Date: Early 2007
Context: Thekenyanexplorer went to Ghana with a team from uni on a 3 week trip to Ghana. Her team was focusing on some development work in energy and water. This is an email that was sent to her friends and family after the trip. The full story will be in a few separate consecutive blog entries.
Well what can I say. I just got back from my three week developmental field work in Ghana. Ghana was amazing. It was what I could describe as a life changing experience for me. The country is wonderful. The people are amazing, and unbelievably nice. Just thinking back to my past three weeks makes me love my continent even more. Such a beautiful, albeit disturbed continent. Africa was once a utopia. Africa will once again be a utopia. A wealth of heritage, culture, music, dance, beauty, history, customs. It is indeed sad that currently our utopia is plagued by civil wars, political strife, famines, droughts, disease and poverty. In my opinion Africa is the most beautiful place in the world.
THE JOURNEY THAT ALMOST NEVER WAS
So probably the beginning of my journey was not the best ever. After the Ghanaian embassy in DC held my passport for really long, and did not send it back in time, it looked like I would not be entering my promised land. As a desperate measure my professor still hoped to get me to board the plane, but that failed. Anyone with my suspect genes knows that it would be a snowy day in Khartoum when a Kenyan left the States without a passport (unless they are being deported.) Feeling slightly dejected I waved goodbye to the rest of my team and was pleased to find out I would be able to travel a few days later, and meet them. I travelled a few days after my group, and I was really excited and anxious to get to Accra. I remember sitting in the Amsterdam airport, and hearing on the loud speaker "Kenya airways flight no. blah blah to Nairobi will be boarding at gate abc." It made me really homesick to know that a plane to my home was leaving from the same airport I was in. It was however comforting to know that I would be in the continent although in the extreme Westerly point from Kenya. The Amsterdam airport was nostalgic. Many Africans seated at the gate. I remember a Ghanaian woman next to me who had a daughter and a young son who were fighting next to me. It brought back childhood memories of my sister and me. The girl slapped her little brother, and he came running to me in tears. I just lifted him up, and sat him on my lap. It was so odd not having to worry that the child's mother might mistake me for a creepy stranger trying to kidnap her baby. I realized I felt quite at home. I arrived at Accra the next evening, and the airport reminded me of JKIA (Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.) Many people. Many bags. Many screaming toddlers. It was refreshing. My first suspicion that I was not in Nairobi was the fact that everyone including the customs officials was extremely nice to me. No one tried to get some "chai kidogo/bribe" from me. It took me a whole five minutes to get out of the airport since I made friends with a Sudanese guy as I got off the plane who turned out to work for the UN in Liberia. He took me through the diplomatic exits, and told them I was his co-worker. It was indeed the royal treatment. I kind of felt like Djimon Hounsou in Blood Diamond in the scene when he has to pretend to be a photographer. I got out of the airport, and was met by my team. There was a layer of mist in the atmosphere and I assumed we were in a glass encased room before I realized we were actually in the outdoors. Accra was amazingly humid. It is said you can look directly into the sun without hurting your eyes thanks to the layer of dust and humidity around you. We hopped into a cab, and went to the Pink Hostel that would be my abode for the night. My professor told us that we would be waking up at 6am to head off to our next destination- Kumasi in the Ashanti region.