Last friday night we had an extraordinary evening. An Australian man, who was part of the senior management of the mine is leaving. He has done a lot of work for the local communities, and this was his farewell party. The mine is associated with 18 communities, each of which have a nana, or chief. As a mark of his community work, he was ‘enstooled’ as local nana of community. As I understand it, the Ashanti nana’s are headed by an amahene (sp?), who in turn are headed the paramount chief, the asantehene, the present one is Otumfuo Nana Osei Tutu II.
Everyone arrived dressed in traditional dress, with many wearing conspicuous gold. The dress of the Ashanti region is a stunning woven cloth called kente, although some wore richly printed velvets. It is stunning, brightly coloured woven fabric, which is woven in long strips (~15cm wide) and sewn together. Others, originally from the northern regions of the Ghana, wore a loose, short tunic. There was the usual speeches by outgoing and incoming managers, followed by music and a large buffet, and the enstoolment of the new chief of community.
We ate 5 (!) different rice dishes, including the delicious jollof rice (rice cooked in a light tomato base, with just a little spice). Ghanaians love their spicy foods. There was chicken and fish (tilapeoa) cooked whole. All the meat was very well cooked, overdone to my taste, but that seems to be the local style.
I was a little nervous about asking to take peoples photographs, but that was totally unnecessary! Once I started, the chiefs began to stop me and ask for their photo. There was then the obligatory scrolling through the photos on the viewer at the back of the camera, and thumbs-up all round. It was a hoot! Everyone admiring their shots! People were also very keen to have their photos taken with our kids too. The world over, people are always happy to talk to children, and it provides a easy conversation for us. Cec, Lill and Jock have never shaken so many hands! [They are coping with the attention well, although at times, it gets a bit overwhelming]. And the Ghanaian handshake is not a regular handshake, once you shake hands, you slide your fingers apart and finish with a ‘click’ of your index or middle finger. I was feeling miffed that Bill was getting the click and I wasn’t, but I worked out that I need to initiate it as much as they do. Bill also gets the shake-thumbs interlocked hand grasp-click. But I think that might be a guy thing…
It was an extraordinary night, one that will not be repeated. And while I’m sure we will have our challenging times, it will remain with us as an example of why we made the leap to Ghana.
[apologies to anyone who has tried to contact us over the last few days. We’ve been having power issues, running off generators, which subsequently fried the internet server. Hopefully back to normal soon].