One Bizarre Night

Life is weird.

Firstly, I am really tired and sleepy right now, but the novelty of my preceding 24 hours has me buoyed up. So I thought I’d write it down in all of its glory while it’s still fresh.

Mr. Abanga and I went to the field yesterday afternoon to interview people about leadership in their community. It was really fun to be back on the moto again after a considerable hiatus, and also really interesting to see how different people in these communities were trying to come up with the names of people in their communities that express these different leadership traits. Also fun to be able to understand the bulk of conversation directed at me, yay for measurable progress in Dagbani! The farmers thought it was hilarious when Abanga was telling them I have very good Dagbani, and I insisted that it is still just “small small” or “bit by bit”.

Because of this set of field visits, I only ended up closing at the office around 6, when dusk is fully gathering. This meant that regardless of what I did, I would have to ride home in the dark. Not the best when you have a straight, but rocky road to travel with no lights around, and your headlamp and bike light aren’t charged.

So I ended up hanging out in Karaga. This is the first time that I have been out and about in the town past about 6:30 or 7pm, and because of this I haven’t witnessed the different social scene that unfolds in the evening. Plenty of people were surprised that I was still around, and I, too, was wondering when I would decide to bite the bullet and make the 15 minutes of darkness journey. What I was really waiting for, in fact, was an offer I knew would come from one of my friends to bike with me home. As much as I feel a bit pathetic wanting an escort home, I’ve heard enough stories from the locals about the “bad things” that can happen travelling alone at night that I don’t mind imposing on my friends, who are very willing to go there with me and then back.

But before this materialized, I sat with my friend Talhatu who was waiting in her shop for someone wanting to buy something from her, I hung out with Arimiyaw the credit-seller (a different guy than previously mentioned in this blog), and watched Rafik make simple but arduous calculations on his phone and then a calculator in order to confirm the total price of the new product he was purchasing for his business.

I get home, there is a horde of children waiting for me. Not really surprised, especially as they promptly began demanding for “sunni” or videos. A quick “bieh ané” dispatched them until tomorrow, and I ended up having a conversation with Rafik about his recently rocky friendship with Arimiyaw, how he is not respecting him properly, and how my friendship with each of them might be the cause. Wow. Not the best situation to be in, and made me a bit sad considering they have been best friends since junior high. Hum.

After he left, I said only a few goodnights before lying down to journal, and Gani came to check on me, asking what the problem was that I stayed in Karaga for so long. No problem, I said, and finished writing and stuck my earplugs in. Only to have a few minutes later, Fatimata, my head of household, tell me that there is a dance happening tonight! I said a protracted “oooiiii” and told her that I was tired and would not go. The pounding backbeat of the tunes at full blast started, and I drifted off to sleep.

My cell phone alarm and the continued bass woke me easily at 3:15am, when I groaned and crawled out of my mosquito net, collected my laptop, mic, and headphones, grabbed a spoon and my new jar of nutella, and walked outside into the compound. I was blown away by the volume of the jamz, still going strong, and the occasional round of shouts that volleyed over the wall and into the compound. I encountered Fatimata, who was confused about why I was awake with my computer (and rightly so), and I quickly explained that 3am in Ghana is 7pm in Canada. I have no idea if she understood. Proceeding outside of the compound, I met a completely stoned Alibani, which for some reason made me more concerned than I would be witnessing the same behavior back home. Certainly not out of character though, and I ran into a few other late night partiers that were en-route back to their homes.

Setting up shop where I could actually get internet access, I turned on my laptop only to find that the internet wasn’t connecting. I tried to restart, which stalled, and so restarted with the power button. It decided that it wanted to do a startup in safe mode, which unfortunately I couldn’t divert given the almost complete nonfunctionality of my netbook’s keyboard, and the fact that I left the plug-in one at work. After about 5 mins of watching it “repair” with no visible progress, I called my chapter president’s phone, and explained to Jess that it would have to be them phoning my cell phone this time, as my computer was not being cooperative.

15 awesome minutes of chapter connection ensued, after which the phone network died. And remained dead for the remainder of our scheduled call. Ultimate technology fail. And as my computer revived itself finally, I realized that the internet connection simply wasn’t there.

Hypothesis: internet and phone connectivity is actively deprioritized at night in Ghana. They are not expecting that silly people will want to be on the phone or internet at three in the morning.

So, my 4am mind said, there is no more logical place to be than at that dance party! I was surprised and impressed that it was still going at all, and as I rounded the corner I witnessed the three fervent dancers burning up the floor. Not feeling quite warmed up yet, I sat with a group of guys just resting, and then with the DJ. After about half an hour of just enjoying the music, I was officially “invited to enter the floor”, which always seems way too intense compared to “let’s dance”, but anyhow, started busting the moves. Within about 30 seconds I could feel the smile creeping onto my face, and realized I’d missed the crazy dance parties of my Ghana home, Nangong-Ayeli. As dawn arrived an hour and a half later, people in my compound and the next started moving about, and I began to get a few double-takes and stares from people as they recognized me dancing. And then the children woke up and started practicing their moves. And Abukari, one of the men I’m living with, hit the floor (presumably after just waking up) and really showed his stuff. He’s generally pretty shy, but I can see the resemblance to both Bako and Gani that he shows, not only in his facial features, but his excellent coordination to the beat.

I proceeded to surprise Fatimata yet again this night/morning, by her bearing witness to the fact that I could not, in fact, keep myself away from the dance party, and had been at the “waa” or dance, for the past 2 hours, instead of returning to bed.



About Janine Reid

What is Janine? -board game enthusiast -political observer -Vancouverite -questioner -listener -health provider
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3 Responses to One Bizarre Night

  1. seppyca says:

    So crazy to hear the other side of this story. Yay I’m in your blog post! We tried so hard to reconnect but the call kept dropping. At least we got 15 minutes chatting with you! People were very happy to hear your lovely voice at BC Retreat. There were lots of people from UBCO that made the trip all the way over here!

    It’s a good thing that was just one night, otherwise you’d be getting no sleep. Have you been breaking hearts over there? What exactly is the role of your friend Arimiyaw the credit-seller?

  2. Grace says:

    Yesterday in our meeting we were talking about how it was really cool to read this post and see how your life briefly connected with life here in Canada, and then diverged again. Weird.

    Did you get our list of challenges? 🙂 mwahahahaha

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