vernacular...

Something that really got my GOAT -- no pun intended (I'm sure!!) -- yesterday was the conduct of a driver coming into the capital transporting a huge number of people (supposedly, the huge bus must be a big give-away!)with STC, or State Transport Company...


4. This entry highlights my day and the evening I spent attending no less than a jazz outing:

Sporting a Grassy, & Kebab-Filled Evening--Is this Accra?
Even though the place was more populated by white people (some US accents, a lot of German ones), the place began filling up with more black people. I couldn’t figure out whether they were all Ghanaian ones, but I must admit that there were a few very good-looking women (black) who were SO well-manicured they had to come from suburbia-land. I shrugged. I didn’t really care much for trying to even chat them up.

Plus the fact that my bum was not a very presentable state given my trousers—hell, there was lights out when we got home from Makola. So no time to re-iron my trousers;-) Let alone any *electricity* to iron them;-)

Seriously, though, I didn’t much care for chatting up, especially because I am now very much into G, but it did make me realize how VERY easy once a guy goes to a public function alone (though this was hardly a function!), he can be driven to distraction. G couldn’t make it regrettably, but I made sure I had a GOOD time.

Jazz, for whatever anyone can make of it is one seriously different type of music altogether. It isn’t just about instruments being played anyhow. Or about syncopated rhythms either. {Yes, I do remember my GCSE Music!!! // syncopated-- adj : stressing a normally weak beat}

It’s more about what music can come, or express itself through your soul, as it were. There was something Jimmy Beckley said to me whilst he was getting a drink, and having Malcolm X’s picture look down at him. He said that jazz is about expressing "yourself through music—not just about making any noise, which is all too-tempting".

He was suggesting that with Jazz you have to know the code—as it were—and be ready to break it. That’s the mark of the REAL jazzman – not one who engages in a cacophanic whim of drums-cum-saxophone-cum-bass guitar all rocking away in their syncopated ways.

The Jazz group—Café du Sport—a German-based group were FANTASTIC.


5. In this last entry for the day, I write a looooooooooooooooong post in which I touch on how my paternal grandfather, E.K.Bensah I, First Member of Parliament for Agona and Minister for Works and Housing during the First Republic opened the Tema motorway, with pieces about the A&C shopping mall, and why I love Accra:

Why I Love Accra--Genesis
Being in Ghana, it is sometimes easy to forget that our next-door neighboursare not so at peace as this country appears to be. It was, for example, hard to believe that, as reported in the Daily Graphic of Friday 22 July, the so-called refugees from Sudan and elsewhere attacked our so-called "Ussher Fort", which is, um, named after the well-known R&B singer;-)


Ofcourse it isn't:-)

Point is: these putative, or so-called, refugees saw fit to attack the policemen, and break their mobile phones. Bad mistake -- anywhere!-- to attack policemen--let alone in Ghana!

In any event, the situation turned quite nasty, with newsmen and others callling fro police reinforcements.

This--in Ghana!

Ofcourse, that's a pretty naive taking of the whole thing; social unrest in a developing country is no indicator of the countr'y political climate. We live in a democracy--or so we are told by all and sundry--so a little discontent here and there, as long as it's well-managed by police, does little to disturb the prevalent peace in the country.


Over the next couple of weeks, I will be interspersing regular postings with some of the "best" entries over 4.5 yrs of blogging after 5 yrs back home.

God bless Ghana! God bless a United Africa!;-))
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