24 hours in Accra - KaneshieWritten by:Zoe on: June 18, 2013
The heat after stepping out of the plane nearly knocked me over. In addition I was sweating because I had stupidly forgotten my yellow fever vaccination card (an expense mistake at £56 cost) – a possible no-entry was on the cards. The Virgin cabin crew re-assured me they had never been asked to produce theirs and that it would be fine. I strolled confidently to the front of the immigration queue brandishing my British passport with it’s Ghanaian surname hoping this would suffice for some favour. Unfortunately, the eager group of young volunteers who had been seated opposite me on the flight, were just ahead of me and brazenly brandished their little yellow cards at the stout man in yellow high-vis from Port Authority. I was stopped. After some banter and attempts at pigeon English on my part that were getting me nowhere we quietly arrived – through a series of nods, looks and subtle gestures at the usual settlement for situations like this – I palmed him £20 and he waved me through. Welcome to Africa!
I was met my a young man holding a plaque that read “Al-Wilson” – I knew this was for me as I had been told ‘someone’ would be at the airport holding a plaque with the name ‘Wilson’. Why it didn’t bear my name I have no idea. This young man was my young cousin Geoffrey. Very handsome he is too. Quickly following to greet me – Uncle Francis, who I hadn’t seen since 1979 when I left Ghana last at the age of 20 months.
The road in is a hub-bub in the genuine sense, despite the early hour – tro-tro’s and taxi’s competing for attention, other cars beeping for the hell of it it seemed – hand on horn is more frequent here than hand on gear stick. Ghana colours and flags everywhere and every half shipping container, shack, hut, corrugated metal shed and cart en route are open and bustling with early morning business as people grab small chop on their way to work – mostly waakye or pastries by the looks. The roadsides are crammed with pedestrians, the roads with cars and in between commuters people carry all manner of hawking material on their heads – dish-clothes, toothpaste, mints, doughnuts, bread, DVDs – who buys a dishcloth on their way to work?
After the high-octane car-journey from Kokota Airport through the bustle of the main ring-way, and eventually into North Kaneshie – I arrive at Grandma’s house at approx 6.30am. Welcomed the traditional way in an Akwaaba ceremony where I am introduced to the family and presented with water. This is charming and immediately makes me feel welcomed though it does seem a little awkward and the young men of the house look bored – however, I feel like a newly elected president. At 7am I am given the breakfast of Kings: Yam and Chicken Stew. Yam! And Chicken stew! Yes – I’m going to get really fat…
Here are some snaps of my first 24 hours in Accra.