Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I cannot believe this is happening, but I am writing again, after just posting a couple of days ago. I have been in Accra so I have been able to think about what has been happening the last month or so.

I went to two events. One was in my village and one was at the beach.

The first one, in my village, was a funeral. I hadn't attended a Ghanaian funeral since arriving here and was (somehow) scared. Well, an older woman died in my village last April or so. They buried her but hadn't had the funeral celebration. They chose a date, the end of October. Then early in October her daughter got sick and died. She was a mother of three, probably in her mid-30's. Since the family was already planning the funeral for the mother they had the daughter's funeral also.

The whole week leading up to the funeral (Friday is wake keeping, Saturday is the celebration and burial and Sunday is the thanksgiving service) was busy. Family and friends from their hometown (everyone has a hometown) started to come into the village. Funeral speakers and a generator were brought in, lots of minerals (soda) and beer and apateshie (local alcohal) were around and the women started to do all the food preparations. I just had to be there.

Saturday was the big event, and in Ghana this is an event. Drinking, dancing, singing, screaming and crying. Lots of food and drink and music. Every one wears black and/or red and are usually in traditional dress. By the time it was all over I was completely exhausted. It seemed I never stopped talking and greeting people.

One thing that is common here but can drive us Americans crazy is "bra." No not a ladies undergarment, but rather someone telling you to come. This probably doesn't sound bad, but it gets very annoying when you are walking to an appointment, going to buy something or just busy and someone sees you from far away and "bra's" you. Now, if I am not in my village I don't care and just ignore it, but in my village I respect the custom. During the funeral this was excessive. When I would pretend I didn't hear, my friends in the village would say "Sarah, the man/woman is calling you, he wants to talk to you, go." So, you go over, shake hands, answer questions and then move on. After a week, it gets annoying.

The next event I went to was a Peace Corps wedding. One of the volunteers in my group got married (sort of) to her American boyfriend. Not long after we arrived and swore in, he moved here. He got a job in her town and they have been living together. They wanted to have a little ceremony (not legal) here so a group of us went to this beautiful lodge on the beach and had a little ceremony. It was fun and beautiful. I tried to swim in the ocean but after five minutes I had to get out. The undercurrent was really strong. At one point I got knocked over and then when I tried to get up the water came from another direction and knocked me over again. It was rough. I had sand in my hair for days. Regardless the place was beautiful and the ceremony was fun. It's always good to see other volunteers and compare experiences. We help each other see things that we hadn't thought of.

Another volunteer and I were talking and I was voicing my frustration about being asked, what I deem, inappropriate questions while having a meeting or something. I went to introduce myself to this government employed person and during our meeting he started to ask me personal questions. Where am I from? Am I married? Am I alone? How do I stay alone for that long? It just felt wrong. I explained I was here to service Ghana and my own country, not to date and find a husband. We moved on. However, this was bothering me. I was telling this to this other volunteer and she agreed but she also gave a good explanation on why we are constantly asked these questions. This is what is important here. Marriage and children. It's like when we ask someone what they do for a living and where they live. Those are important to us and tell us a lot about the person. Here, marriage and children does that (and where you're from if you are not Ghanaian). Hearing her say this made it a little easier for me to be asked. Instead of assuming the person is asking me for negative reasons just think they are asking because it's important to the culture. I don't know, it made me feel better.

Okay, so two posts in two days, that's a lot. Take care!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If it makes life easier, you can tell them you're not married...but you've already found your soul mate!! then, tell them ALL about me! =) love you!

6:45 PM  

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