“If I have ever seen magic, it has been in Africa.”

The morning is a delight. I sat outside on the deck to read the paper and drink my coffee. I kept stopping to listen to the birds and the rustling of the leaves on the swaying branches. Today will be hot, in the low 80’s. Tonight will be cooler. I have an errand, the only entry on my dance card.

When I was in Ghana, I learned groundnuts (peanuts) grow under ground which makes the British/Ghanaian name perfectly descriptive. Its flowers grow above the ground while the fruit, the nuts, grow underground. In the afternoons, when the school year was just beginning, my students harvested the nuts. I went and watched and took pictures. Groundnut stew is a common Ghanaian dish. I was skeptical that groundnut paste (peanut butter) as a base made for a tasty stew, but it did. It had tomatoes and onions and chicken. The stew was the color of the groundnut paste.

In Bolgatanga where I lived, I was the only white woman my first year there. Everyone in town knew who I was. When I was learning Hausa, the language taught to me during training, I learned the greetings first. I used them all the time as I was greeted everywhere I went, and I loved being able to return the greetings. That always delighted the Ghanaians. I could use the specific greetings like I greet you in the market or I greet you at work. I could also say good morning, good afternoon or good evening. I could ask how you are feeling. The answer was always lafiya lau. I’m fine, no matter how you felt. When I went back to Ghana the first time, I greeted people at dinner in the hotel restaurant, ina wuni, good evening. Later I found out there was discussion at their table about the white lady who knew Hausa. That was when they figured out who I was.

I love mangos and papaya. I eat hummus, falafel and tabbouleh, the foods I ate in the Lebanese restaurants in Accra. They were inexpensive foods, perfect for Peace Corps volunteers. I like fufu with stew, a Southern dish, and also t-zed with stew, a Northern dish. I could eat plantain, my favorite Ghanaian food, at every meal and also jollof rice, my favorite Ghanaian dish, at every meal, and we’re talking breakfast too.

I brought so much of Ghana home with me, not just things, but memories. When I watch YouTube videos of Bolga, I feel joy and happiness but also sadness that I am not there.

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2 Comments on ““If I have ever seen magic, it has been in Africa.””

  1. Bob Says:

    Hi Kat,

    Today is partly cloudy with a predicted high of only a humid 90°. For the end of August it’s been delightful. I’m convinced from experience that we’re not completely done with triple digit temperatures. The latest day that we ever had triple digit temperatures was in early October.

    Like you I have always enjoyed Middle Eastern food. Shawarma is a popular Middle Eastern dish that is similar to the Mexican dish Tacos al pastor. Lebanese immigrants to Puebla Mexico in the 1930s modified Shawarma into Tacos al Pastor.


    To all my right wing Republican friends who want to restrict immigrants, they should take a lesson from the story of the transformation from Shwarma to Tacos al Pastor. We need a lot more immigrants to come to our country to fill the future jobs that our kids don’t want to do. Besides we are at zero population growth. I would love to be able to taste Groundnut Stew if I could find a Ghanaian restaurant rather than riding on an airplane halfway around the world. If we increased our stupid immigration quotas, we would all have better and more enjoyable lives.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Bob,
      Parts of the state have storm warnings, heavy duty storms with thunder and lightning, but not here on the cape. The sky did get cloudy, and it is down to 79° so I guess that’s the best we’ll do. I can’t even remember when we had triple digit temps.

      I really enjoyed the article about tacos al pastor as I have been in restaurants where giant slabs of pork or beef are spinning over the fire, and you get the end piece every time. I do love Middle Eastern food, but there are no close restaurants which serve it. I buy a local hummus which is among the best I’ve ever had. Sandwich, MA seems like a strange place for hummus making.

      Immigrants enrich our country by giving it layers it wouldn’t otherwise have. You and I both know that. We have many Brazilians on Cape Cod. They are hard workers. My cleaning lady is Brazilian as is my landscaper. They are both wonderful.

      The closest Ghanaian restaurant to me is in Worcester which really isn’t very close. That city has, for whatever reason, a large Ghanaian population. I do hope two get there. I could always eat a large bowl of jollof rice and chicken groundnut stew.

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