Running Towards Noise

In Accra, The Art of Travel Spring 2015, Bliss by Rachel1 Comment

In Ghana, the majority of people ride tro tros for public transportation. A tro tro is a minibus that travels back and forth on a certain route, picking up people and dropping them off wherever they please.

My friend Will and I decided to go on one last weekend adventure before the end of the semester. We decided to go to Kokrobite, a small beach village 40 minutes away from Accra, for one night. We didn’t really know how to get there, but we decided to just hop on a tro tro going in that general direction and ask the people around us for directions. We spaced out and ended up about five stops past the Kokrobite junction, in a town called Kasua. The tro tro turned around to return to Accra, and the driver promised us to let us know when we were at our stop.

As we headed down the main road, Will and I heard bellowing chants drifting through the tro tro windows from far off in the distance. I turned to him, whispering, “We have to go see what is happening!!!!” He agreed, eyes bursting with excitement. We have been told how big funerals and naming ceremonies in Ghana can get, and we assumed these chants were coming from one of these two options. I waved to the tro tro driver to let us out on the side of the road. “There is something we have to see over there!” I exclaimed. Mystified, he pulled over and we hopped out of the minibus.

We were stranded, in the middle of no where, with no visible town or car in sight. For some reason, in the moment I didn’t think twice about this. After being in Ghana for four months, I’m used to acting in the moment to take advantage of my stay here.  I remember looking across the highway and watching the enormous orange sun slowly set behind the empty warehouses in the horizon. I didn’t want to be stranded out here after dark, so we got a move on. Weaving between the red hills in the opposite direction from the road, Will and I stumble towards the chanting like moths attracted to a glimmering lightbulb. We walk around a bend and, once on the other side of a hill, we saw a gigantic open warehouse packed with about 5,000 people waving white scarfs. We learned that it was some sort of religious ceremony that only takes place once a year. I tied fabric around my body to create an ‘avant-garde’ conservative dress, and we headed into the crowd. We were chastised for trying to take videos, but I managed to sneak the photo above.

It is easy to feel sheltered in Accra, since it is such a cosmopolitan and westernized city. However, everytime I have acted on a whim and followed my instinct, I have seen incredible things here. I don’t mean to make Africa (or any culture besides my own) seem ‘otherworldly’, but moments like these I truly feel like I am on the moon. I love this unsettling and astonishing feeling of being truly amazed and breathless.


  1. Rachel,

    It is crazy how when yo are abroad, just one moment of whim can lead you to a once in a lifetime experience. How fateful for you and your friend, Will, to miss your stop and hear chanting. You had to be disoriented by unfamiliar surroundings to fully be entranced towards the ceremony. Your makeshift dress reminds me of what I had to do after I accidently showed up to the Vatican in shorts. I am glad that the adventurous side of you took over in Ghana and hope you enjoy the rest of your time there.


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