RE: Bridging the gap between my old life and new


Day 3 in Ghana

I remember a scene in the movie “ The Beach” when Leonardo Dicaprio is lying on his bed in his rather modest hotel room in Thailand. He’s staring up at a ceiling fan that has this audible rickety sound….but it’s the only sound, and he just stares at the fan and you know that in his mind he’s thinking- “I have no fucking idea why I am here.” These moments eb and flow throughout the film but inevitably we see that he has an experience- it’s neither good nor bad, it’s frightening and it’s exciting, but most of all, it’s just a place he’d been. You’d think I’m painting Africa in this light but I’m not.

When I woke up this morning to the sound of the ceiling fan and the rancid smell of my pillow- I felt nothing but excitement, but…..the repetition of the ceiling fan did make me a little stir crazy and Dicaprio-esque….so I shut it off. I eased out of bed and sighed….I had to brave a cold shower in the dirtiest tub I’d ever come across. I attempted to be a maverick in that tub- finding ways to hold my razor and the handheld shower at the same time without spraying water all over the bathroom ( there was no shower curtain even though the sign in the bathroom clearly reads “ Please leave shower curtain in the bath before and after use). I put the cap back on the razor as quickly as I could and make sure that none of the blade touched what I felt was a dirty service ( but what is dirty anyway? It’s up for debate). I then stood tall as I shampooed my hair, then, the rinse. Holding the shower head in my hand I let the cold water cascade over my face then had a brief freak out when I realized I’d left my mouth partially opened. I pictured scores of eboli and bacteria flooding into my mouth because of my careless mistake and pursed my mouth shut as quick as I could, which then made me feel I couldn’t breathe as the cold water continued gushing down. Then I realized I was being a pussy, and a judgemental white woman and calmed down. I feel fine though I inhaled the “forbidden water.”

Learning one of many local language. Twi is the first.

I am overly excited at having learned five key Twi phrases slash words. I will write them out phonetically as this is how I’ve learned them

  1. Eh-kuum de Meh –means “I’m Hungry” Surprise surprise- this is the first word I asked Atto Kwamena Dadzie to teach me. He’s our in country director, an amazing political journalist and the author of this blog He looked at me a bit strangely but he gave up the phrase obligingly. Ato is extremely admired in Ghana for his bold political views. Check out his blog and you’ll not be disapointed (
  2. Meh Ma Who-achay- means “How are you this morning?” if you’re speaking to someone mid day you say “ Meh Mao Ah ha”, and if it’s the evening It’s “Meh Ma Ah-Jo”. “ Meh” means “I” in Twi.
  3. Etta-Sin- This simply means “how are you doing?”
  4. Sin- simply means “ How much”
  5. I save the best for last; “MayDassay”- Meh Dass eh is another way to say it. It is the term “ Thank you” but it literally translates to mean “ I lay myself before you with gratitude.” The way it’s spoken by a Ghanaian is so romantic and with such meaning that I haven’t quite gotten the guts to try it yet.

Today I am off to the School of Journalism here in Accra. Michael Cooke Editor the Toronto Star be making a presentation on the work the Star has been doing investigatively and beyond. The hope is to really shine a light on investigative reprting as there is a bit of a lean towards politics or sports here in Western Africa, rarely do rights issues surface, as issues. Last night as we all sat down to dinner ( I ate the Yassa, which is a Nigerian dish), one of the reporters here commented on how strangely journalism functions here-how in Canada it’s not strange to see a Journalist turn Politician- here it works slightly backwards- Politicians revert to Journalism. The information officer of the last political party in power has found himself in the shoes of a journalist and he’ll host us today.He most likely sees the power of the pen and is looking to use it to inform the public, not just shareholders. It’s then off to City Fm where Shawn will be posted, and to a few other outlets who seem eager to have JHR in their midst.

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