Freedom to choose:
Who to love
Who to marry
Not to marry
Whether to have children
How to dress
What to read
What to say
Where to go
Where to shop
What to buy
Who to spend time with
Freedom to choose whatever one wants to do, however one wants to do it, wherever one wants to do it, whenever one wants to do it.
Most of us are blessed to have this exquisite freedom of choice and we spend our lives taking it for granted.
Many of our sisters don’t have these choices, simply by virtue of their place of birth, their culture or family.
It could have been us.
When you see a friend or family member here that you may not have seen for only a week or so, they will often say “looong time”. Well it’s been a looong time since I blogged, 3 months in fact. I am not going to make excuses, mind you I do have some good ones but there also has been some laziness in there too, all right a lot of laziness.
So much has happened since I last blogged, so here’s a quick snapshot. A girlfriend and my lovely mum came to visit for December, January and part of February. I got married, (more on that later) attended yoga weekends, attained Reiki Level 1, met more wonderful friends, attended a traditional Ga engagement ceremony, spent lots of time in traffic (of course), found out I am going to be a grandma to a little girl who is to be named Ella, visited exotic and beautiful places, got dreadlocks, laughed, cried and loved.
Now the wedding. Well it was in typical African fashion in that while we knew the date for almost a year, the actual planning didn’t begin until a little over a week before the day and by that I mean nothing had been planned or organised. My poor mum was having conniptions on the inside and did a great job of remaining calm on the outside. I hadn’t even chosen my dresses until about 4 days before the wedding. As an OCD sufferer with compulsive organisational tendencies, it was a good lesson in “going with the flow”. Breathe in breathe out, breathe in breathe out, repeat until calm….And it all turned out perfectly of course. It was a wonderful, joyous, fun and happy occasion over 2 days with everybody having a fantastic time, us included!
So…I will see you again in a week or so. Oh yeah, those beads…well they look so beautiful in their well organised, lovely boxes.
1. Visit my family and hug and squeeze them so tight that they might stop breathing.
2. Visit my friends and do the same.
3. Buy a loaf of Baker’s Delight thick sliced white block loaf and eat the slices straight from the bag.
4. Eat a meat pie with sauce followed by a custard tart.
5. Walk barefoot; on the beach and on the grass.
6. Swim in the ocean.
7. Stay in bed for a whole day and watch American and Australian rubbish on television.
8. Smother crumpets with butter and honey until it all drips out the bottom and not care if it runs down my chin.
9. Replace my Havaianas that died tragically soon after I arrived in Ghana.
10.Take nothing for granted.
1. A constant and reliable electricity supply.
2. A constant and reliable water supply.
3. Sanitation; rubbish removal, sealed gutters, a litter free environment.
4. Public toilets; any toilets but especially those you can flush and even better those you can flush the paper down.
5. Clean beaches and oceans.
6. Access to anything that I want, need or desire whenever I want, need or desire it.
7. Basic human rights for everybody.
8. A political system, police system, government system, all systems for that matter free of corruption.
9. Education for all children.
10.Freedom of choice in anything and everything.
11.Traffic free roads.
12.Minimum wage and/or at least Government support for those who need it.
13.Access to free quality health care.
14.Pollution free air.
15.My beautiful homeland.
Time seems to have no meaning here, or at least a very different meaning than in Australia, and I am sure that everybody is aware of the concept of Fiji Time, which I have experienced, but to me African Time is something else. Up until now I have lived my life almost entirely ruled by time, calendars, appointments, meetings, plans, invitations, catching up with friends and family etc (although my family may tell you that I am often late, but it’s never my fault!) Adjusting to African Time has been one of the many and probably one of the most frustrating adjustments I have had to make.
I experienced some African Time when in Australia, for example a Ghanaian friend held a birthday party for her daughter, we were invited for 10:00am, my partner advised me that there was no way it would start then, so we turned up at 12:00pm, only to be served food well after 2:00pm! I don’t think we have ever had a social engagement with Ghanaian friends where they have turned up on time.
I remember when we first arrived and we would be scheduled to meet somebody at say 10:00am, which to me meant we should be leaving the house around 9:00am (traffic!!!) but sometimes we would be still pottering around long after 10:00am, with no urgency to our movements, and eventually when we arrived at our destination nobody seemed to mind. There has been many a time that we have have scheduled appointments only to have the person turn up many hours later, and the most frustrating thing for me – if you call and ask where they are – “I’m coming” – which used to mean to me, “I’m almost there” but here, it means nothing, it means I am coming – eventually! On a few occasions we have even had people not turn up at all, with no explanation or apology and again nobody seems to mind – but not me!
And try dealing with any type of bureaucracy or commercial enterprise, “please sit down” – they really don’t like to see you standing in offices, banks, anywhere for that matter. So sometimes we sit and sit and sit, if we enquire as to where the person is that we are waiting for “he’s coming”! One day we waited for over an hour to cash a cheque, with no explanation after each of our enquiries apart from “I’m coming”. This morning we had to go to the bank to sign a couple of forms, and what should have taken 5 minutes took over an hour. Our next appointment was with Ghana Immigration Service about my resident permit, the person we needed to see was out of his office so the response was “please sit down – he’s coming”. Of course it would have been logical to call him and see where he was but because as he was coming, there was no need. 🙂 We waited a while but experience has taught us not to, “why you don’t you just go and come” is also a common response if you don’t want to wait, so we left for a couple of hours to have lunch and attend to other business. Upon our return – guess what? “He’s around, please sit down, he’s coming”. Once again after waiting, we finally got his number only to find out he was leaving for home. He did come back to see us and gave us the news that they don’t take applications in the afternoon, so we should go and come in the morning! Picture me smiling politely through tightly gritted teeth.
So off we went, and faced the traffic home knowing that we must go through the whole rigmarole again tomorrow – I know it’s going to take most of the day. Here’s hoping we don’t get told to go and come!
I have long been wanting to explore my creative side. I can’t draw or paint, and not many other crafts interest me, so I have decided to try my hand at beading. I went to the Abogloshi markets this morning with a friend who has an entire room dedicated to her passion for beading, and she had kindly agreed to take me along and give me some hints and tips as to what to buy to start my new hobby. I thoroughly enjoyed myself buying all sorts of gorgeous African beads and the necessary accessories and tools to begin. Afterwards we went back to her place for lunch and a lesson in the basics of beading. I am now sitting here looking at my pile of beautiful beads, the creative juices flowing and brimming with enthusiasm for what I am hoping will be the beginning of an exciting and interesting new passion for me.
Now it’s not that I haven’t tried other creative pursuits, it’s just that somehow that initial enthusiasm well, kind of disappears. I am now reminded of some of my previous hobbies that never quite made it. There was the hook rug that was so close to being finished; the size two ninja turtle cross stitch t-shirt that is ninety percent complete, which was for my now twenty four year old son; the cross stitch sampler I started for my mum – twenty one years ago; the decoupage, cottage crafts, soap making, cosmetic making, basket weaving, door mat printing, tie dying, wreath making, sewing….to name a few.
But this time I am sure! I am sure bead making will be it, I just know it will.
Best check back with me in six months time and see how I’m going – I might have some beads and tools going cheap, but then again… 🙂
Hello and welcome to my blog. I intended to blog weekly once we arrived in Ghana and here I am four months later beginning my first post.
Life has been crazy and hectic to say the least. I have had so many experiences and done so many things since arriving in Ghana that I really don’t know where to start. I have travelled North, South, East and West. I have met with Chiefs, Imams and Sheiks. I have sat on a live four metre crocodile, showered using buckets, dealt with no power or running water at times and the most intermittent internet service that you can imagine. I have had interactions (that’s a nice way to put it) with Customs Officers, Immigration and Police (say no more). I have been blessed to have been bestowed with the title of Magajiyan Chigaba (Queen of Progress) in the Ashanti Region and Queen Mother in Wulugu in the North.
I have sat in traffic for more hours than I wish to think about and spent more time frustrated with “the system” than I could have imagined. I have felt more frustration, frustration, frustration with so many things than I can possibly put into words. If I had a dollar for every time I have heard the words “this is Africa” I would be a rich woman. I have pounded FuFu, attempted to stir Banku and eaten more rice than I ever have before. I have cried buckets of tears and laughed til I thought I would burst. I have been appalled by some of the medical facilities available and sadly held my beautiful mother in law as she died in our loving arms. I have met incredible, amazing people from all walks of life, some with fascinating stories to share. I have been welcomed into a huge and loving family with wide open arms and made to feel at home from day one.
I miss my family and friends terribly as well as some of the conveniences and comforts that life in Australia afforded me. While I have always been aware of our excessive lifestyle by comparison in the West, to see first hand how some people struggle day to day just to feed themselves and their families, makes me ever more grateful for the life I have lived to date and more determined to make a difference somehow, in some way…..This is Africa!