Wahoo- we’ve made it to the half way mark of our ICS-E journey without any MAJOR hiccups! It has dawned on me how quickly time is moving and the little time we have left with our businesses and with this city that has now become home.
With only a little while left I am trying to make the most of my experience here in Accra and so when we were asked if we wanted to attend a wedding, we thought why not? Although I am not completely clueless to the proceedings of a West African wedding, I have never been to a Ghanaian one and so so I was extremely excited to attend one! Unfortunately we missed the ceremony but made the reception. The venue was outdoors and in the current dumsor situation, it works, as you can’t rely on the power staying on. However this meant we were victims of the sun. Despite the heat, we had a great time, enjoying some traditional and non-traditional Ghanaian food (can you believe I had a samosa?), watching the bridge and groom’s first dance and then joining in ourselves! I definitely felt like I was gate-crashing the wedding because I was the ONLY obrunni there and I am sure I stuck out- If anyone asked who I was, my answer was prepares as a long lost friend of the couple!
On Sunday we stepped into a part of Accra that we had not yet had the chance to experience- Jamestown. So far it has been one of my favourite places to visit as the place is filled with such a rich colonial history and at every turn you can see there is a story bursting to be told. Jamestown is one of Accra’s oldest districts and is considered the birthplace of the first community in Accra. Despite development in the 17th century, the locals now describe it as the ghetto, an area in decay and far less affluent than other parts of Accra. The geographical position of Jamestown next to the sea, made it a great tool for the Europeans, in particular the Dutch who created Ussher Fort and the British who were responsible for creating Fort James as a trading post in 1673- this is where the name Jamestown is derived from. According to Wikipedia Ussher Fort is being restored by funds from UNESCO but we didn’t that at all. In fact there was nobody around for us to pay or even to inform we would like to go in- so we just did what tourists do and we walked in. I was surprised how easy it was to stroll in and wondered why the government hasn’t taken charge of this place- they can’t let it just go to waste. Walking around we saw how the place was falling apart but the foundations of the place were still intact- drawings on the cell walls, the bars on the cells, the rusty staircases were all clear as daylight- this place existed and prisoners were kept here!
We soon left to find the Jamestown lighthouse, stumbling upon an opening with an amazing view of the beach and stairs that led down. The beach wasn’t your typical resort beach and actually smelt quite bad but there was so much life and colour there despite the ‘bad’ surroundings. We finally found our lighthouse and decided to go up. From the outside it did not look so tall but climbing up the stairs, we realised it was actually quite high. The final part of lighthouse climb was slightly nerve-racking as the original stairs had pretty much decomposed so a new set of wooden stairs replaced it- however these did not seem too sturdy and with an incredibly small opening right at the top we were not entirely convinced of it’s safety but we made it up! The view was great-on one side there was the clear blue sea and the other the crowded city of Accra. I don’t think some of the others realised how high it was as when they got to the top, they didn’t want to stand by the edges- I have to say it was only the boys who were scared.
It’s amazing that you can just walk around a place hundreds of years later but spookily get a feel of what it might have been like then. With iconic colonial buildings being so apparent, there is no way you can walk through without being curious and wanting to know more about such an enchanting place. I love to visit places such as Jamestown as we need reminders and they provide us with an incredibly story- one that should not be forgotten.
After a busy weekend, we’ve also had a busy week! Market research has again taken up a lot of our time along with working on our various deliverables for our mid-term review. On Saturday the 28th we all presented the work we had done thus far with our businesses and what we are going to do in the last 5 weeks of our placement. It was a chance to get advice from others who might be in a similar situation to yourself and a chance for us to firmly comprehend and see what we had left to do. It was encouraging to see that the group was on track in most areas and also comforting knowing that you aren’t the only pair facing challenges, both little and big. On Tuesday Kofi and I visited Shoprite to conduct further market research. Shoprite is the equivalent of our Tesco’s and so we decided to give out tasters of the product and ask people to complete the questionnaires. We weren’t allowed into the store with our tasters as that comes under the promotion banner but we were allowed to stand outside in the mall. The general consensus from those we questioned liked the taste of the product – (I hope they were being honest) but hadn’t heard of it before, as it’s a new product. This was a whole different experience to the open market research. We undertook training sessions for our business and employees so that we ensure longevity and sustainability when we leave. Training is important so that we can ensure somebody will be able to upkeep the new procedures put in place such as the finance ledgers and books, the inventory forms, marketplace input.
We started the first day of March by visiting Bojo Beach. It was completely different to Labadi where we were hassled the whole time we were there to buy bracelets, paintings, ride horses, have massages… the list is endless. At Bojo however it was a different atmosphere, far more secluded and quiet. We didn’t spend too long there so hopefully we can go back. As Bojo beach is near my house, some of the group wanted to see West Hills Mall and then head to my host home. I did contemplate making them walk the hill but it was the middle of the afternoon and very hot so I spared them and instead we got taxi’s up. I’m sure they understand our daily peril now that they’ve been up there!