Saturday, January 11, 2020

Daniel, Edward and Hamza

Grand-Bassam to Accra

Tropical verges
We travelled from our social sojourn in CI east to Ghana by taxi. Motorcycling is more romantic, that's certain, but four wheels and a driver is less stressful. I'm unable to escape the feeling we've disappointed our biking fans by leaving The Camel behind.

Because, in my imagination, this is the route to Cape Town, I can't stop feeling we're going south. But we're not. Traversing the Gulf of Guinea is definitely an east-west undertaking.

From CI into Ghana (our first road border by foot), to Ezile Bay, Elmina and on to Accra (500km and two resorts en route), the journey was not pleasant. I'd like to tell you of stunning views and beautiful landscapes but that's not how it is.

The road surfaces are constantly interrupted by pot holes and dishearteningly frequent, vicious speed bumps. The latter will destroy a car if not treated with respect. It's therefore impossible to drive with any rhythm. Dirt, dust and intense non-unleaded and diesel fumes create a constant, inescapable, unpleasant fug. Our car was occasionally stopped by police or armed soldiers and routine bribes were paid.


Group meal (photo permission given)
Our untutored but very amenable guide in Elmina gave us another intimate, touching insight into life in foreign parts. He spoke of the difficulty of making a career in a poor, corrupt society, of a harsh upbringing at home and school and the inhibitions this engenders.

He explained, with a little encouragement, that Africans tend to view Europeans as more intelligent, 'better' than them. We tried to disabuse him of this.

There's an instructive sharing ethic in societies here. Those working are often supporting several others. When friends eat together they regularly do so from one bowl. They pass food across the plate to each other.

Daniel arranged for his friend Joseph to chauffeur us in his taxi with no remuneration for himself. I asked why. He told me it was because when he was very ill with tetanus recently, Joseph, learning of it, came and drove him to hospital.

Cape to Cape

Cape Coast Castle
We were taken to see the 'Slave Fort' in Cape Coast. Over 160 years 200-300 captives every week were transported from here to the Americas and the appalling lives that awaited them. The guide insisted on referring to the victims not as slaves, but as 'Africans'.

So we did make it from one cape to another. At this place, it was easy to realise that some things aren't important.

Hausa, Ashanti, Fanti and Ga
In Accra we learned more about the people here from our cab driver, Edward and our tour guide, Hamza.

The Hausa are from the north and are mostly Muslim. They're outnumbered by Christians in Ghana. It's our first African country where this is so.

The Ashanti and Fanti are related groups from the middle regions of the country. They're numerous here. The Ga are the people of Accra. They're a minority here now.

Edward, a proud Ga, says life for working people in the capital is tough. He rents his cab and pays the first 60 cedi of each day's takings to 'the boss'. He routinely works 12-hour days.

His 11-year-old daughter is reaching puberty. He's worried that he won't be able to afford to provide her with the baubles and luxuries that a young woman desires. The fear arises because, in his opinion, it will make her more susceptible to the blandishments of others who can and that she'll end up 'in the family way' as a result.

Hamza is a Hausa Muslim and will take us on a walking tour of his neighbourhood on Monday. On Wednesday will will go with him to the central Ghanaian Ashanti capital of Kumasi for a three-night expedition. It will probably be our final outing.


The Abajo Band
We went to a concert last night. The house band were the best part of the proceedings.

Percussion-heavy, they were good playing alone, less so when they backed the guests. At these moments, their 'enthusiasm' dominated.

1 comment:

  1. As usual, it's your interactions with people that seem to have the left the most vital mark. It's amazing that in this tiny corner of the universe a single species can have developed such differing lives and preoccupations, but that underneath it all, there is the same thread of humanity. I think that's hopeful.

    I also sense a lingering disappointment that your journey ends here. Just think what an incredible odyssey you've been on, and even the eponymous odyssean found true deliverance in his return. Just watch out for Scylla and Charybdis on your way back, and beware the one-eyed man.


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