I was washing my hands at my house the other day. I soaped up both hands and alternated pouring from my plastic tea pot. The result was clean hands, but the process was very inefficient. It would have been so much easier if someone was pouring for me.
last time I carried water on my head one of my friends had to lift it on and off.
My host father always stops eating soon after I do, because he says he loses his appetite when he has to eat alone.
Africa, is a continent that encourages interdependence. The west….doesn’t. I have found in my time here that strangers are almost always willing to walk you to the place you need to go, share with you (some explanation as to why many democracies in this continent result in a country stripped of it’s resources by leaders who want to share with their friends), and give you a ride on the back of their moto with no expectation of payment. they will even let you use their helmet while they zip through traffic, defying death at every turn. (not always defying, I have seen the aftermath of a terrible moto accident. The guy on the moto was dead, the one in the car was just really sore).
when I first got here, whenever I had extra food at a restaurant I would take it home and hope that it would be good the next day without refrigeration. I lamented that I couldn’t be sure and thought it was so wasteful. Then one day in Accra I was eating a creamsicle when an obnoxious kid started pestering me for money. I said no immediately than he said “well, than dash me your treat.” (since my stomach was not used to this type of creamy fat I was feeling nauseated but had refused to toss it because that would be wasteful). I happily handed the remains over and my utilitarian conscious was pleased. the kid was happy, I was happy, and the man on the side of the road who was using the kid to beg was unhappy (but because he is a parasite in the economic system, his happiness does not count).
After that, I stopped being being angry about my lack of fridge, and instead started giving away any extra food to random kids and taxi drivers. like I said, strangers share food. I have made some excellent friends over left-over yams, orange halves, boiled eggs, anything with a limited life span.
I used a tap the other day and wondered if the inventor was a hermit. maybe this person (avoiding gender use, but more than likely it was a man who go the credit) was sick of having soapy hands and had no one to pour.
I will admit I am rather independent, and I typically insist on doing things by myself, but I have learned that in this country, independence does not breed friendship, it stifles it. I have recently stopped insisting on doing things myself, and have allowed my Ghanaian friends to assist me. This has resulted in me feeling less irritated and more generous when they ask to use my things. I know they would reciprocate, and that they often do when it comes to knowing how to do something. Yesterday one of my neighbours helped me light a fire and make scrambled eggs, and I offered to pay for her taxi fair. We have reached a point where it is impossible to keep track of “helps” now it is such a natural thing for us to do what we can. Yesterday as it poured rain, I did most of the water collecting so I got wet. Today, Mary shared her ground nuts.
I appreciate it when people walk me to where I need to go because if they didn’t I would be helpless. Infrastructure here does not allow for self navigation, or for running water, or for many things that would make life easier, quicker, independent, and probably a lot lonelier.