Friday, November 24, 2006

Memories of time in Ghana

This photo was from a July 2006 visit to the elections of the Kuapa Kokoo farmers' association in Kumasi, south-eastern Ghana. As I wrote in a trip report, "Foreign partners and visitors tried hard not to show any types of preferences for candidates and we were neutral about results. But we did not hesitate to express our admiration for the process by participating in a receiving line greeting each candidate with congratulations. Then we joined in a spirited dance in the middle of the field where we were assembled.

With a brass band full of percussion leading us, the women took to dancing, singing Kuapa themed songs and waving hanker chiefs high in celebration. We were invited into the crowd and I reveled in the music and the excitement. It is hard to describe the experience---imagine an outdoor disco with hundreds of African women in brightly patterned clothing, including Kuapa Kokoo prints and headdresses. The women are packed in closely, mosh-pit style, so your elbows and shoulders are bumping into everyone around you. The dancers are absolutely full of delight and pleasure, singing and dancing and eagerly encouraging you to join in.

I like African dancing because, unlike some of the complicated foot work of Latin standards, in Ghana, at least, you can move your body in any direction at a reasonable but lively pace. Several partners joined me in song and dance, and I even earned the distinction of getting doused with baby powder. Much like the U.S. ritual of dunking sports coaches with ice water after a victory, it seems in Ghana that you are congratulated by being covered in white powder. The newly elected President had received what look like a pound of flour on the top of his head!

Thanks to Lisa Bonds of Lutheran World Relief for the photo!

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