At work on Friday I browsed a few issues of a local magazine called Dust. One of the features of the magazine is a page titled “You know you’re in Accra when…” One of the statements listed went something like this: “you’ve only just arrived, but Accra just feels like home.” I have been in Accra, Ghana for five days. What the magazine says is true. It didn’t hit me until today when I was grocery shopping at our local vegetable lady, but Accra is already starting to feel like home.
I live in a house on the outskirts of Cantonments, across the street from 37 Station- a local tro-tro stop. Cantonments is a well-off neighborhood, so my house is much nicer than I expected. The architecture is striking; the houses are built low and are surrounded by walls topped with barbed wire. I have three roommates who have been serving as my guides thus far. We are an international house. Nana is Ghanaian and went to school in the US; he’s the man of the house. Audrey is French and works at the Golden Baobab with me, and Nafiye is from Sweden. Naf just moved in, but all three of them already know each other and travel in the same social circle. We threw a house-warming party on Friday, and the guests were a mix of expats and local Ghanaians. Through my roommates, I have been getting a taste of the young, rising middle class life in urban Ghana.
Yesterday I visited Makola Market with Nafiye. Makola Market is a huge market selling everything you could possible imagine. Two white girls walking around caused quite a stir. “Obruni, obruni!” the sellers called out to us, some touching us or grabbing our arms. Nafiye likes to retort with “nibuni!”, which means “black”. I was too bewildered by the scene to know how to respond. The people at the market have often never seen a white person before.
I have only been to work for two days, but I’m very excited by the agenda my coworkers have cooked up for me- and my colleagues are very nice, hardworking people. Right now, I am working on developing a sort of “Golden Baobab Glossary”, which will list key words relevant to the mission of the foundation along with facts. This will hopefully help develop the organization’s vocabulary when talking with politicians and other parties interested in what they do. This upcoming week, one of my tasks is to plan and begin computer lessons with our landlord at the office, Bro Joe. I will teach him to use the computer, and in return I will ask if I can get cooking lessons from his wife!
Today I really started to settle in, and I feel less like an outsider. I went for a short morning run, and later I went to Bojo Beach with my roommates. In the evening, Naf and I went grocery shopping and cooked dinner together. As we were cooking, Nana’s nephews ran around us, questioning our every move. We ate with Nana and some of his extended family. The nervousness I experienced yesterday at Makola Market was not there as I bought vegetables and walked through the slightly smaller market at 37 station. Now my neighborhood feels like home, and, of course, cooking makes a house feel like a home.