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Monday, February 17, 2014

Football, Food and Dancing in Ghana

Three things I love and can’t live without back in the UK are Football, Food and Music (Dancing). When I arrived in Ghana on the 8th of January as an International volunteer for International Service, I found that I did not have to adjust too mu
ch from my UK lifestyle. Football is by far the leading National sport, with dancing being a close second. Although there is not as much variety of food here compared with the UK, the food I have already discovered has been very interesting.

Most of the foods that I initially discovered in Tamale, Ghana, were from small stalls, near the office on Dagomba Road. Other than the famous egg and bread breakfast lady, of which I have eaten so much, I’m at the point where I now cannot eat egg and bread together ever again; there are various different options for lunch. A good place to go is the Waakye ‘Beans’ stall, which is a rice and beans mixture with meat and sauce, pronounced ‘watchee’, however we do call this semi decent waakye as there is a stall in town that tops all in Tamale. Fried rice and chicken is by far the team’s favourite meal, eating there at least 3 times a week, with Peter frying the best chicken I have surely ever tasted. A long walk down the road is required for our Eastern become Western preference of noodles. Although we have tried various traditional Ghanaian dishes for our evening meals such as Kenkey and Banku, nothing compares to a little taste of home, that is why we are often seen in the numerous Western food outlets in town.
Me playing football in Tamale, Ghana
Football is of a great passion in Ghana, with the majority of conversations between the men involving the sport. Coming from England, I thought it would be hard to find a country with more love for the game than us, but I was obviously mistaken. Football shirts are worn by so many as a casual piece of clothing, even the elder women at the market are wearing them and I saw one of them wearing a 1995 Doncaster shirt. The majority of the time premier league football is scheduled we are at the various showing spots called game centres in Ghana, where everyone is shouting at the TV and sometimes at each other, the passion comes out. In my spare time after work I usually play football with the men across the road from my house. It could possibly be the worst football pitch in Ghana, with huge rocks coming out of the ground; you have to run with your knees up or you will drop. We also play on dust instead of grass, which is very dehydrating and often leaves me coughing for days. It’s well worth it though.

There are very diverse types of dancing in Ghana, with the Azonto, the Alkayida (not Al Qaeda!), traditional cultural dances etc. In the spots and clubs in the evenings the dance is more modern and people follow the more popular dances or do their own thing. Johana definitely does her own thing. However, as I am on the girls’ project, which aims to spread the knowledge of contraception and family planning through drama performances, I have become involved with Dinani. On a few occasions now I have joined training and have been taught how to dance cultural style, bare foot and to the sound of the chief and his fellow drummers. Blisters are pretty common after training as a lot of the moves are harsh on the feet. When have been to training on my own no one laughs but when the teams there the mockery never ends.

So far my time has been an enjoyable experience, both with work and in my free time. The comparison between Tamale and London has been really interesting, and I will definitely miss Ghana when I leave.

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