Monday, April 9, 2012

Three Month Wrap-up

Boy where do I begin? I think it has taken me so long to write, because I was kinda in denial about my true feelings toward this place or maybe I was waiting for something to happen to turn this frown upside down.  I have decided to recommit myself again to my blog, no excuses. So here’s a recap of the past three months here. 

Village Town of Agogo
Agogo is a town of village people. Let me explain. So the town very recently obtained township, before that I guess they were classified as a village. Here villager is a term that people tend to shy away from. To be a villager here comes with an unflattering reputation. It is the equivalent to the American terms: country bumpkin, hickville, backwards, bama, back hills, and whatever other terms we use to refer to unexposed ruralites. So residents of Agogo take extreme pride in the area being designated a town. But, as the saying goes, (and I’m paraphrasing, because truth be told, I don’t know how it goes) “you can put lipstick on a pig, and it will still be a pig.” The people here are extremely small minded. I don’t mean small minded as in stupid, I just mean, they’re completely closed off from exposure to anything other than Agogo, so they lack a grand scale scope in life and in dealings with foreigners. 

Depending on who you ask obruni is a term that can mean “white person” or an all-encompassing politically correct “foreigner.” But based on my experiences I’m convinced that it simply means “white person.”  So you can imagine my utter shock and confusion that the people here refer to my husband as obruni. When asked why, they simply say, “because he’s white.” Ummmm, my husband is not white by a long shot. He’s not as dark as I am, but he’s definitely right there in complexion with some of the very same Ghanaians that call him white (imagine Ice Cube’s skin color).  I sometimes get called obruni by association. But I’ve been told and it’s been proven if I don’t open my mouth, people wouldn’t even realize I’m not Ghanaian. Either way, as a Black couple who has travelled across the world to experience the motherland, it’s quite infuriating to be met with the equivalent of “hey white man!” everywhere you go.  

Light Out
When I first got here our director very casually mentioned to us on our way to dinner, “oh, bring a flash light, I think the power will go tonight.” So that night we learned that there are scheduled power outages locally know as “light out” every three days from 6pm- 9pm. I thought, well I can learn to deal with it. It’s part of the experience I came out here for right? Well we quickly found out that there’s nothing scheduled about the power outages. The lights go out whenever the Powers-that-Be flicks the switch. So again, I’m thinking, well, having working electricity was a bonus and unexpected in the first place, so learn to deal. And I try to deal, but what’s frustrating is it’s not like there isn’t electricity, there is, it’s just that at random times and for unknown periods of time there is actually someone making the decision to cut the power to the people. And the residents don’t even bother to question the cause; in fact they celebrate when power is restored. In my short time there I learned that the power is cut because instead of running an independent power line, the mining companies use the same power lines as the people. So whenever Ghana’s natural resources are being mined, the people are left in the dark…literally. 

Flowing Pipes
When we first came to Agogo we were blessed with seemingly endless running water. Key word: seemingly. A few weeks into our stay, we learned that the water situation in Agogo is much like the power situation. Sometimes there’s running water, most times there’s not. In our compound we have a Poly-tank, which is a huge water storage container. When the “pipe is flowing” (another celebratory occasion) we fill the container, and when it’s not, well, pray for rain. Seriously, I’ve never been more excited and thankful for rain in my life.

What I have found most challenging is not the “light out” periods—scheduled and unscheduled—during which we lose electricity, nor is it the weeks long periods of no running water; instead it is the question of “what to eat?” that I am faced with and stumped by daily! Coming from an international city such as New York, I have been privileged to be spoiled by the availability and affordability of finest foods of different varieties. Variety and food are two words that you’d have a hard time pairing in Agogo. The food situation in Agogo is grim. I’ve realized that the people here eat to live—and that’s it. On one hand I realize it’s not all their fault. When you live off the land without imports, you’re subject to the yield of what’s in season. Lack of refrigeration (and steady electricity) makes food storage an impossible feat, read: meats, cheese, and milk. But what is puzzling is their lack of culinary creativity with the foods they do have available. It’s a rotation of the same five whack ass dishes over and over again. Finding something different, tasty and satisfying to eat has been more than a challenge for us. The best that we were able to come up with is “tuna surprise,” which is canned tuna sautéed in a few spices over a bed of angel hair pasta. See how appetizing I just made that sound. Yea that’s how I have to psych myself up to ignore the possibility of dying from mercury poisoning from eating so much damn tuna. 

That’s basically what I’ve been dealing with these past three months just being Agogo. 


Fashion Blawger said...

Wow, that whenever Ghana’s natural resources are being mined, the people are left without power is crazy. Are the people reaping the benefits of the resources being mined? --I mean, is this work being done by companies outside of Ghana or does the money even stay locally?

arosenbklyn said...

He FB- Sorry for my late response, didn't see your comment.
To answer your question...heck no! The mining companies are of course foreign companies and the corrupt government takes payoffs for themselves and nothing the money nor the resources remain locally. Most people do not even know why the lights go out. They have a saying here, "That's Ghana for you."