The title for this post is inspired from those random pop ups on Facebook- News feed such as …’Five interesting facts about childhood buddies’ or ’10 things to do before you turn 30′ or ’15 places to visit before you die’ which tempt you to click ‘next page’ till the very end, just because the smart marketing team has advertised that the last point/fact will change your life forever.
Well, this post may not change your life but would certainly make you feel a bit closer to this African city.
Cocoa Cocoa everywhere, not any Chocolate bars to relish
Yes, Ghana is the third largest producer of Cocoa in the WORLD.. Well, what would you expect if you are visiting a place which has a thriving Cocoa business? Building castles to be spoiled by variety of chocolate options? Well.., you are in for a heart break for sure, like me.
Ghana produces the cocoa only to export it! Yes, the second largest exporter of cocoa in the world. It turns out, we have the raw material but not enough processing units to convert it into chocolate. So how do we answer our guilty pleasure calls?? Yeah, we import chocolates! Mostly from England because I pay three times for a chocolate bar which has a price tag of 1 pound and yes of course, some of the chocolate bars have ‘made in India’ tag.
Hmmm..this reminds me of my middle school Indian history. #Flashback….”India had a thriving cotton industry. But under British rule, India was forced to stop the local production, instead export raw material (cotton) to England and was forced to import expensive finished products (clothes) from the British. This led to the downfall of the cotton industry and in effect the Indian economy”. Phew! I actually surprised myself by recollecting these facts..
To the best of my knowledge, the only cocoa processing company here is the ‘Golden Tree’ which produces some variety of chocolates to their credit. The most famous brand being ‘Kingsbite’, the plain milk chocolate bar. Well, for a plain chocolate bar, it has maintained a very good standard. ‘Kingsbite’ is the most sought after choice to buy for friends and family when someone visits India, to represent a true Ghanaian product. So if you enjoy plain chocolate, you are in for some luck. But not for me. My taste buds have been spoiled by Ferrero for so many years that hazelnuts are a weakness now and chocolates without them are not worth adding on those sweet calories.
So next time you relish Swizz chocolates, you may be actually relishing Ghanaian cocoa wrapped in a fancy Swizz wrapper…
2) Traffic light shopping center
If you visit India or Ghana, you will be fortunate to learn some quick and smart business skills demonstrated by street hawkers, while you wait in your car for that red signal to turn green. The real marketing and sales skills are put to test during those few-odd minutes at the traffic signal. Normally at a Mumbai traffic signal, I am surrounded by books/magazines, toys and Indian flags if the Republic or Independence day is around the corner. But in Accra, I was in for a surprise.
3) Jawaharlal Nehru Road, Accra
A Mahatma Gandhi road or Rajiv Gandhi Airport or Jawaharlal Nehru University in India doesn’t surprise. Well, a JN road in Accra do. The JN road houses the Indian High Commission. Our first Prime Minister, Mr. Nehru and first Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah shared a good bond and of course the good relation has continued. Today Ghana is home to more than 10000 Indians. Many families have settled here for nearly 3-4 decades.
Over these years, Accra has created a cordial Indian environment. We have Indian supermarkets here. A vegetable market exclusively selling Indian veggies. Indian restaurants serving our delicious cuisine. Multiplex screening Bollywood movies ( I watched Bahubali!). We have a Delhi Public School. We have Temples, Gurudwara, ISKON, Brahma Kumaris and other spiritual organisations of Indian origin. The India-Africa Summit happening right now in New Delhi also epitomizes this strong Indo-African relation.
Right across the JN road, you will find the residence of President Mahama, the Flagstaff House. The Indian Government has provided aid in the reconstruction of the presidential residence.
Now what’s that supposed to mean?
This word terrifies every person living in Ghana. Probably, more than the news of earthquake or volcanic eruption.
Dumsor is a Ghanaian term used to describe power shortage. Now, when I say power shortage, it isn’t those half-hour or few hours power shortage like in Indian cities. Dumsor could range from 12 hours-24 hours-36 hours-sometimes even 48 hours! It depends on which area of Accra you live in. There is a regular timetable followed in some areas- 12 hour power and then 12 hour Dumsor or some other areas have 12 hour power- 24 hour Dumsor.
Yepp, welcome to Africa!
I swear I have learnt the true meaning of Gratitude and have found a new level of patriotism after experiencing Ghanaian Dumsor. I have lived across 4 cities in India (Cochin, Mumbai, Pune and Ahmedabad) providing regular power and water supply. I am now amazed by how Indian cities manage to cater to the power requirements of such a huge urban population. Specially, Mumbai with nearly 12 million population (half the population of Ghana) manages to provide 24 hours power and water supply. Don’t wonder about the rural population in India without power. I am talking about the power situation in Accra, the capital of Ghana.
During my initial months in Accra, I actually traveled back in time to Stone Age.
Generators till then were just noisy machines used during weddings in India. But now, I am a trained generator user, I better know how to fill the fuel in this machine and also start it when Dumsor strikes. Generator is a necessity in every house here like an Aircon or a Refrigerator.
So it is not very amusing to find such ads in the newspapers
5) Naming and Funeral ceremonies
How well you embrace the new environment and culture is directly proportionate to the amount of fun you will have in the new place you move to.
The Ghanaian practices followed in the Naming and Funeral ceremony are quite unique and distinct from Indian practices and it caught my attention.
At birth, the child is given a day name based upon the gender and day of the week on which the child was born.
For example, if the child is a male born on Saturday, he would be called Kwame and if female, she would be called Ama.
Unlike in India, funeral ceremony in Ghana is an event of celebration to ensure a good farewell to the soul. So there is dancing, music, food & drinks at a funeral. I may be misunderstood here but I find this practice very progressive and logical.
In India, the body of the deceased is cremated or buried on the same day of death or in the next couple of days. In Ghana, the body of the deceased is kept in a mortuary for a month or two, till a grand funeral function is arranged. A date convenient to all the guests is chosen to keep the funeral, which is mostly a weekend. Lower income people take longer time to arrange for a funeral as they have to collect the required funds for a grand function. If Indians are obsessed with extravagant weddings, then Ghanaians are obsessed with extravagant funerals.
Check out the Funeral Insurance Plan in Ghana like a Life Insurance Plan in India!