Being in Ghana for a month I’ve progressively assimilated into the culture more. Or at least as much as possible, with Melissa and I being the only Obronis here (Obroni is the Ghanaian word for foreigner, although often times I feel it is more closely knit to my skin color than my ethnicity). Watching the football games (the European ones) on Saturday and Sunday in a fully packed room, with ManU and Chelsea fans exuberantly cheering on their respective teams. Sometimes they’ll even sing the club songs. Just as much fun though is playing an intramural-esque football game after watching the pros play on Sunday, with animosity between the Blues and Red Devils still high. However, as much as I’m integrating into my local town culture, they can’t help but refer to me as Obroni.
Another way I’ve taken part off the local culture, one inevitably part of anyone’s experience in Ghana, is my use of trotros and taxis. Trotros are small buses and the cheaper option, though it seems they don’t exhibit a maximum capacity. Being the preferred mode of transportation for Ghanaians, trotros and taxis make up the majority of vehicles on the road. And with walking as the only other option, I really had no choice to make it mine as well. Taking a taxi back and forth to school every day, I now have come accustomed to the packed backseats and loud atmosphere. In fact, I enjoy it.
The taxi and trotro rides also serve as a great analogy for Ghanaian culture. As the people of Ghana are very affable, with everyone wanting to be your brother, sister, or friend, it is no different in public transport. Each ride shows a different aspect of Ghanaian society. With a multitude of religious establishments in each town Ghana is a very devoted country. And even though most drivers decorate their cars with Christian artifacts and trinkets, it isn’t surprising to enter a car driven by a Muslim, evident of the religious divide of the country. Every driver will also have their favorite radio station or cd playing, with gospel, high-life, rap, and reggae as the preferred choices of music, representative of the musical preferences in Ghana. Having so much to look at in each taxi or trotro ride, I often find myself arriving at my destination disappointed that the ride ended, which is surely how I’ll feel coming December.
Like the trotro and taxi rides, filled with joy and kindness, Ghana is revealing those same emotions in me. As I now have a steady teaching job at the school, a potential philosophy club on the rise, and a hopeful job as basketball coach in the near future, I’m also becoming more involved at Heritage. And although I often miss the closeness of friends and family, my purpose here more than makes up for that.
Greetings from Ghana.
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