Half Assini (Jomoro District, Western Region, Ghana) is quite an idyllic town. It is where Old Man lives. The landscape is dotted by many coconut trees interspersed with plantain/banana trees and indian almond trees. The main roads are paved and mostly used by people and goats with just the occasional car driving along. There’s electricity and running water and you can walk to the beautiful beach in ten minutes. What else can you ask for? People strolling, hawks circling overhead, guinea fowls rummaging in the sand, butterflies of different colours and shapes fluttering around and goats sauntering by the roadside.
Aaaaaaaah! Considering the hassles of the day before this is heavenly.
We went to Bonyere to visit Daddy’s mother. A dirt road led us to what is definitely a village. Within the village, the “roads” – I should call them widened foot paths – were sandy. Soon our taxi got stuck prompting nearby kids to run and come to push it out to safety. From grandma’s house, you can see the ocean! Beautiful!
Visiting family in the village is no small matter, especially when you have been gone for years. You have in mind that you are going visit this person or the other, but before you realize you’ve been welcomed by half the village, some of whom are not even relatives but are just hoping for “dashings” i.e. handouts i.e. monetary gifts. Even if you come prepared, you will go broke. It’s amazing! Worse, in addition to the money you have allotted to give to a particular person, they will look at you and ask for more for hospital bills, a new supposedly cash-generating enterprise, school fees and the like. You are a walking ATM as far as they are concerned.
Also, the giving of amanee (ah-man-ni-eh) can be quite lengthy. I’m not too sure if all Ghanaians do this or if it is just Akans or even just Nzema people. Amanee is like story-time. It follows the welcome ah-toos. Usually the traveller starts. Basically, you go back to the last time you saw each other, and recount all that has taken place since and what has led you to return today. Then everyone goes around shaking hands and saying welcome again. Now it is the turn of the people who are being visited to give their part of the story also. This is followed by another round of welcomes and handshakes. If there’s a third-party around, they too have to give their amanee. So if you’ve been gone for years, there’s much to say – all the new births, deaths, graduations, weddings, sicknesses, etcetera etcetera!
We returned to Half Assini for dinner and to rest for our planned trip to the Ivory Coast the next day. Old Man gave us his blessings and we left for the night. On the way to the hotel, our speeding taxi hit a couple kid goats sleeping on the roads in the darkness. We realized this a couple of minutes later when we started hearing a crying animal. It was stuck underneath the car! As we fell asleep, we could still hear the goat crying outside. The poor thing!