Thursday, November 12, 2009

Smiling in Ghana

So I'm back in Ghana and am going through a bit of a honeymoon stage. Over the past 5 months much of my time has been spent away from Ghana and most definitely away from Tamale, the city where I currently call home.

As a result, I've been more observant and appreciative of some few things. I want to share them...

Tonight I bought phone credit from someone. He was just getting ready to pray. It was 6 pm and as a devout Muslim he was doing the ritualistic hand, feet and face washing that is necessary. Despite this he rushed over and sold me phone credit. I apologized for interrupting his prayer preparations.

He responded: "It's okay but I hope you are a Muslim.".

I replied: "No I am a Christian."

He said: "Oh that's also good."

In Ghana, Christians and Muslims are able to live side by side with none of that fighting we hear of in other countries. When a meeting is held it is typically opened by a Muslim prayer and closed by a Christian prayer (or vica-versa). I appreciate this acceptance of differences!

Second experience that brought a smile to my face. I went running yesterday morning. It has been so long that I've been able to run around my house that the landscape had drastically changed. In the past 6 months the rains have come. And apparently they haven't left the path I normally take along a large part of my run. So, I hiked up my running pants and tread lightly along the narrow ridge that separated me from a murky pool of old rain water. As I finished this tight-tope dance I saw two men preparing to walk the gauntlet. They were rolling up their pants. They looked up to me and smiled.

I smiled back. What else can you do when water blocks your path but roll up your pants and enter? In Ghana I appreciate that they do it not with grumbles but with smiles.

Last appreciation. When I'm gone for a long time at work and return, people always ask me where I've been. Actually first they say: "How's our two days?" Which means how have things been in this long time you've been away. (Note: If you want to make a joke you ask how's our three days!)

The second question people ask is: "What did you bring me from your trip?" This question initially bothered me as I felt offended that people would ask me for something and then guilty for not bringing anything. However, it is quite unrealistic to bring something for all 50 people at my office every time I travel. I learned though that you can respond with: "I brought my health." And people actually appreciate hearing this answer! So today as I approached my office and saw the countless vehicle drivers resting on benches under the tree I knew what was coming.

"Welcome Sarah!"

"How's your two days?"

"Fine and how are you?"

"Fine and what did you bring me?"

"My health."

laughter from all...


Monica said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Monica said...

Aww, same question as in Nigeria. I usually responded by giving a smile. If they were not satisfied with that, I'd also thrown in a frown. Hope things are still well for you in the new year!


This is a great post Dmitry. I just had one of the ‘Doh!’ moments and ran back to correct my own site before publishing my comment. You see my own comment form did not match what I’m about to advise. I get less comments than you, so never noticed any problem. I’ve changed it now anyway so here goes.