On Help(ing)

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Africa » Ghana » Upper West » Wa
June 16th 2011
Published: June 16th 2011
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As a white lady, I spend much of my time asking people for help. This first involves me approaching someone and greeting, “Good____ “(morning, afternoon, evening, though which one I choose is pretty independent of the actual time of day as they are very interchangeably used by Ghanaians). I then ask the requisite “How is the day?” and receive the requisite “FINE DAY!” response which due to its abruptness always sounds shouted. I then proceed with, “Please, can you tell me_____? (where to get a car from here to here, where is a cold soda, where can I pee). Sometimes the next part of the interaction results in the only sullen child in Ghana being beckoned and tasked to deliver a white lady to her required destination. Most times, though, I am given my first of many faulty directions and embark on my white lady scavenger hunt. Though it can be tiresome and frustrating to be so needy, that assistance comes so readily and eagerly is a blessing and an everlasting Ghanaian quality I treasure. And though Ghanaians rarely hesitate to ask assistance of me, rarely are they questions I can actually assist with. White ladies do not come pre-packaged with visas to the US. Nor can they navigate the proper channels to request of Bill Gates that tractors be brought to your community. When, the other day I was approached by a young woman for help with spelling, I giddily took the opportunity to be of help and to improve someone’s day. First I spelled “admire” for her which she gladly accepted. And then I spelled “outdoor” for her. But her hesitation to accept this word, along with the shifting context between admire and outdoor made me realize that indeed she was more interested in “adore”. And then I realized that this sweet young gal was writing a love note and I was her co-conspirator in her brave pursuit. And though I hope one day to at least have the ear of someone working for the Gates Foundation (cause I’ve got an earful for em), for now I will gladly settle in helping Ghanaians pursue their adorations.


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