Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Spare me a drop, please!

Yesterday morning around 6 a.m. my mum luckily caught the radio news where it was reported that the whole of Tema (stretching all the way from Sakumono/Lashibi to Ningo/Prampram) would be without water for 48 hours due to a fault at Kpone. Immediately we gathered all bowls and buckets and fetched as much water as possible before the taps dried up. Somehow, that day we managed our loss of flowing water smoothly.

Today, however, I am fed up. Not only has the last week been so hot that one could use a good 3 power showers a day to survive, I'm sick and tired of having to think through every step of ordinary life. Need to brush my teeth? Ok, the sachet water is somewhere in the kitchen. Want to flush the toilet? Oops, no water left? Guess I'll have to use Em's old bath water to do that.

This evening, because we're all too exhausted (and sweaty) to think of how we'll cook and clean, we've decided against a proper dinner. My mum's got some snacks out, Virgo's munching on Digestives and apple juice and I'm about to have some crackerbread (knackebrod) and treat myself to a Nescafe cappuccino. After that I'll have to open up a good 15 sachets of water into a bucket to have my evening bath. I hate this!

If the water's not flowing by tomorrow, I will need to sue someone. Who's with me?


Abena Serwaa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Abena Serwaa said...

Ain't that Ghana for you and me! I really do feel your pain having experienced the same thing earlier this year... Well, I hope the water started flowing. BTW, being in Europe for the past 2.5 months has given me temporary amnesia about Ghana living woes.Sadly, I've become spoilt by superfast internet as well as the water, electricity and gas flowing in seeming abundance..Why is it so hard for things to work in Ghana?!!! It can't all be down to economics..So much to look forward to in GH when I get back.

Mike said...

The last time I was in Ghana (1995), 2 showers a day was somewhat of a necessity. I'd drink from the faucet @ school and home w/o regard for the source, and drinking from those sachets was only when you were desperate for water at Circle. If I left Dansoman @ 5:45am on that GBC bus, we'd be at the ring road latest by 6:25am, leaving me a short walk to school. Today, every YT vid I see has foreigners drinking "purewater." [has anyone ever bothered to check the source of that water?] Yesterday, I watched segs of The Amazing Race, and I couldn't help but notice the traffic... and the panhandling :(. I couldn't help but be so embarrassed. Was this the best they could show of my hometown? A few moments ago, I read about how Mills' govt was purchasing 8 new Lear Jets. This is on top of the one Kuffour bought; the buses he bought; the ugly monstrosity that cost $30m; the expensive medallions Kuffour gave himself and his cronies; and the $10b STX deal they all managed to sign by mortgaging our future oil revenues.
So, this is what I'm supposed to come back to in a month's time? We should've had NEW water treatment facilities in every region by now. I'm already dreading the $200/month I'd have to pay vodafone in order for me to keep my profession in Ghana (mind you this is only 4mbps compared to 15mbps I get with Comcast who charge me far less!). So what did happen in the last 15 years? Want a drop? Vote out the incompetent and start selecting new leaders. There should be enough of us around to do a better job.
Speaking of drops, I'm feeling a bit icky after my run. My warm shower beckons!

Maya Mame said...

Abena Serwaa, enjoy it while you can (and savour the memories when you're back in town, lol).

I agree with you, surely it's not down to economics, we pay more for slower internet connections than people do in UK and Sweden. Need to do some research on that...

And yes, the water started flowing at 4 am (don't ask me why I was awake at that time) and I enjoyed my morning shower more than I have ever done.

Maya Mame said...

Mike, it is sad that we haven't developed further, I know how frustrating it is to try and work with these slow internet connections.

But if you were last here in 1995, there have still been so many improvements, you'll be shocked when you get back! I remember seeing a noticeable change in the short period between 1997 and 2000.

As for the sachet water, i belong to the group who are still a bit wary of drinking it, especially after hearing horror stories of water being bagged in people's baths!

Abena Serwaa said...

@Maya Mame; thanks! But for some reason, I'm really looking forward to getting back. I actually miss family, the hot weather, food and doing my hair for dirt-cheap. BTW,the-turning-water-on-at-3am/4am-and-turning-it-back-off-after phenomenon is a serious pet-peeve of mine. Its like a feeble attempt to reduce water use.

@Mike; I don't know where to start since I'll be late for work!! I visited Ghana in 1995 and then again in 2000. I was shocked by the changes. Between 2000 and 2010, the changes have been even more dramatic so I think you may be pleasantly surprised by somethings. I would also caution against relying on the media to get a sense of happenings in Ghana. You really have to experience it for yourself.
Now I'm very curious; you haven't been back to Ghana since 1995 but you are moving back to work?! Now that is quite exceptional!

Mike said...

(sorry.. a bit off topic)
Exceptional? madness has seemed the appropriate response from most. Two years ago the fin. crises jolted my industry, and through that malaise I reached some sort of catharsis about life/career, etc. I'd spent 13 yrs immersed in a culture and identity I slowly felt less a part of. I also realized that nearly everything I wanted to do could be done in Ghana, especially after I saw friends with foreign connections make their transitions. I also didn't like paying taxes to a govt which I didn't much believe in anymore(U.S. foreign policy, social policy, rising anti minority/immigrant bent, etc). So, that led to: can I have a successful career in Ghana? Yes. Can I fit in? We're still working on that one. But the biggest thing was for the first time in my adult life, I realized I didn't need to be here to have a life. I've known so little about my own country that I've used blogs and youtube as a crash course. One glaring irony is it seems (right now), I'd relate more to expats that I would with locals. Yes, it seems harsh, but in some sense it presents a instrument for me to make an easier transition. I'm both excited and terrified. Nearly all of my family is here. 95% of my school mates from '95 live outside Africa. So, I'm giving myself 12-18 months to fully adjust. If it goes awry, there's always flights leaving Kotoka I can board at anytime.
I don't imagine both your experiences have been that extreme, but I'm curious how you've managed it. I have yet to learn or read about an experience I can fully relate to and hopefully, learn from.

Abena Serwaa said...

*LOL* All the best Mike! Sorry Maya Mame for shamelessly using your space.

@Mike I was in a similar-ish situation when I moved to Ghana in 2002. All my schooling had been outside of Ghana, all my friends were outside as well. I had one close childhood friend in Ghana whom I had not seen in a decade. I suppose the difference was that my mother had also moved to Ghana which was prob the biggest pull factor for me. In hindsight it was quite difficult in the beginning... apparently I did look Ghanaian, apparently I sounded American (at the time) But, I made friends...mainly at work..I can say that I finally understand how things work in Ghana...It can be frustrating but somehow worth it.

Maya Mame said...

Don't apologise for using the space, it's an interesting conversation!

I think in context, my experience may be considered more extreme than yours, Mike.

I moved here in 2005 for the first time ever, after being born and raised in Sweden (with six adult years spent in London).

I had no friends here (my fellow Ghana Swede left Sweden in 1985 and we'd hardly been in touch but later caught up and are now close friends) and did not know my family here that well, just from the obligatory visits to aunties and uncles over the years. Now I am close to them and some of my cousins are as close to me as siblings.

Mike, I think you'll find that the fact that you went to school here alone will make it a lot easier for you acclimatise, the school network is amazing.

Also, Accra (if that's where you're heading) is such a diverse city, I am confident you'll find your own group of friends with very similar backgrounds to you. Whether it is a good or a bad thing, all my friends have a similar story to mine, born and raised abroad, settled in Ghana after university education, and we've never looked back!

My siblings are still all in Sweden, my dad in London and my mum tried to move to Ghana after me, but because of grankids now shares her time between Sweden and Ghana, but to me they're all just a (superslow connection) Skype call away.

What is more important is that you are financially ready to move down, Ghana is not as cheap as people think and the most common reason people go back abroad is when the money finishes before a job/business opportunity arises. I'd estimate 6-9 months before you'll start making money (this based on how all my friends have managed, of course it depends on your field). If you have the opportunity, do what I did, come for a 2-3 month period for networking and adjusting to Ghana life, to get a firm idea of what waits ahead.

Most importantly, good luck! In many ways, Ghana is the land of opportunity, as long as you manage the 'lights off', water shortages and corruption, lol.


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