This past weekend was written on the syllabus as a free weekend, but mine was far from it. I am researching microfinance in relation to the Christian faith, and up until Friday had very little (and that is an overestimate) research done. I made plans to visit a Davidson alumnus class of 2002 and fellow native Charlottian, Peter Gross, who just moved to Accra with his wife Jessica, and established a microinsurance firm (branch of Microensure). I made the 5am bus from Cape Coast into Accra Friday morning. A taxi, tro-tro (crowded van/bus of sorts), and another taxi and made it to Peter’s office no later than 9:30am. I hung around the office just taking in any information I could. That night we went out to a bar and watched the France and Uruguay match. If you do not know this the FIFA World Cup Series (soccer) is in South Africa this summer. So, basically the entire continent of Africa is struck by Futbol Fever.
The next day, Peter took me to an urban slum nicknamed, Sodom and Gomorrah. What was unique about this particular slum was that only a trash heap separated it from the outer grounds of a megachurch. Walking through the area was a heart-breaking experience seeing the amount of poverty and destitute living in the area in such proximity to a church that seemed to not care about them. In addition, some politicians of the city were threatening to bulldoze down the whole slum, leaving thousands of people homeless. My experience got me thinking about how poverty plagues the entire world and how there are even places like this in the U.S., I and most of America just don’t take the time to further our awareness of them.
That evening I watched the U.S. and England match in another restaurant/pub/bar that was full of foreigners. Peter and Jess live in Osu which is like the Manhattan of Ghana, so the place is crawling with ex-pats and visiting foreigners. Just to give you an example of how hip this place is, over this weekend alone I had sushi, gelato, pizza, KFC chicken and spring rolls all without having to leave a 5 block radius of Peter’s house. The game was great, we tied, which is a victorious as a win in my book. After the match, we went for late night snacks at a restaurant that overlooked all of Accra. It was breathtaking to see the city light up the night and people moving in all directions.
Sunday we went on a walk to the beach before church. Peter is a tall white guy and he has a small mutt dog, so our walk was easily the main attraction that morning. After church, Ghana was playing Serbia, so this meant that everything and everyone in the country was glued to the tv. We went to the main drag of Osu, Oxford St., to watch the game, on a big screen in the middle of the street. It was amazing to be surrounded by so many people all rooting and cheering for their team. America is slowly making its way to appreciate soccer, but we still have a lot of catching up to do with the rest of the world.
All in all my weekend was great and it was nice to see what the big city was like. I really appreciate Cape Coast and how much it has come to feel like a home away from home. I think though at the end of the day you can take the girl out the country but you can’t the country out the girl.