Published: December 14th 2009December 1st 2009
Mobs of Cape Coastians (Ouguafoo)
Everyone who was anyone was in the streets for the festival
Hey long lost friends, family, and fans! EtE SEn? (Twi for "how's it going")
There has been mucho mucho mucho going on since I've last written: I've taken trips to Cape Coast, parts of the Volta Region, helped run a beauty pageant/fund raiser on campus for the Golden Hearts Trust, threw a killer Halloween party, explored Accra, finished up classes for the semester, and am now in full-on final exam mode. Since that's a lot of things and I haven't written for so long, I'm going to be posting a few blogs at once (per usual).
First, about the Cape Coast trip, because that was actually in September...Cape Coast is about three or four hours west of Accra, and is home to an historic slave castle. (Actually, Pres. Obama visited when he was here in July). Anyway, since we had already visited the slave castle when we first arrived in Ghana, we were in town to attend their annual festival this time around.
We arrived Thursday evening to a cute hotel perched on a hill, called Savoy Hotel...it was clean and spacious (by GH standards:), and within walking distance for almost the whole of Cape Coast (CC). CC
Rasta Man Felix
"Redemption Song" a la rasta man felix, next to a slave castle, on the coast of West Africa...yikes!
is my favorite town I've visited in GH so far, it's colonial buildings and narrow winding streets give it so much charm. As the guide book says, "more charm than a place with it's history should have". But I think the festivities won me over as well. Although the main events were to start Friday, we were met with multiple waves of party-goers, all following a truck with more speaker power (amps??) than horse power, all of whom were dancing, screaming, shouting, and just plain celebrating with every molecule in their body!
While I never received a definite reason or occasion behind the festival, whatever it was the locals were celebrating was certainly infectious... as neither the music stopped pumping nor my feet stopped moving the entire weekend...
We woke up early on Friday, and set out for downtown CC (a 10 minute walk). After deciding that not much was happening at 10 a.m., (since the whole rest of the town had partied the whole night before), we headed to this little beach bar and proceeded to chillllllllllllllllllll Ghana style in the sand and sun. I say "Ghana style" because as with any crowd of white girls in
The Beach at Cape Coast
This is the view from our little beach bar, and the beach which we spent our afternoon dancing on. Notice the men in the distance, pulling in the net? CC is a fishing village, above all.
Ghana, there is a rasta man soon to follow. But this one, named Felix, turned out to be cool and just serenaded us with all sorts of sweet reggae tunes a la acoustic guitar. After a few more patrons turned up, the bar turned up their festival music and Jessica and I just danced and danced on the beach!
It turns out we danced and enjoyed ourselves so much that we missed the sacrifice of the bull and the town shrine, a main tenet of the festival. But seeing as Jessica and I are vegetarians primarily because we don't believe in killing animals, we were both glad that we chose the beach and the wine and the tunes over the slaughter of the bull. However, we did go visit the pools of blood at the shrine later, though, for fear of being disrespectful of the event's "juju" or black magic.
Saturday was the big day of the event, as there was a parade around the whole of CC. First, we were on the sidelines as mobs of participants (distinguishable by their different family cloths) and the regional and local chiefs and queen mothers (via palanquins) passed us by,
This is blood from the bull the townspeople slaughtered as an offering for a good festival. The tree behind the pool of blood is the official town 'shrine.'
one after the other. Then, since I had officially caught the party bug from the incessant drum pounding going on in, I couldn't stand still any more! We jumped out of our seats and spent the next hours dance-walking all around town, as part of the parade.
The locals' reaction to a big group of obrunis (foreigners) partying alongside them was awesome...we danced with grandmothers and kids, and mothers, and fathers, and brothers and sisters...any and everyone! They pushed and pulled us just like we were their cousins, too. Some of the girls got pretty upset at being so rough-housed...but I just pushed back (and drank a few cold ones to relax).
While in the parade, we saw people dressed to the nines, men dressed as women, chiefs with more gold jewelry on than I've ever seen in one place, huge groups of women all wearing the same fabric, and all of them seemed as excited about us being there as we were excited to be there! In fact, something that was really interesting to me, was how many different forms of American flags I saw that day. Here I was in the middle West Africa, at a
Men in costume at the parade
festival in a small town in Ghana, and there were people wearing American flag shirts, or waving little American flags with Obama's head juxtaposed on them, representing my country more than I ever have! It sure made me reflect on what culture is...and think about why and how my culture had reached this little corner of the world.
At the end of the day Saturday, we retired to a little rasta bar to have a few more cold Stars (local beer), and made friends with a very special patron of that spot. It seems there's a turtle who spends his time chillin out under the benches in that bar...had been coming there for years...lol He was so cute! We ended up having to leave that place because the bar tender/owner ("wura" in twi) got in a shouting match with another patron...quite scary, so we scurried out of there as fast as possible. When I bent down to say bye to our turtle friend, he had peaced out as well...so I guess we made the right decision. Note to self: don't go into sketch rasta "drinking spots"...at least without determining a sure escape route upon arrival!
On the walk
Scary Clown Costumes and All
Everyone was dressed up...in one way or another
back home, we were almost hit by a crazy cab driver with one of those quote-stickers that are so fashionable here in GH. (You see, many cab drivers in GH make exclamations or plead with the universe via large quote-stickers in twi and english pasted on the back windows of their cars). Even though the man had almost caused us to fall into one of CC's finest open trenches, I had to laugh because rather than the usual prayer or praise, this particular sticker just said "CULTURE" It was a sure sign that confirmed what the whole weekend had been about....
There are more photos below