Monday, August 10, 2009

Celebrating the Best of the B.A.D.

My bestest buddy El will be landing at Kotoka International Airport in a couple of hours . This is his first visit to Ghana i.e the "Beacon of African Democracy (the B.A.D.). Despite maternal origins rooted deeply on this side of the continent, this is his first visit to West Africa. El and I go way back to secondary school in Swaziland. We met at (O-Level) Form 1 Orientation and 7 years later, we both had the dubious honour of being the only 2 members of our class that were boarders at the school from Form 1 Orientation right thru to international baccalaureate graduation. Anyway, through the years, El and I have been in touch constantly and his imminent arrival
has got me thinking about the things I love best about my country Ghana. In celebration of what I love best about the Beacon of African Democracy, I present to you the top 5 things I love about Ghana.

1. Mangoes. I know this sounds strange but I cannot get enough of mangoes. Small ones, gigantic ones...yellow or green, they all have my name on them. What I love even more is passing through mango country outside of Accra and getting my favorite fruit without the sometimes exorbitant middle-man costs. I crave mangoes outside and inside Ghana and my favorite time of the year is mango season.

2. Doing your Hair for Cheap. Any African woman who has just moved to the US or Europe is likely to have faced hair-related woes. Well, unless you are like my versatile and ambidextrous friend Lyd who can braid her own hair that is. When your hair starts to go all dodgy and brittle from lack of proper salon care and chilly winter weather then you will understand what I'm on about! When you find yourself hauling your butt to someones house in North London to be charged GBP 70.00 for a style that would have cost you GH10.00 (GBP 4.00) in Ghana, then you will feel the pinch.
In Ghana there are a plethora of good choices for your hair. These range from the kiosk by your house to more upscale endeavours.
My own personal favorite place for hair-braiding is Auntie Alice's a.k.a Veterinary. You are likely to run into all sorts there from television newsreaders, politicians, bank ladies or even students of all kinds. because they are so good. Also, regardless of who you are, you wait your turn. The owner, Aunty Alice is forever affable and delightfully warm to all. Of course if you want to get a fabulous weave-on or a relaxer infused haircut, then look no further than First Choice with branches on the Spintex Road and Kaneshie. They are extremely efficient and professional. They are on the high-end in terms of costs but I find them worth every pesewa.

3. Fufu and other Culinary Delights: Let's face it, only in Ghana can you enjoy the perfect blend of pounded cassava and pounded plantain (fufu) accompanied by a delicious hot and steamy soup. Don't get me wrong, despite my paternal roots that should dictate differently, I only eat fufu about once or twice a week but having the option there is delectable. Living outside of Ghana there is always an abundance of fufu powders to try out but one has to admit that there is nothing like the real deal. By the way, Bush Canteen in East Legon is like fufu heaven.

4. Ghanaian Hospitality: *Sigh* Ghanaian hospitality is usually reserved strictly for foreigners and as a native of this fair land you are likely to be sized up by your fellow countrymen before you are deemed worthy of respect. However, I have to admit that Ghanaians are some of the most gentle and friendliest people in Africa.

5. No Substitute for Family: They say home is where the heart is. Well, for me being in Ghana means being close to my immediate family. Although this means being spoiled rotten and being rendered into a child-like state, once outside of Ghana you really feel the pangs of separation. Of course this is strange coming from someone like me who first went to boarding school for 7 years at the age of 11 and went to university thousands of miles from any family. I guess that is probably why I feel that having immediate family close is now something very important to me now . Mmm... extended-extended family are usually best kept at a safe distance though!

So I have a difficult task ahead. I have to infuse what I like best about Ghana into a busy schedule for my buddy El. Unfortunately, I don't think he is looking to do his hair, eat mangoes, hang out with my family or overdose on fufu so it will be hard. The best part about him coming is that 15 years ago, he asked me to take a picture of the Independence Arch so he could gaze at the Black Star and how much it meant for Africa. I never got round to taking that picture for him but I can do much better. now I can finally take him to the arch for him to gaze upon it himself!
El and Me in Washington D.C some years ago.


Kwegyirba said...

I hope he has a good time. Its always nice to see people enjoy your country. Plus it doesn't hurt that El is cute too!;-)

Maya Mame said...

I know we've had this conversation before, but how can one ever get enough of mangoes?! And as for hair, after just paying £25 for a wash&trim in Tooting, I can't wait to get back to Ghana!

I'm sure you'll manage to show him the best of our homeland.

Abena said...

@Kwegyriba: he is feeling Ghana already and has only been here for just over 12 hours! I will most def pass on the cute props which he would love but not believe :)

@Maya Mame: What?! £25 for a wash&trim in Tooting? Eish! Ain't that just London for ya..As for mangoes, I think I need to look into getting myself a farm!