Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Eid Al-Adha

On the morning of October the 26th, I woke up early in order to meet Sarah in Kejetia, the largest tro-tro station in Kumasi. After we met up, we traveled back to Old Tafo where my friend Samira, who is a YES Alumni, lives. We were heading to her house since she graciously invited us over to celebrate Eid with her family.
Eid Al-Adha is a Muslim holiday to celebrate the end of the pilgrimage to Mecca. One starts the day by dressing up in their best clothes and heading to the mosque for a special prayer. As we were hurridly getting ready at Samira's house I was reminded joyfully of preparing for Christmas Eve service. The Eid holiday seemed to be similar to Christmas Eve in that it involved attending a place of religion for a special service and includes a big meal.
When we arrived at the mosque, running late, there was already a mass of people there. I looked out on a sea of white, transluscent swaths of cloth partially masking the vibrant colors of everyone's finest dress. The prayer on Eid is special since there are two prayers the first of which includes 7 "Allah Akbars", which means God is Great in Arabic, for the congregation to repeat and the second prayer includes 5 Allah Akbars. Praying in front of the Mosque with Sarah and all the Ghanaian ladies was a very powerful experience. Listening to the beautiful, alluring chant of the iman dance it's way into your soul as you kneels down and humbles yourself before God is extremely moving. Here I was in the middle of Western Africa, one speck on the ground, one of many, who are all the same in God's eyes, all thankful for his blessing of life. That day I truly felt extremely blessed and lucky to be alive spending my time with Sarah, Samira, Rukiya, and the rest of their wonderful family.

The other part of Eid Ahda involves butchering an animal in the halal way and then cooking a huge meal. This part is only obligitory if one has the means to pay for the animal. Those who do butcher the animal are supposed to divide the meat up, giving some of it to their neighbors and the needy. They did not have an animal to kill which was completely fine by Sarah and I.


I attend Simms Senior High School in Faowade and I am enjoying myself immensely. I was put in Form-2 which is the Ghanaian equivilant to sophmore year, which amounts to extremely boring classes due to the rudementary subject matter. Although the subject matter in most classes is extremely dull, I am learning many things from being and observing students here.
Here in Ghana, instead of choosing each individual class, one chooses their "course" and each course has it's own group of subjects that the whole class takes. I was put into 2A2 which is the General Arts course with a Religious Studies Class, Language Class, and Literature class. Each track, or course as they are called here, has one class per grade which results in extremely large class sizes. My class has around 70 students all crammed into the most uncomfortable wooden desks imaginable. I share a desk with my friend Priscilla which I really appreciate although my butt does not.

One thing I love about school here are the uniforms which although unflattering on me, do look nice on the Ghanaians. My school has 3 uniforms for the week, all of which I do not possess yet. The Monday & Tuesday wear is a cute maroon 50'seqsue dress while the Wednesday & Thursday wear is a pink blouse with a maroon pencil skirt. Friday wear consists of dress made out of a pretty blue print with the schools name & emblem on it. The other two uniforms also have the school's crest sewn onto them. There is also a maroon vest with dimonds on it as well as a warm up jacket and an house uniform, all of which I have yet to receive.

My school not only has it's own emblem, it has it's own motto, and school song which we sing during morning assembly which occurs on Monday, Wednesday, & Friday. Assembly consists of saying the Lord's Prayer, the Ghanaian pledge, singing the national anthem & the school anthem, and mainly is teachers telling about all the rules that were broken and other rules that need to be followed which is then preceeded by threatening the students with caning. During my first assembly, one teacher who was preaching about the need of baggy non-form fitting uniforms, said that he was going to come around for inspection and threaten to strip anyone naked who was not following the rules. He then preceeded to rant how he didn't care if the purpetratior was a female or not, he would still personally strip them naked stressing that being a girl was no way of immunity to the punishment.

Friday, November 9, 2012

M'damfo the Plantain Seller

On my way home from school, I pass by this place called Atimatim Junction which is where a road branches off toward Atimatim. At the branch off there is a tro-tro "station". It is called a station but it is not a station in the Western terms of the word. It is just where a lot on tros wait on the road for passengers and thus, due to the passage of people, there are a group of women selling food at little stands or on their head by the side of the road. On of these sellers sells plantains and is the sweetest lady ever. I am not sure how it started but everyday after school, I come up to her and shake her hand as she called me M'damfo, which means my friend, with a huge smile on her face. She then proceeds to ask me how I am in Twi, and usually teaches me some twi words. She is the sweetest lady and whenever I ask to buy a plantain, she refuses money and gives me one. Her kindest means so much to me and my daily interactions with her always makes my day. One day while I was sitting learning Twi from M'damfo, eating my delicous roasted plantain, a man would not leave me alone continually saying that he loved me in Twi. To which I keep on replying "menpeyo"-I don't love you. This was working so m'damfo showed me how to say it; to shout it with vehemence which I did to the amusment of everyone around. It is moments like this and people like her that fill me with happiness and remind me why I am here. Friendship is not an exclusive bond for people of the same nationality, age, or race, it is for anyone who shows kindness to another person.