Saturday, October 30, 2010

What Ghanaians do on a Friday night

P1090666 Last night, I went to hear the President speak about sports at the football stadium a short taxi ride away. That’s what I was told, anyway, by a security guard who walked me to the gym and proceded to sit and, in a friendly manner, follow me around while I worked out on different machines. Anyway…

That’s not who it was at all. It was The Prophet. Bishop David Oledepo.  He called himself a prophet in any event, and the stadium was full of cheering, dancing Africans as he spoke about the grace of Jesus.

I looked around. I was the only white person there. I sat with some people who invited me, and I got some explanations of what was going on. There was a lot of standing up with your hands in the air and shouting “Amen!” and a lot of wiggling around in emotional prayer and a fair amount of just plain dancing and clapping. What were they getting excited about?

The Prophet was telling them that he foresaw a better future for Africa. He said he knew a lot of Ghanaians who wished they were in America. But look at the suicide rate in America—they aren’t any happier for their lifestyle, he said. He promised the Lord would lift them out of their poverty. Everyone here is very religious. It gives them hope.

Life here is so much less drastic seeming than in India, despite Ghana’s lower ranking on the Human Development Index.

Here are some reasons why…

1. Equality. There have been studies done on the happiness of a country being equivalent with the divide between the rich and the poor, between men and women, among race, etc…The more equal the society, the higher the satisfaction of the society. Thus European countries will always rate a higher happiness level than the US. In India, there are so many different levels of people left over from the caste system, perhaps. Here in Ghana, there are only 3 professions: drum maker, artist, or acrobat. I try to look interested every time someone tells me proudly they are one of those three, but it’s hardly a surprise. Most people live a similar lifestyle here.

2. Women have a strong and powerful presence. It shows in the way they carry themselves. It shows in the way they are every bit as much a part of society as men. It shows in their loud voices. I feel like a wimp when I talk with them, to be perfectly honest. It shows in their manner of dress. They are so bold.

3. There is space, and nature. It’s not overpopulated. No one is sleeping in the streets. It seems like people are living like they did long before any white people came and tried to change things. Traffic and pollution are not problems.

4. Things of a private nature, like going to the bathroom, are kept private.

5. Children stay children here. They play, they go to school. The people who come selling odds and ends to the taxi windows in bad traffic are adults, not kids.

6. Ghana is extremely peaceful. It hasn’t been at war in many years, which is unusual for an African country especially. Violent crime is not an issue, nor is terrorism.

So I thought, maybe, that Ghanaians were happy to stay just the way they are. Until last night, when I was reminded, once again, the winning of the lottery that being born in America is.

Which brings me to my final point…

So many countries around the world are waiting on America to help. It may not be fair, and we may not be recognized for the work that we’ve done. Nevertheless, it’s a responsibility.

Please visit http://www.borgenproject.org/ 

This nonprofit doesn’t request your money. It simply lists different bills addressing international poverty that are placed before the Senate that you can call and voice your support. The website tells you how.

I believe the US government has a greater responsibility for the welfare of other nations than it is currently now exhibiting. Because of ignorance in a lot of Americans who have not traveled to other, poorer, nations, there is often not a lot of support for using tax dollars for international aid. This is where you go to voice your support, to show that as Americans, we accept the responsibility that being the wealthiest nation in the world brings.

1 comment:

Sally Lou said...

first, i love your new blog name and banner.
second, i've been scared to visit countries of africa because of the wars going on there, but i think you convinced me that ghana would be a wonderful trip :)

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