Marka in Ghana

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Meet Isaac

Happy Mother's Day Mom! (did you get my card?)

I'm sitting in the internet cafe, listening to Barbie Girl for the 3rd time since I got here. The music scene is a tad delayed here, and boy bands are just now becoming popular. It's funny being so far from home and then hearing these songs that take you back in time to grade 8, 10 or 12. Bob Marley is really big here, which really sets the mood! And Lee, just in case you were wondering, I am not without your precious James Blunt, I heard Beautiful the other day on the street!

So I met this man named Isaac today on the street. He was from Bola, 33 yrs old and had a degree in marketing from the polytechnique school here. I asked him questions about Ghana and their education system and what he thought about it. He said the government is really focusing on education in the last couple of years, and has made elementary school up to grade 6 free. He said now the problem is that more and more people are being educated, but that there is no job for them when they are done school. He talked to me about his plans for the future and how he wants to go to university when he saves up enough money. Secondary school costs about $100 a year, and university is about $150 a year. He had started a business in printing in Bola and was very proud of the success in his life. He believes in self reliance and likes to be independant, and I told him that we had a lot in common. He wanted to show me his place, so that I could understand how well he had done for himself. He took me off the main street into the more residential area. All the houses here are similar and I am finding it hard to describe what they look like. They all have cement walls that contain many cracks and look as though they are slightly falling apart. Roofing varies, althought it is usually corragated metal. They look like a house that may have been abandoned in Canada. But when he showed me the inside, I was quite surprised! In a space of about 10ft by 10ft, there was a bed in one corner, a tiled shower stall in the other, a tv, cd player and a decent set of speakers along one wall and a small couch and mini fridge along another. In Tamale, there are 2 tv stations, one of which seems to play very western media, especially r&b music videos. He popped in his 50 cent cd and asked if I liked this kind of music. I thought the whole thing was pretty ironic.

Isaac's story is similar to a man we met in Accra named James. He was an impecably dressed school teacher who offered to give us a tour of the neighbourhood and the coast line. Afterwards he wanted us to see his home and meet his family, and his accomadations were definetly not what I was expecting. He lived in the neighbourhood, which looks very poor and yet he was proud of what he had. The people here are very proud of what they have in general, dress very and well and keep themselves looking extremely professional.

It's my first full day of work tomorrow, and I'm really excited!


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