Traveling: Ghana, Africa

September 9, 2008

Ghana, Africa
Current mood: accomplished
Category: Life

A place filled with soul, heart, filth, and beauty.

This is a land of intense highs and lows, where my boundaries were constantly being pushed. How greedy I have been, and not even know until stepping foot onto a continent where the people have so little but are filled with so much joy.

Overall, the scenery, at least of the inner-city, of Accra- the capital of Ghana, is not attractive. The streets at times make NYC look desolate and after traveling one day in the post or pre-work rush hour you are happy for what they call “grid lock” in Manhattan. The air, is barely breathable. Each inhalation, painful, because of the unmonitored and unregulated vehicle emissions along with the all too common trash fires where both rubber and plastic are burned to “clean up” the refuge (the charcoals from the burning are later to be used to cook food under a grill). I spent at the very least 45% of my trip sick from food poisoning and the funny thing; with all this said: I can’t wait to go back.

As a whole, the people are more open, spiritually, and rooted within themselves than the people of anywhere else I have ever been. Perhaps, this is because they have close to nothing, and when you have nothing all you have is yourself. When you smile at someone: they smile back. If a family is eating, they will feed you, even if that means each person of the family may go to bed hungry. One of the most common phrases, beside, “obruni” (whiteman, in the language of the Ashanti people) is “you are welcome”, and they mean it.

It is impossible not to stick out as a 6’2”, blonde (or to my surprise-red headed) white man in a country that is 99.9% black (don’t quote me on this, but in six weeks of travel I can count on two hands the amount of non Black African people that I met). But, it would be impossible not to stick out as any foreigner as the communities are so tightly knit. Everyone knows everyone’s business- which at times is wonderful (especially when you are sick) and at times is horrible (when you just want to hide away, escape and be alone) But soon after overcoming the obvious feeling of being different, and thus highly uncomfortable, I found myself wanting nothing more than to stay in this place; which I felt a strong and primal pull toward, that I can only be described as “home”.

The music is like nothing I have ever experienced before and as I write this I realize that a better idea would be to write a chapter if not several on each topic so that I do them the justice that they actually deserve.

There is a soul in Africa, that I was told about, but could never understand until experiencing it. It is a “holy” land, or should I say a “whole-y” land- filled to the brim with intensity: joy, growth, despair, longing, celebration, spicy ass food, and a people that drink way too much soda-pop- which they call “minerals” – for what reason I have no idea…

One of the many moving, and gut wrenching, spiritually challenging experiences I had, happened within the first week of arrival where after giving a friend 40 cidis (about $38 US) a truck delivered enough water to support an entire community with pure water for several weeks (had it not been stolen in the night by those people so desperate to drink and wash that they were forced to steal). $40, I have spent so easily and thought so little of before- once again, a challenging thing to truly wrap your mind around until you see it. The experience of seeing the communities women coming with giant barrels and bowls to fetch water for their families left my crying for hours from the pain of disgust with those people, myself included, that could so easily share just a small part of what they have and earn with those around the world that are struggling just to drink- we’re not even speaking of food.

Africa, has changed me and I would tell anyone and everyone to go- but know this: it is not for those people that are too scared to see the truth of a country, a land, a continent and group of people that have been stolen from, abused and forgotten: only to embrace their past and welcome those courageous enough to enter.

Before my next writing, I welcome you too look over the pictures (www.myspace.com/jamesruffmusic), experience the beauty visually, and once I have had the time to complete the projects I will post music, film and more entries for you to enjoy, perhaps hate, but at the very least experience. These people and their culture are colorful- starting, or perhaps ending with their clothing and going all the way to their bones, white like all others, each of us bleeds red, each of us loves, each of us hurts: and each man and woman are brothers and sisters to each other man and woman. Let us learn form the past and stop forgetting:

War, never stops war. Guns do not make peace. Fear only kills. And the color of a man or woman’s skin and eyes has nothing to do with the depth of their soul, the beating of their heart, the need for love, food, water and shelter, or the dreams that sleep ever so alive in the recesses of our souls and minds.

Peace, love and harmony to each of you.

James

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