Everywhere you look the familiar block red speech mark surrounded by a white circle that is the Vodaphone logo greets you. Street traders selling the latest knock-off Nokia mobiles pitch next to a fruit stall and right by that is a ramshackle stand with t-shirts, shirts and dresses pouring out onto the roadside. If it wasn’t for the Grace of God beauty salon next door and the stifling heat you could be in any local market in the western world.
But this is Ghana, West Africa.
As the rain drips down my kitchen window the thick, suffocating heat of Africa seems a distant memory. In reality, it’s been just over a week since my feet touched down on English soil again and I still have to take anti-malaria tablets that I swear are doing me more ill than good. But despite being a creature happiest in English Autumnal climes I miss Africa. A lot.
The lifestyle, the heat, the friendliness, the bustle. The people of Ghana have left their mark on me. From their strange hissing noise to get your attention to the constant marriage proposals. The crazy smells of the market places (decapitated fish anyone?), the interesting toilet facilities and the tropical rainstorms. From just ten days in Ghana I have come away with more memories than I can comprehend. And I want to go back. Not to live there long term you understand – after just four days I was sick of drinking water out of bags – but to go back and embrace the people and enjoy a simpler way of life.
That said, life in the city is preoccupied with the information super highway. Everyone wants your mobile phone number and browsing (Ghanaian English for surfing the internet) is rife.
It is impossible to go more than three steps without finding yourself greeted by Vodaphone logos, Tiga network slogans and adverts to get you to sign up for broadband internet. Life in the villages is not much different in terms of the constant awareness of modern communication. Visiting children in one of Compassion’s programmes, a short 90 minutes (give or take some traffic and Ghanaian time keeping) from the capital Accra, more than one school blackboard had the phrase “mobile phones are a means of communication” scrawled on it.
If you’ve got it, the internet and mobile phones are the way to communicate in Ghana. I didn’t experience the Ghanaian postal service but I understand it’s on the expensive and slightly unreliable side.
I, on the other hand, relished the lack of communication services at my beck and call. Ten days without my mobile, without the internet and without Facebook and Twitter was certainly refreshing. Not only that it got me thinking about another little blog I can come back and post later.
Africa, or more specifically Ghana, was everything I thought it would be, everything I never expected it could be and something that is going to stick with me in that oh-so-cliched way of forever. Dare I say it? Alright, I want to go back.
Should you wish to know why I was in Ghana.