Friday, March 09, 2007

Ghana is 50!

Hooray Ghana! March 6th was its 50th Anniversary of Independence!

The whole country was so excited and everything shut down for this big deal - we watched it on TV having no interest in sitting in 90+ degree heat for what turned out to be six hours.

The ceremony at the Parade Grounds started at 7AM, by 11AM they hadn't gotten to the speeches yet- eek! The Managing Director of Ted's project was there (in a suit!) and got on TV, but I doubt it was worth it. ;-)

The school kids did a really neat marching thing with flags that was so much fun to watch.

Everyone has flags on their cars and their house gates (we do!) and all the businesses are dressed up in bunting. The city has been working for MONTHS to get everything spiffy and nice for the celebration. Last Saturday an army of volunteers was whitewashing the curbing on Liberation Rd. - by hand!

We headed out in the afternoon on the 6th to get a feel for the city on this happy day and there were people everywhere- many dressed in "Ghana at 50" tee shirts, Ghana flags wrapped around their heads, small flags painted on their cheeks, and little paper flags in almost everyone's hands.

Ghanaians are a happy people generally speaking, but celebrations like this bring out a joy that is infectious. We were given a paper flag by a man walking by who smiled and yelled "Celebrate Ghana!".

It was a very cool accident that we managed to be here for this milestone- we have told Cooper he will be only 64 when the 100th Anniversary happens, and he can come back and say (to the extreme boredom of his children) "I was there for the 50th!"

The strangest thing by far has been the absence of street vendors. Starting late last week, gangs of police officers would approach intersections in tro-tros and then burst onto the street to nab the vendors and confiscate their goods.

Officially, they are not allowed to sell to people in their cars, but in practice they are terrifically handy to have around when you need a hankie, some apples, a snack or a million other things.

Usually they are left alone with only a token attempt to roust them by police, but apparently for the 50th the government didn't want all our esteemed visitors to think we were backward enough to have people selling plantains off bowls on their heads.

Even though almost all the visiting dignitaries came from countries that do the same thing.

The intersections were sad, boring, lonely places without the vendors.

This picture probably looks normal to you, but to us it looks like a ghost town. It's missing at least twenty people on foot with 15 different items for purchase on their heads.

Anyway, this website will give you an idea of what's up and what's happening during the year long celebration...

Ghana @ 50!