Five Interesting Facts About Accra

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.

  1. 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…

Kit Kat bar worth 15 Indian Rupee is worth nearly 85 Indian Rupee here.
Kit Kat bar worth 15 Indian Rupee is worth nearly 85 Indian Rupee here. So my guilty pleasure comes at a high cost
golden-tree-kingsbite-1
The King himself
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.

drinks+mint+recharge
TOP LEFT: Out of phone balance? No probs! Instant Mobile recharge cards while you are stuck in traffic.. TOP RIGHT: Care for a mint? BOTTOM: Thirsty? How about a Coke or chilled Beer perhaps
snacks collage
Hunger pangs??
personal
Wife: Oh Honey, I forgot to carry my handbag.. Hub: Oh tats ok, lets shop from the Traffic Mall today. Wife: How about shoes for the kids? Hub: I am sure we will find some there
house
African Artifacts, Clocks, Posters & Lamps
random
Need a new Tissue box for the car?
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.

JN road

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.

Golden_Jubilee_House

4) Dumsor

 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

geenrator

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.

Weekday Female Male
Monday Adjoa Kojo
Tuesday Abena Kwabena
Wednesday Akua Kwaku
Thursday Yaa Yaw
Friday Afua Kofi
Saturday Ama Kwame
Sunday Akosua Kwesi

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!

IMG_20150806_083849712

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14 thoughts on “Five Interesting Facts About Accra

  1. Wow , that’s some fabulous writing .. I guess this is the kind of stuff that sets good travel writing from the average ..It sweeps you off the floor and carries you on some kind of exotic-magical journey and how subtly ! I almost felt as if I was eavcsdropping on a secret conversation or something and that’s just the beauty of it .. Keep writing ! I hope you win some big travel-writing award or something .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It was fabulous reading, amazing content and precise information. Specially when u r planning to travel to ghana and u get an article with so much worth knowledgeable content. Thanks Roshni.
    Keep up the good work. . God bless.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow,,really superb
    As u have mentioned in this article,I forgot about my dish in the stove in my eagerness to read till the end. Not only informative but the way you take the readers mind and imagination forward is amazingly wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Roshni,

    ‘Corruption’ is something that is despised overtly and accepted covertly. So let me self style myself and briefly corrupt W.B Yeats – The worst of writers lack conviction and the best are full of passionate intensity.

    Your writing breathes passion to the extent that the reader experiences being bang in the middle of the happenings.

    The Traffic mall brought out the ingenuity of the Ghanaians. The concept of a drive-in-shopping getting real.

    Ghanian funeral is quiet interesting and actually pretty realistic while what we see here is largely ritualistic.

    The monster that stands out is ‘DUMSOR”. I had heard from my friend in Ghana about the unreliability of power supply. She did say about outages lasting 96 hours. However the way you write it as an access to training and development is innovative.

    Making all that you write convincing definitely requires passionate intensity.

    Looking forward to more of your writings.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Roshni,
    very good and informative. resembles like India. I would like to ask you that are there any jobs opportunities in Accra. Please reply me on my mail
    Vijay

    Like

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