Yesterday was a very sad day for the nation of Ghana due to the sudden death of President Atta Mills. Today, I wore my Ghana Black Stars football jersey to honor him and the beautiful country that he ruled.

Here are a few articles:

http://world.time.com/2012/07/25/a-sudden-death-in-ghana-president-john-atta-mills-1944-2012/

http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/24/world/africa/ghana-president/index.html

Let this remind us how fragile life is, and teach us not to take things for granted.

Always,

Jeremy Kwabena

 

 

So…….

picking up where I left off….we just left a crazy festival with spectacular drumming and dancing. Here’s an AMAZING video to refresh your memories:

 

We took a taxi to go back to the cape castle restaurant. About 2 minutes after getting out of the taxi, my friend, Ryna, realized his wallet was missing! We looked everywhere, asked everyone that was in sight, but still couldn’t figure out where it was.

 

We asked everyone in site; still no solution. Our friends, Wonderboy and Ben seemed to point the finger at some guy who had a bad record and was known as a thief. We debated going to the police, but Wonderboy said the police could only help us if we told them who stole the wallet (we didn’t know), and if we gave them a gift. Then, they would go and try to retrieve it.

 

Wonderboy confronted the boy and accused him of stealing Ryan’s wallet, though he denied it. They went back and fourth yelling at each other in their tribal language. Ryan explained to this boy (in English) that he was not accusing him, but I think Wonderboy was putting words in his mouth. Wonderboy suggested that we go to the Voodoo man with the boy and ask the Voodoo doctor if the boy was lying or not. If we did that, the Voodoo man could solve all problems. But, we would have to pay him a gift to achieve such result. We didn’t think that was necessary.

 

After 5-10 minutes of progressive arguments, the boy walked across the street to what appeared to be his friends/family for their help. Next thing you know, Wonderboy is yelling and screaming at 5-10 Ghanaians. We had NO idea what was going on and what they were saying. Have you ever been a bystander of a huge altercation taking place in a different language, but their arguing ABOUT YOU!? We were so lost, but we could tell it was getting intense.

 

Ryan kept explaining that he wasn’t accusing anyone. Everything hit the fan when the boy grabbed a full bottle of soda, held it up, and started screaming. He opened it and started dumping out the liquid as he roared. We assumed he was casting some spell of some sort, but who knows? He then, shattered the bottle on the ground and continued to yell.

 

At this point we were pretty shocked and freaked out, so we decided to cut our losses and move on. Wonderboy apologized to us and said he swore that he knew the boy was a lying thief, but we all wanted to drop it. We scurried across the street and grabbed a taxi and made our to the Elmina Slave Castle.

 

We asked Wonderboy what a good price was, and he negotiated with the driver in their tribal language. The price seemed to be a little high, but we didn’t know how far it was from where we were. He charged us about $6 USD, which was WAY TOO MUCH. I knew we got ripped off when I saw the taxi driver give Wonderboy a cedi. “EVERYDAY I’M HUSTLIN!” It was hurtful to know that Wonderboy had scammed us on a cedi, especially since he had been so helpful and nice during our stay there.

 

That was always an issue when meeting awesome while traveling people in Ghana. They want to be your friends and love to show you around, but they find ways to make money off you, or make you pay for their food/transportation. Sometimes it was straightforward, i.e. “Can you please give me some small money so I can take a taxi home”. Other times it was subtle.

 

We got to the castle and joined a tour with some other foreigners. We had already been to the Cape Coast Slave castle a few months before, but the tour of this castle was known to be a different experience….

A sad one in that, so stay tuned for the next post. I’ll warn you, it might be a bit gruesome.

 

All love always,

 

Jeremy Kwabena

Last Ghana Adventure, continued…

(continued)

So, I woke up feeling refreshed, (despite the fact I just shared a bed with two guys), and we decided it may be nice to get a nice, sit down breakfast at our hotel. The prices were a little pricey (about $2-$3 USD each), but we decided it may be worth it. We sat and waited by ourselves for about eight minutes at the restaurant, and then BAM! What do you know? They actually did have a server working! He gave us our options and we ordered promptly. How long does it take to fry eggs and toast bread? Apparently, over 50 minutes. I bet I could fry bread and toast eggs in 50 minutes, and still have time to update my Twitter, Facebook, 4square, and Instagram! (I’m getting paid for those product placements). We sat and waited and then finally ate our mediocre breakfast.

Next, we called our friends, WonderBoy and Ben, who we had met the night before. Ben was a mute, yet he still kept calling my friend, Tom, even though he couldn’t even talk. We weren’t sure what he was saying, or, if he was even saying anything, so we starting walking in their direction to meet them. On the way, we passed by a few foods that looked new to us. After buying them and eating them, we realized we had eaten it before (better quality, too). Eventually, we met up with them in town and they guided us a “parade” they had told us about the night before. We crammed into a tiny cab and got dropped off at some random, outdoor, neighborhood/village/ceremonial spot.

We got there and had NO IDEA what to expect. We followed our guides, and they walked us through to the “parade”. This was nothing like a parade. Everyone was dressed in traditional, African wear. It turned out to be some tribal ceremony that honored the Voodoo master of the village. Everyone stared at us (we didn’t look like we belonged to their tribe), but we still felt pretty welcomed. Little kids ran up to me and practiced their English, “Obruni! How are you?!” We caught a glimpse of the ceremony. Apparently, for an instant, these two people lost complete control of themselves and were possessed by some spirit. Then, people dumped water on them and grabbed them to bring them back. CRAZY STUFF.

Words can’t really describe this ceremony; here’s a video:

After that was over, we were actually introduced to the Voodoo man of their village. I had to pay 1 GH cedi to meet him, but it was worth it. He even let me take a “” with him. They also had a pot of liquid that was being prepared for the pouring of .

Then, we went to a little bar spot and waited for the rest of the “parade”. Wonderboy told us that more people were coming. He was right. About an hour later, we headed back to find quite the festival. It felt like the true cultural experience I had wished for. Drumming! !

It was like a break dancing circle, anyone could go in whenever they wanted. Except instead of a small circle, there was a huge crowd and banging drums surrounding you.

Our friend Wonderboy did his thing:

People kept going in the middle, each dance was unique, creative, and AWESOME. I encouraged my friends, “C’mon…we GOTTA GO in there.” But, it was a bit intimidating. Actually, VERY INTIMITADING. Everyone knew there were white people there. But, everyone that went into the center was GOOD! Ryan broke the ice, and STOLE THE SHOW:

After watching him get jiggy with an old African lady, I figured I had nothing to lose. I danced in the middle for about 45 seconds. I included some African moves (with a little awkward uncoordinated twist to em), I added in, and tried to keep with the drums. Unfortunately (or fortunately…depending on how embarrassing I looked), it wasn’t captured on video. .

Ryan got back in there and did a (check out his form!)

This might have been my favorite experience in my entire stay of Ghana, and possibly the coolest cultural experience I’ve ever had. Some people went in the middle and just did crazy acrobatic stunts! A guy just went in to the center and did like 5 back handsprings in a row! Then these guys showed off their talents:

After the “parade” was over, our rasta friends asked us if we wanted to “ease our mind” in memory of the ancestors. They lead us to a cemetery, but we didn’t want to “ease our mind”. We left, as some rastas stayed behind and partook in their cannabis traditions while sitting on . Interesting tradition for honoring their ancestors.

From there, we headed back to the Cape Coast Slave Castle restaurant so we could meet the drummers that we missed the day before. However, when we got there, unfortunately, we came across a new road bump…

. . . . .!!!