Interesting experiences

Last week I was recommended by S to meet up with R at the Ghana institute of Journalism (GIJ) that could help me get in contact with a few people that I need to interview for the thesis. I got to the place and waited for her at the school (not for a long time thank God ). After a while I saw someone by the road getting out of a taxi with a huuuuuuuge smile. I was not sure who she was smiling at but when she came up to me I understood that she was R.  A really friendly girl who is a student at the GIJ. So she introduced me to a few people. It’s so funny when you are in another country how people are so interested in who you are and what you are doing there. For instance, while waiting for R someone just came up to me and started talking about education and a bunch of other things. I could tell that this person was really smart and he told me that he really wants to study in Europe and asked a few questions about our educational system.

Anyway, the people I was introduced to were nice, I wouldn’t say that they were supernice (since most of them are professors and educated to PhD level and I’ve noticed that some of them can be really difficult in terms of feeling big for some weird reason). But they were OK. The last person I was introduced to was really something….

This was the BIG guy at school.. The Vice Rector holder of a PhD. My new found friend R had to go in and have a little chat with him before I even could come in and introduce myself. While waiting, I could hear them briefly talking and she really put herself out there in order for me to be able to come in. Seems like this R has got in good with most of the professors. However! And I say this with an exclamation point. He clearly said that “I do not give out information for free and you know I am very serious about that”. Despite his snotty comment I decided to go inside his office to see what kind of person he was (maybe he was a joker of some kind, you can never know unless you see for yourself). He sat in his air-conditioned office didn’t even bother to shake my hand or greet, while analyzing me. (very creepy moment I must say). So I introduced myself and all of that. However during the 10 or 15 minutes I spent in his office he kept on making small indications that he needs to be paid to participate as an interviewee in my thesis (basically a BRIBE). I said that I couldn’t do that since this was for study purposes and that I am a representative for not only Malmö University but SIDA as well.  As if this episode was not enough, R told me that he is known for having relations with students at the school. If that was a rumor, I do not know.  So I had to drop that one as fast as I could. I do not think that his opinions on the democratic process in Ghana is much more valuable than any other plus, it’s just not worth it trying so hard to have contact with someone  that probably would give me the same views as any other pan-African advocate . I just had a really bad feeling about this guy.

However the other ones that I was introduced to are still eligible candidates…That day really got me thinking on how easy things are in Sweden compared to here. It’s really exhausting having to deal with the “big guys”.

I mean EVERYTHING is easier in Sweden, set prices in taxis and most shops, dealing with professors and authorities, no problems with electricity when studying, people are in time for meetings, facilities for students (libraries and such). All these things we take for granted. Goooosh, I think I’m starting to feel a bit homesick…

Oh well, thought I’d share 12 interesting things I’ve learnt so far

1)      Ghanaians are really friendly and helpful when you are lost in Accra

2) Traffic is CRAZY, cars, taxis and buses can literally drive almost anyway they like

3)      Taxis always try to overcharge you (negotiating is fun but you need to be seriously skilled)

4)      People ambush you trying to sell various things (watches, water, fruit, mirrors, clothes etc) when the traffic lights turn red. So when if you have forgotten something on you way to an interview, just get on the road!

5)      African time is really not a joke (people can delay 5 hours or more)

6)      Some people can try to bribe you for interviews (even professors)

7)      Educated people are just a bit more difficult to deal with than us “commoners”

8)      Ghanaians are not as stressed about things  as we are

9)      Wall geckos are common (So far I’ve had three in my room, 2 small ones and 1 bigger)

10)   Electricity comes and goes (not ideal when writing on my thesis or transcribing interviews)

11)   Every radio station plays the type of music I LOVE!

12)   Last but not least, Shoprite sells Swedish breakfast food!!!  (Havregryn and alpro soya and other European things, that’s my place when I’m homesick :D)

And oh! I was so focused on narrating the GIJ experience that I almost forgot to say that I met up with a professor yesterday. My new supervisor! Since my previous one hardly shows up and really had a serious problem with time. (Time that he himself had set up). So in any case I’m happy about that! And I’ve finally purchased tiGO Internet modem that works from time to time 🙂

During my stay I’ve also visited Cape Coast Castle  that was used in the transatlantic slave trade. Even Sweden had a share of that among nations like Great Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark and Portugal (don’t know if I’ve forgotten any other countries).  On my way to Cape coast I asked when the bus was supposed to leave. So one friendly man told me that the STC buses have set times but we must wait until the bus is full. Frustrating situation for a person who’s always on time! So instead of departing at 8:30 the bus departed at 9:35.

On my way home from Cape Coast to Accra I had a real adventure using all forms of collective traffic there is. Buses, tro-tros (mini-buses stuffed with people which costs only 1 cedi 8 pesewas, very student friendly), and at last taxi. A journey that was supposed to take 2 hours took me 5 hours from Cape Coast to the center of Accra and back home to the bumpy roads of Ashaley-Botwe and the bus didn’t really have any stops in Accra. Instead the driver told us in twi that we should shout out where in Accra we wanted to get off since he would not be able to hear us due to a noisy engine.

Stay tuned for the next episode from the homesick, exhausted Ghanaian/Ethiopian/Swedish student… 🙂