Friday, July 9, 2010

A visit to Potwabin & Cape Coast/Elmina

July 8, 2010

We have a road trip today, so we set our alarm clocks to rouse us out of our sleep. We are going to the village of Potwabin, then on to Cape Coast to tour Elmina.

After a breakfast of crepes, bread and jam, oatmeal, and fresh pineapple, we collected our backpacks and loaded up the bus. Our goal was to leave by 7:00 am -- while it is virtually impossible to “beat the traffic” in Accra…we hoped to at least get through with the least delay as possible!

Accra, the capital city of Ghana, is a bustling metropolis filled with people, cars, noise, and exhaust fumes. Maneuvering through the heavy traffic there is harrowing -- but we have a terrific driver who snakes this big bus through some of the tightest spots you can imagine!

Driving through I see lots of construction -- evidence of Ghana’s growth. We’re on a major thoroughfare through the city; yet there are patches of red dirt, huge potholes (I’m talking car-sized holes here!) and muddy ruts mixed in with the pavement. To describe the traffic with a simple word like “snarled” does not truly give the experience justice! If I had a dollar for every car I see on this road…I could probably pay off the national debt!

One thing I love about Ghana is reading the names and slogans posted on vehicles and businesses along the way. It is not uncommon to see the words “Thank U Master” or “Jesus is Lord” or “Praise Jehovah” plastered across the backs of cars, busses, tro-tros, or vans! For example, you could buy a car from “Good Shepherd Motor Works” and fuel up the vehicle at “Paradise Service Station,” where an oil tanker from “Jah Alone Transport Company” is filling the underground tanks. If the car gives you trouble, you can have it repaired at “To God Be The Glory Brake & Clutch Repair” and catch a ride on the “Pentecost Fire” tro-tro to do your shoping at “MerciGod Enterprises.” You can get your hair done at “Who God Bless Let No Man Curse Beauty Salon” or if you prefer “God’s Time Barber Shop.” Grab a fresh meat pie from “Trust & Obey” vendor’s stall, buy a mattress at “God is Able Enterprises,” select a musical instrument at “King of King’s Drum Works,” pick out some furniture for your home at “But Seek First the Kingdom of God Construction Works,” learn a new skill at “The Lord is My Shepherd Computer Education Center.” When you need help managing all that money you’re making -- there is “Broken Yoke Financial Services,” ready to help you out! And at the end of your days, your family can select your casket at “Glory To God Coffin Contractors.” ALL of these are real businesses I saw as we passed through Accra!

A van passes us with “Count Your Blessings” painted on the side -- a great reminder, huh?
There are also some words in Twi: Adom = grace; Ensuro = Do not be afraid; “Na asem pa endi wakyi” = God’s word is after me; “Yehovah Nissi“ = Jehovah is great and mighty. . Our friends Ben, Richie, and Pastor Johnson are quick to help us with translating and pronunciation (though admittedly my Twi is very sketchy!)

We eventually untangled ourselves from Accra’s morning traffic and drove westward toward Potwabin. Our driver turned off of the main road and onto the familiar dusty red dirt road that leads to the village. We emerged from the bus as Pastor Isaac greeted us, then busily set out chairs and benches for our greeting ceremony with the chief. We all sat under the trees, and exchanged greetings with the Chief and Elders of the village. We formally asked about the water purifier that we installed there last year. They recently installed a gasoline-powered pump with pvc pipes purchased through donations to Waters Edge Ministries so that water could be brought directly from the source to the purifier. Then explained that heavy rains had toppled their polytank and it had broken, but they appreciated that we had acquired another polytank for them. (We knew all of this -- it was simply proper protocol to discuss it formally.) They invited us to inspect the system, and to walk through the village.

We walked through the village -- the familiar mud huts with thatched roofs were surrounded today with the laundry, spread out on bushes to dry in the sunshine. Goats trotted from one patch of shade to another; a few cur dogs lolled beneath the trees. I was happy to see Grace and her mother, Rebecca, again.
We spent some time re-working the purifier. It took a bit longer than we had expected to work on, but it was ready to run by the time David finished. Meanwhile, the rest of the group played with the kids, making balloon animals and singing songs with them.

Before we left, the village shared fresh coconut with us, and presented us with a goat as a gift. (The goat, appropriately and perhaps unfortunately named “Dinner,” is currently tied to a tree in the back yard.)

We left Potwabin, and stopped to eat lunch at a café/service station. We actually brought our own food, and just went inside the café to eat it. Try doing THAT in the USA!

We then headed to Cape Coast, where we toured Elmina. What a sobering walk through history; the place stands as a grim monument, reminding us of man’s inhumanity to fellow man. As we entered the women’s dungeon -- where the rocks still cry out in pain -- I noticed the words on the back of John Cromer’s t-shirt “Pray As You Go.” In my mind, I could suddenly hear the prayers of the thousands of people who endured this prison centuries ago. I am sure they did, indeed, pray as they went to an uncertain future in a strange, cruel world. It is impossible to visit that place and not feel moved.

The long drive home was made even longer by the traffic we encountered AGAIN in Accra -- only this time it was dark! We decided that Carowinds could develop a terrific new thrill ride: 3D IMAX Accra Traffic.

We were grateful for the delicious dinner waiting for us when we finally arrived back at our house. Our day was done. We learned a lot of history, we learned a lot about people, we made new friends, and reacquainted ourselves with old ones. We laughed some, and we shed some tears also.

Thank you, Lord, for a very good day!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I haven't stopped crying for thodse rocks that cry out. Injustice, "the effects of cruelty die slowly." - Maya Angelou