Monthly Archives: August 2010

Ghanaian Pride

There are two types of pride—the pride that pushes people away and the pride that draws people in. The latter of the two, the one that draws people in, is captivating, warming, palpable, and rare. The pride possessed by schools and families and countries. For me, however, it is the pride of the Ghanaian people that has me wishing for more.

This past Saturday at 1 AM in Ghana, I embarked on yet another journey; a journey that would reunite me with my family. Little did I know that on this journey I would realize how much I had fallen in love. I was all for being home as I got off the plane in Atlanta, but it was after I had bought the Starbucks coffee and was making my way to Gate B36 for Delta Flight 1195 to Louisville, KY that I realized I had left a large part of myself and the spirit I had recently discovered in Ghana and the only means of retrieving it would require my feet to be reunited with the red dirt that made its way onto and into everything. Soon after getting home, I scrubbed away the last remaining physical mark Ghana had left on me—that very red dirt—which had been caked around the backs of my ankles for weeks in a thick layer.

This dirt however was reminiscent of something more that I wish to share with you… With a glow the color of fire it seemed vaguely familiar and eventually I realized it that that same glow is in each and every person that I met. The fire that burned in their souls and warmed my heart each time my hand was shaken, my shoulder was grabbed, my leg hairs were pulled, and my toe nails were touched.

A fire like that doesn’t come around often and when it does it is yours for the taking, to kindle inside yourself.

It is yours to take to share with someone else.

To make someone else feel alive.

Maybe it was just because I was an Obruni that I was made to feel so welcome or maybe it was something apart from Obruni/Obibini.

Something that saw no race. Something truly Ghanaian.

Ghanaian pride–

–drew me in.

It’s as simple as happiness, as satisfaction. It’s about accepting what you have and recognizing how much more important love is than anything money could buy.

After being in Ghana it is obvious that money cannot buy happiness and that by having more than is needed only clouds your mind and in turn makes you less happy. How many times have you heard this? Not consider your own life. Are you truly happy? Yeah you may have a good time every once in a while, but that isn’t all. the. time. Perhaps we should all consider reducing the clutter of our lives and look towards one another for the satisfaction that things previously brought us.

There is no doubt that we live in a commercial society; our economy NEEDS us to buy and buy and buy. However, maybe it’s time for us to begin making the shift towards something else. We work and we work and claim to enjoy our jobs, but there is more to life than work. Family is important, but if you aren’t truly happy in your relationships, both personal and work, then it is time to reevaluate.

Let’s get behind one another, our communities, our country. I’m not saying we have to support everything that our government does or that our neighbor does, but we need to learn to love and PAY ATTENTION. If you look to the ground when passing someone on the sidewalk or in the hallway then get over yourself and ask the person how they’re doing–it won’t kill you, I promise.

Being patriotric doesn’t mean you’re all about the military, it simply means you’re all about America; it means that you want America to be the best it can be and even if we fail at the being the best sometimes we know we tried and we tried alongside our fellow countrymen who have often times suffered similar situations.

Ghana–you will always have a place in my heart. A place that cannot be filled. It is my hope to be reunited with you in the near future so that I can continue to grow into a lover of people as well.



This morning there were three men chopping something up right outside my window at about 7 AM… When I stumbled out into the courtyard thirty minutes later I discovered they were chopping some sort of a root. The middle son was running around gathering all the pieces being careful not to let them remain on the ground for too long. One of the choppers picked a piece of the root from the ground and offered it to me while saying, “Take this, it will make your penis very, very hard.” Well thank you, Sir; I wasn’t aware that we were close enough to discuss solutions to erectile dysfunction. In reality I just looked up at him and smiled and took the root…

Asking later, I was told that the root was medicine to make you healthy; it will send out all of the bad things–cleansing your body of impurities, while at the same time replacing it with the oil and various other toxins in the ground due to a lack of environmental protection.

The proprietor is a “Spiritual Chief” although none of us are quite sure what that means… When people in town ask us where we stay we tell them with Nuumo and Princess and they say, “Oh, the fetish priest.” Hmm, I guess? I am beginning to think it is an educated vs. non-educated kind of thing because one day Princess (the Chief’s wife) was going on and on about traditional medicine and her sons were just looking at me smiling like they didn’t buy a word of it…

If one were to peek into Nuumo’s shrine they would just think he was a huge alcoholic, though I don’t think he is, however the walls are lined with empty vodka, gin, and bitters bottles; we know how someone communicates with the spirits… When asked how a new chief came about we were told that “it was decided.” We then pushed and asked if it was voted upon by the community or the elders and that idea was shut down with, “No, the spirits decide.” Well, thanks for clearing that up…

The Nii’s


These are the proprietors other two sons–Nii Agbo and Nii Kofi (Papate). They both go to the school I teach at…

Say Hello to Prince

This is Prince, the son of the proprietors who own the compound we live on…


In case you didn’t know, part of the reason I decided to do the Teach in Ghana project was to help myself decide what age I enjoyed most in the classroom. I always thought that I would love to teach little kids and I think I still would, but there is something wonderful about middle-schoolers. All this time I have just thought my mom was crazy, but maybe she’s on to something.

Middle-schoolers still think you’re cool and they’re still kind of funny. In addition, they haven’t yet gotten to the age where they just hate school–you can still have a lasting impression on them in that respect. Also, they’re at a pivotal moment in their education. These students are at an age where they can begin to think critically but so often that gets delayed till years later–enough of that. As teachers, if we haven’t taught children to think critically and to formulate their own opinions, we haven’t done too much for them. Now don’t get me wrong, I do believe that all of the curriculum is important, but it isn’t important if they just know it–kids need to know what that means to them personally.

Here’s another news flash for ya… I have had my doubts about becoming a teacher–not because I didn’t like it, but because there were and still are so many other things I would like to do. However, now after this experience there is nothing I would rather do. This past Thursday was “Our Day” at school, basically a free day to celebrate the end of the term. Also included in this day was the send-off for myself and another volunteer. I still have several more weeks left, but when school resumes this coming Friday none of the smaller children will be there, only Class 4 through the Junior High. In the send-off the Headmaster bid us farewell with VERY kind words and talked about my relationship with the students and whatnot and then all of the students just yelled and yelled–my heart was literally on fire as cheesy as that sounds. If all that the other teachers got from their observations of me is that you can have a positive relationship with the students then that too is a success. As an outsider sitting in, you would assume that many of the teachers don’t even like kids; they talk down to them and jerk them around and are just unnecessarily rude.

So, there you have it… Three success stories…all of which are just related to my teaching project. 1) I am for sure going to be a teacher 2) I know that middle-schoolers are not just numb-nuts and 3) I know someone else saw something good in what I was doing.

Guess what else? The school had myself and the other volunteer traditional attire made. The outfits are called allaji and they have a Muslim influence, but it isn’t just Muslims that wear them. Also, their in the color white which signifies victory in Ghanaian culture.

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Sam G

I absolutely dig adventure and travel!

Verbal tantrums of a writer & an anxious spectator of life.


Madison's renderings of teaching and learning