Patience and Endurance

In Accra, Genius loci, The Art of Travel Spring 2015 by RachelLeave a Comment

Patience. The food will get here in an hour or so–in the meantime, enjoy the restaurant’s fan and be grateful they have enough power to use it. Look at all of the Ghanaians around you, sitting in these plastic chairs, spacing out under the intense heat, lazily glancing towards the TV that plays hip hop music videos on repeat. Look at that girl’s hair–I heard that to get those kinds of braids, you had to sit for six hours while two women wove those mile-long extensions into your scalp. If she can endure those nonstop six hours for a new hairstyle, you can wait a short hour for your lunch to arrive.

Accra is bright, confusing, and unshakably rhythmic. If you can’t live according to the Ghanaian rhythm, you will have a difficult time here.

The key to Ghana is patience. Once you have understood that you will be waiting around for everything, you can open yourself up to the spirit of Ghana. You will be able to appreciate all of the colors, from the bright yellow bananas on every corner to the playful, print-clashing Ghanaian fashion. As you wait in a taxi during the bumper-to-bumper traffic that seems to consume the city four times a day, you will catch yourself shaking your head to the Azonto music blasting from every car down the block.

It is a faux pas to make a fuss about the slowed-down beat in Ghana. Ghanaians can endure anything, and they always find a way to have fun in any situation, even if it isn’t the most efficient way.

Sometimes, I will go to the beach and watch the fishermen pull in a net from the shore. As they organize themselves in a line and reel in the rope, the fishermen will shake their butts and sing at the top of their lungs. I like to imagine the fish in the net being tossed around to the beat of the rope being pulled.

Some of these daily routines have to totally rely on rhythm, or else all chaos will ensue. To make “Fu Fu”, a local dish, a ball of crushed yams and plantains is placed in a bowl. One person has a giant stone pillar that they use to crush the ball in the bowl, and the other person reaches his/her hand into the bowl to flip the ball every time the pillar is lifted. Fu fu makers do this very quickly, and there is no way you could do this if you have bad rhythm, otherwise your hand will be crushed by the stone.

Like I said before, Ghana is not exactly the most efficient country.  I have probably spent the majority of my time this semester just waiting for something. But I think, with the amount of colors, speakers, dancing, smiling, and general spontaneity, efficiency would completely kill the Ghanaian spirit. That would be no fun.


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