School Holiday

Today is a Muslim Holiday and everyone has the day off. The nurse that lives in my compound, Fadella, and the other two that come often are Muslim, so they have all traveled to visit home. The morning is pretty slow as get some Expo stuff done and finally get to read. American man had told me in passing that the assistant chief comes into town on Tuesday, so I make an effort to visit him today. I head out around lunchtime to visit American man and ask him about the process of visiting the Assistant chief.

 As I get down to Andrews shop, two people I have met in different areas are all here hanging out with him. He has a bench at the front of his shop that people often come to sit on as they visit him. Now that I think of it, he must have a lot of friends because there is almost always people sitting there chatting with him. The first person sitting there is Owusu Ansah. He was the young man that helped me when I was trying to teach the child in primary. Every time we meet he asks me really interesting questions so I like to talk with him because I don’t have to go through the same script I go through with everyone else. I sit down next to him and greet the group. Next to him is a young woman I met at Andrews shop when he was leaving for Kumasi. We walked down the road and she told me about her dream to be nurse and her path to accomplishment. I asked her if she was just good with that or if she had more hopes and dreams to accomplish. She told me that she want to travel and be a nurse in the other Countries of Africa that are more in need than Ghana. Wow I was just blown away by that answer, I definitely have to find out more about her when I get a chance. Owusu is speaking directly to me with his back turned to the group. He tells me that George Bush, the microfinance man, is his brother. I nearly yelp in excitement. They are both so kind and genuine, it really makes sense they are related. He tells me that George Bush has been mentioning my name all around the house. The girl kept cutting in to say different things to me, addressing me as white man. I don’t know why, but it just makes me uncomfortable when people call me white or white man. I know it basically means the same thing as Obroni, but I want them to address me by my name. My unease mostly comes when people know my name, but they insist to address me without an identity. I suppose that’s what is fueling my cultural learning. I don’t want to be addressed as the foreigner; I want to be known by my name and who I am. I start to address her as Obibini, which mean black or Ghanaian person. Normally in English I would never address someone as black person, but the Ghanaian’s think it’s funny when an Obroni calls them Obibini. She continues and asks me to buy her things and then asks if she can see my phone and eventually to give it to her. Now her conversation was exactly like most other people I’ve visited. It was a bit disappointing after our great discussion about her aspirations and thoughtful answers. I have a feeling she is putting on a front because of her friends nearby. She gets up to catch a Tro Tro to Kumasi as Owusu, Andrew, and I continue to talk about the differences in our education systems. Finally the sun gets to hot for me to stay there any longer and I leave for American Man’s house. I greet the dreadlock girl in the place next door and end with my greeting to the group of women who must have just finished breast-feeding. That’s only an assumption though she could just be sitting there airing out one of her breasts. Trying to suppress my 10-year-old laughter, I continue down the road. I stop by Moses’s shop, but his bins are closed and he’s not anywhere to be seen. I get to American Man’s house and he is out working in the front of his yard. We catch up quickly and he asks if I’ve heard about Momma Fausty. He says, “African’s are so stupid, she had diabetes and refused to tell anyone and died because of it.” I have no idea how to comment on that statement, so I just say that I’ve visited the family and it’s a very sad situation to have the daughter’s funeral so close to the mother’s. As for the Assistant Chief, he tells me to go visit him at his palace and if he’s not there to write a letter and leave it with the secretary. On my way back I can here Moses yelling my name from the street, “Akwesi Mattew!” He’s not wearing his work jumpsuit, but he still can’t seem to stay away from his work. He has his corn milling station open and people passing through. He sits down to talk with me for a few minutes and tells a passing elder that I’m interested in the history of Antoa. The elder, with a glimmer in his eye, starts the story. He starts the history from back in time when the Ashanti men were warriors and fought with the other groups of people around Ghana. I’m half expecting to say that this was 1,000’s of years ago. He tells me that the Ghanaians were modeling themselves after the Americans. Great, that means this wasn’t anywhere near that long ago. He continues and tells me that some of the Ashanti’s didn’t want to fight, so they searched through the forest for somewhere to settle in peace. People mostly settled near a river because it meant they had a secure source of water. Well, those people found a river and settled. Then another group of Ghanaian’s, trying to escape the fighting, came to join the first group near the same river. They named that town Antoa, which means those who have follow us. Then some of those people traveled to the Northern part of Ghana to get blessing from Fetish Priests. Priests in different locations told the people staying in Antoa that they lived near a very powerful river. That led to the blessing and curses being conducted for the River God. I probably butchered that terribly. I’ll ask some more elders and try to nail down this story.

 For lunch I get food from the ladies in front of my compound. I walk up to the vulgar lady and expect her to tell me something like I should like her boob or bring her to bed with me tonight. Instead, she’s totally serious with a somber look on her face. I try to get her to smile, but nothing is working and I’m very hungry. I get some ampesea na bayer3 na contumeray abomu, which means fried plantain and cooked yams and contumeray stew. It is very good and fills me up for cheap. I take the back way to the chief’s palace and greet everyone along my path. The chief wasn’t there today, as I expected, so I got his name and went back home.

 The football game between Ghana and Egypt is on tonight, so I can hear people screaming in all directions. They are also projecting the game announcement over the loud speakers for the people with no TV. Apparently Ghana beat Egypt 6 to 1 and has one more game before they head to the world cup. Daniel gets home after the game with some wood to nail to my bed for the mosquito netting. He has no saw, so he uses the kitchen knife to cut the wood. I take a few steps back and slightly and hide most of my body behind the nearest pillar. He cuts all the pieces and somehow all of his fingers are still in the same place. Then he says he doesn’t have a hammer so he goes into the kitchen and comes out with the metal part of a pickaxe. I hold the board, far away from where he’s making contact, and he is hitting the nails into the wood. Except every other blow he nocks the nail to the side and has to pry it back to a straight position. We finally get everything up and it looks quite terrible, but I can’t complain because the net covers my whole bed.

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