When I'm introduced to
someone, it goes something like this...
"I'd like you to meet Aba. She knows all about Ghana."
And then I'm asked the obvious questions and I try to answer in such a way as to make the person interested in knowing more about
Ghana. But the truth is that the more you know, the less you understand. Ghanaians welcome visitors so graciously that you immediately feel included in their lives and are often deluded into thinking you know what's going
on, and you do on some level. But there are layers and layers of understanding to peel
away. The fact that Ghanaians never approach a subject directly, but get around to the main point only
eventually, makes for some interesting cultural clashes...
especially with Americans who tend to be very direct.
I'm not sure what it is about Ghana that fascinates me. It's difficult for an
American, especially this fairly shy one, to function in a society where the extremes are so
emphasized. It is extremely hot, extremely noisy, extremely
crowded... the impact of constant movement, bright color and loud talk can make you
dizzy. But beneath the chaos is an undercurrent that attracts me.
One of the things that I like about Ghanaians is that they have a sense of
themselves. Many of their lives are difficult, but they seem to have strength to look beyond and to conjure up plans for a better
tomorrow. Their spirit can wait for events to take their course.
It's an interesting equation. On the surface there is perceived agitation and and a quick
pace, but in reality an African is always waiting. Hurry up and wait is probably the national motto.
Being a spontaneous American, I decided just before the end of one of my trips to buy a piece of land next to the
ocean. It took two years to acquire the land. Such a frustratingly long time for me and yet a surprisingly fast deal in African
terms. And one thing led to another....I've never had time to write my five year
plan. I believe that my program was meant to happen and has taken on a life of it's
own. People have come into my life when I needed them and now I have a Ghanaian business partner who runs the center when I'm not in
Ghana, a guru who does all the computer stuff that I don't
understand, a talented crew of artists in Ghana and many "outside" artists who participate in our workshops and become part of our cultural
community. When most of them say, "I'm coming back next
year," I know that we're doing something right.