#Accralife

It has been exactly two months since I relocated to Accra from Nairobi. For some reason it feels longer and also feels like I’ve been here forever or like I was supposed to live here.

In those two months, I’ve been to Lagos twice, Sierra Leone once and looks like trips to neighboring West African countries will continue! This is even before I’ve been to some of Ghana’s renowned resorts like the Cape Coast or Akosombo Dam.

Before I arrived in Akwaaba land, many know-it-alls said that I was going to a slow world, with slow people, well for me it’s mixed. My work life has been fast paced and eventful and I will tell you more about that.

Life has been fun, interesting, intriguing, I always have questions about something I see, but my driver is unable to answer them since he is not a trained tour guide like I’m used to in Kenya.

Let’s start from the top, I made a new year’s resolution that 2013 was the year for life changing CHANGE so everything I’d been dreaming about would happen for me before July this year. Actually, I knew this was the year of change so I only made one New Year’s resolution.

After making my resolution, that same month I dreamt that I met President John Mahama of Ghana, and I thought, really?

So here I am in the fastest growing economy in Africa, currently at 8% growth, apparently it was 11% two years ago. Look everywhere, you see cranes, the flashiest cars (none of these second cars we buy in Kenya!) the most image conscious people, everyone is super smart or trendy. I arrived in the thick of the election petition at the Supreme Court, a whole six months after the president has been sworn in, for me that is strange. I’ve been wondering aloud how a sitting president will be ousted by a Supreme Court overturning the elections results, but most Ghanaians have faith in their courts. Depending on who you speak to many are confident that Nana Akuffo Addo of the NPP is the real president of Ghana, for some reason, these are the only people I tend to meet!

Then there is this feeling that I’m flipping between the 1980s and 21st Century! Some things seem so eighties/nineties –  parts of the city, slow service at hotels, counters for mobile phones, DSTV, advertising, the TV, the newspapers the content and style, stuff I haven’t seen in ages! Then back in 2013, smartphones, meeting people from the Diaspora, Hiplife music, social media. It all mixes well and actually works. A feeling of moving fast and slow at the same time and it’s not slow motion!

So are Ghanaians slow? Yes and No! They are non-committal about most things, rarely do I receive a definite answer to a question: “If we do this campaign, do we need the permission of the Gaming Commission?”. I receive multiple answers which all say maybe! Not a definite yes or no. “When do you think I can pick up the fabric?” answer “when would you like to pick it up? Then the answer is no, not possible we can’t do that you, you come on such and such day! Sigh! There is truly an inherent fear of being definite, precise and take responsibility for outcomes. I’m told it because if anything goes wrong, they don’t want to face they any confrontation. So, the other day my fridge packed up again and I called the agent to bring me a new one, instead he sent me an electrician who came 8 hours late. So the wrath of a half Kikuyu, half Kalenjin showed up! I got the new fridge the next day!

Sigh! There are many more incidents I’ve heard from non-Ghananians and other Ghanaian’s, especially those that I call “Returnees” who are enjoying Ghana. “Returnees” come back from abroad, many have grown there and decide to check out “home”, they get the jobs much faster than their home grown country men. They have accents that make me do a double take, are they English or Americans? Even the mannerisms are foreign.

They are not loud like my favorite friends in Nigeria, actually they remind me of Kenyans, calm, cool, and even more passive aggressive than Kenyans! Can you imagine that? I met a Jamaican lady, who has been in Accra for 5 years and is married to a Ghanaian. She told me she’s going back to Washington DC, can’t take it anymore, the wrath of the passive aggressive got to her and she told me I need to watch my back…nothing is what it seems. One day they’ll pull the rug under me, can I believe they’ve even done it to Nigerians! Hee! I am scared ooh! I thanked her for the advice.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying almost everything except the food, I miss sukuma wiki. Apart from salad, I hardly see vegetables in their food. I’m lucky to have a fantastic housekeeper who cooks all types of food and right now we are on the journey of Ghanian food – Banku and Tilapia; Red Red my favorite, though I’m told  my hips will expand; Fufu and Goat Light soup – not bad.

I’ve managed to tap into the Kenyan community which is quite large, I get invited to a few functions. When I first arrived I attended a beautiful society wedding, it started at 7am with the engagement and the dress code was white and then in the afternoon people had to change again for the wedding. Great fun! West Africans do things with pomp and circumstance, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Now for the “naming ceremony” and funeral – which I hear a lot about.

Religion is BIG, see the billboard “REPENT! Jesus is coming soon!” its everywhere! What about the crusade billboards – Singles Summit; Prayers by various pastors. The religious billboards are more than product advertising. One of my staff said we need one of the churches as our client –they are big spenders. The other big advertisers are educational institutions, open the Daily Graphic, GIMPA, Asheshi, every institution you can think of dominates the print media, some have more than one ad in same paper! Only telcos do that and here I don’t see telcos as aggressive as religion and education. What does that tell you, I live on country of highly educated God fearing people!

While we wait for the Supreme Court’s verdict I hope to visit Flag Staff House, which is President Mahama’s office  and residence  (before he exits and make one of my dreams come true) and also visit the Pan Africanist Kwame Nkurumah’s  tomb.

In the meantime, at this early stage I’m calm, my parents are Patience and Perseverance who watch over me especially in times of crisis when Panic, Chaos, Anger, Envy, Misunderstanding try to get the better of me! Once in while I hang with out with Fun, Excitement, Decadence, Friendship, Love…..and really enjoy myself.

Next time we talk more about my work life and maybe the social life, Azonto and many more……till then #AccraLife, Calmly continues.

 

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