My West African Experience December 2011
Picture the scene:
“The bags are packed, you give your house the ‘once over’ to make sure that you have not left the iron on & then the only thing left to do is await the cab to transport you to the airport.”
Well this is exactly what I did. Once I arrived at Heathrow then got through the formalities of checking my luggage in & going through security I was more than ready to start my Ghana 2011 adventure. Suffice to say, Ghana our beautiful homeland did not disappoint.
Upon landing at Kotoka International Airport an overwhelming sense of being ‘at home’ came over me. I had truly returned to my roots.
Being as it was Boxing Day, Ghana possessed that ‘Buronya’ vibe which was cultivating in the air. Much has improved since my last visit to Ghana but there is still work to be done. The vast numbers of Street hawkers appear to be a big problem throughout Central Accra. That being said they are one of the most convenient ways to grab some plantain chips & other items whilst on the go. The main roads have had a much needed make over. However, once you come off the main roads you’re met with the familiar dust & pot holes.
Anyone who has ever been to Ghana will be familiar with the dreaded ‘light off’ situation.
In my own personal experience this has certainly improved, having only been subjected to it on two occasions during my stay. Negotiating fare prices with taxi drivers was always entertaining. This is where the ability to speak Twi comes in handy. It is proven that taxi drivers are less likely to rip you off if you can communicate with them in the native tongue. Once inside the cab the incessant beeping of the horn to alert other drivers that the cab is approaching coupled with the inability to actually slow down would have you comparing your experience to that of being on a roller coaster. Complain as much as you want…………. These features give Ghana their charm. It is all part of the West African experience!
However, this is only half of the story.
It was so refreshing to meet other British born & American born Ghanaians who have moved back home to create a life for themselves in Mama Africa. The emergence of shops such as Bow Boutique located within the capital (1st Floor, Movenpick Hotel Ridge Accra to be exact) set up by British born Ghanaians shows that with determination & hard work one’s dreams can be realised if settling back home looks like an attractive option to you.
Ghana’s economy is growing at a rapid rate. The rest of the world has been taking notice of Ghana & our commodities for a long time now.
It has been ranked as one of the best countries to conduct business within West Africa. Not to mention the third best country to live in Sub Saharan Africa & the best in West Africa. The Azonto dance has gained huge momentum with hip-life stars such as Sarkodie, Guru & Buk Back producing songs to enable you to dance the Azonto. This has contributed to raising Ghana’s profile. Lest we forget that the success of the Black Stars has also helped to raise Ghana’s international platform. Ghana along with Botswana, are two of the safest countries within the continent to visit.
We’re making great strides where education is concerned but more can be done.
There is still hardship in our beloved country. The rich/poor divide is self evident. However, I couldn’t help but take away many positives from my visit.
My Ghana 2012 experience awaits me………………Mama Africa is calling.
By Caroline N. Mensah