Saturday, June 26, 2010

Calling all Ghanaians! Only 9 Hours In Accra. What To Do?

In exactly 2 days. At 9 am Ghana time, a man will arrive in Ghana. 
This man  knows nothing about Accra. However he says that he's not "a completely ignorant American tourist" and "he'd love to explore and learn more about the city" during the time he has.  Here we have a guy who genuinely wants to experience Accra for himself. He's willing to explore, he's willing to learn.  The only constraint is that he's only transiting in Accra, on his way to Johannesburg. Which means he's only in Accra for 9 hours - From 9 am to 6 pm.  
So, question is...
* How can he get around in Accra?
* What are the places of interest
* What/Who/Where should he avoid
* What must he see at all cost? 
* Anything else

Our 9-hour tourist is a friend of a very dear friend of mine. So we have to absolutely positively kick ass. Even if this guy never comes back to Accra, he should still be talking about his experience in Accra for a long long time.  Actually...forget that. Let's make him want to come back to Accra. Simple and tetia.
Now I live in Accra and as everyone who lives here knows, Accra is awesome. I know it, you know it, the whole world should know it. Including this guy. But we have only 9 hours. How do we make him "get" the amazing beast that is Accra? How?

We don't have a lot of time here. Plane lands on Monday morning...he leaves in the evening. 9-6 is ALL we have. Can't be sending him to Kakum! So...I begin, but I'm counting on you to help me here. I need you, people.

* How can he get around in Accra?
People in Accra get around without maps or addresses. I suggest you try to live like  us  in your time here.  So how will you know where to go? Well, I imagine that by the time you get out of the aiport, you will be hungry. Sadly, you would have missed the most authentic breakfast in town. The Hausa koko and koose which you would have been able to get at any street corner. But if you must eat,  you can try the next best thing...Try some waakye , a meal of rice, beans, tomato sauce, gari, taalia, wele and some boiled egg. You probably won't remember the names of all the things that go on it, so just ask the woman selling the waakye to give you bibiaaa bi (everything). You can buy it from the waakye spot infront of Aviation, opposite Shangri-la hotel.
How do you get there? Once outside the Kotoka International Airport, take a cab and ask him to take you to the waakye spot opposite Shangri-la. It is less than 10 minute ride. Don't pay more than 10 cedis. I'm guessing you will change some money inside the airport. $200 dollars should be enough for getting around but when in Ghana, you must not just come and see our beautiful city and go away. You must contribute your quota to the economy so plan to buy gifts for your family but you can change more money later in the day.

Now just in case you're not so keen on getting so local so case you want pancakes and eggs and not waakye, then when you take the cab at the airport, tell the cab driver to take you to Melting Moments at Labone. If he doesn't know where it is, tell him it's on the left turn after Morning star. You can google to find a telephone number for Melting Moments and here are all the places you can go to get free wi-fi

So to answer your question, you get around by taking cabs. Pay them the money they ask. You're gonna get ripped off anyway but taxi rates in Accra aren't terrible. So even with the special rate for you, you'll survive. You don't have enough time to learn to bargain so just embrace it. It is part of the experience.

* What are the places of interest

You should consider Big Milly's or Bojo Beach. They are very close to each other so you could even check them both out. It will take you about an hour to drive there and another hour to drive back so if you want to spend 2 hours there, then that takes 4 hours out of your 9 hours but it is totally worth your afternoon. Do it!!
When you get back from the beach, head to the Accra cultural centre on High Street. There, you will find someone who will decide to give you a tour of the whole place. It's up to you to buy or not, but it is well worth seeing. 

Within walking distance of the Accra cultural centre is the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum. Just walk over and see it because it is dedicated to our first president ever...a great African leader. You should read up on Nkrumah

Once you've gotten the cultural fix, here are a few places to consider:

My favorite place to go on any hot afternoon is a little side shop next to MaxMart at 37 where they sell Smoothies. I always get a cup of freshly blended mango fruit. It costs $2 and it is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Best mango i've ever had. Anywhere in the world. I promise. Worth every cedi.

My other favorite place to go is Chez Julie on oxford street in Osu. It's next to a Pierre Cardin shop, and about 100 away from the Total fuel station. Now that I think about it, i like going to Chez Julie because of the people there. I've bought some unique crafts and a book or two so you might find something you like but if you really want to buy a t-shirt or an Ghana shirt, then since you're in Osu, you can get it anywhere on the street or take a little trip down the side street adjacent Koala shopping centre, to Global Mamas.

* What/Who/Where should you avoid
Accra is generally safe. There isn't much to fear here. Just don't get married to anyone who claims to love you at first sight. Unless, of course you also love them back:) Don't avoid anything.

* What must you see at all cost? 
The people. I will advise you to spend a whole hour just people-watching. Look at what they're doing. How they're walking. Acquire a mental picture of what a Ghanaian looks like. Look at Accra. Look at the roads, the buildings, the billboards. If you're lucky to find someone willing to speak with you, speak with them. But don't be so caught up in looking/seeing things you forget the people. The greatest thing about Accra is us. It's our energy.Our love for life. Just look.

Spend some time also listening to the radio. Radio is HUGE in Accra. If you get the chance, just sit, and listen to the conversations we have, and the things we worry about.
* Anything else
Read this blog. It has over 2000 opinions on all that there is to love about Ghana, Accra and Ghanaians. And all these perspectives are written by Ghanaians and Ghanaian wannabes. Start with the very last post...10 unusual ways to wear a Ghana flag, and work your way down. Enjoy!

Okay people....I've done my part. I'm counting on you to fill in everything I left out. 

And to our American tourist...Welcome to Accra. Leave it the same or better than you found it.

Monday, June 21, 2010

10 Unusual Ways To Wear A Ghana Flag ( Plus a bonus idea)


I don't care much for football.

Please don't shake your head and ask what kind of Ghanaian I am.  'Cos I couldn't tell ya. I mean, I remember getting somewhat interested 4 years ago but I haven't watched even a single game of this year's world cup series. To be Ghanaian is a terrible thing to waste, I know. To be so lucky to be born in a country that is football-crazy and to not really care all that much about it - what a waste!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Homoing stories that would make yo’ mamma weep

My thighs were aching and begging for mercy. A quick glance at my wrist told me that it was a few minutes to midnight. I was one of the few SS1s left upstairs in D Dorm who was still doing this unnecessary exercise. In Achimota School, we called it ‘adanko’, when you cross your arms, hold your ears and squat up and down, up and down. You only go to bed when you have sweated enough. And since I’m not one who sweats readily, I was among the last to leave. The senior, by the way, had his coffee next to him as he was wrapped in a school cloth reading his Chemistry GAST textbook. What a waste. While my mother probably thought I was asleep, I was doing punishment because some senior decided that the SS1s in Aggrey House should be punished for coming back from prep 5 minutes late.

OMG! She won! Myne Whitman WON!

Okay it's 3:19 in the morning, and I shouldn't be reading blogs but I happened to check out Myne's blog. The Same Myne Whitman who comments a lot on this blog. And What did I see? She won! She won! She freaking stole the show at the Nigerian Blog Awards by snagging 4 awards! Yes, i'm going gaga!

Monday, June 14, 2010

New Directions And Combina-Chic

Hi Good people,
Dare I hope that you've missed me? I know I've been MIA. Guess why? I'm in the big bad US of A visiting the husband!I had 10 pieces of chicken wings from Domino's for lunch. Hmm...

But even though I haven't been writing, I've been thinking of writing, what to write about etc. Actually one of our awesome readers, Tell it like it is came up with a brilliant idea to do a post on homoing in secondary school. Since I knew I'd be in the US, and therefore lazy, I invited Kwaku Dankwah of The Daily Commute: From Bridge to Ridge to write it. He happily agreed. But it's been over a week and still no word from Asomasi. So yeah, put some pressure on the dude. Spam his blog. Demand your blog post from him:) I've already sent him a facebook message telling him my readers are demanding their blog post:)