16 March, 2006

Strange yet familiar...

Week 8

Monday was Independence Day in Ghana to mark the 49th anniversary of being free from British rule. The day is a public holiday and anyone who can, tries to make the most of it by going to watch the 6th March 'marching.' We were invited along to the main march for Cape Coast that took place at St Augustines College.

Along a palm tree lined road, right opposite the beach, St Augustines boasts a huge arena for the marching, and several hundred people had come along to watch and offer support. Every school, college and organisation like to represent themselves here and all the preparations have taken weeks. There was a brass band, several lines of cadets, soldiers and police, and all the marching is judged for performance.

It was quite frightening to watch children as young as 7 being carried off in stretchers due to fainting from the heat. We even saw a few soldiers keel over, but I am not surprised as the sun got to us after only being there for 10 minutes, and most of the marchers had been out all morning.

Overall though I have to say it was a fantastic experience and the pride of any of those who got selected to march for their country was wonderful. 6th March next year will be spectacular as it marks 50 years of Independence, and I am quite gutted that I will miss it.

After the march, Caroline, Ben and I walked the whole length of the beach from the marching to the Castle and then scaled the hights of the 'Lighthouse'. This is the extra fort they built on the highest hill near the Castle, as a lookout from land to sea. It is now privately rented to a rather large family, and kept in fairly good repair and we were extremely lucky to be allowed right to the top to take in the view.

The whole of Cape Coast was paved out below us, the random palm trees that line the coast, the hills and lagoon in the distance, the huge old churches that look so sturdy and expensive among the tiny tin roofed houses that fill the rest of the area. It's such a mixture of a town, and this bird's eye view seemed so privallaged that it will stay with me forever.


We have been lucky enough to meet a wonderful couple who live in Holland that began a project quite like CEJOCEP. It is called TACCO www.Africachild.net and has been set up to benefit the community of a small village near Kumasi in Central Ghana.

The couple are called Afia (Ghanaian) and Jan (Dutch). We met them at our local - Tina. Jan was smoking Rolling tobacco (which Caroline and I are missing very much!) and we were cheeky enough to think we could ask for a roll up each from the Obruni! It paid off and once a conversation had been struck, we began to chat about their project and about the role of Africatrust in Ghana. Several drinks later, Jan was likening Caroline to his daughter and we were talking politics as well as exchanging rude jokes!

These two are truly a lovely pair and compliment each other very well. It was really nice to meet other people with a similar vision and they were so complimentary of our work that we both couldn't stop talking about them the whole way home! (And the fact it had all started from the cheekiness of being a smoker is the only reason I am glad I haven't given up yet! I will one day I promise.)


I missed telling you before but I made Pancakes on my own to celebrate Pancake day! Anyone who knows me will realise that is a real feat, as I have no cooking skills, only eating skills!!!
I was very proud, and shared them out between the workers in the afternoon between digging foundations. There was no lemon though, so we improvised and used a lime. I recommend it for next pancake day! Very nice!

We also went to Wiomwa on Tuesday to check out a Junior school which has been up and running for over 50 years. It was after an invitation from Irene, their administrator/ headmistress. (She lives near us, and has helped us with some hints on teaching.) It was really encouraging to see that some of the methods we have been using to teach the alphabet and songs etc are also used at the Wiomwa school. We are also going to copy one of their popular tricks - using the lids from drinks as counters. After a few nights out I am sure Caroline and I can gather a whole bunch! Ace.


On Friday we were invited to the Mosque in Abura with Amponsah, and both of us couldn't wait to go, mainly out of curiosity as to what it is like inside! We both hear the calling to early morning prayers from our house. (Not sure if it is in Fante or Arabic!) So at midday we walked to Abura, after changing to cover our bodies sufficiently.

When we got to Abura, Amponsah asked us to learn the positions we will need to adopt as we will not be able to accompany him, and instead will be going upstairs. We then recieved cloth to cover our head.

Once inside, we were in awe of all the beautiful women on the upper floor. There are no seats, so everyone gets comfy on the floor and some of the ladies begin their prayers. At a set time we joined in the prayer positions with everyone else, and I must admit I think I did it a bit wrong, but no-one noticed. The chanting was beautiful and the whole thing quite humbling!

(written by Lucie)

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