01 Jan Ghana (Home away from home)
Ghana to me is a second home, Nigeria is the first, so since I was already in Cote d’ Ivoire I decided to go to Ghana for rest before I moved on to the Democratic Republic Of Congo, I was reluctant to leave Cote d’ Ivoire, I know this might sound hackneyed but it is the truth, the country had made a home for me in her bosom and so my heart had also reserved a special place for her. I arrived in Ghana on the nineteenth day of November, stepping out of the plane unto the grounds of the Kotaku international Airport, Ghana was like I expected it; a deep breath of fresh air, I immediately knew that the five days I had to spend here, would leave me wishing for more days.
Ghanaians are an elegant and proud people, their culture is one that never ceases to leave you in awe of its beauty, from the beautiful colors of their national attire; the Kente to the jewelry worn by the women. Ghanaian women have always been regarded as Queens and to this day, women are traditional rulers in Ghana. Their national foods such as waakye, Banku, and shito are ceremonial meals and are preferred over any other continental dish. Ghanaians speak several local languages but English is widely spoken all over Ghana.
I didn’t feel like a tourist in Ghana, as I have already said, it is a second home to me, so it was not at all difficult to blend with the locals. I didn’t need a tour guide or escort to show me around, everyone I made acquaintance with from the airport picks up to the hotel receptionist showed me that I was a welcome brother and they would do all In their power to make sure my stay was pleasant.
My pre-booked visual artist (Coffee) and a friend of his who is a designer and a costumier (Larry Jay) both quickly bonded with me like we had known each other for many years. This made me realize that there is unity in the skin of the African, a oneness that all the years of conflict has not completely quenched, we fight it, our selfishness never lets us acknowledge it but it is there when we let down our guard we can see the kinship of our souls
One part of this trip that will never leave my memory is the food, Ghanaian food is very rich in appeal and flavor, so much precision is put into the process preparing the meals that you can taste the effort, the colors and aromas assault your senses and you already know that you would not be able to resist. I was treated by Coffee to the famous Ghana Jollof rice on my first day in Ghana, at a restaurant called Buka located in Osu central Accra, it was delicious! But based on the ongoing debate between Ghanaians and Nigerians about who has the better Jollof; I pronounce Nigeria the winner. Trust me, nothing tastes like the Nigerian Jollof (This is a simple truth) A day later he brought me Waakye, it was my first time eating Waakye. Waakye is rice cooked with an indigenous leaf (sorghum leaf sheaths) and black-eyed peas (indigenous) or kidney beans (originally from the Americas) A typical Waakye meal usually consists of the cooked rice and beans, shito (hot black pepper sauce), stew, some spaghetti, and moist garri (both of which are sometimes mixed with oil from the stew), boiled eggs, stewed meat or stewed/fried fish, stewed wele (cooked-down cowhide) and vegetable salad (which may include cabbage, onions, and tomatoes). It may also be eaten with kelewele (fried plantain). It originated from the northern parts of Ghana. Waakye for me was a succulent palatable meal that my taste buds will never forget in a very long time and I made sure it was included in my daily meals, sometimes as lunch and other times as dinner all through my stay in Ghana.
When I was a child my mother often talked about how elegant Ghanaians looked in their Kente and gold accessories, and in the way that Children long to see with their eyes the stories woven from the mouths of their parents, I have always longed for the day I would wear this attire, this I did in grand style, styling the material with black headgear and neckpiece that had beautiful gold detailing and black slippers. I looked like royalty. On beautiful thing about visiting all these countries is that I get to become- albeit for a little while- a part of something so much bigger than myself.
My late grandmother greatly influenced my love for this country, she lived In Ghana for most of her youthful years, she was known throughout her life as a classy and elegant woman from Ghana, so much so that she was honored as the first Iyalaje of her hometown in Erin- Ile Osun state. The title ”Iyalaje” invokes altruism and only women of substance assume the position.
I left Ghana on the twenty-fifth day of November and I don’t need to tell you that I wish I didn’t have to leave. Africa creates in me a nostalgia that I cannot explain, even when I’m with her- this continent that harasses you with its bare beauty- I still miss her, like you miss a lover that is there one day and gone the next, her presence is never enough.