Friday, October 23, 2009

Art Reception/Exhibition, Adugyama, Ghana, Sat. Oct. 31, 12-5pm

Art Reception/Exhibition

Hello Everyone,

You are cordially invited to a one day exhibit and reception of art work by Daniel Kerkhoff, the children of Adugyama, and guests.

When: Saturday, October 31st, 12pm to 5pm.

Where: The Area Council Hall, Adugyama, Ashanti Region, Ghana

Adugyama is 45 km northwest of Kumasi on the Sunyani Road. The Area Council Hall is across the street from the MTN tower.

We hope to see you there. Everyone is welcome!


Reception n. 1. an act or process of receiving; a reaction to something.
2. an assembly held to receive guests. --Oxford English Mini Dictionary

Since April, I have been an artist-in residence in Adugyama,.Ghana and have been running an informal drop-in center for children, providing books, paper, pens, pencils, and colored pencils. Children from the neighborhood stop by, draw, and look at the books available.

The children are all ages and draw in a variety of eclectic styles. Some have focused on drawing animals, cars, airplanes, computers, houses, football players, scenes from village life, planets and stars, trees and nature scenes and many other things. Some have been drawing patterns, focusing on shapes and lines, and creating unique compositions. Many of their drawings will be in the exhibit, and you can see some of them on my flickr site,

Also, children/adults from Lisbon, Portugal; Mobile, Alabama, U.S.A. ; and Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A. have also sent some artwork to the village and this will be included in the exhibit as well in The Obruoni Gallery.

I have been doing my own art using pens, pencils, a water color set, a ream of A4 computer paper, a gallon of acrylic house paint, the dirt and charcoal around his residence, and vegetable and palm oils. Many of my dirt paintings have evolved into large collages.

These collages relate to my own preoccupations, interests in symbols and shapes, and my personal aesthetic sensibilities interweaving with my experiences in Ghana and the village of Adugyama. I see them as acts of receiving and discovery; they are my journal of witnessing that also honor those mysteries that transcend narrow definitions and rigid labeling.

Mortars and pestles, basins, yams, mobile phones, Adinkra symbols, cacao pods, footballs (soccer balls), stars, tea bags, benches, and ladders have all grabbed me in one way or another and made there way into these pieces. These large scale collages have also taken on a hide, animal skin-like quality. In November, I will fold them up, put them in my suitcase, and return with them back to the U.S. to show. Hopefully, they will become acts of sharing as well and become a part of the Great Weaving Project that has been going on for a long time now.

The children's art of Adugyama will be shown again in June, 2010 at Homewood Studios ( in north Minneapolis, MInnesota. Homewood Studios is owned by George and Beverly Roberts who have stayed in the village of Adugyama and have many connections here. Their son, Andrew, was the Peace Corps volunteer in Adugyama for three years and the reason why I am here. Many thanks to them for introducing me to the people here, for all the work that they've done in the communities of Adugyama and north Minnneapolis, and for their encouragement.

I will also have a solo show of my art in June 2010 in north Minneapolis at The Warren-An Artist Habitat,

James Joyce had written, "History is a nightmare that I'm trying to wake up from." From Mankato, Minnesota to Adugyama, Ghana, to wherever you are, perhaps within the realm of the "nightmare", little "waking ups" are happening all the time. I use art and travel to try and wake myself up and also notice how much I am sleeping.

Ghana just won the FIFA under-twenty world championships beating Brazil in the final. The Ghana Black Satellites are the first African team to win the championship. Everyone is excited here. I watched the match in Adugyama (Adugyama just got electricity 10 years ago). I was with five boys, Yaw Bimpe, Kwaku Baah, Sadick, Yaw Gyamfi, and Agya. They were dancing, clapping, and shouting in our room and it was an amazing moment for them. Nana and Auntie Bea came in the room and celebrated as well. I took their photos, witnessed this moment, and will take it back with me along with so many other moments.

Many thanks to everyone I met and got to know in Ghana and to those of you reading and commenting on the blogs and photos. Many thanks to my family and friends for all of their support. And a special thanks to the people in Adugyama who helped me so much and shared so much of their lives with me; the family I lived with--Mr. Atta, Auntie Bea, Nana, Rose, Becky, Sara, Ama, Yaw Bimpe, Kwaku Baah, Jennifer, and Sandra. Meda se Pa Paa, Thank you very much!

Over the winter, I'll continue blogging, uploading more photos, reflecting on my experiences here and doing more art.

You can follow along at

And my photos:

Nante Yie (walk well, safe journey), Keep in touch! --Daniel

Daniel Kerkhoff
Ph. 0278913055

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sirigu, SWOPA, Bongo--Northern Ghana

On Monday, July 27th, I went to Sirigu, a village north of Bolgatanga where the Sirigu Women Organization for Pottery and Art(SWOPA) is located.

I first heard about SWOPA when I saw their paintings at the Loom Gallery in Accra back in February. The paintings on canvas are done in the traditional styles that resemble the wall paintings on their adobe homes. Colors are mainly earth tones of browns, blacks and whites with strong geometric shapes and symbols of animals (cows, pythons, crocodiles, chickens, fish). The geometric symbols may represent a broken calabash, or a male or a female.

SWOPA was founded by Melanie Kasise, who is the first woman in the community to receive a higher education. It is composed of women who will often work as a group on a painting. They are also experiementing with newer styles and their free styles which includes more colors. Their pottery consists of many styles as well, and SWOPA had a nice shop with very affordable prices.

I went on a tour and was shown different styles of houses. The homesteads I saw were drying millet and shea nuts. I tried some of the dried millet and it was quite tasty and crunchy. The homesteads also had silos to store the millet and adobe walled pens for their goats and chickens. The women were also applying black tar to their houses. I saw many women going to and fro from SWOPA with cans of black tar.

The homes had very unique doorways (photo above). They were created for protection during the slave trade. Whoever entered had to crawl to get in, thus leaving themselves vulnerable to a big whack on the head.

I went back to Sirigu again on Thursday, Sept. 24th and saw Asoikipala again. It was market day and she was busy preparing fried yams to sell. We walked through the market saying "Toma"(hello)to everyone. I bought some handmade ropes and also some kola nuts that I've read so much about. They are used a lot by workers because they give you energy. I ate one which was on the bitter side making my mouth dry. I didn't really notice a burst of energy and maybe should have tried some more to get their affects.

I did try their locally brewed millet beer called Pito. Asokipala and I stopped at an outdoor place where a woman had a large plastic barrel of Pito with many calabash bowls. She gave me a good amount in my bowl and we drank while talking with some of the men there. They enjoyed watching me try the millet brew. It was yeasty and looked maybe a little similar to a hefeweizen but with a bit stronger yeasty taste.

Besides the beautifully painted houses, Sirigu is also famous for "the elaborate facial scarring--almost like a spider's web in complexity--practised by the Nakarisi people (Ghana Bradt Guide, p.375).


Bongo, Ghana
Originally uploaded by Daniel Kerkhoff

On July 26th, also a day trip from Bolgatanga, I went to Bongo, famous for the baobab trees and incredible rock formations. Some children met me along the way and escorted me through these amazing scupture-gardenesque rocks and trees. There were many grazing sheep and cows which gave the place a pastoral, almost English countryside feel that reminded me of the land of the Hobbits. We climbed up a hill and had incredible views of the countryside. It was definately an other worldy experience that felt like being in some kind of fairy tale book.

Bongo, Ghana
Originally uploaded by Daniel Kerkhoff

These are notes I took from a Ghana travel magazine (I don't remember its name) while I ate in a restaurant in Accra:

The baobob tree--its leaves contain vitamin C, sugar, potassium, calcium, leaves are cooked or crushed for later use. Seeds roasted as a coffee substitute. Baobob tree is an object of worship by Africans in the savannas. It has a foul smell. Its parts were used to ward off evil spirits. The baobob tree is a sacred tree and is also called God's thumb. It has a long life, can survive long periods of time without water and has many uses. People make soap, necklaces, glue, rubber, medicine, and cloth from the baobob tree. The spirits inhabit the flower of the baobob. Some believe if you pick a flower, you will be eaten by a lion. Drink an infusion of the bark and a man will become strong. Baby boys bathed in this infusion to become strong. Witches have their nocturnal meetings at the top of the tree.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou, Bobo-Dioulasso, July 17th-24th, Sept. 20-23rd, 2009

I went to Burkina Faso primarily to get my visa stamped for another two months. I had to leave Ghana after being there for six months, and I was curious about Burkina. If I had more time, energy and resources, I would have loved to look around more and go to Mali as well.

Burkina Faso is a French speaking country and its "Frenchness" seemed very apparent from the sidewalk cafes with baguettes, bowls of cafe au laits, wonderfully sweet and fresh yogurts, and the scooters and bicycles zooming by with many stylish, colorfully dressed women wearing sun glasses. And then there's also the ever present prevalence of les cigarettes which is a rarity in Ghana, at least smoking en publique.

I walked around Ouagadougou(pron. Wuagadoogoo), the largest city in Burkina Faso, and the architecture frequently caught my eye. There were many unique styles evoking mid-century modern, sixties Vegas to architecture that reflected the landscape which reminded me of architecture from New Mexico in the U.S.; adobe styles with curves much like the buildings in villages. The photo below is an example that also reminded me of Wright's Guggenheim Museum in New York.

On the way to the STMB bus station, I came across this avenue lined with carved trees that were a visual treat. I wish I could tell you who did them and how they came to being. There must have twelve trees in the area with different carvings of people, animals, and sayings.

Near the STMB bus station, I also come across a restaurant/bar called Baratapas. It is full of junk metal scuptures and paintings. I meet the owner from France and he tells me he commissions some of the pieces and also lets artists store their work there. I enjoy looking around and he says it's okay to take pictures. I drink a bissap, which is a non-alcoholic drink that tastes like a sangria.

I return in September just for a couple of days and come across an artisans shop for people with disabilities called Tigoung Nonma. Tigoung Nonma ( is also connected with Handicap Solidaire Burkina ( I walk in and a man shows me some of the jewelry and other craft items he has made and I get a couple items. The artisan's name is Dabre Issa Guerrier. He's very enthusiastic about the center and wants me to meet an English woman who is volunteering there. I end up going to the main shop and get an motorcycle crafted out of metal and Nescafe cans. The woman working the shop is practicing her English and does quite well because my French is so poor. It was quite the creative place with a great spirit. I talked with the English woman for awhile and she told me how many of the people at the center had their houses destroyed by the recent heavy flooding. She and her organization were able to raise some funds to help them out, but it was a devastating summer. After visiting in the shop, I drank a coffee at their little cafe outside and then moved along.

In July, I also went to Bobo-Dioulasso for three days. Bobo is southwest of Ouaga about a four hour bus ride. The European Union help fund the highway and it was very new and smooth riding. Bobo is smaller and quieter than Ouaga and I spent a lot of time enjoying bakeries and cafes. It was a nice place to relax.

I came in to this Total gas station in Bobo-Dioulasso to buy some water and thought she was the most elegant gas station attendant I had ever seen, so I asked her if I could take her picture. Her eyebrows are also the fashion of Burkina with some women having even more pronounced and darker lines

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bolgatanga, Ghana, July 16-17,24-27, Sept. 19,23-24

I spent a few days in Bolgatanga on the way in and out of Burkina Faso in July and again in September. Bolga is the capital of the Upper East Region with about 70,000 people (Bradt Guide). Bolga was a good base to go on day trips to Bongo and Sirigu. When I first arrived in Bolga, I was walking along the major highway that connects with Tamale and Paga. The lanes were wide, lots of concrete, and the low mountains were off in the distance. The way the light was striking the mountains made me feel very much at home. It felt a lot like Albuquerque, New Mexico where I had lived for two years. I enjoyed these comparisons even as I traveled through Burkina Faso.

While in Bolga, I came across the Roots Art Gallery (photo below) and enjoyed a couple cups of Ethiopian coffee while looking at the crafts and artwork. I ended up buying a couple pieces of jewelry. Joy and Nyaaba were two of the artists there who are part of the cooperative. They said that Peace Corps volunteers helped establish the cooperative/gallery. Joy makes jewelry, teaches drumming, does various other crafts and is into reggae music. Nyaaba had several French books he was looking at and loves studying languages.

We listened to cds of Kologo music from the Bolga region. Kologo (Koliko,Koloko) music is played on a two-stringed instrument similar to a banjo or a guitar. The body is made from a calabash gourd with a hide stretched across its opening. The strings are played with an intense rhythm. I loved the music and asked them the names of the musicians. I heard Atongo Zimba, Sambo, King Ayisoba, and Amodo. Atonga Zimba sang a song with lyrics something like, "In heaven there is no beer, so that is why we are drinking all the beer here." They told me he is now in Accra and doing well.

When I returned to Bolga again in September, I stumbled upon Sambo's recording studio while venturing to the loo at the lorry station. Sambo was there working on his motorcycle. I asked him about cds and he took me to the back where he sampled them. Sambo's full name is Aburiya Adabire. His music seemed the most intense and urgent of the Kologo players I heard. Joy said his lyrics are good and intellectual. I ended up buying four cds.

I returned to the Roots Art Gallery again and asked about the Koloko musicians. Nyaaba said that Amodo (Akadumah Amodo) lived nearby and he'd check about me paying a visit. While I drank my tasty cup of Ethiopian coffee, he came back and said that Amodo has malaria but he would still like me to come by. We went there walking through various dirt paths behind houses where several pigs were resting and children were playing.

We entered Amodo's courtyard (Agoo, Agoo, knock, knock). He was lying on his cot in the middle of the courtyard. His face was drenched in sweat and I thought we'd just inquire about some cds and then get out and let him rest. But he picked up his Kologo and started playing for us. His music was a melancholy almost wailing bluesy style with a heavy pulse and rhythm from the Koloko strumming. His voice was raspy and sweat was streaming down his face. Nyaaba who was interpreting the lyrics for me assured me he was very happy to be playing. His wife was in the corner washing dishes. I enjoyed a small, very special concert while thinking from here to Mali was the origins of the Mississippi Delta Blues.

Amodo didn't have any cds that day and so I returned again to buy three of his cds. I also ended up buying Atongo Zimba's "Savannah Breeze" cd at the Roots Art Gallery. I'll look for King Ayisoba in Kumasi.

In Bolgatanga, I ate several dinners at Sala's Fast Food (photo below). It was near where I was staying, the Nsanmini Guesthouse, and it was delicious food; all for 1.50 cedis I ate a leg of chicken, a large heaping of white rice and stew. I told Sandra, the owner, that it was some of the best pepper stew I've had in Ghana. It was nice and spicy.

Sandra is only 22 yrs. old and was running a good business. She was training a teenager how to cook. While I was there, several street boys came by and she gave them large heapings of rice. They called her "ma".

She had a T.V. set up in her small sitting area so we would watch music videos, and she would educate me on who the various singers were. We watched the group P Square from Nigeria, twin singers and dancers. They're very popular and Sandra said they are her favorite. We also watched several videos by the singer and dancer, Costuleta. He's originally from Angola but lives in Portugal. He has only one leg and is an incredible dancer, sometimes humorous but also playfully sexual, innovative dancing. Another dancer appeared in his videos who would do comical moves and funny, distorted, facial expressions. They did a lot of dancing with the ladies by a swimming pool or out on the streets.

Sandra enjoys clubbing, often trying out different wigs, and would go on Friday night when it was ladies night at the Soul Train, the local night club. Her friends would stop by and eat, watch videos, and try out various accessories and hair styles. I almost went along with tired, but was too tired when 11:00 came around to eventually go out.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mole! Mole!, Mole National Park, Ghana, July 13-15, 2009

This is the view from the observation deck at Mole Motel in Mole National Park.

According to my Bradt Guide, Mole National Park is Ghana's largest wildlife sanctuary, about 4,480 square kilometres. It has more than 90 mammal species and 344 bird species. There are about 800 elephant, 1,100 buffalo, hippos, warhogs, and antelope species such as kob, Defassa waterbuck, bushbuck, and roan.

At 6:30 am on Monday, July 13, I started walking from the village of Larabanga to the Mole Motel, about 5km on a gravel road. Along the way, I saw Pata Monkeys and Kob Antelope. The guinea fowl crossed in front of me, and a warthog and I passed each other on the road, both of us keeping our eyes on the other. When I got to the Mole Motel, warthogs were on the front lawn eating grass. One stared me down and snorted at me. I already felt like I had my fill, and it was only 8 am.

At the motel restaurant, right in front of the swimming pool, I ate a tasty breakfast --an onion and mushroom omelet and coffee. Then, I proceeded to the observation deck where I stayed for the rest of the day until 7pm; that is, when I wasn't going back for another refreshment.

Just all the green alone could have kept me fixated at that observation deck, but there were also various antelope down there grazing, chasing each other, trevassing and lounging. At around 10 am, I saw big trees moving, and then some grey, and then out came the large pachyderms. Five elephants slowly made their way to the watering hole and started swimming. They submerged themselves turning from light, dusty grey to almost black. Their trunks would rest on each other's backs and intertwine as they waded around for a couple hours. These were all males. The females were with their young in the bush. I also saw a couple crocodiles floating like logs not too far away from the elephants.

People come and go, various volunteers from Europe or the States, and we have little chats while were looking out over the expanse. I talked with David, a Ghanaian studying biology at Novrongo. He said he was doing some research at the park for three weeks. He told me that there were about 100 lions in the park but they are being reduced. They believe it is due to inbreeding. He was researching creating migration corridors between Mole NP and another park in Burkina Faso. The corridors would be about 200 km wide and would alleviate the inbreeding problem. He also said there were hyenas around, but they were very endangered. Park rangers go through the park and search for poachers.

At around 2 pm, three elephants are back in the water playing and swimming. Six elephants all together are near the watering hole. Baboon monkeys occasionally pass behind me looking for some grub in the trash cans or on some unsuspecting tourists table. One surprises me by knocking over the trash can about 10 feet away. I don't have anywhere else to go. Luckily, I don't have a sandwich in my hand. He moves on to the swimming pool, and I hear some women scream. Later, I talk to a European guy who says the baboon jumped on his table and grabbed his sandwich.

I eat guinea fowl for dinner and am back at the observation deck to watch the sunset. Just when it's getting too dark below to notice much, I spot some very dark shapes moving across the slightly lighter grasses. Judging by their size, I reckon they are African Buffalo, about 50 of them walking slowly. Thus ended my day at the deck before I retire for another refreshment. The whole day seemed surreal, like I was some hawk watching a hyper-real, HD, computer generated, digital paradise.

The next day, I woke up at 5:30 am and was back at the observation deck. I'm all alone, misty layers upon layers of light and dark green canopies of trees for miles and miles. Below on the grass, the brown kob and bushbuck antelope go out into the green fields to do some grazing. Hugh Masekela's "Grazing in the Grass".

At 7am, I head over to the visitor's center to go on a two hour walking safari, only six cedis (about $4.00) for a 2 hour plus safari. Along the way, I encounter about 30 baboons walking towards me. I step to the side and hope they just pass me by. At the visitor's center, I put on my Wallenting boots, tall rubber boots, for the walk and wait around with some Europeans. A big group of South Korean students arrive. Then, out of the bush comes an elephant with big tusks. Everybody starts taking pictures and are excited. The Koreans get too close and the guides warn them to stay back. You're supposed to stay 50 meters, but we all get too close because a couple more elephants come and mosey by us to eat some of the nice shrubs and grasses.

I get with a group of 10 people and our guide starts walking us out towards the bush. We see green monkeys and many many kob antelope watching us, then prancing away. We see bushbuck which have incredible white lined markings like tattoos. We also see Defassa waterbuck. Our guide shows us a natural salt-lick. It's smooth, light gray rocks are visited by the antelope and the elephants for a little treat and necessary nourishment. We walk all around the areas I had seen from the observation deck. When we get to the watering hole, there are a couple elephants bathing. Then, some more come into the water and they all swim and play and we watch and take photos. On our way back to the hotel, we come upon a elephant in the bush, only 10 meters from us. Our guide quickly takes his rifle from his shoulder and tells us to back off and go around. As I'm moving away, I snap a photo.

Watching these elephants go for a swim while we were on safari was pretty cool.

This green monkey and her baby passed me while I was eating breakfast. Many baboons were around and would get close. The waitress gave me a big silver platter to use to scare them away. I would stand up occasionally and wave my platter and then go back to my coffee and omelette. On my last morning in the park, I sat at the observation deck and about a dozen green monkeys were eating leaves off the trees around me. The way they ate, those leaves must have been tasty.

West Africa isn't really known for its wildlife and safaris. Most people go to east Africa and southern Africa for that and I've seen some amazing photos from there showing what most people associate with Africa. But Mole NP was a wonderful place, not very crowded or on the beaten path. The motel had its comforts and the rainforest and animal and bird life were mesmerizing.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Larabanga! Northern Ghana, July 12 and 15th, 2009

On July 12, I took a very bumpy bus trip to Larabanga, the gateway to Mole National Park. I sat next to Cecelia, a school teacher going to Damongo to visit her family. She was in her thirties and still single so I complimented her on her "singleness" and we had a nice chat while we rode the bucking bronco bus.

Larabanga is a village of about 4000 inhabitants. According to my trusty Bradt Guide,it's also the place of what is considered the oldest extant building in Ghana, the mosque. Some say it dates to the 1400s and others put it more in the range of 1600s, but opinions vary.

In Larabanga, I stayed overnight at the Salia Brothers Guestlodge. As soon as I arrived, Alhassan took me up to the roof where we chatted and watched the sunset. He told me about the projects he and his brothers are doing. He wanted me to visit the school they ran, and I said I would after I returned from the park.

I slept on the roof. A mattress was put up there and I spectated at the twinkling starchestra in the sky with the occasional flute and piccolo solos of shooting stars. I actually got cold and eventually had to bury my head in the sheets. The next morning, I walked the five km gravel road to Mole National Park.

On my walk back from the park, I stopped at the "Bambeniye", Community Basic School of Larabanga. It was founded by the Salia Brothers. I got a little tour, took some pictures which the children seemed to really enjoy. They were working on a kindergarten classroom that would hopefully soon be running.

The Salia brothers saw that there were many children not attending school. These children didn't have the money for school uniforms or school supplies. This motivated the Salia brothers to start a school. Whenever they see someone in the village not attending school, they encourage to come to their school.

The school is largely dependent on funds from outside and volunteer help. While I was there, I met three volunteers from Austria, Germanay, and Holland. I had beans and rice with Hussein Salia and Monika Els from Austria. Hussein explained how the school was run and some of their issues. Monika is raising money in Europe and put together a calendar that is for sale to raise funds.

They are looking for volunteers to help with teaching and working with the children. The volunteers stay at the guestlodge. They are also looking for anyone who wishes to donate supplies or money. A little more info is at: Here is their addresses below if anyone wishes to contact them and support them:

Hussein and Al-hassan Salia, Project Coordinators
Larabanga Community Development Center
P.O. Box 47
Damango, Northern Ghana
Ghana, West Africa

Alhassan Salia, Co-director, e-mail:
Monika Els (Project Coordinator Austria), e-mail:

I also spoke with another brother who has a vision of putting a internet cafe at the guestlodge. His goal is to obtain three computers and go into business.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Hot Tamale, Alhassan, Obamamania, July 9-12, 28-30, 20009

In July, I went on a three week trip. I started out by taking the bus from Kumasi to Tamale. Tamale is the third largest city in Ghana and the gateway to northern Ghana. I stayed in Tamale with an artist, Alhassan, a brother of Sumaila, the taxi driver who picked me up at the airport when I first arrived. Alhassan does commercial art/sign painting as well as traditional village-style art. He apprenticed when he was younger, then studied journalism for awhile, and then decided he wanted to do art as a career. He works from his apartment which he set up nicely with a big sign. He is also working on getting a shop going with another artist across from the Alhassan Hotel and next to the Decency Spot. You can see his work at and search Alassart.

The sign Alhassan is painting is for a barber shop. This is a common style for painting for sign painters/commercial artists. Many small businesses advertize by employing sign painters.

While I was in Tamale, President Obama was visiting Ghana. Alhassan and I watched a lot of his visit at his friend Muda's house. We saw him get off the plane on Friday evening and enjoy the cultural greeting (music and dancers) he received. Then, the next day, we saw his speech to the Ministers of Parliament. From people I've talked to, his speech went over very well.

It was Obamamania leading up to his arrival. People were talking about it a lot, his books were out on the streets, people were wearing t-shirts. People were excited and there was a feeling like he was coming home. The Daily Graphic, Ghana's major newspaper devoted most of it's articles to the Obama visit on the days leading up to him coming. The question was: What does this mean for Ghana and what will it mean for Ghana? People seemed to want the world to know that Ghana was open for business and were proud that he chose Ghana over Kenya and all the other sub-saharan African countries.

People would ask me where I was from and then right away say "Obama!" and would look at me to see how I'd react and I'd give them a smile. When his speech was over, I would ask, "What did you think of Obama's speech." One man said that the only U.S. President that could give a speech like that would have been Obama. It would not have gone over well if any of the previous presidents had done so. Then, the question was how much were Ghanaians or Africans relying on Pres. Obama to be some kind of savior. Pres. Obama seemed to realize this and down played his ability to change Africa by himself emphasizing it will be Africans who will change Africa for the better.

In the Daily Graphic, they showed one text message that was circulating Africa during the U.S. presidential elections. Many of you have already heard this. It went like this:

"Rosa Parks sat so that Martin Luther King could march, Martin Luther King marched so that Obama could run and Obama ran so that our children could fly."

This seems to be the mood about Obama here as in so many other places.

The two major political parties in Ghana are the NDC (the National Democratic Congress) and the NPP (the New Patriotic Party) The NDC just won the election last December and are in power for four years before the next election. The NPP were in office for the previous eight years, and before that the NDC.

Jerry John Rawlings who was in power from 1982 to 2000. A new constitution and a multi-party system were formed in 1991, and J.J. Rawlings ran on the NDC party. He won in 1992 and in 1996. John Kufour of the NPP party won the next election against John Atta-Mills and was in office from 2000 to 2008. Then, John Evans Atta-Mills (NDC Party) won a very close election against Nana Akufo-Addo (NPP). Because the election was so close, they had to have a run-off election at the end of December. There was a lot of tension and some skirmishes. I had bought my plane ticket a couple days before this run-off and I was a bit nervous as were many people. What happened in Kenya was fresh in people's minds, a supposedly stable, African country. But by and large, the transfer of power went smoothly and peaceably and it was lauded around the world. Hence, Obama's choice to come to Ghana instead of his father's native land of Kenya.

From what I've gathered the NDC is somewhat similar to the U.S.'s Democratic Party and the NPP is somewhat similar to the U.S.'s Republican Party in their philosophies regarding government's responsibility, social services, and business. Also, the red state, blue state phenomenon in the U.S seems to be the case as well in Ghana. The Ashanti region heavily favors the NPP and northern Ghana seems to be strongly NDC. But, I did see many NPP signs when I was traveling north. The NDC is perceived to be strong in Accra and the coastal regions, but I was told that is just a perception because J.J. Rawlings is from Accra.

Inflation has risen sharply in the past few months and many people are blaming the current government. I explain that in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, there are also recent economic problems. Talk radios seem similar here as in the U.S., very loud with lots of political opinions flying about.


On my return from Burkina Faso, I stopped back into Tamale for a couple nights. A family invited me to stay with them. They lived in the nurses quarters, the mother was a nurse. The daughters liked to watch professional wrestling on satellite television. We also watched Akon music videos and Michael Jackson videos. I also relaxed in their courtyard.

Eating yams, beans and pepper stew,
Three year old Bridget drawing,
A flat stone in the courtyard.

"A Tamale Courtyard"
for Glen Gould

In the corner, a rusty oil drum
for water,
A low wooden bench, weathered,
loose nailed.

Against a wall,
a darkened metal pot on a
blackened grill, old charcoal,
a mortar, a pestle.

Flies and ants
scour and forage
concrete, cracks, and crevices.

Torpid, hardened, aged surfaces,
textured and layered,
a scarred, infertile landscape,
rain pounded and foot pressed,
solar molested with persistent,
unrelenting sun gropes and other
courted weights, patiently waiting
for the night.

And inside of this,

a solid walled space of sound visits,
gentle meetings of various engines and
human voices, of bird songs and floating
televisions, winded leaves and waning
branches, vital movements of metals
pounding surfaces and other
waves of outside activities,
a goat's call, a schoolyard cadence,
a dove's coo, a fly's buzz.

They introduce themselves,
pass by unintruding,
an interweaving solitude,
orchestral and symphonic.