Monday 5 Oct
Cape Coast, Ghana
As we arrived in Cape Coast, a lady in our bus was mysteriously very helpful, although I couldn't get the full benefit of her advice as I couldn't understand much of what she was saying. Unfortunately the convenience of having a friend to show us to our hotel was outweighed by some very confusing problems experienced while driving through the city. We encountered a large linear tent set up in the road, which we think was a partially dismantled apparatus for some sort of festival. Our taxi got stuck parked in this tent for about twenty minutes while a car in front blocked the entire road, ostensibly loading or unloading something, and lots of passers-by had lots of arguments about what everyone should do. Eventually we reversed out and went a long way around, still none the wiser about what was going on or why we had waited for so long.
There was more baffling vagueness on the way: the next day we managed to buy some bananas from a woman who was actually incapable of telling us how much they cost. The experience of asking a simple question like "how much for four bananas?" and getting a reply which is impossible to understand is difficult to believe until it happens. But that seems to be the way things are done here.
Meanwhile, the most interesting thing in Cape Coast is the castle. It's a well preserved slave fort built by the British (and Dutch and Swedish and Danish). It has slave dungeons, a gate of no return, and a whole lot of memorials, including a plaque from when Barack Obama was here about two months ago. Did I mention that the president of Ghana (in Accra) lives a former Danish slaving castle called Christiansborg? I think this is very postcolonially ironic. Did I mention that in every street in Cape Coast there is a billboard showing the president of Ghana with Barack Obama and a slogan such as "Mills & Obama - Partnership for Change"? I think this is amusing and an interesting reflection on the relationship between Africa and the west.
PS: I feel the need to include a list of my favourite Ghanaian shop names from Cape Coast. I wish I could have taken photos of these but in view of the infamous West African photo awkwardness, it wouldn't have been worth it. Anyway, the way English is used on signs reveals something interesting about African mentality and also about the importance of Christianity in these parts.
One Good Turn Deserves Another Fashion Centre
Jesus is Love Beauty Salon
Anointment Electrical Store
Matt 13:17 Barber Shop
And my favourite (no doubt unintentional): Consuming Fire Fast Food Services