Week Six

My boss is in Senegal for a conference this week, so all of last week we were very busy catching up on all the work we needed to complete before he left. This week I am in the office alone and am doing my job and his, he left me with the VAM unit mobile phone and the responsibility of compiling, editing and distributing our monthly FSMS (Food Security and Nutrition Monitoring System) bulletin relating to food security in Ghana to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and Ghana Health Service and also with posting it on the WFP site on the worldwide web. No biggie!

This past weekend was full on. We (a bunch of expats) spent Friday night at African Touch a Ghanaian spot (bar), where we had dinner and a couple of drinks. Saturday morning consisted of the usual shopping trip, and Saturday afternoon was spent cleaning and relaxing until the remainder of the team arrived at my house at 3pm. Team you ask? Well, on Saturday afternoon, Tamale had its second ever scavenger hunt.  The rules were as follows:

To Participate: Find a car and driver, and form a team. You need at least one male and one female, and one expat and one Ghanaian, so call up your friends and colleagues! The size of your team is only limited by who can fit in your car. You also need one photographer with a digital camera and means of transferring photos. Then show up at Mike’s at 3:45pm on Saturday! The Hunt will start promptly at 4pm, and late teams will be at a disadvantage.

Bring: A random item of your choice for the winner’s grab bag, and a little money, as it may facilitate some of the challenges.

Who can play?: All activities are optional, and most are family friendly. Please note that some may involve some risk (e.g. climbing trees) and some involve alcohol (e.g. one team member drinking a gin sachet with a straw.)

Full rules are below:
• Each team will be given a list of things to see or do—and photograph! Each thing has a different point value. The point value will be included on the list. Teams keep track of the points they earn.
• Every team must have at least one person of each gender
• Every team must have at least one expat and one Ghanaian.
• Every team must have a photographer with a digital camera and means of transferring photos to a computer after the hunt. At the finish line, all photos must be turned in to the adjudication committee to be loaded onto a computer and assessed to be sure the team met the activity criteria, in order to receive points.
• Each participant must bring one item of their choice as an entry fee, to go in a grab bag. Team drivers are exempt from this requirement if they wish.
• The Scavenger Hunt begins at 4pm in Mike’s parking lot and end at 8pm in the same location. Any team to arrive in the parking lot after 8pm will be docked 1 point per minute. Any team arriving after 8:30pm will be disqualified.
• All teams must report to the Giddipass roof at 6pm for a sunset drink. Any team who is not on the roof when the sun sets will be docked 20 points.
• Unless stated otherwise, only one team member must complete the activity. However, all team members must be present—the team may only have one camera. If the activity says “all members, the photographer is exempted.
• The qualified team with the most points wins. The winning team will have the honour of distributing the items in the grab bag among the teams. The teams must then be photographed using the items assigned to them by the winning team.

As none of my team (Lotte, Peter and Kaz) had a car or a Ghanaian, we decided to hire Bims Blue Bus, yet again (the same beast that took us to Mole National Park- you’ve seen the photos) and Bim acted as our Ghanaian participant. It was great to have him in our team specifically when trying to ask Ghanaians on the streets to do certain things or when requesting certain outrageous things as part of our hunt activities. The activities were as follows:

Take a picture of: Points Completed
1. A team member wearing a living Ghanaian livestock animal as a backpack 5
2. A child doing Azonto 2
3. Any Swede 2
4. Classic: A team member eating 2 kola nuts 3
5. Find a scrap yard, buy at least 2 kilos of scraps, and create a sculpture with it. Photograph the sculpture. 10
6. Classic: A team member drinking a gin sachet with a straw 2
7. Your team conducting a randomized control trial experiment with 10 subjects 20
8. Your team conducting a capacity building workshop with at least 3 participants that teaches them one new skill. Participants may not be team members. 10
9. Classic: All members of your team carrying something on their heads 2
10. Your team properly planting a Ghanaian grain, legume, vegetable or fruit 5
11. Classic: A team member performing a pole dance at Sparkles 2
12. A Rasta performing a drum solo on the belly of one of your team members 5
13. Classic: A sleeping uniformed guard 3
14. Classic: All of your team in one mango tree 2
15. A team member tubing. You must be in water the tube can float in. You may not pay to use a hotel or VRA pool, and you may not use a pool owned by any member of your team. 10
16. Dictate a love letter to someone with a type writer at one of the stationary shops. Mail the letter to: 10
17. Classic: Catch a guinea fowl. 3
18. Buy a spell or an amulet to protect against hepatitis. 10
19. Classic: Climb into the minaret of a mosque. 15
20. Get a woman in the market to let you carry something for her 5
21. Conduct the following survey with someone (not a team member) and record the answers.
a. How old are you? ______________________
b. What material is your roof made of? _____________________
c. Did you sleep under a bednet last night? ___________________
d. When was the last time you had diarrhea? __________________
e. On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are you?__________________ 10
22. A drawing of a kangaroo done by a pure water girl 2
23. Serenade a Ghanaian woman and give her a flower. At least two team members must sing. 5
24. A lesson in wine tasting from a staff person at Luxury 8
25. One team member delivering a customer’s (not a team member’s) food at Mike’s. 7
26. Attempt to enter Discovery’s dance club wearing slippers on your hands 7
27. Your team re-creating the image on a public service sign board. Photograph both the signboard and the re-creation. 10
28. Put up a sign in Swad that says, “Try our branch in Bolga!” 10
29. Use a mosque loudspeaker to sing any national anthem. 20
30. Hoist a pirate flag somewhere in Tamale. 7
31. Get a Ghanaian man over 50 to sing you “Chop my money” 3
32. Classic: A team member sitting on a tractor with a piece of straw in his/her mouth. 8
33. Classic: A team member kicking a ball inside the Tamale stadium. 10
34. Classic: A spiked watermelon. 7
35. Fufu with a smiley face on it. 3
Giddipass deduction? (30 points for missing sunset drink)
Mike’s deduction? (1 point per minute for arriving after 8:00pm)

My favourite by far was watching Peter carry a goat (that was screaming like a baby) on his back as if it were a backpack. I wish we had a video of it. By the end of the hunt, we were wrecked, spent from all the running around. We scored 149 points, but we are not sure how we fared in relation to our competitors as we didn’t end up displaying our pictures for each group to assess how many points to give one another in relation to a certain activity. The goings and comings of the teams were also not monitored and points weren’t deducted for tardiness and the like. Anyway, it was really fun and that’s what counts.

After the scavenger hunt, we had dinner at Mikes and then headed to Ron’s (another Dutch guy working here as a medical engineer- so many Dutch people in Tamale) party (as a pseudo after-party) for more food, booze and most importantly, karaoke. Good times. I was home by 3am and awake by 8am to get ready for my first Ghanaian church service, I went with my Nigerian friend Chris. They were meant to dedicate his niece in the Catholic Church that day, but there was some confusion and the dedication didn’t end up happening. Ghaaaannnnnnaaaa!! We went to his uncle’s house after the 2 hour long church service to celebrate the dedication (that didn’t take place), here we had lunch and engaged in a little bit of dancing. I am looking forward to trying a new church this Sunday, somewhere similar to the one I attended in Adelaide perhaps. It will be good to be in the presence of other Christians and surrounded by Gods word again. Sunday night, Will (an English guy who is doing his pre-university engineering internship here in Ghana) rang me up saying there was no food in his house and was seeing if I wanted to join him for dinner, I wasn’t up to it, so I told him to come round to my place instead, I made dinner, we ate together and played scrabble until 11:30pm.

That’s it folks, this blog sums up last week for me. This week will bring with it, djembe drumming lessons, dinner and an evening full of cheese (of which Cara brought back from France) consumption, preparing for our trip to Togo and Bec’s farewell party. Stay tuned.

Just some cultural things

On Friday morning I had approached one of my Ghanaian colleagues at work to explain the scavenger hunt to him and ask him to join our team, he said yes. I could tell that he was reluctant, but he said yes anyway. Come Saturday morning, I tried to ring him 3 times to tell him what to bring and where to meet, but no answer. I later thought about all the other experiences I had had with Ghanaians and them saying yes, but really meaning no. Ghanaians are much like the Asians and saving face and implicit forms of communication make up a large part of Ghanaian cultural characteristics. So instead of saying “no, I’m busy or uninterested”, my colleague said “yes, I will join you” to be polite (meanwhile knowing that he wasn’t going to participate), he didn’t want to embarrass me or himself by saying no. On Monday, he sent me an email apologising for not picking (Ghanaians don’t add the up after picking up) his phone and for not coming as he said he would. Kaz, who is the new Japanese JPO here at WFP, who arrived last Friday, who was in my scavenger hunt team and who was also in the office when I asked Shehu to join us for the hunt, later that day (Monday) invited him out to lunch with us. Shehu again said yes, but this time it was a little more obvious that he really meant no, so I said “If you really can’t come or don’t want to come, that’s okay, I will bring something for you”, he then said I’d prefer to stay in the office. We are slowly learning how to navigate situations such as these.


One response to “Week Six

  1. That Part when Ghanaians say “Yes” when they meant “No” gets under my skin! Its happened to me a lot since I got into this country! Just vicious lack of guts, balls, confidence to say no! Beats me!!

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