Week One

 

Getting more ensconced in the daily routine of commuting to the University campus. It’s a pleasant 30 or 40 minute walk, but most often we are carrying our book bags so weight is a factor. The tro-tro ride takes less time, but is really less relaxing, as far as this blogger is concerned. This afternoon on the walk home, I glanced across the highway and in the distance I thought I saw an American flag. For a second, I thought I was seeing things, and looking more closely while walking; saw the whole building come into full view. I saw the American flag, the Ghanaian flag, and the African Union flag on flagstaffs in front of the building named, Hotel Obama. I will get a photo the next time I walk by it. If I can figure out how to get there, I may go visit, just for the sake of doing so.

First Intercultural Communication class was Wednesday along with having a homework assignment from Professor Burgess in preparation for the first class. Drake Center for Academic Support (DCAS) which we are calling ‘DCAS Accra’, is set up nightly for students in the very large meeting space at our hostel.  The lighting is good and it’s quiet. Most days are set with class meetings all morning with options for the afternoons. At the end of week one, students will meet their home stay families on campus and then travel to their weekend homestays which are in close proximity to the University campus. On excursion days, we will depart early for our destination.

Tuesday, after our language and cultural orientation session, with full participation in drumming and dancing (will upload the video soon) we headed to town on tro-tros. Papa Attah negotiated with a driver to take us directly to our destination and we thought we were all set to go, and evidently the driver wanted more money than was agreed upon, so we all disembarked, and waited for another option. We ended up in two tro-tros due to space and traffic at that time of day making progress towards the center of Accra rather slow, well OK, extremely slow. Let us just say it was hot and sweaty, and most took the opportunity to take a nap. Once out of the tro-tro we found our way past the Supreme Court of Ghana (a beautiful complex of white washed buildings) and across the street to the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park, which commemorates the 1st President of The Republic of Ghana and besides his mausoleum there is a small museum with historical photos of world leaders of the time with President Kwame Nkrumah chronicling the time period of a very young African democracy. He was a prolific writer about topics related to Independence and the African Union during the 1950s and 1960s, which is when most African countries were still colonized by the Europeans. Ghana was the first African country to gain its Independence from the British in 1957.

From the Memorial Park, we walked the short distance to the Centre for National Culture, which is really a giant market of handicrafts, with each merchant having roughly a 6’x6’ stall displaying as much merchandise as possible. It is extensive, and while overwhelming with the persistent sales and marketing campaign carried out by salesmen hawking their particular wares, it is really a panorama of artistic expression in everything from beads, paintings, drums, textiles, small brass castings, wood carved masks and stools to name just a few. For this blogger, I have to be in the right frame of mind to be there and can really enjoy the banter of bargaining. I happen to gravitate to textiles, beads and small brass castings. Textiles tell a cultural story and the weaving, colors and patterns used denote various regions of Ghana as well as ethnicities and many patterns have symbolic meaning.

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