Wonoo Final Ceremony

Wonoo Final Ceremony

Today is Wednesday, December 4th, and my plan for today is to do the Wonoo Ceremony. After my morning routines, I leave my house at around 7:10 to go meet George Bush. On my way I see the same lady that gives me more food than anyone else. She stops me and hands me an envelop for her church donations. Awkwardly I try to pretend I don’t know what she’s saying and I tell them I have to leave to visit my friend. I put the envelop in my back pocket and leave. It’s not that I don’t want to give back to this woman, I just don’t want to donate to a church, especially on in Ghana. Many people here use religion to exploit people and I have no idea if her church is among those wicked people. I would much rather buy some food to share with her, instead of blindly donating money to a bottomless pool of corruption. If I’m going to donate anything it’s going to be to something I understand better and it will probably be to an orphanage or a student I’m involved with.

I get to Bush’s place early and I’m invited in to his room again. His brother, Owusu Ansah, is there again and we all chat as Bush gets ready for work. The time comes and we leave and let his family know we’re leaving. On our walk to his shop, we talk about different things about his family and how big they are and about some Twi words. He tells me that in a small town like Antoa he needs to be careful because if you’re not you could end up unknowingly marrying a relative. Then he explains some Twi words to me that involve God and I’m happy to continue to strengthen my arsenal of God related Twi phrases. More than anything else, even the yebe shia bomb, the god related Twi phrases get people the most excited. Today he taught me Onyame buah. I’ve heard wo buah before and that means “you lie.” I ask him with a chuckle if he’s telling me that god lies. He says no that is impossible and buah also means permits. I ask “so, how can you tell if you’re saying a person is lieing or permitting?” He tells me that a person can never permit something, only God can. I think this is an interesting insight into the Ghanaian culture and their relation to religion. This culture is much more religious than the one I’ve grown up with. Especially living in California the land of “fruits and nuts” as some people say. When I drop Bush off he tells me some more about his Grand Mother and what she’s taught him about God and his love for everyone. Then, I realize that the same Grandma I met at his compound is the same one I’ve heard so much about from my visits to Bush’s shop. She sounds like she has a lot of wisdom. I just hope she knows enough English to be able to give some to me directly. I leave Bush and head back home to ready things for the ceremony.

I call Tio and find out that the Antoa JHS closes next Thursday. That means that I need to change the schedule and plan to have the final test this Friday and the ceremony the following Monday. Okay, no problem I can adjust things and fit that all in. However, I’m sad that the Antoa program will have to be cut a week short. I finish writing the names of the students on the awards and get all of the other paperwork together. We have a form for each student to fill out asking them about their family situation, obstacles to their education, and other relevant cultural information.

I leave my house around 10:30 and do my usual greeting on the road leading out of town. I get lucky and catch a Tro Tro around 11:00 that goes all the way to Wonoo. However, it’s too early for people to be out with food, so I go the house of the rice woman again and buy her food right as she’s making a bit batch. Then I head back to get the big sachet bag of water, but the lady’s shop is close. I do some searching and find another place with the same type of big fridge. Except this guy doesn’t chill the big packs of sachets, he puts individuals in and chills them. He offers to put thirty individual chilled sachets for the same price of the grouped pack. He’s looking for a bag and I point to the bag he opened to put the sachets into the fridge. He tells me that he found an even bigger bag and come back with a black bag. I get a bad feeling, but I just let him fill the water into the bag. As I’m walking to the school my feeling is confirmed when I go to put the bad on my head. The black plastic bags are not as tough as the ones carrying the sachet packs, so the bag is dropping over the sides of my head. My head is no almost completely covered on either side by waters and all I can think is how ridiculous I must look. I try to hold up the sides so they don’t cover my ears and totally envelop my head. As I’m walking I see the banana lady at the primary and stop to buy some. I ask her for one cedi worth of bananas. When I get this amount in Antoa they will generally give me five or six, about 20 peswas per banana. This lady gives me about 15 or 16. Okay, I know the food is cheaper in Wonoo, but this lady must just really like me or be mistaken. I take my food and the waters and leave for the JHS. As I’m about 50 yards from the school the bag on my head breaks and a water falls out. Now there’s a hole in the top and one in the bottom where my they were resting on my head. I quickly grab the hole on the bottom with my free hand and spin the bag so my hands and the holes are on either side. 30 waters is very heavy to carry in my arms normally, but now trying not to let them spill it seems a bit heavier than normal. I quickly scramble to the closest spot by the elevated school cement block and set the waters down. I finish my rice and only a few of the bananas before I get very full.

The tutors show up on time, like normal and the time comes to start the ceremony. I tell the masters and teachers again that they are invited and only about three of them can show up. Before the ceremony I have one of the masters take a picture of the tutors, students, and me all together in front of the school. I start the ceremony by thanking all of the students for participating and again thanking them for being apart of the program. I thank the teachers and masters for letting Expo be apart of their school curriculum and finish by explaining how the award process will go. I announce the SHS tutors awards first. Then I tell the group that their tutors will announce the following awards. We start with most improved in English and Math, then to best attendance, finishing with the participation awards for all of the students. I explain to the group about the deal I made with the tutors to give the hardest working one a scholarship toward their university education. I announce that Patrick is the scholarship winner and close out the ceremony and everyone claps. I tell the students that they are welcome to waters at the front and have the tutors pass out snack to all of the students. The masters leave and I hand out the forms for the students to fill out. After that we close from the ceremony and I head back home.

On my way back into town I realize that I still have the bananas that I couldn’t finish. I stop by Andrews shop on the way back home and we share the bananas and a good conversation. He tells me a story about earlier in the day when he was pick pocketed in Kumasi and caught the guy and somehow got his money back. He went on to tell me about how to be careful and look out for people trying to steal from others.

I leave his place when the sun is setting so I can make a few trip to fetch some water. I make it back and forth about four times and almost fill up the big tub again. After that I catch up on administrative stuff for Expo and have a slow rest of the night.

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