Accra, three years later

Posted on Jun 19, 2011 in Ghana

It’s been three long years since I left Ghana. As I expected, some things have changed. Here’s what I’ve noticed based on my first week week back in the capital, Accra:

1. More westernization and internationalization – in all forms. From the Accra mall, to the restaurants… I’ve seen more Chinese restaurants than I can count on one hand, several Lebanese joints, an Indian place, and even a Turkish one.

2. More seat belts: Hurray! I am delighted that I am actually seeing people putting on their seat belts (when they exist, of course)! Taxi drivers routinely wear them now, it seems, and I even saw one man reach for his on a large bus (however the bus was new and it was impossible to do up the seat belt without ripping the plastic that covered the seats… something that I was told specifically not to do…).

3. More obrunis (particularly middle-aged white men) – There was a time when a middle-aged white person in Ghana looked strange even to me. Now, they are on every street corner in Accra. It seems to speak to growing business in Ghana. And of course, now there’s off-shore oil.

4. The prices have risen – this is inevitable,  but they have really climbed. Some things are double, even triple what they cost three years ago. Most things are still cheap by North American standards, but I wonder how the average person can afford it.

5. More organization – Instead of stopping on every corner, trotros (mini-buses) in Accra now have designated bus stops. There are definitely more traffic lights, which include pedestrian crossings. In general, things seem safer.

What hasn’t changed:

1. The music – I swear, the radio stations are playing the same songs
they played three years ago, including two of my favourites: You are the most high God and Akon’s Don’t Matter. And really, does Celine Dion every get old?

2. The trotros – Though I did find myself on one or two fancy rides in
Accra, most are the same. Doors tied on with string, jagged edges, and
friendly passengers.

3. Traffic – Ah, traffic. How I loathe thee. Nothing like sitting for
hours in the sun. …

4. The food – Fried plantains, fried egg sandwiches, tea that has more condensed cream than water, the delicious cold treat Fanmilk… Mmmm.

5. And of course – Ghanaian hospitality. While I am here, I will always be an obruni, but at least I am a welcome one!

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