Fotball Fever

Africa Cup of Nations 2008 is now filling the minds, streets and stadiums of Ghana. Allegedly more Ghanaian flags are flying around town than when Ghana celebrated 50 years of independence last year. I have discussed the reason for this with some friends, and the analysis seems quite clear - independence was political - the ruling party NPP were criticized for spending too much on the festivities, hence any opposer probably was inclined to not join the celebrations last year.

Fotball, on the other hand is "non-political", and as a consequence everybody can join. The Ghanaian red-yellow-green flag with a black star can it attached to cars or t-shirts, scarfs or hats and even full outfits. An example to illustrate the extent of the fotball craze: yesterday at driving school half of the class including the instructors had CAN 2008 t-shirts on! It is quite nice to be a part of a massmovement, but sometimes it also goes too far..many schools and universities have postponed their going back after xmas to mid february when the cup is over...

Anyway, I was lucky to be able to cheer the Ghanaian national team, the Black Stars, to victory at the opening match at the Accra stadium. What a party!

Trying To Fit In

I have tried some different approaches to integrate into Ghanaian society. I have had dresses made in Ghanaian materials and styles, eaten the spicy foods (with my right hand of course) and learned the difference between the different starchy staples. I have drank Star beer and ginger juice, cheered for Kotoko Hearts in soccer and come to appriciate that in social situations providing details is not required (i.e. saying "I'm coming, eh" when leaving).

I have reached some understanding into the culture and I walk my guests out- longer than to the gate -, also I argue about small change when I think the taxi is too expensive and I can sustain a discussion about Ghana's first president, Kwame Nkrumah for hours.

But by far, the most efficient way to become a part of my new world has been trying to pick up the local language, Twi. Me da wo ase (thanks) and Afehyia pa (Happy New Year!) has made people laugh and take to me like no dress or taxi fight ever did. How I wish that in my homeland Sweden a tack or gott nytt! could do the same for those trying to integrate there.

In the pic from yesterday I try to fit in to a kids pool area in a seaside restaurant in Tema.

My Garden

Today, I experienced my first ever harvest! I plucked a watermelon I grew all by myself in my garden! It all started in November with eating a very juicy melon and sticking its seed into the fertile Ghana soil!

Watermelon grows like a earthbound net, and just one seed can make a huge plant with several yellow flowers, later maturing into green, perfectly round melons. In my garden, I am also growing banana, papaya, tomato, ginger, garlic and herbs along with some bushes like Fycus, Queen of the night, Hibiscus and "Big grass". It is of course amazing to see things grow in a tropical climate and being a rookie to this whole thing called cultivation, I fully enjoy every step of maintaining my garden. Drying seeds in the sun, planting them a decimeter a part, adding supportive sticks and - at night - watering them under the stars while the frogs and geckos run about.

Credit for my garden should also go to my father who taught me most of the above described steps.

Oh Lord Won’t You Buy Me...

On New Year’s Eve, a friend came by to ask me what I wanted God to do for me in 2008 so that she could pray for me in church the same night. In Ghana, New Years is an important church event more than anything else. The question surprised me and since I am not really a believer and hence don’t know what to ask God for, I answered

Well, I think I’d like to learn how to drive.

My friend looked at me disapprovingly and pointed out that it in a way already has been granted since I have signed up at the driving school.
Yeah, you are right,
I hear myself saying. With surprising determination I continue,
Then I’d like a car.

What? Has it come to that? A car? For the new year, I don’t wish to become a better person or to make the world a better place. I ask for a gasdriven vehichle of my own. Oh Lord, help me.
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