Saturday, July 16, 2011
Rain or shine, it's shopping time!!!!!
Chastity & Marcy
Early this morning at the Royal Basin Hotel in Kumasi, we awoke to thunderstorms. After packing our bags, our group enjoyed breakfast in the hotel restaurant. We were greeted by a full breakfast, including fresh mango that Damba had purchased yesterday afternoon on our trip down from Tamale. Then, it was off to a full day of visiting Ghanaian cultural craft villages, shopping for uniquely Ghanaian artifacts, and riding riding riding in our bus.
The weather didn't seem to want to cooperate with our plans for the day, but we pushed through. Our first stop was Bonwire to visit the Kente cloth weavers village there. Our group exited the bus decked out in rain gear and carrying umbrellas. "Walk slowly!" was Damba's advice. The kente village's principal workshop was a building containing many looms and displays of cloth. Each weaver had his own section of wall to showcase his particular cloth. Our group spent time walking around looking and trying to get the best deal for some Kente - Ghana's national cloth. We were greeted by sunshine and clearer skies as we walked back to the bus.
With the weather now on our side, we headed towards Ntonso, the Adinkra village. Adinkra is a group of symbols that have many different meanings in Akan culture and the cloth (much of it woven by the village men) is dyed with their own unique root dyes and stamped with Adinkra symbol stamps they carve from Calabash gourds. The most common Adinkra symbol in Ghana is Gye Nyame: "except God." (No one was at creation except God and no one will be at the end of the world except God = God is all powerful.) This symbol can be found on everything from signs, jewelry, and carvings to the ever-available plastic chairs. Click here to see more examples of adinkra symbols. Some group members bought Adinkra stamps as well as Adinkra cloth, while others chose stamps from the assortment available and printed their own Adinkra cloth strips. After completing round two of shopping we loaded the bus once again.
After traveling for a short distance we arrived at our last craft village. Ahwiaa is the name of this wood carver's village. The village was really a street of stalls containing different shops. The shops were filled with animal carvings, masks, stools, and many other unique items reflecting the importance of wood and bone carving in Ghanaian culture. We spent half an hour walking down the street wandering in and out of the shops. "Looking is free!" they shouted at us. "You haven't looked into my shop!" they exclaimed as we passed them by. Our group was successful in bargaining for stools, canes, animal figures, and so much more;and there was even a little "bartering" going on as team members swapped personal items for Ghanaian crafts.
We spent a good while driving through Kumasi traffic and then finally made it to round four of shopping. We returned to the Kumasi Cultural Arts Center one last time to pick up any items that we desired. Finally, it was on the road back 'home' to Cape Coast. We were all so excited to be heading back to the Fairhill Guest House. Our bus spent over four hours traveling through rain and traffic to make it back to the Fairhill. The amazing staff greeted us with cheers and hugs as we unloaded the bus. There was even a hand-written "Welcome Home" sign above the door.
Shortly after dropping off our things, we went to the dining room for supper. A filling meal of chicken light soup, rice, vegetables, and fruit was prepared for our group. A hot container of French fries also came as a welcomed surprise. We spent the rest of the evening discussing the narratives we are writing about each teacher we have worked with and one student from each classroom.
Our final week in Ghana will be spent writing, editing, re-writing, editing and returning to our two village schools to obtain last minute information for our narratives prior to returning to the States on Sunday, July 24th.