I have the enormous privilege of occasionally travelling with my husband as he does research for an international NGO. As a result, I appreciate and understand the importance of objectivity and gathering good data etc in order to present valid evidence, but as an emotional arty-farty type, I tend to be very subjective and reactive so the following accounts of our West Africa adventures are based purely on my personal observations and opinions and are not in any way endorsed by my husband!
Africa draws me in every time. Although a continent of many lands and different cultures, there’s something about the combination of red earth, dust, crazy traffic and the smiles that warm my heart and give me hope for the future of this amazing continent.
Accra, Ghana’s capital, is a sprawling city. You can see the signs of development in the many building sites across the city. There’s also the Accra Mall filled with western style stores. ( Not necessarily a good sign of development!) Arriving at our ‘ Grand Hotel’ where the brochure promises that we will be treated as ‘royal guests’, we are greeted by staff in brightly coloured traditional dress who effortlessly swing our heavy bags onto their shoulders and climb two flights of stairs to our room. Along the same street are similar grandiosely named restaurants and hotels, pertaining to royalty and all things majestic.
Along the dusty streets sprawl myriads of shops and stalls where owners stand plying their wares from dawn until dusk. They sell everything from fridges, stoves, couches, audio gear, clothes, pulpits and even coffins. Trading names include Blessed by God electrical enterprises; Glorious healing hair salon; hallelujah hardware …
A predominantly Christian country, there are church signs in abundance and giant billboards with pictures of animated men in suits advertising crusades and healing ministries.
And then there’s the food. My western palette is not used to banku, fufu and palava sauce, although I did at least try some – once!
For me, the highlight of our few days in Ghana was the visit to a Compassion project where we were apparently the first white visitors to actually visit on a Saturday when all the children were there. I am always humbled by the dedication and commitment of the staff and volunteers and of course it was a joy to be among the children.