ARE YOU PACKED? YOU TOOK YOUR SHOTS? LET’S GO GHANA! AND THE BEST PART IS… YOU DO NOT NEED TO GET A PASSPORT!
Day 18– Back to Black Roots
I woke still floating on cloud 9 with a smile on my face. I showered and planned my trip for the day. I was going to the Ussher Fort Museum which is one of a few historical landmarks that educates about the slave trade in Ghana.
I had a full breakfast and crossed the street to speak to the seamstress, in her 60s, about making me a jacket. Her catalogue was very vintage and thought her choices were not what I wanted and left. I walked further up along the street where I ran into some of my roommates, a French couple in their 30s walking the same direction. They told me that they wanted to go to the local market for food supplies. They asked me where I was from and where I was going today. They turned down Market Street and I continued and hailed down a taxi. I got in for the agreed price of 15 cedis (£3) to go to Jamestown where the museum was. The driver, James, was very humble and honest with his price.
As we pulled up to Ussher Fort, I paid and left but he stayed to make sure someone opened for me as the place look deserted. I went back and got his number to use him for all of my taxi rides. The fort showed its age and was not busy at all. I was greeted by an older man called Isaac that was my tour guide. I explained that I wanted to visit the museum. He opened up the small museum and I paid the 10 cedis (£2) entrance fee. Upon entry, there was a wall mural of the enslavement of the people that looked like me. In the background was the calm Atlantic reminding me that this was where my ancestors started their torturous journey to the Guianas.
He guided me throw a mock up of the dark dungeon of the slaves holding and I entered into a small room where there were some artifacts and pictures telling the story of the French arrivals and trading with the chiefs of tribes, mainly the Ashanti tribe for their gold and in exchange for gun, rum and other (worthless) items. He showed me relics that gave an idea of the life of the people before they were stolen by slave raiders, Samori and Babatu in East Ghana.
As we continued the tour of my ancestors struggle and the brutality they faced once they arrived to the Americas, my imagination went wild. Isaac recounted the stories of some of the forts in James town and Cape coast. I felt sad inside because I still carried their burden of being a child of a slave. He said that a lot of African-Americans felr the way I was expressing my grief.
I took all the pictures of every detail that caught my eye. The museum celebrated the Black inventors, great thinkers and contributors to emancipation of our people. My spirit was uplifted because despite it all, my people still arose and gave the world its talents that we all benefit from until this day. We concluded the tour and on my way out I took pictures of the many fishing canoes close the shores and the holding blocks for the slaves that were being held to be shipped.
I made my way to the Jamestown Lighthouse to see the famous red stripped tall building that guided the slave and trading ships at night. From the view of the lighthouse, I saw shanty towns on the beach with a lot of fishermen and their families. Jamestown was run down and you could see the majority of the people were disenfranchised from the rest of Accra. Once I took in the views, I jumped into a taxi to go back to Kokomlemle to shop at the local market on New Town Road and Market Street.
We got a little lost but the driver finally dropped me off at the right spot. I joined the market crowd with the sellers and buyers. It was busy with minibuses and bikes squeezing pass each other. I strolled around for bargains. I bought yellow mangoes, my favourite drink Malta Guinness, 2 buns for a snack since I had no lunch and 3 yards of beautiful circluar kente patterns for my jacket. Next door was a seamstress, Mary, in her 50s, who invited me in and gave me a catalogue. The ladies inside boasted that she could make anything. I found a jacket style with details around the collar and at the bottom of the jacket. She measured me and told me to come back on the Monday, the day before flying, to collect and pay. I was so excited for Monday to come around for two reasons: Hubert and my jacket.
I wondered further down the street and found my favourite food vendor. I ordered some fried rice and chicken with salad. We had a little chat and then I headed back to the hostel to eat in my favourite hanging chair. After dinner, I went upstairs to get change and check my emails. I played some Adele, Prince and Earth, Wind and Fire as I reminisced about my date with Hubert. My mind and feet drifted off the ground as I took in the sunset above the city.
I felt a little better and smelt food cooking. It was smelling delicious. All of a sudden a lot of the guests congregated around the dining table. I sat in the corner answering emails and messages on Facebook about my trip. An email popped up from Hubert. It was complementing our date and I responded likewise.
Max, a tall, attractive German man sporting a man bun invited me to the table but I politely declined as I ate less than a hour ago but he did not take no for an answer. He returned shortly with a metal round plate with a small portion of local stew with yam and plantain. I was touched by his act of inclusiveness. I enjoyed the taster meal. It reminded me of my country’s cooking (Guyana) of callaloo and ground provision.
After my meal, I sat in the outside lounge whilst the rest of the guests socialised. An African-American man walked upto me and remarked, “I always see you with your laptop but you don’t talk much.” I smiled and replied “I am a writer and I use up my words on paper.” He chuckled and walked off amused. Max sat opposite me and we introduced ourselves and spoke about why we are here. He said he have been living in Ghana for 6 years (he was staff). We were joined by an interracial couple with a bouncing beautiful 11 month old boy called Jake. The middle aged father was a native to Ghana (a tour guide) and his wife from Belgium. The father gave me tips about where to go for the off the beaten track for adventures. I told him I was grateful.
As the lounge emptied, I retired to my room for an early night as my Aunty would be collecting me in the morning for a long day of shopping. I was looking forward to this day. Also Marie was coming down from the Volta Region to stay with me.
Stay tuned for my last week in Accra for more good times and adventures in the motherland.