Saturday, October 06, 2007

GUEST BLOGGER . . . SHARON JEFFERSON . . . (aka the Old School Mix's "Sharon J.") Part II

"Women carrying nuts"
from Sharon Jefferson's
picture collection
Ghana 2007

by Sharon Jefferson

The announcement that I was going to Ghana in West Africa garnered some very interesting responses. Most people were positive and understood why I would want to go to a country that could very well be the home of my ancestors. Some thought that I might be doing missionary work or perhaps going on a safari. Others were just downright negative and wanted to know why I would want to go to such a disease-infested place.

When I arrived in the capital Accra, I didn't find people who needed to be ministered to. Nor did I find a nation full of sickly, frail people, where babies walked around with bloated bellies and flies in their eyes. What I found were vibrant, healthy people who weren't afraid to show a deep reverance for God. I spent a glorious week in Ghana this past August as part of the National Book Club Conference. Apart from the book conference, which included a dinner honoring prolific author Bernice L. McFadden for her body of work, most of our time was spent touring villages, shops and historical landmarks in Ghana. Here are are just a few observations I made regarding the country and its people:

The Ghanaians really know how to get their hustle on. It was not unusual to see men and women weaving through Accra's thick early morning traffic carrying heavy baskets, bowls or pots filled with fruit, nuts or water on their heads. I saw a brother walking with a sewing machine on his head, and he carried it with the coolness of a cootie from Cleveland strutting along Kinsman Avenue in a Kangol felt cap.

An entrepreneurial spirit permeates the capital and parts of the country where we traveled. The streets were lined with all types of businesses selling such items as clothing, hand-made furniture and even old appliances. I saw one lot with nothing but old refrigerators. Casket making seems to be big business there. Many of the businesses have some type of Christian reference to God in their title. There might be the Blessed Assurance hair salon on one side of the street and God's Will Be Done restaurant on the other side. Forty percent of the population is Christian and another twelve percent are Muslim, according to information from the Ghanaian embassy in Washington D.C

We shopped at a well-known retail spot called the Art Center where we spent our Ghana Ceis (one amonts to $1.06) on snake-skinned purses, Kente cloth, wooden Ashanti stools and drums. One woman, obviously trying to win salesperson of the month, grabbed my hand before I barely had the chance to exit the bus, sat me down in a chair and attempted to do a hard sell. Unfortunately, she didn't have anything that interested me so I moved on to another section. Haggling over prices is encouraged. It got to be a game for me. At one point, I exhausted myself trying to get the price lowered on a jewelry box I wanted, but to no avail. I was so anxious to get some kind of deal, that when the salesman offered a slight discount on another item I bought, I realized later I probably paid more than I should have.




Keith said...

Yesterday I was watching a show where the NY Giants were being interviewed. It was a fluff piece where they asked members of the team the one place they'd like to visit. Black men were saying Paris, London, Italy. The only black country mentioned was Jamaica. I was a little ashamed.

Thanks for getting the word out that Africa is not necessarily the place that the media makes it out to be. I think people forget (don't care?) that Africa is a continent made up of countries and not a country made up of states.

Sharon J. said...

Thanks Keith:

Going to Ghana just made me want to visit other African countries.

Eugene said...

Hi Sharon,

Glad to learn you have visited Mother Africa and returned to these shores to write about it.

Keep on keeping on,

E. Landon Hobgood (Eugene)