Thursday, September 9, 2010

Etherean Shakedown

The Theory of Ghanaian Time Relativity

In contrast to the Western World, which operates on the standard 24 hour clock, though the numbers might appear identical, Ghana uses what is known as the “Astrological Clock,” wherein, after agreeing to a 10 AM appointment, your next duty is to immediately consult a local psychic who will confirm that your meeting will begin at 2 PM sharp! (or 8:30 AM depending on your psychic.)
Having failed to consult the local soothsayer, we arrived at The Etherean Mission (Tetteh’s Church) at promptly 10 AM. Apparently the guests of honor, the local chiefs, had three different psychics, each of whom, independently, came to the consensus, and this was considered a miracle by all of the Ghana, especially considering the pinpoint accuracy of their independent prophecies, that the event would not begin at 10 AM.

This doesn’t mean that we were bored while we waited for the chiefs to straggle in. The beat of African drums, and the extremely warm and friendly churchgoers lead to enthusiastic dance party in the courtyard.
I had made quick friends with a young, pretty African girl named Jessica, she tells me that “I’m a pretty good dancer … for a white guy.” (Anyone remember that song by the Offspring, ‘Pretty Fly for a White Guy’ ?”

Jessica Boifo, Accra Ghana

(Check out Jessica’s beautiful blinged out dress. This is kinta cloth. It can be very pretty ... sadly, for y'all, footage of us all dancing and many other pictures were lost while transferring from my camera :(

Check out the row of children. I think church is the same for kids everywhere
I ask Jessica a million questions about Ghana.
A middle class wage is about $550 a month. Her Mother, a pharmacist who works for the government, makes somewhere around that, but her Father, who works for a private company, makes substantially more. And while the $2,500 or so this family of four brings in a month makes them on the wealthy side for Ghanaians, it is in obvious contrast to the purchase power such an amount would be in the US.

The beautiful dress you see above, which she very much values, the fabric alone if I remember correctly, costs in excess of $200. It was a gift from her parents, and she hired a seamstress to customize the cut for her. Jessica loves fashion and one day wants to travel to Milan to study fashion.

All Ghanaians love soccer. They are proud of their World Cup team, who would have made the semi-finals if not for a Uruguayan player’s blatant and intentional hand ball which prevented a Ghanese goal at the end of the game. It is sore spot for every Ghanaian, and Suarez (the Uruguayan player) is unlikely to ever be granted a visa to the country. In fact, I am sure the immigration officer would relish the opportunity to stamp his application, "DENIED!" 100% of Ghanaians within 50 miles of a television watched the game. There wasn’t a single car on the road.

Divorce is exceedingly rare in Ghana, and the family and extended family, are a very tight knit group. The most powerful man in Ghana, is not the President, Jessica informs me, but rather the Ashanti Chief, who presides over the mining (gold in particular) region of Ghana.
Obama is very popular here in Ghana. He represents hope unheard of. The Ghanaians simply did not believe that it was possible for a person of color to be elected President of the United States. On the eve of the election, the people of this country watched the results more closely than the majority of people in the United States.

When Obama was declared president, a mighty roar was heard in all corners of Ghana. It wasn’t so much the fact that Obama is black that they were cheering, but rather, the fact that the impossible just took place. What dream could possibly be out of reach, now that America has elected a black man?
Also of interest, Ghanaians were thrilled when Obama chose to visit Ghana, but some were suspicious that this was business as usual for America, since Ghana had very recently discovered a large amount of oil, and they thought perhaps Obama was there to plunder their wealth.




(African dancers- pretty fly, even for black guys :)



The Chiefs Arrive
“Later” finally arrived, and the chiefs were accounted for. The aforementioned Ashanti chief was invited to the ceremony, but as he could not attend, he sent three of his local sub-chiefs in his place.
There was dancing, a few ceremonies, and, believe it or not, a lecture on Ghanaian law during which Jessica and I took it upon ourselves to go get water and snacks at a local convenience store. After a good deal of time, Ishmael got up and spoke.
At the, albeit very unlikely, risk of costing what was gained by Ishmael, I have decided not to go into too much detail on the world wide web, (but if any of you back home are curious, it’s a great story that I’ll tell you in person) but let me just state that Ishmael is a master of manifestation, and all of us who were there from America, were merely unwitting, but even afterwards quite grateful to be pawns in his ingenious master plan.
In the middle of his beautiful speech, he made a large request for what it was he wanted, and then followed it up by stating, “We must speak of these things out loud, for as the saying goes, ‘We must speak of fish, or else we will only eat bone!’ “
Well, moments later, Ishmael was granted his large request (which will do enormous good for the youth of Ghana) so the “cultural day” was a huge success. After all speeches were concluded, we went outside where we formed a line to inspect the various foods from the various regions of Ghana brought in for the event. Yes, before eating, you go and inspect the food to make sure it is up to your satisfaction, which is contrary to my commonly held belief I refer to as, “dig in.”
While the food was plentiful, I cannot say I am a huge fan of Ghanaian food. Most of it is quite heavy, a lot of it fried and oily, with few vegetables, but I had a lot of fun nonetheless. (plantains however, are yummy!)

35th Anniversary Celebration
The following day was the 35th Anniversary celebration, and Michael Beckwith, the founder of Agape who you might have seen on Oprah or in “The Secret” who is a very deep and knowledgeable man, got up and gave a speech that blew everyone away. Michael, like Tetteh, is a brilliant orator, but today he was ON FIRE. Thoughts and words were just moving through him, he was channeling something far beyond the human mind.

A humorous moment came when Ishmael asked someone from the youth ministry to volunteer to give someone a blessing, and a brave young boy answered the call.
For several minutes words raced frantically from the ten year old,. Slowly, audience members began to open one eye, then the other, while the boy continued his invocation. Applause began to rain down upon him, a hint to wrap it up, but he just kept going and going and going while the applause became louder and louder coupled with laughter. When he finally completed his prayer, he received a standing ovation.
The poor boy stood there, sort of dazed, then realized what the applause were related to, and raced back to his mother, burying his face in her arms while she consoled him. I felt both bad for his reaction, but also had to laugh , knowing that in the future, assuming he doesn't develop a fear of public speaking, he will likely become a charismatic speaker.

(you can feel warmth and joy even in this brief video)

The VIP's Meet Moses

I ain't going to lie. Ghana is traffic can be horrific, so when we were to receive a VIP police escort to the airport (courtesy of Ishmael), we are all excited to see whther it would make any difference.
But low and behold, we cut through massive amounts of gridlock like a razor through butter. Sirens wailing in front of us, behind us, lead our gigantic wildabeast like buses through traffic that would have taken 2 hours to get through in 15 minutes.
We were unbelieving of the magical feat. Someone in back of the bus, offerred the conclusion that the lead cop's name must Moses.
Frankly, I don't think that gives the guy enough credit. His feat had a far higher degree of difficulty than parting the red sea. In line with Ishmael's teachings that all comes from the same source, I'm going to call him God.
the general feeling I think our group left behind in Ghana

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