Titania K

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Prayer in the Newsroom, Deep-Kissing & Other Strange Happenings

In 1 on August 27, 2009 at 1:32 am

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.


Welcome to Ghana!

In 1 on August 20, 2009 at 12:17 am

Twenty or so hours ago, I was downing whiskey sours and dramamine cocktails at JFK airport in a desperate attempt to calm my nerves. Flying 35000 feet above the ground at 350 miles per hour, a girl’s got to do something, and sedatives help. Now, I am in Ghana (!!!) living in an orphanage where I sleep in a room with three volunteers from the UK.  In the morning, I meet my editor at the Ghanaian Times, where the fun finally begins. Life is good.

 The New Life Orphanage International is a modern setup located in Nungua, a town 30 km from the capital Accra. The lodgings are not what I expected. I was told I would have one roommate in a middle-class house where other volunteers also live. I’ve been bamboozled, but it’s okay. I can’t complain. My mission remains the same.

So far, each day a different young girl at the orphanage has brought me a tray of breakfast, lunch, and dinner cooked by the resident chef Vivienne, despite my pleas that I can serve myself. I feel strange being served, but this is Ghanaian hospitality, and guests are expected not to lift a finger. It’s late here, and my first day at work begins tomorrow, so I better pass out. Here’s a short list of the sites and sounds I experienced today during my orientation:

  • Koko Beach (Rad!)
  • Makola Market (puts Downtown LA to shame)
  • Merchants (the human head can balance more weight than I thought)
  • The Cultural Center (had my first drum lesson today here by bonafide rastafarians)
  • Independence Square (Ghana announced it’s independence here from England in 1957)
  • The Mausoleum (I forget whose body was exhumed from this place, but it’s pretty important)
  • the children caught a monkey today. It was pretty brutal to watch.

 More groin-grabbing details will come later, I promise. I’m still getting the knack of this thing and place. What a test in character this trip is going to be. Rad!