Voices from Ghana

This week’s voices from Ghana remind us that Obruni (white or foreigner) bloggers in Ghana are well and truly getting used to the country for its problem. No country is without its particular problems, but for these bloggers, some are more acute and note-worthy than others.

The first complaint lodged is by OXFAM Ghana Belgian intern, Elodie, of Akwaaba in Ghana, Gate (Get) to Africa!, who, in response to a reader from Cote d’ivoire keen to be established in Ghana, blogs about the “state of (in)accommodation”. Elodie sums up this state very candidly:

The estate sector can also be compared to a playing field with huge inequalities and no rule.

She wonders what the solution “of this lawlessness situation” could be. She believes “state regulation, implementation, control and justice” are key to addressing the very serious malpractices by landlords who demand upfront rent from one to three years!

Meanwhile, Trials and Tribulations of a Freshly-Arrived Denizen continues to lament about darkness falling in the country, including Accra, but, on a positive note, is encouraged by the country’s regulatory commission (PURC) responding to the latest complaints:

Anger and frustration aside, I contacted PURC this afternoon, on account of the fact that they had switched the lights off at 5.50am this morning. When I called my parents around 3.05pm, it was still off! Philip, of PURC, contacted me around 3.22pm to tell me that a conductor was broken and that they were on it. This was after having called me at 3.17pm to tell me that he was trying to get in touch with them. He assured me electricity should be back on around 4.30pm.

There are equally more positive vibes from Luke Brown, of I’ll Alight at the This Thing (Luke In Ghana) his experience in Ghana:

I like being in a country where people are willing to go all out. Where people don’t allow Western-style social norms to prevent them from discussing bodily functions. Where, if you care about someone, you express it unequivocally (“Luke, I’ve missed you so much!” is a common sentence to me). Where you don’t allow such apparent roadblocks as lack of space to prevent an additional bag of yams to be passed deep into the recesses of a public tro-tro – indeed, lack of space a roadblock: what would cause most Westerners to give up, is merely a minor setback here. And where “lights off” is taken in extreme stride: a fact of life here in a developing nation.

Tro-Tro is a name given to public buses in Ghana.

Brian, of I’m Ghana go to Accra, writes how “nothing really fazes me here anymore.” He elaborates on this new-found stoicism by writing a humorous post about breasts…of the chicken kind; rasta men preaching vitriol against the white man in a tro-tro and a the man announcing to the rest of the tro-tro that Brian was “possibly a CIA”! :

I nodded to confirm that indeed I was and told him that I’d be sure to keep watching him.

Equally humorous is a post by a couple writing in their blog A Canadian Couple Relishes Acronyms. Rob writes a brief overview of life in Accra to help prepare his Mum who will be visiting in December. It certainly proves to be a humorous account. He touches on temperature, Tema station, sound effects [of Ghanaians] hissing, pure water, and perhaps the most humorous being “Obruni” (white person):

If you are white, you are usually fairly aware of it. I mean, you’ve probably walked past a mirror a few times in your life. Maybe you noticed that your bangs needs a trim, or that you looked good in those new jeans you bought. You probably also noticed that your skin was rather pale and deathly. It‘s not a big deal, you were born with it. It’s one of those things you’ve come to accept as the truth. The people of Ghana are a sensitive bunch, though, full of keen observations and an eagerness to help their fellow man. One of the best ways they show this is by letting you know that you are white, in case it has slipped your mind. They do this by shouting out “Obruni!” (foreigner) when you pass them.

Leanne, of An American in Africa, reminisces over what she calls “gas lines” of 1978 in her native US as a result of gas shortage that struck Accra mid-November. Lest she forget, in Ghana you do not experience gas shortage, but fuel shortage:

(don't say ‘gas’ or even ‘gasoline’- you will be met by blank looks and puzzled expressions. You put FUEL in your car- or maybe diesel, but never ‘gas’.)

Finally, As US-based Ghanaian blogger, Crossed Crocodiles, celebrates over the fact that Ghana is certified polio free.

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