It’s Cold And Snowy

November 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

Oh, wait. This is Accra… whew! I had a tough November comp-wise. I had my first blue screen on October 31st. Eek! My poor TI wouldn’t turn on, and what was saddest was my fear that all my bookmarks would be lost. Yeah, it’s sad, but so much of what I do on my notebook is through bookmarks. Let’s just say I’ve managed to get it working again, but I’m now in the market for a new notebook (11.6” MacBook Air, 128GB, 1.8GHz Core i7). If you have those exact specs in Ghana, or coming down from the U.S. by March, do let me know.

I’d had this strange feeling that I’m missing out on something because I’ve been unplugged from gmail, facebook, and the web in general, but once I came back online, I couldn’t see what, if anything, I’d missed. I had a few firsts this past month, though. I should clarify, these are “firsts” since 1995: fufu, banku, okro soup (hate the sight of okro stew), palm soup (hated it then; still hate it now). I can’t say I’m ga-ga over all these foods, but they were ok. I’ll post a few picture cooking shows in the near future for those of you who are a lil’ intimidated by or mildly curious about Ghanaian foods.

So…someone email a question about Ghana, to which I replied and added “find a Ghanaian in your neighborhood…” (Sorry for this and all other online notices. I’ve only got my laptop working again). Anyway, this got me thinking a bit about some of the things that make us Ghanaian. I’ll list below a few things that I think are typical Ghanaian. Feel free to add your own.

–          I don’t know if it’s a West African thing, a black thing, or a Ghanaian thing, but we are loud. I’m not loud. I’m usually the total opposite. I think the only times I raise my voice are when I’m playing sports or yelling at my kids. Anyway, a long time ago, I was walking home to my mom’s townhouse development and marveled at how quiet our side of the town was. Then I got within about 50 yards of our house and was slightly irritated by whichever family had managed to break decorum by making all that noise. As I got closer, the sound got louder. Then when I made that last right turn, I realized we’re the ones making all that noise! I was slightly embarrassed. I could only imagine what all those neighbors had thought about us all those years.

–          For as long as I can remember, my mother has always had a free-standing freezer. Personally, I don’t see the need for it. She always had meats and all kinds of fish she wouldn’t touch for ages in it. I visited my aunt recently and realized she, too, had the same disease!

–          Walk into any of our kitchens and you should find earthenware and an hour-glass-like grinder. There’s probably an electric blender, but it’s rarely used. You should also find several cutting boards and perhaps a complimentary butcher knife. There should also be enough cooking utensils for three families in any one kitchen. Is there magi cube, milo, or jars/boxes of tea bags in the cupboards? There should be a rice cooker with cooked rice already in it! We never ate fufu in the U.S., but if you’re lucky, you might find a box or pre-mix fufu in a Ghanaian ex-pat’s home. In Ghana, the mortar and pestle is standard in virtually every household.

–          What else am I missing? Oh, there’s a good chance you’ll find a sewing machine in one of our homes and several wax-print “material” in virtually every Ghanaian woman’s closet. Walk into our bathrooms and you’ll find long nylon net sponge. They’re might look unusual, but they’re excellent scrubbers and last forever! If you’re lucky, you might also find alata soap, some Ivorian-made cocoa butter lotion, “nkuto,” all of which I recommend you “borrow” for your own use.

The more I think about it, the more likely this probably reflects the nature of West Africans. So if you’re outside Africa, a Ghanaian newbie, or on your way here, enjoy these sites and be prepared to be drowned out by loud people.

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