>And yesterday one of these inevitable horrors hit again. A friend’s mother here in Ghana passed away. Early in the morning our friend calls my fiance and with a broken voice tells him the news.
What do one say? What do one do? How can you console someone who just lost a mother?
Here the “African approach” is quite different from the “European approach”…From my experience we in Europe tend to say a lot of things, like “how do you feel?”, or “maybe it was for the best, now she’s not suffering anymore” etc, but then we don’t know what to do. I have heard that you are supposed to bring food to the mourning, but I have never done so myself. And when I don’t know what to do, I have preferred to just stay away.
The way however my African fiance delt with it was to drive over and pick our friend up. WE PICKED OUR FRIEND UP. We talked, headed to a restaurant and basically just hung out. WE WERE THERE. We talked a bit about the last visit to the mother, her sickness and how the other siblings had reacted, but we also discussed fotball and mean ex-es (see last blog post). WE DISCUSSED FOTBALL!
I still don’t know what to say to a person who just lost someone, but I know for sure that to come close and then just be there, was the best thing we could have done while figuring out “what to do”.
In the picture two Chinese dragonflies are there in our garden.
>Sitting in a comfy chair looking out over a grayish blue ocean. The horizon is blurred, the sky is cloudy and there is rain in the air.
Today is my last but one day on the island and it has been a truly delightful experience to reconnect with my previous home, paths I used to walk, friends from the school days and marvellous dinners created by my own parents. I have been telling stories from Ghana and in formulating my new life in the south my Ghanaian relationships and realities seem surprisingly close. Close to this – very different – life in Sweden.
In the picture Sakko is sitting where I am sitting now.
>Looking at Sweden with African eyes, it looks empty, clean and wholesome, almost too orderly. I am not saying the Ghanaian open gutters, crowded streets and littered beaches are better, but what Sweden strives for, and indeed has come pretty close to, seems to be perfection. If there is such a thing as a too secure society, I think it looks something like Sweden.
In Ghana I get upset with how few people use seatbelts, even though everybody know someone who was involved in a traffic accident. I get sad when I think of all the unwanted and uncatered for children. But Ghana is also a place where it seems to be part of the calculation of life that bad things can happen. There is so to speak a preparedness. An African friend living in Sweden told me about how a collegue’s parent died and noone at the work place did anything which shocked my friend. She said, it is like people in Sweden think there’s a way to avoid death.
Maybe we Swedes need to invent a better engineered helmet and pass a law that it is to be used at all times, or maybe we should just relax and enjoy the ride though our clean and wholesome kingdom.
>After a few days in the bed feeling less then well, I woke up, rested and fresh to one of globalization’s mysteries: How has a page from the Spanish newspaper Heraldo de Aragon from 4th of March last year ended up as a wrapper to my morning bread? The paper is distributed in Zaragoza, some 4000 kilometres from here. I mean, I understand if the lady who bakes bread around the corner uses the Ghanaian paper Daily Graphic from last week as a cheap package for the items she sells, but the fact that she uses a square of the Heraldo de Aragon seems to indicate that old newspapers from Europe are shipped to Africa. And sold here?
Well, it isn’t impossible – on the Ghanaian roads I everyday see used cars with foreign stickers, and people wearing used clothes from Europe they bought here. I even heard someone saying that used tires are shipped to Africa to be used until they burst, as an explanation to the many accidents.
I shouldn’t be surprised that Europe ships its garbage to Africa, but I find myself, just that, surprised. And wonder, who is making money out of this?
Distance calculated with mapcrow.
Few things make your feel of identity shake as much as when I child begin to cry from the mere sight of you. This happened to me here in Tema, Ghana he other day. I had been out all day expanding my horizons and testing my own limits (can I eat this? do I dare to go in here? Can I find my way home from here?) As I step in to the house that is now my zone of comfort and where my mother-in-law resides as well as the place were I take in breakfast (coffe, bread and fruits) and often dinner, an old friend is there to greet me. Her daughter who as only a baby last time I was in Ghana is running around with her cousin. UNTIL…SHE SEES ME…HER EYES WIDEN..HER MOUTH OPENS…BIG TEARS FALL DOWN HER CHEEKS. At first she is very quiet but then
We all laugh. But the child cannot be comforted. I try and talk to her. Her mother reassures I’m not dangerous. She can sit in her grandmothers lap. Still shaking from upset she now and then dares to take a peek at me.
Who is this fair creature with strange hair and a funny sounding language? What do my mother really know of her intentions?
Historically, the girl is indeed right to cry. What has the white person’s missions in Black Africa been?
By the end of the visit, the small girl has stopped crying, but still makes sure she is at all times at a security distance from myself. Her mother ties the child to her back and we follow them out – in Ghana every visitor is followed out, crying or not – but after a few steps mother and child return.
The mother explains:
– She said she wants to hug Obroni (white person). I am quite surprised by the flip side to the situation. However, as i hug the little girl on her mother’s back she starts crying again.