This Great African Adventure is coming to a close. It has truly been a wild and wonderful experience, one that will give me things to think about all of my days. I am SO looking forward to coming home. I, however, am not looking forward to two days of travel on the airplanes and in the airport, but I guess after two years of practice crammed close together on mini-bus taxis I should be well prepared. Maybe this flight experience will pass by like a breeze considering all of our prior traveling conditions… let’s hope.
We are currently in Accra taking care of the last minute things before heading to the airport tomorrow evening. If you want to find us on a map you can look for a section of Accra called Osu (at least that is where this Internet cafe is located). We are staying in a hostel in a NW suburb called Darkuman. Tomorrow we get to hang out for a bit and then our plane leaves in the evening.
Today’s adventures were memorable to say the least. We got up, after sleeping in a bit, and then caught a “tro tro” (minibus) to the Kaneshie Market and then another to the Central Post Office. Our goal was to head to the National Cultural Center.
The Cultural Center is where artisans from all over Ghana come to sell their pieces. My goal for the day was to find a nice djembe (drum). My dream, however, was to sit down, meet the craftsman, and to learn a bit about the construction process, play together and really get to know them before walking away with the drum. I am very pleased to say that this is exactly what happened. In a kind of comical fashion.
Before Susie and I left to come to Africa the Peace Corps requested that Susie cut off her dreadlocks for fear that they may offend someone in our hosting country. We found out later that they would not have been a problem in SA but we wanted to honor PC and our relations with our new host country. Since this time Susie has wondered if it would be possible to get her hair re-dreaded while here in Africa. So, today as we walked into the Culture Center, we were greeted by a Rastaman named Dante. We got to chatting about his necklaces and such and I asked him about his hair (it’s dreaded of course). Did he know anywhere in Accra where Suz may be able to have it done?
Absolutely, was his response. In fact if we could follow him, his friend (another Rasta just down the way) could actually do it and has been known to do Obruni (white folk) hair before. In fact he had done a girl’s hair from Holland not that long ago. Since this was a desire that Suz had been talking about since the day her dreads were cut off, I knew this was no passing fancy. We poked around the market and then decided to seek out our new Rasta friends.
Actually let me step back a moment, before we entered the market we were greeted by a young fellow who introduced himself as a drum maker and encouraged us to check out his shop. He was actually a true joy throughout our whole day at the market, calm, collected he was a pleasant voice of reason that kept us feeling like everything was under control. His drums were alright, but not exactly what I had been hoping for. However, he was able to find exactly what I wanted and walked me through the construction process. There were men working on drums up and down the row and their craftsmanship was beautiful.
We walked past the rows of wood carvers, drum makers and more to a small shop with just a few pieces being displayed. Here we were introduced to “Ghana Sta”. He is a professional drummer and Rastafarian. He called a friend named Joe who brought some “medicine” to help Susie’s hair lock-up. This “medicine” was actually a mix of lime juice (“lemons”) and raw eggs – lovely, eh? Keep in mind all these young guys (20 somethings) had dreadlocks and therefore all had something to add to the care and maintenance of the “dreadhead” style.
Joe brought out some string and began separating Susie’s hair into groups. He would twist the group and then wind thread around the group in order to keep it together. This process was repeated, over and over and over again. Finally he sprinkled the “medicine” from a plastic pop bottle with a hole in the cap. Once each group was dampened it was tied a second time and then re-medicated.
This whole process took maybe three hours, which gave me plenty of time to goof around. Ghana Sta gave me impromptu drumming lessons and we learned a decent amount about the Rastafari Movement. I was able to venture out across the market with the guys to get some good local “chop” (food) and then to come back and look at drums and meet some of the craftsmen. We truly enjoyed our afternoon. At one point we were even surrounded by quite a few fellows smoking joints and impromptu singing and expounding upon their great new insights about life, love and happiness. What a trip.
I walked away with exactly what I wanted, so did Susie and we had a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon. Often going to markets where people are working hard to sell to the tourists can be stressful and way too much trouble for what they are worth, but today we blew off the people who we weren’t interested in, pressed the flesh with our new friends, and made a day of it. I must say if you are willing to spend the time, and get dreads, a day in the National Cultural Center can be a wonderful experience.