Chillin’ with the peeps

I’ve decided that calling the people I live with “my host family” sounds far too sterile and impersonal. Yes, they are hosting me, but a host doesn’t conjure the image of picking up baby chickens, requesting random solo dances in the compound, and forcing you to hand over your clothes for washing. Yes, hosts help you learn, make requests and do things to make you comfortable or work less, but what I’m saying is the richness of my interactions and feelings with them is not done justice with the word “host”.

So I’ve taken to calling them “my people”, or if I’m uber gangsta that day, “my peeps”. It’s a name that tends to get applied to any group of people which I have a comfortable camaraderie with.

My best gangsta buds, Bako on the left and Gani on the right. We're at the farm last weekend shucking maize.

Some memorable “ chillin’ “ moments from the past week include
Watching the beginning of Slumdog Millionaire for the third time, and all of the children and all of the adults (about twelve) present roaring with laughter at the antics of the children on my small netbook screen.

Pushing maize. Taking it from a large pile that was stored under a tarp during the rain and spreading it out to one or two-cobs deep. Using a small plank to flip cobs at Gani, and getting over-excited and losing my balance on the cobs, ending up laughing on my back.

the flattened pile of maize. It literally took us about ten minutes to do this. Harder than it looks

Pretending to be a dinosaur and chasing one of the village kids. I did this the first time a few weeks back, and it got to the point where he actually got scared and started crying. I wasn’t expecting that to happen a second time, but I guess I am still unfamiliar and scary enough that he thinks I could actually eat him. He ran across the road and hid by the bushes for about 5 minutes. Oops!

Hucking my ultimate disc as far as I can, playing a game the kids have invented for it. I’m so competitive, even in this, that I want to win for my team against the other team of 3 11-year-olds. Wow. Ending up scaring Fatima senior (granny) inside with young child Zuéda for fear that I’ll lop their heads off after I hit the hut beside where they’re sitting for the second time.

Fatima Sr. She loves to laugh at me and my Dagbani, and wants to learn some English greetings.

Baby Zueda and this wonderful woman that I live with, whose name I have not managed to procure yet. I have never seen this woman cross so far.

Playing my back-and-forth game with Chairman, where he says my name with a particular intonation, and I repeat it with his. This is a great hit with everyone, because it really does sound ridiculous to hear “Jah-nee”, “Chairman”, “Jah-nee”, “Chairman”, “Jah-nee”, “Chairman”! I think our playful expressions also add to the humour.

Tickling Bako as he is being tackled by small child Baasidu. His hysterical laughs are hysterical. Bako is the only guy in all of my people that speaks English more than three words’ worth. After I tickled him he did a teddy-bear stand (or crow pose in yoga) and I repeated, to great wonder and appreciation by a few of the onlookers.

Learning the names of the farm animals and proceeding to call my teachers, the small boys including Bako, Gani, and Khadro and a few others not part of the family, the names I have just learned. Degenerating quickly into me calling them each a particular name (goat, sheep, dog, cow) and me being dubbed the donkey. This joke has been explained now to all of the family, and has persisted until now, for the better part of a week.

Khadro. Caught in action as he strolls towards me

Cracking groundnuts (peanuts) and slowly getting better technique. Still rapping my knuckles on the bench and making swears/whimpering noises, to the amusement of my fellow shellers.

My friends and fellow groundnut shellers. Notice that they are mostly not looking at the camera. This is a common phenomenon with photos, people don't pose in nearly the same ways.

"groundnuts". "peanuts". "sima". Freaking tedious to get. Between planting, weeding, harvesting and cracking these babies, it's a ton of work.

Singing Beatles songs to Zuéda, who looks at me quizzically and listens for about 8 minutes before getting cranky and moving on to another person (who she was still cranky with, so maybe it wasn’t just me!)

Dancing with Gani and others in the pouring rain at the latest dance, totally soaked and feeling utterly alive. These Dagombe (the name for my people’s ethnicity) dance to fast beats, and Gani is totally impressive with his footwork, and totally hilarious with his gangsta/gorilla-esque arm movements.

All in all, life is different and exciting every day. I’d say somewhat more novel than my SFU existence, but everywhere I go I am meeting people that I connect with, and that have the same qualities of those I know and love at home. So there you have it, another window into the wild world of middle of nowhere Ghana. And I’m loving it.

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About Janine Reid

What is Janine? -board game enthusiast -political observer -Vancouverite -questioner -listener -health provider
This entry was posted in Life in Ghana. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Chillin’ with the peeps

  1. bailey says:

    hahahahahaa what a strange selaminga. I can’t even imagine how confused people were when you pulled that dinosaur stint

    • Janine Reid says:

      Haha lots of the adults just laugh when I start to chase things around. Like kids, guinea fowl, baby chicks etc. It’s half intended to be entertainment for them as much as me 🙂

  2. Brian says:

    I think “peeps” is accurate. I also feel “host family” is far too sterile. If you went to live on the other side of Canada for work, would you say you are with a ‘host family’ or would you call them by their name or quite simply “the awesome people I happen to be living with”? I’m all for dropping the word ‘host’ and just being a part of the family. Great times.

    Also, it sounds like you have been around Mina a bit too much. Gangster sayings are starting to rub off.

    Thanks for the update

    Keep on rockin’!

    • Janine Reid says:

      Exactly!
      In fact I’ve only run into Mina a few times, being in Karaga I’m not really seeing many EWBers at all. But I’m glad we’ve got the gangsta blood running through our Ghanaian crew.
      Hope the South is treating you well!

  3. Your photos are beautiful Janine, as is your perspective on village life! I just caught up on your posts, and loved every one. Nice work 🙂

  4. Pingback: EWB McGill Newsletter [week of September 19th] » EWB McGill

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