24.04.2007 - 28.04.2007 33 °C
Sweating our way north, we left Green Turtle Lodge under much duress knowing we are not to see the ocean again for a long long time. It pains me to say that our last day at the Turtle was, however, not a lazy day in the sun. Simone and I earned our first travellers' brownie points experiencing our first bout of Ghana stomach. The culprit has yet to be identified and punished, but as is traditional custom here, it was someone not something that wished evil upon us and since when in Rome.. we will surely determine who this individual is and ensure some "very bad things" happen to them. Not so bad really, spent most of the day doing the same as we had been the last 10 days... lying around, some reading and drinking Coke.. only this time it was not as much fun doing nothing. Life is tough in paradise!
Tuesday morning arrived and under much strain and still feeling the weakening aftereffects of case of the Ghana's we slowly but surely packed our belongings... which I am glad to announce has finally reached the point where we know pretty much where everything should go. Watching us pack is quite something.. like a well-oiled machine (even half-asleep and drowsy from too much sleep) we start... slowly at first. With all the items splayed out on the floor, one would never guess that all that paraphinalia could possibly fit but being placed perfectly in their specific corners, nooks and crannies of our bags order is created and with the final zzzzzzzzzip off we go. We took our favourite airconditioned STC bus to Kumasi from Takoradi via Cape Coast. A note on bus travel in Ghana... quite coincidently Simone and I watched the same gentleman sitting in front of us disembark and buy himself a meat (?) kebab at a sidewalk stall on one of the stops. When he boarded the bus again, both Simone and I thought how delicious the food smelled and envied this man for having a true Ghana stomach, tough enough to take any kind of meat you could throw at him, and secretly wished we too could enjoy a tasty warm morsel. Not mentioning these thoughts to one another, we sat back, took some bites of our cold, jollof rice (which we quite like really) hoping that our tender stomachs could at least handle that. Our envy was not to last, however, and our appreciation for rice the world-over was once again instilled...the gentleman was very ill and our trusty packet we had saved for our own unfortunate eventuality was passed on to the poor man. It was rice and chicken baby...now its juct rice baby!
In Kumasi we launched headfirst into this activity they call filmmaking. Choosing to spend our first day at the Centre for National Culture (CNC), just to get an idea of what the Asante (or Ashanti to those of you who prefer Anglofone versions of local names...Like Bree Street... IT IS NOT A FUCKING CHEESE!!!) kingdom has to offer the newbiw traveller. Well, not long into our investigation we were directed to the director of the centre, Mr S.F. Ajei. After going through a couple of people to get to him, we finally knew we had arrived when we entered a large airconditioned office. We sat down and launched into our completely unpracticed reason for being in Ghana and the making of our film, etc.etc... we are from South Africa... studying heritage... wanting to show people what Africa is really about... blahdiblahdiblah. Well, Mr Ajei seemed to like our idea and once we agreed that we would give him a copy of the film should it ever be produced (signed an agreement to this affect no less) he gave us free reign to film on the grounds as well as interviewing him and his staff. Although daunted at first, I think this interaction was the first time Simone and I really took ourselves and this filmmaking seriously. Now we are doing it!
As our first cultural experience the staff of the CNC took us to experience the funeral of an Asante chief... WOW! Weird but interesting. After having to shake the hand of each member of the extended family as well as other various chiefs, seated most seriously under their obligatory umbrellas, we were scuttled off into a room where the dead chief (having died 3 months previously, we have yet to determine how exactly they keep the body in such good shape for so long???) lay on a bed clothed and dressed in various chiefly regalia, such as a crown, staffs, gold. Morbid and weird for us as it is, this experience was even further x-dimensioned by the fact that there were about 5 film crews capturing the entire scene, and we seemed to be the South Africa delegation! Not sure how to act, especially being filmed throughout the whole thing we tried to move through as swiftly as is possible when you have to shake everyone's hand along the way (which happens to be a narrow way when the chief's bed takes up most of the small room). Heading for the small door into the light, thinking this was our exit into calmer waters, we are surrounded by the women of the family and escorted, bewildered, into the limelight of the event, encouraged to dance. Pretty confused (this is a funeral isn't it... I am sure I just walked past a dead body - or was it a wax sculpture?) and extremely self-consious Simone and I did what we had seen David Beckett and others do a million times on the Travel Channel... we joined in and tried our best to get the dance steps right, all thw while drawing a larger and larger crowd. It seems we did well, as we found out later, we received many thanks and signs of appreciation form the family and visiting mourners. I think htis is what funerals should be about...celebrating the life of the one who has passed... I certainly wouldn't want to have a bunch of sombre-faced loafers. It's dancing and jubilation at my funeral you hear!!
A few more days were spent in and around Kumasi, seeing the market (often cited as the largest outdoor market in West Africa), some Kente weaving towns, shrines, etc. and now we head off to Ougadougou in Burkina Faso..leaving in a few hours on a harrowing (I am sure) bus ride...will probably arrive on Sunday evening or Monday morning. Although I think we are both somewhat disappointed that we will not see more of northern Ghana, we are quite certain that we are prbably not missing much. Ghana seems to be Ghana no matter where you are... a once-British colony in Africa, much influenced by missionaries, hiphop, 50 Cent and friendly people... It's been real! (No really!!)
We move onward and upward to more 'exoic' destinations (hahahaha) and will let you know whether our pre and misconceptions are true or false.
By the way... never did get that juju. Victor, who was to take us thought we were joking, and being a man of the church (as so many educated people here seem to be - pity that!) decided to pray for us instead. He said that is all the juju we need... maybe he is right but I really was looking forward to it. Oh well, will have to wait for Togo or Benin for my juju.