Harmattan

Harmattan - Obuasi Road

With rain threatening over the last few days, I thought I’d better get going on a post about Harmattan.

Harmattan is technically the name of a West African trade wind, which blows south off the Sahara, bringing with it tons and tons of red dust. Have a look at the graph below, we experience 100-400kg of dust per hectare! In Ghana, the term Harmattan it is used more broadly to describe the main hot, dry season. When we left Konongo at Christmas for our snowy break, the field in front of the house was a lush, green pasture. When we returned 2 weeks later, it was a singed brown, stubbly paddock. We were surprised at how quickly the transformation occurred, and with each passing week; the grass is browner and drier. It looks much like the parched countryside of Australia in summer.

Morning mist 3

And while the mental image of the Harmattan wind may conjure for you, swirling dust of the Sahara, with tall turbaned Africans shrouding their face from the dust; the reality, here in mid-southern Ghana, is far more prosaic.

:: It is surprisingly not windy. But it is rarely windy here, close to the doldrums (that’s literally the doldrums, not metaphorically…well most days anyway). Occasionally we get a day of mildly swirling winds, but nothing of serious import.

Morning mist

:: The mornings are cool, particularly early in the season; and with a welcome drop in humidity. For weeks leading into Harmattan, and throughout a good portion of the season, the mornings were shrouded in a thick fog. So thick, in fact, that sticking your arm out the car window (on the way to school), would leave it quite wet. But now, towards the end of the season the mornings are still cool, and I mean that relatively (24 degrees C), but by midday, its the usual hothouse in the mid-30s. But the air is dry, and our lips are cracked and skin scaly.

Morning mist 2

:: Particularly in the mornings and evenings, the dust shrouds the horizon and the children mistake the sun for the moon.

Harmattan Sun

:: And of course, its dusty.

There is something perversely satisfying about watching the shower water turn brown as you wash your feet (I wear sandals everyday) at the end of the day.

:: But really why I wanted to post about it, is because every time I think about Harmattan, I can’t get MC Hammer out of my head.

Harmattan -> Harmat-time ->Hammer-time.

Funny? Sad? Pathetic? Well, I think it’s funny.

For anyone wanting to re-live those dance moves and those pants:

p.s. Since I wrote the first draft of this post, we have had a huge rainstorm; signalling the begining of the end of the season. The rain was divine, heavy and cleansing.

It would have been far more enjoyable if I wasn’t stuck in a broken down car, at 7pm, next to a busy roundabout in Kumasi, with three hungry, tired children.

I am begining to wonder if this isn’t all some sort of sick joke, sent to test my mental strength.

A friend of Bill’s from the mine, like a knight in shining armour, came to the rescue, with a mechanic in tow. He gave me his car and then dealt with our car. I was more grateful than you can imagine!

6 responses to “Harmattan

  1. Hello,

    That is a near perfect if not perfect description of Harmattan weather. March is likely to be a bit more warmer and the rains will start coming from April thereon. I live in Aberdeen, Scotland and I am really impressed about your updates and almost a very balanced description of things back in my home country. Enjoy the Harmattan

    Felix

    Like

    • Thanks Felix for your kind words, what a change for you in Aberdeen. To be honest I’m a cold weather fan, and do struggle with the heat here. Thanks so much for commenting, I rarely get comments from Ghanaians, and appreciate your description of ‘almost balanced’, and appreciate your time in making the comment. Take care. Chrissie

      http://sixdegreesnorth.me

      Like

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