Day 27 Accra, Ghana. As I walked 3km to the nearest ATM machine I noted the deep divide. Roman Ridge, one expensive appointed apartment building or mansion after the other behind tall concrete walls, wrought iron gates tightly locked. None of the occupants in sight. While in contrast just 1km in the other direction Nima, Accra’s largest slum, corrogated tin-roofed shacks Burst with the laughter of children, beats booming from speakers stacked in courtyards, women sitting on benches selling keli-weli, banku, fried dough animatedly chat with each other, while nearby men in kufis converse.
In Roman Ridge, generators hum when the electricity goes out, the water ALWAYS flows from the pipes. In Nima, when the lights go out they stay out, sometimes there’s no water from the pipes for weeks.
I’ve stayed in both places; first in Nima hosted by Auntie Joana who showed me how to cook my first groundnut soup and ampresie in her tiny kitchen; we sat on stools the kerosene cooker between us. I was very happy. In Kumasi, couch surfing with Selasi & his wife Hannah, in their very simple home I felt like family; the older sister. Every day I walked to the tro-tro station at Tafo Market to the calls from smiling faces, waving hands, “Obruni! Hello! How are you?” Every day someone helped me whether finding the correct tro-tro or purchasing the exact right peppers at the market. Students walked with me over a mile to be sure I did not get lost.
The kindness, the friendliness warmed me more than the sun. I felt so at home. Accepted.
In Roman Ridge, people seem more stressed. Living in luxury has a high cost; more than cedis, there is a loss of human connection behind the gates and walls.
Yes, I am deeply grateful to my host here for this couch surfing experience for being so kind to provide a room for me; his generosity is appreciated.
But I’ve learned that I feel more at home in places like Nima & Kumasi. Perhaps it is my own blue collar roots somehow showing through.
Wherever you reside, please Let Your Kindness warm others more than the sun.