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Archive for August, 2007

Dwumadi (Celebration)

Note: I made two entries today, so I’d like you to read them!  I deleted one of the entries from before as I thought it was a bit personal, and I wouldn’t have been able to communicate the context of my feelings very well, so it came off very negative and biting.  So I apologize for anybody that may have been offended.  But anyways, the entry below is my way of making up for it.  I’ll be in Accra for the next week so I’m going to post a new blog entry almost every day as I start to prepare to go back home to Canada!

The other day in Kumasi, I saw a small headline roll across the news screen that made me jump and shout for joy. What could make me so happy? Let me show you:

POVERTY IN GHANA DOWN 52% IN 1999 TO 28.5% IN 2006

UNDP CONFIDENT THAT GHANA WILL REACH MDGS BEFORE 2015

That’s right, baby! Ghana is stepping up, and it will be ahead of the pack. I am so happy and so proud. What do I see around me? I see people working hard and striving to bring themselves out of poverty, I see people that want to help them. There is a man a minister who has a reputation — he was asked to come to the USA to get a high-salary job there, but he rejected and decided to stay in Ghana as a minister to help his own country. Ghanaians are proud of him, and, considering how much desire there is and how much prestige is attached to go to the USA, this man, he has done well.

I have high hopes for Ghana. When all the people of Ghana have access to safe, clean drinking water, quality sanitation, and opportunities for children of all incomes to have an education, then I will look back on my days here and I will feel proud that I was just a small, tiny part of making that dream come true. And I hope that as Ghana becomes a leader of development in Africa, that they will help their brothers and sisters in Africa to also develop.

This is the side of Ghana that many Ghanaians want me to show to Canadians – a Ghana that is growing, vibrant and full of hope. And often, having development workers come here all the time and share their stories of the poverty, it can cover up the stories of hope and achievement, and in some ways, even disempower the people, to think that Ghana always needs help. Well, it doesn’t. People here don’t all live in mud huts, they don’t engage in cannibalism, or spend the whole day sitting there, starving in the desert.

Kumasi, the city that I stayed in is developed, with paved roads, traffic lights, intersections, bureaucracies, police, and opportunities. There is construction. People are proud to be Ghanaian – the Ghanaians have won the African Cup of Nations four times in a row, I’ve heard, and they are hosting it in Ghana next year. There is hope for Ghanaians because of the large natural resources that are here: cocoa, diamonds, gold, lumber, and now even oil. Let’s just hope that these resources can be used to benefit Ghanaians and that the money doesn’t just get sucked up out of the country.

But Ghana, this applause is just for you.

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So after my village stay in Fakwasi, I had to leave right away to do business, but the man who let me stay with him wasn’t there at the moment, so unfortunately I had to leave without saying goodbye to him. But apparently I left also without him saying goodbye to me. The reason he had left was to buy me my goodbye present. I regret that I did not find some way to stay behind so that he could properly give me a goodbye.

Anyways, the next time I’m at the club house relaxing, I see my co-worker, and he goes to me and says: “So the man you stayed with last week, he’s come into town to bring you your goodbye present. It is some yams, and a fowl.”

I’m stunned into silence.

“A fowl?”

“Yes.”

“A *live* fowl???”

“Yes.”

“…”

I had in my hands a chicken, a rooster to be exact, and I had no idea what to do with it. Now, when you get a rooster, normally a Ghanaian would just kill it and have a fine meal. But the Canadian, the animal-loving part of me couldn’t just kill it and eat the meat. So I decided to keep it as a pet.

I started daydreaming of all the things I could use a pet rooster for. Free alarm clock, ecologically-friendly bug killer, playmate, I was thinking of going back to Canada, and having my family jump to see me and run to hold me in their arms… but then stop in mid-step as they saw my rooster. Muahaha!

But, after reading the title of this post, you already know that that’s not going to happen. You see, there’s no way that I could ever get poor Blackie (for that’s what the children named him) to Canada. Seeing as there was a recent case of Avian flu near my area, there is no way that that bird would touch Canadian soil. And so… after contemplating all the options, I did the unthinkable.

After a week of playing and spending time with him, I decided to give Blackie, my beloved rooster, my joy of Ghanaian joys, to my family.

On the night before I left my host family, we had chicken for dinner. … Well, I’m glad that Blackie was able to feed my host family, who had taken care of me for three-and-a-half months, for a night, and that they really enjoyed it. It was the least I could do, and it would be the last time I would see them for what may well be the rest of my life. As for me, I did not partake in the meat of that meal, I decided to have fish instead.

Rest in Peace, Blackie, my pet-for-a-week. May you go to chicken heaven, where they have heaps and heaps of corn on the open green grass fields, and yummy cockroaches.

*sniff* :’)

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