Day Spent on House Lockdown

Today has been a slow day for me, but a fast day for Ghana. To give you some background, the President of Ghana, elected in 2012, was accused of reaching his position dishonestly. I believe it had to do something with counting the votes. If that’s true, that kind of corruption could have detrimental affects for Ghana. The appeal made it up to the Supreme Court. This is a big deal for Ghana and all the countries in Africa. Nothing like this has really happened in Africa, in quite this way. That means that Ghana, Africa, and the rest of the world are closely watching this case unfold. Okay, probably not the whole world. The Today Show is still probably showing reports on Weiner and the lack of control of his… uhh Twitter account. Anyway, I really hope that this story and ones like it are getting increasing attention. Many officials believe that the Supreme Court decision will cause violence all over Ghana. Through my travels with the Janney’s this past week, we have discussed this issue with many people and they all agreed that there would be no violence. They seemed offended that it would even be in the question. Well apparently someone in power disagrees because a lot of bars are being closed down all day today. Their reasoning is that for the most part there will be peace, but they believe there will be a few troublemakers. Because of that, Jennifer and Charles thought it would be best for us to stay inside today. And by us, they mean the soft white boy from America.

For breakfast toady I had two things I’ve never had before. Jennifer is trying to condition my stomach to the local food and also familiarize me with what I will probably be eating ever day in Kumasi. The first item was a ball of a brown bread-like food. It was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. I didn’t taste like a normal dough ball, but was very tasty. I could get used to that every morning. The second item was a warm drink. It was a gray color, like cement. It also had the consistency of a thick smoothie. It was a really interesting flavor with a bit of spice. The spice reminded me of the type of spice that ginger has. I found out when Jennifer came home that is was a kind of porridge. I’m not really sure what that is, but I know it has something to do with three bears.

Jennifer came home later in the afternoon and made Koteay and I lunch. Right around that time she turned on the news to watch for the Supreme Court decision. I’m not going to reveal their position on the issue, just in case to protect their privacy. This decision has a lot of strong emotions tied to it and I don’t want to burn any bridges with my big mouth. In the end, the Supreme Court denied the appeal for the presidency. I haven’t followed the issue closely, so I don’t have an opinion, other than I want the honest person to win. The result either means that the election process is clean and there was no way of proving they cheated, or that the corruption has the kind of political sway to affect the Supreme Court. I hope it’s not the latter. I am looking out of the window and don’t see anything burning, so I’m sure I’ll be fine to go out tomorrow. However, Charles mentioned that on his way to work he got there in half the time he normal did and say much less car and foot traffic. The fact that the responses were very peaceful is another big landmark day for Ghana and the rest of Africa. They are setting a beautiful example of non-violence. I’m really proud to be immersed in this culture.

Jennifer promised me earlier today that she would make me some Fu Fu tonight. That is a local soup dish. She said she is only going to make me a little bit so I can try it out and continue to condition my stomach. Speaking of conditioning my stomach, I have been slowly increasing the use of the local running water. I’m not trying to work my way up to drinking it, but I want to be as resistant as possible so I don’t consume some by accident and get sick while I’m working in Kumasi. Even if not by accident, the vendors on the street with wash food with it and I will definitely be eating there often. Jennifer called me out to the back where she was preparing the Fu Fu. There was plantains and cassava added into a large thick wooden bowl. Then the process is to take a large piece of wood and smash the two plants together, into a doughy goup. Anita wasn’t strong enough so Isaac, the guard, was the smasher. Isaac would be hitting the bowl in a constant rhythm so that way Jennifer could get use her hand to keep moving the Fu Fu back to the middle of the bowl without getting her fingers smashed. It was hypnotic watching them mix the Fu Fu. It reminded me of the show called “How It’s Made,” when the crafters would move so quickly and efficiently and somehow do everything with perfect timing. I was watching them and kept cringing, thinking he would smash her fingers. Then I had a look of dumb found amazement and they were laughing at the green horn Obroni. Jennifer was telling me that the Akan people, the people living in Kumasi, eat Fu Fu everyday, especially in the morning. Anita is from a part of Ghana more north than Kumasi. Remember, the regions change drastically from North to South. So, the people from her area would never touch the Fu Fu with their hands. Instead, they would mix and smash with two large wooden pieces. The bowl is much more narrow also, to keep the Fu Fu in the middle.

When I sat down for dinner I had a bowl of soup with a piece of fish and meat and a bowl of rice. They told me that the majority of the people all over Ghana eat with their hands. Since I want to learn how to live like a Ghanaian, I dug in. Oohh, bad pun again. I was picking up the rice and it would just spread out in my hand. I felt like a fool nibbling the food off my own hand, like I was some kind of bird. After their stomachs stopped aching from holding in the laughter, they showed me how to do it. I took the rice and gave it a good squeeze. It was so simple and yet, so brilliant. The rice stayed together and I felt great satisfaction. Then I went for the Fu Fu. It looked like a round hunk of pizza dough before you roll it out, maybe a little more yellow. I wet my hands in the soup first, and nearly bit my tongue in two. The soup was so hot I was sure my fingers would just come out as bones. I looked at Charles and asked if that was just something you had to get used to, or that maybe his soup just had more time to cool down. He laughed and said it would take some time. After a few minutes I tried again and wet my fingers to avoid it sticking, when going in for the Fu Fu. I pinched off a piece and tried to morph it into a flat disk. Then I took my thumb and made an indent in the middle to catch some liquid. My first four dozen tries the Fu Fu would stick to my fingers or I wouldn’t make a good enough hole. The Fu Fu was very good by itself, but I wanted to try the combination and master the new skill. By the last few bites I finally figured it out and got a tiny pool of soup in the middle of the Fu Fu.

I spent some time after dinner watching local Ghanaian TV with Charles and Jennifer. I could honestly sit there for days listening to the local reports and the stories and lessons that Jennifer and Charles would tell me. For some reason I get immense pleasure from learning about other cultures. It is so fascinating to me and the more I find out, the deeper I want to dig.

Since this article was shorter today I want to go over some stuff that has been rolling around in my head, but I forgot included in any of my stories. First, when I was with the Janney family when Joe’s family was here Irene and Jennifer mentioned to me that Ghanaian women had extra meat on their bones and were proud of that. It more attractive because that person is considered to be better off and healthier than skinnier women. It was brought up again when I met Jennifer’s mom. They poked fun at the other woman in the room with us because she had been living in the States for a while and was much skinnier. As we would travel around the more wealthy areas of Accra, Jennifer would point out women to me and tell me that they clearly weren’t Ghanaian. Or I thought that maybe it was that they just worked around too many Obronis and got pulled into another culture. I thought this was very funny and also very interesting. This is very similar to the Samoan culture I learned about in my Cultural Anthropology class at SSU. It is awful how some cultures make those malnourished celebrities look attractive. I have seen it’s direct affects on women I have dated, when they would have been much more attractive if they didn’t count calories or monitor every little thing and just accepted what is. I think either way, it is just more attractive to be comfortable with what ever you were born with, small or big.  Oh gosh, see what happens when I don’t have stories to fill my time. I rant. I’ll spare you from any more, at least for now. Next, were some interesting pronunciation issues I have run into. I have introduced myself as Matt, to most of the people I have met. However, I don’t pronounce it in a Ghanaian way. Many people, including the ones I’m staying with thought I was saying Math or Mack. Say Matt out lout now and think about how you are saying it. We put an emphasis on the a. If you say it real quick you really can only hear yourself saying the a. I don’t even hear a t pronounced at all. Ghanaian put the emphasis on the t for all English words. For instance they say waTer. So for Matt, it would be MaTT. Say it to the point you are almost spitting the t out of your mouth. I don’t think I’ve ever thought about my own name so intensely before.  Well that’s about all the extra stuff I have for now. I know there is more floating around somewhere.

I pretty much have a plan for the rest of the weekend, until I leave for Kumasi on Monday. Tomorrow is really the only mystery day. We’ll see soon enough.

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