Grandma’s 90th

When talking about my family, I often refer to my nuclear family consisting of my mom, my dad and my sister who all live in the US. Both of my parents come from large families but my father’s side is truly larger than life. The purpose of my visit to Ghana was to celebrate my paternal grandmother’s 90th birthday. My dad and his siblings organized a huge party complete with buttons, keychains, and matching outfits (special fabric for her children and matching polos for all the grandchildren & great-grandchildren).

When asked about Ghana, I often fail to remember things. I’m always a passive traveller here–a tag-a-long. But whenever I’m in-country, everything becomes familiar again. When we drive onto a certain road or enter a new area, I get this instinctive feeling that tells me I’ve been here before. This happened a lot on the drive from Accra to Asokore (town near Kumasi where my grandmother lives) which takes about five hours. The roads consist of a mixture of smooth motoways and terribly bumpy unfinished roads (there are a lot of unfinished things in Ghana). The scene is breathtaking. Ghana is mostly plains or flat with a few rolling hills here and there. The sky and its magnificent clouds are always a part of the landscape. Every type of cloud is represented in the sky from dark rain clouds, to the cotton ball like cumulus nimbus clouds. They’re the types of clouds that make me want to lie on my back and create stories as the clouds slowly float by. The land is lush and fertile, full of tropical greenery like palm trees, plantain trees, papaya trees and cassava trees.

Whenever we arrive in Asokore, we are greeted with a royal welcome. Cousins and grand-cousins (mostly the grand-cousins these days) crowd the car waving their handkerchiefs and cheering. The young boys carry our luggage to our room. Once we enter the house my grandma is usually standing there to greet us. There is always activity at my grandma’s house as it is a joint family house meaning my father’s brothers and sisters and their children live there as well. There is never a dull moment. Even the evening we arrived, people slowly trickled in, knock after knock, saying ‘Akwaaba’ (welcome) and shaking our hands.

The activity of Asokore never ends. The place is noisy. The morning activity first starts with the call to prayer. On this particular morning, the women of the house rose especially early to continue cooking for the party. As the mothers cooked, their toddlers cried and laughed from another room in the house.  In spite of this, I still continued with my morning meditation routine, using all of my energy to concentrate.

The party started in the afternoon. It was held in front of the house. When my grandma walked out they played “Sweet Mother” and everyone crowded her and waved their handkerchiefs around. The highlight of the party was a raffle where they gave out cellphones as the prize. My sister and I had the responsibility of distributing the raffle tickets which was one of the more difficult jobs. The excited party guests mobbed us each time the MC would made an announcement for raffle tickets. Two out of the three winners were related to us and there were roughly 250 people there.  The party ended like all Ghanaian parties do, with a good dance celebration. Everyone danced until the tropical rain washed us out, signaling the end of the party. I have no doubt that the grand-cousins would have gone all night if it wasn’t for the rainfall.

Now I’m back in Accra and I’m leaving for the US in one week.

 

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