| Mole-Dagbani Homepage
Dagomba & Nanumba |
Links | Pictures
believe that I have just returned from a character-molding experience. Good and
bad, I would not change anything or how it played out. I just have so much to tell
that there could not possibly be the word to explain things; I feel strained and
frustrated when I do try to explain. My only salvation from this emotional block
in communication is the group that shared much of the experience with me. These
strangers, many of whom I know nothing intimate, are the only people who understand,
who can even begin to know the feelings and thoughts that I can not convey.
I can only begin by making the assessment that in general, Ghanaians are happy people.
They are contented by their lives trusting God and helping others. The competition
that we live and die by is just not a driving force in Ghanaian life. There are
those few who are oriented by money and power but they do not dominate and define
the culture as they do in ours. Faith is a huge force in many of the ethnic
which define Ghanaian culture. I believe that it is this faith that allows this
satisfaction. Although we may be a primarily Christian country, we are not a religious
one and Ghanaians are so. This was most evident in the church that we attended in
Accra. There people were very overt about their faith. Fro a specified time period
everyone stood and prayed out loud, very loud, almost shouting their prayer to God
without shame or consequence. In this massive open-air church it was just the individual
and God for that fifteen minutes.
I was very interested to observe the gender gap in this society but quickly learned
that although it was very much present, it was not influential in the ways in which
I expected. Women are not belittled, or made submissive even, but instead held in
importance and protected. Tradition does often exclude women, but for age-old reasons
which are intended to uphold the purity and virtue that is attributed to women.
Women are often joked about as not being able to drink alcohol. When we were in
the Volta region, the hotel owner gave the boys in the group some rum with roots
in the bottom and in half jest
do not let the women drink this. The idea was to protect us from ourselves assuming
that we would not be able to hold our liquor but also to maintain ritual. I did
have palm wine however. This was my first experience with alcohol which I submitted
to on the premise that this was an opportunity that would not present itself again.
How often would I be in a village in Ghana, passing a bowl of palm wine?
We spent most of our time during our stay at the Coconut Grove beach resort at the
slave castles of El Mina and Cape Coast. We got a very small sense of the conditions
under which slaves were kept. As people complained about the humidity and how tired
they were I could not help think about how many times over those held captive there
were experiencing those feelings. Ghanaians are taught a very different version
of that period in history; they are taught that in many cases their fellow Ghanaians
turned prisoners of war and other captives over to the Europeans in exchange for
guns. They do not seem to take a victimized position in the matter and they embrace
the castles as a large part of their heritage.
I also realized a lot about myself and my relationship with others on this trip.
Being forced to become close with people with whom I would not ordinarily choose
to become close. I have lightened up and realized that I can not force my morals
on others; I just have to trust my own and learn to have fun without giving in on
my own character but without trying to hold others to mine. I could not imagine
the trip as anything other than what it came to be and would not wish it to be.
I have had an excellent opportunity and experience, one that I will never again.
For this I am grateful.