Sunday, March 4 into Monday, March 5, Dalun, Ghana
It is midnight here. The power went out a few minutes ago while I was checking in with my husband and kids back home. So I am writing by the light of the Mac.
Today was filled with light – from the sun, from the smiles of children and their welcome, and from the kind, gracious welcome from our hosts here. Also from our students, whose warmth, flexibility, mildness, and sweetness have been abundantly evident.
But I am getting ahead of myself! I will start from our arrival in Accra and meeting Sumaila and Safianu, our local guides. The plane had left DC three hours late, so Sumaila ans Safianu had a long airport wait for us. After we cleared Customs and as we headed into the reception area, I noticed many people holding signs for their groups. How would we know our guides? Then Ntshadi said to me, “Alice, there.” And I saw a young man smiling, holding out a sign that read, “Professor Alice Lesnick.” That amazed and deeply pleased me, both because it felt right – like the title finally fit (at least better than it fits most of the other things I do) – and also completely ridiculous – by what pretense would anyone profess anything at such a moment? Instead, there were joyful hugs and expressions of shared appreciation. Then, to baggage, taxis, hotel. Ghana!
The ride to the hotel was one of many moments of my feeling literally that a dream was coming true. The dream of this trip, this course, of hope for connecting people and their knowledge to make new knowledge and new chances for people . . . the dream of developing the College’s partnership with Titagya Schools . . . and also a dream more personal to me, old in me: to break out, to get out there, out here – to make contact with people and places outside of my given ones.
At dinner, which we ate outside, the evening breezy and mellow, Pim steered me towards the red snapper soup with fufu, my first Ghanaian meal: rich, spicy, and deeply satisfying. Safianu and Sumaila began teaching those of us seated near them about Ghanaian culture.
At the bus station, Debbie Ahenkorah joined us, and what a wonderful thing it is for her to be with us. I got to meet her mother, who dropped her at the station. And I had the pleasure of sharing the day’s ride North with her, taking in with awe and admiration the work she is doing to promote an African literature for Africa’s children through the Golden Baobab Prize. We share many interests in the power and necessity of literature, of stories, of beautiful writing, to give life meaning and to foster freedom, nation-building, and self-knowledge in people – readers and writers. I hope that the nascent partnership between Baobab and the Education Program continues and grows.
Debbie showed me how to buy bread from one of the women selling it by the roadside. She pointed out a bookstall at one of the rest stops. She gave me change to pay for the lavatory when several of us sought a pitstop. She also taught me how to eat an orange in Ghana. This evening during the time we shared with our new Ghanaian friends dancing, telling jokes and stories, singing, and playing games, Debbie gave us an Anansi tale.
But again I have gone ahead of myself!
We pulled into the compound last night at 2:30 am after a long bus ride from Accra followed by an hour’s drive in the bus we have hired for the week from Tamale. Habib and Aminou had waited for us in Tamale and had our rental bus waiting. I am sorry we had to awaken the lavatory attendant in order to pay and gain access to the toilet.
Tamale was quiet, but there were people quietly talking, some walking along the road, a few carrying burdens on their heads, and goats.
Once in Dalun, Habib, Sumaila and Safianu helped everyone to a room. We also met Aminou, who had come with Habib to meet us in Tamale. He made us very welcome and we discovered a shared interest in juggling.
To write more: this morning -- breakfast, greetings, town, children (water, watch, handgames, names), chief, touring mango plantation. Lunch. Hanging out with local kids in pavilion. Rest (sleep!), stroll w Ashley before dinner. Dinner. Evening of stories, dancing, songs, jokes, talents, with new friends in Dalun.
And in the days since, so much more! For next time.