Journal entry – Aug. 24
I’ve become somewhat of a social misfit in this town, especially at work. Apparently, every Spectator staff meeting held on Monday mornings at ten begins and ends with an unironical prayer. All the news writers gather in the editor’s office, take their seats and the managing editor has everyone bow their heads and close their eyes for a “word of prayer.” All I can do is follow suit and not aggravate the tranquil scene with my raging discomfort. “When in Rome.”
After work, I hitched a ride towards the orphanage in a shared taxi for one cedi fify peswes. The driver maneuvered through the road like a maniacal speed-freak, side swiping the edge of the street to pass traffic. The three passengers riding with me yelled incoherent obscenities at the driver, but it was two late. He grazed the side of a maroon Mazda whose driver immediately stopped in the middle of the highway to verbally lash the cabbie. We got out of the car in the middle of this scene, and I eventually hitched a ride on a double decker bus along the road. All the seats were taken, but I found a prime corner on the floor of the top deck where I recorded these strange happenings in my journal.
I’ve underestimated how inundated by Christian dogma this place is. I can’t even sit down at work without someone hassling me about my thoughts on life after death, which was the topic of this week’s published questionnaire. While I edited the page, Addy, the Spectator’s managing editor, asked me whether I believed. I said “Sure” just to get him off my back. “Well, technically, nothing really dies. It just transforms into something new,” I told another newswriter when he asked. He smiled, but explained it was sarcasm. A few days ago, I told Mary, a Jehovah’s Witness and Spectator news intern, that I didn’t agree with organized religion. This may explain the evangelical mobbing I’ve been experiencing ever since. I’ve entered a vacuum, a sort of Twilight Zone, when it comes to free thought and expression, something I’m not accustomed to after wallowing in San Francisco’s freak-loving warmth. I just hope my articles aren’t rejected because of their non-denominational bent.
Uncensoring sex education is going to be a daunting task in this place. Newspaper headlines read “Are Ghanaians Dressing Properly,” “Pastor urges youth to be obedient.” One article read: “People are displaying deep-kissing in public as normal. Formerly we were seeing white people doing these shameful things but today, black people too have joined the disgraceful display. On our television screens we are forced to see close up shots of couples in ads that are better done behind closed doors because of our status as human beings.” Ghanaians are so in denial of their unabridged potential as human beings, the place is a paradoxical box, where conservative Christianity thrives alongside unplanned pregnancies and child prostitution rings and desperate poverty, et cetera et cetera. “Don’t let a few rotten apples taint your view of Ghana,” the Times editor said when I pitched him my child prositution story.