Apparently, Ghana is ranked one of the friendliest countries in the world. Ghanaians are well known for their hospitality and extroversion. As an introvert and a female, I found this intense welcomeness towards foreigners very off-putting at first. Even now, I sometimes have trouble understanding why Ghanaians will come up to me and play the 20 questions game. The possibilities flicker through my head–I’m either in trouble, he/she is trying to sell me something, or he/she is just genuinely interested in my background. The latter is usually the correct answer.
There are also times when I am incessantly hit-on by Ghanaian men in nightclubs. “You are my best friend!” one will say. “Best friends make time for each other.” I always ask myself, how can this complete stranger say we are best friends? How many best friends does he have?
No matter how many words we exchange, our lives are still completely foreign to one another. I can go down the list and describe my hometown, my college, my interests, and the Ghanaian college student can do the same, but since we are from such different places it is hard to break down the stranger-barrier. Our imaginations can only do so much, unless you meet a stranger who can actually see your past and future.
Last weekend, I traveled up to northern Ghana near the border of Burkina Faso. We were all taken to different diviners to have our fortunes and futures told. My diviner, named Kaya, did not speak english and so his translator sat to the left of me as I kneeled on a rug, parallel to Kaya. We were all sitting in a mud hut in a very small community outside of Tamale. The room was filled with melted wax candles, books, wooden chairs, and different objects decorating the shrine. There was a huge pile of sand in front of Kaya, and once I whispered my wishes and dreams into a 5 Cedi bill (something along the lines of “I hope the rest of my life remains this weird”), he started doodling with his fingers. Once the marks in the sand were placed, he precariously stacked a couple of bones on top of each other and had me whisper my name four times into a bowl. He placed the bowl over the bones, draped my hand over the bowl, and started chanting. I lifted my hand, and Kaya lifted the bowl, and the bones were completely scattered in different positions. Kaya started to tell me everything about my life.
The translator said, “Your mom loves you so much.” Ok, I thought. They are definitely telling the truth. I’m obsessed with my mom.
He kept going. “Were you just in the hospital?” Yes, I had pretty bad food poisoning… “Has your dad sent you money?” Yeah, he sent me a small check in the mail for a treat. “You and your sister fight a lot but she loves you dearly.” Well, yes we definitely fight a lot…
And then Kaya screams. “YOU ARE GOING TO BE THE RICHEST WOMAN IN THE WORLD! DO NOT FORGET ABOUT ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”