Northeast Ghana, nearly into Togo. Posted to Journey to Solidarity by Jay Breitlow
Driving for 4 nearly five hours north and east out of Accra we found ourselves in what has become ‘normal yet unusual’ African territory. By this I mean that after two weeks of living in the city we’re been accustomed to seeing Africa as a large city, filled with people, cellphones, rubbish and smog. On our way
to the north east highlands, we first pass a cess-pool of a city called Tema with trash and refuse piled as high and wide as the eye can see. Buses and large trucks belch dark plumes of soot into the sky. It’s not 10 miles or so away from this city and away from the Accra coast, when we start to notice that the air breathes cleaner, the rubbish becomes less and the foliage starts to come though en force. Soon we are seeing more ‘familiar’ frames of Africa. Giant trees, grass, villages made of mud huts and country pride. The type of cultural Africa you are used to seeing on National Geographic not on page four of the newspaper.
Today is Ghana’s Independence Day and as the day moves alone we begin to pass more villages, each which is celebrating with vibrant pomp and circumstance. Plastic chairs are laid out underneath giant Bako Trees to seat the entire village comfortably in the shade while school children are beginning to assemble as the band organizes it’s music for the ceremonies. To the sound of a four or five person brass and drum band the children March around, dance or act out scenes of Independence while the elders look on fondly remembering the times they had to perform the same familiar scenes. The children each are wearing a different color uniform depending on which classroom they are enrolled in, forming a cornucopia of vibrant purple, orange, blue white, black and green colors.
Our destination location today is the stunning waterfall, Wli Falls. The falls are the highest in Ghana and by all our accounts as beautiful as promised once we navigate a 35 minute flat, albeit mosquito plagued, hike. We are also rewarded with a shallow 3 foot deep swimming oasis and a refreshing shower of water from the falls above. The heat and sun in Ghana can be relentless at times and this feels literally like an oasis in the desert. After spending over an hour playing like school children we are ready to head back to the car when we notice a group of local, mostly Ghanian men approaching. As soon as they rest to the falls they start to sing and dance. Instead of describing it, click here to check out the youtube video (or see the video below) Once we re-navigate the jungle we find ourselves in town where the local, well fed children pester us relentlessly for money. ’Please mister, need money for food and a soccer ball.’ This is a whole different topic, one which I will not get into now: ‘the difference between charity for those in need versus those who hold their hand out searching for and living off of others in expectant charity.’ It’s also a similar battle that many of us face as leaders in our community.
Driving home the next day we can’t help but notice that which was once a clean celebratory spot, there is now rubbish strewn tornado style. A reminder that we are humans must keep vigilant to reduce our footprint each and everyday. These proud villagers will no doubt clean their village centers, but the time and effort necessary begs the question, at what price do we continue to party on this earth until she cannot hold us any further? At what point do we continue to celebrate our mortal achievements politically and financially at the tangible and karmic expense of our mother Demeter/Earth?
Monday is approaching quickly and we are all looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead with the people we will be adjusting in the morning. I am already seeing people have radical changes in their life from only one or two adjustments. In particular a man with a walking stick seems to be leaning less on the stick at the end of the week. I wonder if he will have dropped the stick by the time I leave Ghana.