Hi there. Yesterday, 6 March, was Ghana’s Independance Day. Before we moved to Ghana, whenever someone expressed concerns about moving to Africa, I would, like a broken record, repeat that Ghana was the first sub-saharan country to achieve independence from European colonisation (1957). While I am certainly no expert on the history of Africa, I cannot help but think that this is one (of many) fundamental reasons as to why Ghana has not followed the majority of the continent down bloody, lawless paths.
Like Australia Day, Independance Day is marked by a public holiday. In each of the schools in each district, a group of children and teachers are selected to be a marching troupe, who compete against each other for the honour of being the best. We walked with Latifa (a gorgeous young woman who helps in the guesthouse, and loves the kids), through Konongo to the sister town of Oudomasi, to the Senior High School where the parade took place. As usual, there we people everywhere…
And, as usual, we generated a fair bit of attention…
It was kind if like a school sports carnival, and I think, like a schools sports carnival, you really needed to know someone participating to really get it.
The best part of the day was the walk home. Rather than along the main road, we walked along back lanes, where there were no cars, and then through a kind of industrial street, with carpenter shops, sawmills, concrete block shops, bakeries and the like. Because it was a public holiday, and therefore a day off school, there were plenty of kids about. We were ‘obruni’-ed many times by the kids (white man!), and can guarantee we were the first white people these kids had actually seen in the flesh. Our kids are coping really well with all this attention, although, when you are hot and tired, it’s pretty easy to grow tired of it. The kids are friendly and wave and giggle, but there isn’t anymore conversation than that. I guess that one of the unexpected difficuilties of Ghana, is the language. While English is the official languages of Ghana, here is a list of the Government sponsored languages:
1. AKAN (Ashanti, Fante, Akuapem, Akyem, Kwahu) (Written Twi) 2. DAGAARE / WAALE Spoken in Upper Western Region (UWR) 3. DANGBE Spoken in Greater Accra.(G/A) 4. DAGBANE Spoken in Northern Region (NR) 5. EWE " Volta Region (VR) 6. GA " Greater Accra Region (G/A) 7. GONJA " Northern Region (NR) 8. KASEM " Upper Eastern Region (UER) 9. NZEMA " Western Region (WR)
Everyone is multilingual (except us!!!), and the standard of English is very variable, which combined with our very different accents, can make communication difficuilt. Here is a sign we have seen everywhere is school playgrounds:
Initially I was surprised when I saw these signs, but it is, of course, totally logical if Ghana wants to fully participate on the world stage. Education is taken very seriously in Ghana, and it is the surest-fire way out of poverty. To any kids reading this, the local private school starts at 6.30am and finishes same time as NEPS!!! The school Cecie, Lill and Jock will go to, starts at 7.30am and finishes at 3.30!!!