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Big city, here we come (Thurs., 7/9)

Today we finally made it to the capital city of Accra to do some shopping, and shop we did. Accra is Ghana’s capital and a pretty busy city with street scenes that would rival New York. We passed countless shops along the route as well as street salesmen and business men on their way to work. We even passed a coffin shop with amazingly decorated coffins shaped like fish, houses, and cars. The people here, if they can afford it, like to be buried in coffins that symbolize what they did in life, so if you were a fisherman you would be buried in a fish. Ben decided teachers should be buried in a book shaped coffin.

Once we reached our destination, Comfort and Ben (who was in Accra for a job interview…send him good vibes!) led us through a very large flea market to find souvenirs and gifts. It was similar to flea markets at home with lots of bargaining going on, though the store keepers were a bit more aggressive than I was a used to. Thank goodness Comfort and Ben were there – they were excellent at getting a fair price from people as well as telling people to stop dragging us away to their stores. We were all quite successful in our venture and I am glad that we had the chance to drive through the city of Accra again.

During our rain holiday yesterday, I had an opportunity to browse through some local magazines and read some editorials written by and for Africans. One particular article struck me- it was about the Western perception of Africa and how it is focused on the land, animals found here, and poverty. Africa is not portrayed by its busy cities with skyscrapers and important commerce; instead its poor areas and faults are shown in the Western media. I had that same perception before I came here, not really knowing what to expect, but although I have not seen skyscrapers, I have seen pretty tall buildings, a bustling city center, a town in the midst of ongoing commerce, as well as tourist meccas on the ocean. It has not been what I pictured before coming, and when I think about it, all of my perceptions are based upon stories or documentaries that portray a certain side of Africa. I am glad that I have had the opportunity to see for myself that there is much more to Africa than I first believed- I have come to adore the areas that I have visited and hope that your perception of Africa has changed a bit by my descriptions.

Everywhere we went today there were reminders of President Obama’s visit. The people here are very excited and we saw more than one salesperson selling various posters, American flags, and T-shirts commemorating the visit. I did speak with one shop owner, TJ, who showed me his Obama button and spoke about how upset the people of Accra are that he will not be speaking at their public square. Instead he is flying into Accra and immediately driving to Cape Coast to speak and tour (but not carrying onto Elimma as I mentioned before) and then returning straight away to fly out. TJ said that people feel that because he is visiting Cape Coast (a wealthier area) and not venturing through their capital city, he is ignoring the common people of Ghana. TJ was quite animated in his discussion and you could tell that the President’s decision had upset many residents immensely—bet the news back home doesn’t give you inside information form the streets of Ghana! Anyway, we are all on pins and needles about our plane flight and hopefully we will have our feet on home ground by Saturday evening. Tomorrow we will deliver more supplies to schools in the area, watch some native dancers at the lodge, and have a farewell dinner in which we are all going to wear our fabulous dresses that we had made the first day we arrived and say goodbye to a few of the University staff and professors. I most likely will not be able to post again until I touch down at either JFK or my house, so please check back for my closing remarks as well as a link to the much promised pictures from this incredible journey. See you soon!

A billboard welcoming President Obama to Ghana

A billboard welcoming President Obama to Ghana

~ by cferber on .


One Response to “Big city, here we come (Thurs., 7/9)”

  1. Wow! It sounds like you have had a wonderful experience. I couldn’t get over the amount of students in one classroom. I do remember that the Chinese schools had 40 students in their classrooms though. And here I am freaking out about 26! I’m looking forward to seeing all the pictures! Travel safely