Greetings from Accra

Sunday morning I was awakened at 4 when the air-conditioner went back on  with all its rumbles. I hadn’t heard it go off, but the sound of its return was loud enough to roust me. During the night, the electricity in Bolga and the surrounding villages was turned off at different times for two hours. I suppose it was to conserve electricity but no one knew for certain. “It is what they do,” was the answer to why. Later, around 11, the electricity for the whole country went off. It came back slowly with Bolga being the last around 8 that night.

Well, after I was up so early, I finally stopped reading and got dressed around 6, made my disgusting coffee and went to the roof which is begging to be a patio. All it needs is a table, chairs, an umbrella and mosquito netting. From my perch on high, I watched the morning. I could see and smell the smoke from morning fires. From the compound beside the house I heard a baby cry. Roosters were greeting the day, one to each side of the house, but I couldn’t see them.  On the road I could see a man carrying a table on his head. I wondered about that table. A woman came out of the house, walked into the tall grass and returned in a bit with some eggs. Small girls carried empty then full buckets to and from the bore hole. The air was clear and there was a morning breeze. It was too early yet for the sun to grab the day. Mornings in the village are a joy to watch.

Part II  Meet the Mother of Chiefs

Sunday afternoon I was told to be at the chief’s house at 1:30. As I had met him before, I didn’t know why. When I arrived, four of my students were there. The chief was waiting and explained to me that I would be thanked for teaching these women and for returning to Ghana by a traditional ceremony. I was to become the mother of chiefs and I would be given a new Ghanaian name. I sat in a chair in the middle of the room then was told to stand up and raise my hands over my head. Lillian, a student and one of the wives of the chief, then took a fan on which was cloth, sandals and jewelery.  She passed it around me 4 times then took it and moved it back and forth in front of me 4 times as well. Then she and one of the elders started dressing me in Ghanaian cloth, 3 pieces. First came the skirt, then the top and finally a headpiece of cloth. All of my clothes were now covered by the Ghanaian cloth, the same cloth from which fugus or smocks are made. The chief announced my new name was (phonetically) an a Mah, mother of chiefs.  During all of this, a  photographer had been taking his own pictures and some with my camera. My students were going to order copies. After all of the festivities were finished, the elders accompanied me to my house (substitute car here as the village is too far). They took pictures of me walking to the car and getting in with the help of the elders. The ceremony was finished.

It was amazing. My students had planned it with Lillian and the chief. They had bought the cloth and all the accessories.  I was told that I would always be called by my new name by any FraFras. I couldn’t have been more honored.

On Monday we left late and made it only to Tamale (tam, as in rhymes with arm, a lay). On Tuesday we made it to all the way Accra with only one stop- to see the monkeys. Today we are traveling to Cape Coast and Elimina.

Next journal entry: the monkeys!

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29 Comments on “Greetings from Accra”

  1. Cuidado Says:

    What an honour, , an a Mah. You are special even half way around the world.

  2. Caryn Says:

    It’s a wonderful title and such an honor.

  3. Hedley Says:

    Whatever with the Mah stuff, I want monkey stories !

    • im6 Says:

      I knew MDH would be salivating for the monkeys! Congrats on your new title. You have made an impact on generations and culture far beyond you ever imagined. I’m so proud of you.

      • Hedley Says:

        OK, so you know who has a really cool title and probably a smoking hot head dress, but does that really mean much in the context of a decent monkey experience…think PG Tips, think Mr Shifter (don’t think Mike Love)…enough of the this pseudo intellectual I am running my own tribe sort of stuff….Lets go Gibbon.

      • Kat Says:

        He is sure enough anxious for the monkey stories, but, sadly, he will be a bit disappointed.

        Thank you!!

    • Kat Says:

      Be patient, my dear Hedley!!

  4. Birgit Says:

    Dear Mother of Chiefs,
    (might be written “Nana Ama”?)
    what an honor – Congratulations !
    I’m looking forward to see pictures of the ceremony 🙂

    • Kat Says:

      In FraFra it is as I wrote. That’s what the students started to call me after and even now Grace, who is still with me, calls me that.

  5. MT C Says:

    WOW! I know a celebrity! Congrats!

    Now you’ve gotta stop and see your friends at the Sanctuary, they will be suitably impressed, I’m sure.


  6. olof1 Says:

    What an honor!
    I do hope You’ll post some photographs of this later!

    That morning sounds so nice, we do have a rooster not far away but I seldom hear it in the morning. I guess it’s just to tired when I get up 🙂

    Have a great continuing of Your trip an a Mah!

  7. sprite Says:

    What a great honor! Congratulations!

  8. flyboybob Says:

    Now that you are officially a ‘mother’ you can now receive proper salutes, greetings and other chieftain honors in May on Mother’s day 🙂 Oh, you are not that kind of mother?

    We are so lucky here in the first world to have a very constant supply of electric power. The power grid is energy that is being produced on demand as we use it and can’t be easily stored for use during outages. The occasional lighting strike on a power line or a mistake by an ignorant back hoe operator is usually the cause of short outages in the US. People in the third world live perfectly normal lives with long power outages like the ones you have described. How does one get along for hours without TV, computers, the internet or air conditioning?

    • Kat Says:

      Well, sort of that kind of a mother I think.

      Most people here do not have computers and air conditioners though TV are a popular item just about everywhere, even in the stick village I saw yesterday. Just as in the US the programs are awful!

  9. Hedley Says:

    Of course Ghana provides Universal Health Care by using targeted consumer taxes (ok, I was listening to the BBC World Service)

  10. Lori Kossowsky Says:

    Yes, I am honored to know someone so honored– mother of chiefs, wow! I am so glad you are having such a wonderful trip. I do hope you decide to return to us.

  11. splendid Says:

    Congratulations! I am so glad that you are recognized for all you do, everywhere.You inspire so many in all walks of your life:)

  12. Rick Oztown Says:

    For once, I am near wordless/stunned.

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