Friday, July 17, 2009

City Guinea Fowl, country guinea fowl

We went to Tamale. Said, "Tamily." It is a beautiful town, busy. Out of the food markets I've seen Tamale's looked like one my heart yearned to invade with my camera. Skulls of cows three wide sat on a table. At the other side sat two men perched on stools with HUGE hunks of meat and rustic knives. The meat was fresh and pink. As customers come they cut off a hunk for them. It was lovely.

Hundreds of storefronts much like the butcher's packed tightly along the streets edging pedestrians into the street. Cars slip by one another like a perfect musical composition. Among this appearance of chaos (as Kate says) there is great harmony and invention to make the chaos move things forward in its own way. I like this pace, I see it as artistic.

Kate keeps saying the hustlers. I laugh at her! She calls the sellers on the street hustlers and they are but not like Americans think of a hustler-well almost not. There is evidence of pushing goods in a directed (nearly unsavory) way, however, if you start asking the shopkeepers and street vendors questions they will go to any length to help you get what you want. They are sincere with you and really compassionate. It is worth having a problem in Ghana to see the depth of their hospitality! The best way I can say this is with a cheesy metaphor-Twi the local language is said in proverbs so I am just going with the flow.... If you scratch the surface, this is what you get, if you dig a little you plant something which quickly grows.

I want to share more about slavery. Something I could not articulate before has come forward so I will try here to explain. Culturally Ghanaians (I believe Nigerians, People from Togo-could be many other countries in Africa too) follow a practice of giving a child to a relative. They do this with the unspoken hope that this relative will send the child to school. However, they just believe this will happen and really have no clue where the child will go or what they will be asked to do (sell things in the market, etc). Because of this belief that this is the road to bettering your family at the same time they make their child vulnerable. I will explain that in a minute.

As an aside, there is a town North of Tamale where the people designed their homes with roofs that are shaped in a way that they will not burn. They did this because slave wranglers were going to towns, lighting homes on fire-thatched! The people would flee the house, be caught and sold. The artisans are quick to copy things. We all do this but if you say, "We want this to be exclusive" but somebody else says they like it and asks for it they give it, regardless of what they just said. Which takes me to the fact that these people are HIGHLY entrepreneurial. The factors of giving a child over and natural entrepreneurial nature gave way to slavery. Plus, port towns on the ocean made it possible for an export trade and it was the other countries who wanted these people. It is wrong, I am not trying to justify it but there is a fiber of understanding in me about how this didn't seem so foreign to the people here.

One of the opportunities Kate would like to venture into is helping children who are given to a relative for education and are instead sold into slavery. It is sex slavery. Kate told me of an article she read in the United States about how children as young as 6 would be sold. The American business men pay a lot to have sex with children this young. (ok, I feel sick-just trying to get you to understand there is real need here for income generating opportunities and educational resources.) In Tamale we are working with a group who makes batik, it is run by the Catholic Church. They find slaves and remove them, bringing them to Tamale, which is REALLY far from the coast (In Togo, Nigeria and perhaps Ghana) where they were found. It is cleaner and more organized there too(this is by my observations and from Dr. Gariba and his wife Neo's information they shared.) This group does not discriminate on religious belief, they take everybody.

There are more Muslims in the North. In the morning and the evening you can hear the loud speakers in the town announcing "A Call to Prayer." On the bus from Tamale somebody had a Muslim cell phone ringtone. It sounded similar to the call to prayer song I heard in the morning before boarding the bus.

It was a nice journey to Tamale and Boglatanga where we found a family who makes baskets. They took us to their house. It WAS AWESOME!!!! Nass-said Nash is the oldest boy at home in this house and he is working to keep his sisters in school.

We've met some wonderful people. Tamale is well known for Guinea fowl(like Cornish Game Hen). I ate a lions share while I was there. We stayed at the hotel of Dr and Mrs. Gariba. We also hitched a ride from them to Tamale. I took photos with their son Jeema and played Jeopardy on the ride up with their daughter Aiyasha. This joyful family was wonderful company-I really hope I see them again. I took pictures of their hotel which will hopefully make the cut for their website! -Opportunity is everywhere.

1 comment:

Sharon Wagner said...

A sad and moving story. You are learning so much there, good and bad.