Jessica and I finished another exciting two weeks by going to a festival in Ghana’s Volta region. The celebration took place in our drumming professor’s home town of Dzodze. Around 30 obrunis (white people) went with us on a three hour drive through bumpy unpaved roads and across Ghana’s beautiful Volta River. We arrived the night of October 2nd and were welcomed with food, uplifting local spirits, and a shot of a drink called apeteshi. After a brief meal of tea and bread we had the privilege of listening to the locals drum and dance the night away while even picking up some Ghanaian dance moves ourselves.
The night was a bit unpleasant as our group crowded into two small village houses to sleep on very thin mats. We awoke at the break of dawn to roosters cowing and goats scattering outside our windows. Then after breakfast we walked to the official festival where several drumming ensembles showed off with music and dance to celebrate the palm tree. Several vendors circled the festival selling ice cream, meat pies, and cupcake like items called bofloats. We also were able to try some palm wine which was a staple at the grounds. The festival décor was quite extravagant by Ghanaian standards and several processions incorporated tribal persons walking with a palm tree in a pot on their head. The festival attracted a huge crowd consisting of several local chiefs and even an appearance by the vice president of Ghana.
In the process of leaving the festival to visit our drumming teacher’s uncle and other extended family we picked up a group of about 30 Ghanaian children who each grabbed onto one of our hands and followed us for the next 3-4 hours without fail. Very few of them spoke enough English to have conversations but they persisted to stick next to us regardless of where we went or what we did. Eventually we were able to send the children back to their homes and made it back to our weekend home in order to meet a local chief. As a group we presented the chief with a bottle of snaps and in return he “granted us permission” to visit his town any time and told us the story about how his tribe set foot in Ghana.
Then on Sunday the 4th we witnessed a local celebration of the gods by our fellow village members. Jessica and I decided to step out when we learned that the celebration consisted of live animal (chicken) sacrifice, but returned to witness what totaled to over 2 hours of dancing (which Jessica would like to note looked like the origins of the “funky chicken”) , drinking, smoking, and drumming in honor of the gods. It was a unique experience to say the least as one woman became “possessed by the gods” and proceeded to cover herself in a muddy cloth, bath a small child in mud, poor out two bottles of alcohol (for the gods), and run out of the village only to be chased and brought back by the other members. It was unlike anything any of us had ever seen.
Overall the trip provided an unfiltered view of Ghana which allowed us to gain a greater perspective of what tribal Africa is like. It also gave us an opportunity to meet several new foreign students and try dishes unique to the Volta region such as coconut biscuits.
The weekend before, we stayed on campus to view a live university performance of a Nigerian comedy called “Pepper Soup.” We also found a new Lebanese joint in downtown Osu which served excellent salad and falafel as well as a London brand ice cream that surpassed our expectations. Jessica and I also were able to get dressed up and eat in one of the nicest restaurants in Ghana called Rhapsody’s. The setting of the restaurant echoed that of an an upscale New York nightclub and the food was excellent. Probably the highlight of the meal was the fact that they had real cheese.
I also participated in “The CIEE Olympics” which brought together several foreign students studying in Ghana to compete in local games and events. It was nice to meet some other students studying at a nearby University and share experiences.
As an Aside, I believe it is also important to mention that my roommate Gabrielle and I’s favorite premier team, Manchester United, remains unbeaten, and by bringing Uganda to a 2 all draw on Friday Ghana’s under 20 team won its group in the 2009 U-20 world cup in Egypt.