Monday, 14 December 2015

It's Christmas!! How do I know? Because in the internet cafe I'm writing this blog, jingle bells is playing. I'm not sure if Ghana has ever seen a one horse open sleigh, let alone anything dashing in the snow, but they don't care. (Western/commercial) Christmas is just as loved here as it is in the UK. Tinsel and Christmas trees are everywhere. Christmas dinner will be fufu and soup, and I have to admit I'm now becoming quite a fan of it.

Our first three months in Ghana has come to an end! It's flown by. It was very hard to say bye to our Ghanaian 'family', especially Patrick, Joel and Scott, as we'll be back here in January without them. It's good that we'll be returning to lots of familiar faces in January though. We've been having breakfast, lunch and dinner with these guys every day for three months. It's been a blast.

Last Sunday we headed down to Gboloo Kofi (where VbyV was first based) for the first ever girl's football match between Abenta and Gboloo. The football team in Gboloo has been running for several years, but the girls' team in Abenta is only a two months old, with Scott coaching them. Emmanuel will take over now that Scott's gone back to Australia. The girls don't get to play much sport in the village so Scott's done a great job at getting them prepared. The game was played in good spirits and the final score was a respectable Gboloo 2 - 1 Abenta. A special mention needs to go to one of the linesmen, who got all his decisions right and kept a close eye on any foul play. That person was none other than me. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the other linesman, Patrick, who provoked the ire of the entire community for raising the offside flag before Gboloo scored. When the ball hit the back of the net, the whole village, it seemed, descended onto the pitch to celebrate with the girls. Abenta girls did well to hold it together. But then when it became clear that the offside flag had been raised the community turned on Patrick. Accusations of cheating, corruption even (we are from Abenta after all) and even the referee, Joel, was told by Ernestina (Aikins wife) that he was a bad referee in light of the decision. Ghanaians are passionate about the beautiful game. So much so, when Liz and I entered a taxi today, I noticed a big Arsenal sticker on the drivers window. He asked if I was an Arsenal fan. I said no. He said, "Oh, but if you were I would have taken you for free". I considered lying and pretending I hadn't heard him, but I couldn't do that to my family, who are ardent Spurs fans (well, apart from Stephen who's kept the faith the mighty (and resurgent) U's).

So, it's time to go back the UK for Christmas. We're very excited to catch up with family and friends but can't deny it's tinged with sadness as our Ghanaian 'family' wont be quite the same when we get back on the 9th January. The last three months have been a great experience and I'm sure the next three will also be so. Over and out until then.

But first, here's some photos:

 The girls' on the way to the match. The spent the whole journey singing at the top of their voices.

They may have lost but they went down fighting.

 Despite the unfortunate timing of this photo, I can assure you that Kobby (aka Rastaman) and Laud (aka King Yobo) were singing too and found the whole experience very enjoyable. Photos do lie. Kobby is the charity's driver and Yobo is the ICT teacher at the primary school.
 A visit to Kobby's house to meet the family. from left to right: Liz (with Kobby and Beatrice's daughter, Vanessa), Kobby, Beatrice, Joel, Emmanuel, Patrick, Aikins.

Us saying goodbye to our host family, Ayesi and Margaret with their two children Akua and Abena.
Us dressed up for a posh meal out in Accra at a restaurant called Coco Lounge. We misjudged the dress code. Accratonians (if that's the word) prefer to wear western clothes. We stuck out like a bit of an Obroni sore thumb.

We've spent the weekend with friends of Village By Village, Kwabena and Joyce, who live in Accra. Kwabena and I have in common that we've both lived in Kilburn, London. They are a great couple who have always been very welcoming to us when we've stayed at theirs in Accra. Yesterday, we had the pleasure of sharing a typical Ghanaian Sunday with them, going to church in the morning followed by a Sunday lunch of fufu and palm nut soup (last photo). Very tasty! In the evening, we visited friends of theirs who were celebrating their daughters 19th birthday. They have family in London, some in Russell Square and others in Enfield and Joyce visits them every so often.

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