A Day with Twi and Ga

Now I’ve been in Ghana for a week. It feels more like a month. All the information that has been thrown my way could probably fill several books. I’m pleased with these journals because they help me take the day’s highlights and file them away in my head and on my computer. I know I got here on Saturday last weekend, but if you count seven days then you end up on the day before the one you started on. I’m not sure if it’s the air in Ghana, but I always thought a week meant seven days and that you ended up on the same day… a week later.

            Today I spent the morning at the house. I was very nice because it was the first chance I ‘ve had to read, since arriving in Ghana. After lunch, Jennifer asked me if I wanted to go with her as she drove Ti Ti’s wife to her father-in-law’s house. I figured I could always read and jumped at the opportunity to go out. Ti Ti’s wife also came with another of her relatives. We had a long car ride there and back, so I had plenty of time to really concentrate on what they were saying in Twi to each other. Jennifer prefers Ga, but she can speak and write fluently in Twi. Since the other two women were only Twi speakers, it was a mix of that and some English. I realized when I listened that I was picking up on some cultural expressions that went deeper than Ga or Twi. I first noticed it when Jennifer and I met her friend who helped her discuss Koteay’s schooling situation. I’m going to do a bad job representing it in writing, but I think it’s important to mention. They made a sound like aaaa, starting with a higher pitch going into a lower pitch. I told you it would be a bad, but I have nothing to compare it to, so that’s all you get. And it came in different forms with the pitch changing at different parts or staying the same. It seemed like it was used to agree, show exasperation at something outrageous, and other times that I couldn’t quite pick up on. Right at that moment in the car I realized I also heard Koteay use it. He used it a lot, but really only when he thought something was outrageous. These women seemed to use it in many more situations. The way Ti Ti’s wife spoke really reminded me of the way that education specialist woman, with the sider locks on the front of her head, would speak. They both had a very smooth cadence to their speech, but interjected passion and excitement with the expressions, that I terribly described before. For some reason the way they talked was very comforting, in a motherly way. Hahaha I realize how this all can sound very obscure, but that’s what I experienced. Maybe I will be able to pin point what I’m talking about and come back to this in later journals. Anyway it was a good trip to get more Twi exposure. Before we got to the house, Ti Ti’s wife was trying to teach me 3te sen, which basically means what’s up, and I answered in 3ye, fine, and she realized I had done some studying. At this point vocabulary won’t help me much. Instead I just need to practice speaking it and nailing down the common words and sounds.

            We took a back road to avoid taking the main junction with the big concentrations of people, doing whatever they want, in the middle of the road. That still happened everywhere, but this route had smaller clumped groups of people. I also noticed how there were virtually no people walking by the cars in the street to sell goods. It might have been a combination of having less intersections and it was more of a place where locals would drive.

            We got to the house and I met the older gentlemen, Ti Ti’s dad, and woman who lived there. Ti Ti’s dad was a very kind man. He seemed to be smiling the whole time. Jennifer did what she does best and oriented the conversation so that everyone knew who I was and what I was doing in Ghana, to make everyone as comfortable as possible. Jennifer prepared me to be ready that every house you visit in Ghana, you will be offered a drink. If you’re a man the first offer will be for beer. When I was brought the beer I said medaase, thank you (please excuse my spelling). They all got a kick out of me speaking Twi. Then Jennifer told the group how they thought I was a spy because I came already knowing some Twi and as I mentioned before, when I was at Josephs Aunt’s house, they were speaking Ga and I found myself laughing at the appropriate times. All I know was that I was zoned in to their conversation to pick up on the sounds and for some reason could hear the spacing in speech for jokes. Apparently it’s similar for English. Or maybe I am a spy and they did a bad job of wiping my memory. Great, there goes the Larium again.

            Jennifer said that she wanted me to learn a few Ga words before I leave her house for Kumasi. Since then, I had been listening with extra effort to pick up on some words her and Koteay used around the house. When Ti Ti’s dad offered me another beer I said daabi, meaning no in Ga. Jennifer gave me the attitude look and she asked me, like she was interrogating a spy, “Where did you pick that up!?” I just laughed, hoping in the back of my head the spy thing was a joke. I had a great time meeting Ti Ti’s dad and we got back in the car to head home. The ride home had much more traffic, but I didn’t mind because I got to hear more Twi.

            The night ended with Jeniffer, Chalres, Ti Ti, and I watching international news and having great conversations about world issues. Apparently the Chinese aren’t the only ones to mix up their l’s and r’s. It is a common occurrence in Kumasi and other parts of Africa. Our nightly conversations were always so geographically interesting. I had very few of those discussions back in the States. Mostly because I got very specific information about different countries and cultures in Africa.

One thought on “A Day with Twi and Ga

  1. Mukiwa…the word actually means “Spyboy in Africa”, not, as many believe, “White boy in Africa”.
    Just kidding, of course. Keep the blogs coming, please. You have a special talent for allowing us to suspend disbelief through your choice of words and keen observations, and, as a result, transport ourselves to the “actual” event.
    Thanks for taking the time and making the effort to share this wonderful experience.
    Love, UB

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