Memories of Ghana 2002, The Corn Cob and the Jetty
So why was I squatting on a jetty in Ghana on a dark night in July 2002 with a corn cob in my hands?
It was the early hours of a Saturday night in July, much like tonight in fact. A Ga friend from Lartebiokorshie had invited me to go out with him and one of his friends who he had just introduced me to. We were to go walking he told me. As I was to discover, this was not walking for exercise, just strolling for the sake of it. The guy was a BIG man, but he had a very gentle and polite personality with an office worker look, and he stuttered a little sometimes as he spoke, as if he was nervous speaking to a foreigner. He was quite a likeable fellow, and I would later nickname him by adding "Big Man" before his real name. I would meet him again on my return to Ghana in 2009.
It was during the second trip that I realised that many Ghanaians use the cool of the night for outdoor relaxation and taking casual strolls.
I can't remember exactly all the places we passed that night, but I do remember passing through Jamestown, as you will see from the photos.
Along the way we passed a roadside stall selling roasted corn, and being a lover of roasted corn (in Barbados) its enticing scent drew me near and we bought some and moved on munching away at it. Corn in Barbados is yellow/orange in colour, and when it is roasted it turns brown/black. Corn in Ghana is white and when it is roasted it turns a yellow/orange colour.
As we walked in the cool still dark of Accra, we soon came to a place beside the sea, and my friend led us towards a jetty. I was a bit puzzled at first about why we were going there, but I followed nonetheless.
Through the dark gloom, the first odd thing I noticed was a fattish man squatting on the jetty with his pants lowered, obviously releasing his bowels into the watery depths below. We walked past him with neither party acknowledging each other in this his private moment in a public place. But where the hell were these guys taking me, and for what?
They walked right out to the end of that long, dark, deserted jetty, with the sound of the waves drowning out the noise of the traffic on the streets where we had passed not long ago. As I remember it, at the very edge of the jetty was a sort of wall, and there was a bit of space on either side of the wall which allowed anyone to walk around it and get to the other side of the wall where the jetty ended with a short ledge. My friend walked behind that wall onto the ledge and asked me to come and join him there. Who? Me? Walk to the edge of a deserted jetty with two big African guys on a dark night like that? No thanks! Me, Bajan, I like life! I was becoming a bit alarmed, to say the least.
Oh come and see, he pleaded. I think he also said something about being able to see the planes or lights much better from that spot.
Oh no, I said, I'm quite OK from here. I also quickly changed the subject by telling them that I would like to take a photo there, and handed them my camera. All this time though, I was thinking that these guys might have taken me there to throw me off that jetty under cover of darkness, so I smiled sweetly, crouched down and squatted for the photo, with my half-eaten corn cob in my hand. I figured that if they tried to push or throw me into the water, it would be more difficult to do if I was crouching than if I was standing. You can see the side edge of the jetty right there in the photo.
1. Squatting on the jetty with a corn cob in my hand
Needless to say, I was quite relieved when we left that place and continued on our stroll. As I was later to discover, it seems that my friend likes to scare people like that.
At a certain place in Jamestown, we walked down some dilapidated steps that led to the beach, where a multitude of boats (canoes) lay on the sand. It was a beautiful scene and I stopped to take another set of photos there, with my corn-cob nearly finished.
2. Sitting on one of the canoes at a Jamestown beach with my friend from Lartebiokorshie
3. Sitting on one of the canoes at a Jamestown beach with my corn cob
As we strolled through this depressed looking part of Accra, the familiar smell of marijuana (wee) wafted through the night air, a scent I recognised from back home in Barbados where Rastafarians and others use it.
On the incline back up to the main road, I stopped again to take photos of another familiar thing from home... an old British cannon from colonial days. There are many of them all over Barbados, and for me those old cannons represent a powerful link between my Caribbean identity and my African history by way of British colonialism. The British cannon was a tool in the story that took my ancestors away from West Africa and brought them to the islands of the Caribbean. I could not lose the opportunity to pose and take a photo sitting beside one of those cannons now that I had travelled back to the bosom of Mother Africa.
4. Sitting by an old British cannon in Jamestown
By now my corn was all gone. And like the last grains on that corn cob, so too comes the end of this story.
Kwame the Webmaster.