1.Work stuff (Feel free to skip) -- My company just submitted a grant proposal to USAID that would give us about $400,000 over two years, to scale up programming in Ghana. And since I’m currently the only one on the ground here, a lot of the legwork fell to me. Right now, we are only partnered with one Ghanaian CBO (Community Based Organization) but we are trying to expand to work with five new ones. SO I’ve been running around meeting with potential local partners, and helping to write out the 40 page proposal. But we finished (yay!), and turned it in on Dec 1. Just in time for World AIDS Day! (more on that below).
2. My apartment – I’m still in the same place for now, but I’ve been told that I’m now going to be moving in Dec. But we’ll see. Other updates: There was something wrong with my water tank for a while, so I just recently got running water again. I’ve also recently developed an increased problem with roaches. It’s starting to feel like that scene in Men in Black (squish ..“Oops, was that your Auntie? Then that means, this must be your Uncle”.. .squish “You know all of y’all look alike to me.”) which would explain why I keep having nightmares about mammoth alien insects. I will say, though, that whoever said it’s hard to kill a cockroach clearly didn’t try just chopping the damn thing in half with a butcher’s knife (hassann-chop!). Or maybe they just didn’t have my ninja speed…
3. Exploration! -- Because Accra is such a huge city, I started by exploring the “bubble” around my apartment, and since then have slowly been increasing the radius of this “bubble” each week. This week’s “bubble” happened to extend to Independence Square, and the National Museum.
Independence Square is pretty self-explanatory. Constructed under Ghana’s first President, Kwame Nkrumah, it commemorates the independence of Ghana, March 6, 1957 (the first country in Sub Saharan Africa to achieve independence!) The square is right by the ocean, and is used for gatherings/demonstrations/parades on many different holidays. You can see in the picture that there are a bunch of tents and things being taken down—the tents were put up for Tabaski, so that Muslims could gather and pray without being liquefied by the hot African sun.
The National Museum was constructed in 1960, and is mostly ethnographic exhibits of different cultural traditions in Ghana. It’s a little bit small and at the time, my friend and constituted half of the people there, but overall it was a pretty interesting visit. Some of the highlights—
Snake charmers hold the snakes between their teeth in a contest to show who has more spiritual power and superiority. (This will probably be the subject of my next series of nightmares.)
These papier-mâché mannequins are showing a traditional dance of the Ewe people. The point of the dance is literally to look as ridiculous as possible. Also please notice the posterior on that woman. You could use that thing as a shelf. Or maybe even an umbrella.
They had a really cool exhibit on the evolution of African music, where you could listen to clips of everything from traditional chants to modern hip-hop. I think I’m jamming to some sweet Jazz in this picture…
This is a necklace made entirely out of human teeth. I don’t know what the reasoning behind it was, but you have to admit it’s pretty badass. Anyone want to venture a guess as to how many mouths it took to make this?
4. World AIDS Day – In celebration of World AIDS Day, my company organized a night of interactive theater for some of the communities that we work it. The theater performance was called “HIV Demystified,” and that’s about all I understood, because the whole thing was performed in Ga. I asked my coworker sitting next me, “What’s happening?” His answer, “It’s about HIV.” Great, that’s so helpful. Because HIV ISN’T in the title. (sidenote: It was actually about myths and stigma, but I didn't learn that until later).
Apparently it was funny, because everyone was laughing, but I had no idea what was going on. Which made it all the more awesome when they pulled me on stage (and let’s face it, as soon as I said interactive, you knew this was coming). But the fact that I had no clue what was going on only made the show all the more entertaining for the rest of the audience. Yelling at me in Ga is everyone’s favorite pastime around the office, as I think I mentioned in an earlier post.
Anyway, after the show, there was food and drinks, loud music and mingling. It was a fun evening. As the event was coming to a close, I happened to turn around and notice that a bunch of neighborhood kids had gathered behind us and were dancing to the music. It was pretty hilarious. The video is dark, but you get the idea. The entire event turned into one big dance party at the end anyway. No, I’m not joking. I have picture proof. Gotta love Africa!