The Big Kwahu Celebration

Saturday, we have a slow start to the day and Fufu is served around noon. Well, I’m pretty much set for the day. I’m really enjoying the amount of Fufu I’ve been getting on this vacation. The dads mention a few times their friends across the street, who have a private pool. Before we start to eat the Fufu, Eric asks me if I want to go swimming, but of course I tell him after the Fufu. He tells me to eat lightly to recover quickly. Ugh sorry, but there’s no way I’m cutting out Fufu for any pool. I gorge myself as usual and then Charles, Eric and I leave for the pool. I’m feeling very full, so I head to the bathroom before we leave, but have no such luck.

 We leave the house at 13:00, but I’m still feeling the Fufu belly too much to swim. We catch a quick cab ride to a hotel and I find out that we’re not going to their friend’s private pool, but instead to a hotel pool. Eric, one of the other sons around mine and Charles’ age, is the brave one and jumps into the pool right after we get there. Despite the common warning, I’ve swam after eating and never had an issue before, but I’ve never tried after being Fufu full. I’m also less inclined after learning about this culture’s awareness of how to help people who are choking. I wouldn’t be surprised if I started drowning and that same guy from Bush’s office came with a big piece of meat and a water sachet. Okay, that’s not fair, these people travel much more often, so they probably know how to do some basic first aid.

 Instead of joining Eric, Charles and I sit at one of the tables and take in the scene. Everyone at the pool is over 20, but under 35 and they all look like they’re just passing the time until they can really start the party when the sun sets. It’s not very crowded, but there are some people dancing, sitting, eating, and swimming. Eric keeps coming and asking if I am ready to go into the pool and I turn him down every time. I can’t help but indulge in the great people watching situation. There’s a group of men standing around some very short guy covered in gold chains and of course with a pair of big sunglasses. They also have a few women dancing around them who seem like they’ve been paid to stick around. I think the guy even has a grill on his teeth, but he’s too far to know for sure. Many more people start to show up now and as expected the group of woman and their pimp almost get into a fight. After another hour I’m feeling much better about going into the pool, but now there’s way too many people to have any fun. The majority of the people at the pool are men anyway, so I tell Eric I’m not going in today. Charles and I have had enough, so we tell Eric we’re leaving and will see him back at the house.

 Back at the house we lounge around and mostly talk. Since yesterday was the big travel day, tonight is supposed to be the big night where everyone has energy to go out on the town. Charles and I leave at about the same time as last night and one of the other sons comes with us. Even before we get to Obo, I can tell this night will be much bigger than yesterday. We worked our way through the crowd for awhile before coming to a stage where Shato Wale, a very famous Ghanaian musician, will be performing. I’d say he’s about the popularity of pitbull or usher or one of those other top 40 artists. We find a pocket in the crowd and wait for the performance to start.

 After a short wait, I could see everyone’s attention went from conversations around us to up front by the stage. Shato Wale must be coming on to the stage. Naturally we all stop talking and fix our attention on the stage, but don’t see anyone. Instead, about 50 feet in front of us I can see the crowd dispersing like everyone is trying to get away from something. Then, like the wildebeest stampede in Lion King, everyone turns around and starts running in my direction. Literally, everyone in this very dense and crowded area are now running toward me. Without much need for thought I also turn around and run in the same direction. I’m not sure what we’re running from, but I’m not willing to find out. We run to the side of the street and find a pocket between some food stands. Now, we’re able to stand still in a safe place and watch all of the people in the street run by. Then, the crowd breaks up enough to see some groups of people fighting. They literally come down the street and pause right in front of us. The people were clearly too drunk and couldn’t even throw a punch. They’re arms were flailing wildly around and not really connecting solidly. My adrenaline was still pumping though because I’m watching for one thing, a knife. Guns aren’t common enough in Ghana for someone at a concert like this to have one, but knives seem to be much more common for people to have with them as they walk around. Maybe they won’t hurt anyone too bad if they continue with their sporadic punching, but even the biggest idiot can accidently kill someone with a knife. Charles and I are in a good spot though. We are behind a few layers of people who had the same idea and behind a big grill that has really sharp metal points coming out around it like a porcupine.

 I think I’m mostly just on edge because I still remember clearly a fight I saw at Antoa a week before. I was walking to catch a car when I saw almost everyone on the street run over to the side of the Chiefs Palace. I walked around the corner of one of the buildings to see and that’s when Charles came up and greeted me. I saw some young men fighting and it looked like people were breaking it up. That’s when the boys continued to yell at each other before one of them picked up a giant rock and ran at the other one and tried to smash it on his head. The other one blocked the rock and they threw a few punches before the same thing happened again. Then the one who blocked the rock backed up and pulled out a giant knife. Appropriately Charles leaned over to me and told me that we should get further away because a pastor came to Antoa the other day and told everyone that someone in the next year would die in a fight, but the person would not be one of the people fighting. We were already at a safe distance, but that was enough for me to back up a little bit more. I wanted to leave and go get my work done, but people were now running over and pushing the guy with the knife away trying to break up the fight. Some of the people pushing them away were even my friends, so I get too worried about them to leave. I’m not stupid enough to get near the fight, but maybe I can help if someone gets injured. Then Charles and I walk back over toward his house so he can give me a letter and the fight continues to go over into his grandfather’s compound. Now I’m worried about his grandfather as he often sits out in the open area in the middle of the compound and he’s tough enough to possibly want to step in. That’s when the boy with the rock gets a police man and goes over to the other one who had the knife. He slaps the one who had the knife and I think tries to provoke him to pull out the knife again so the policeman can see. I was seriously horrified I was going to watch someone die, especially one of my friends around town. After some time the boy with the knife runs away and the policeman follows him. The situation ended and the boy with the knife wasn’t even punished at all. Anyway that situation ended without anyone getting hurt, but it was enough to put me on edge when these other people are fighting at Kwahu.

 There Charles and I are watching these people fight and everyone around them running away. That’s when I notice an itching feeling in my throat that seems to take over my attention. After a few seconds the itching gets worse and my throat starts to burn, causing me to cough. When my eyes start to burn I instantly know what is happening. Someone threw tear gas to break up the crowd. Right then, Charles takes a hold of me and we run back through the crowd to escape the tear gas. That boosted my respect for Bob Marley, knowing that when he was in the middle of a concert to promote peace, some tear gas mad the crowd run away, but he stayed and kept performing.

 We escape the effects of the tear gas, but keep walking back all the way to the house. We come across a few more small groups of people fighting before the crowd starts to dissipate and there become no signs of the chaos that just went on. We get back to the next town and eventually their house. Once back, we go over the story with everyone who stayed and spend the rest of the night watching the people walk by the front of the house. 

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