My first day livingin Osu....
Accra Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
So yesterday evening I moved from the Golden Tulip Hotel to my apartment in the Osu district of Accra. The Glden Tulip was nice, the buffet breakfast, pool, restaurant, bar..... But it was time to leave, after all, why go to Africa and stay in the hotel the whole time? Plus it wasn't up tome whether I got to stay there or not. So my compnay moved me in to an apartment on what is known as "Oxford Street" in Osu. This is where everything happens in Accra. The first day I went out was on a Saturday and the place was mobbed with people. I had driven down the street once before and was amazed a the number of people and the distinct nostril tingling smell of car exhaust in the 90 degee dry heat. I can only explain the smell of Osu as....wood charcoal. That's all I can think of to describe the smell of the streets. This may be due to the number of people cooking food on the roadsides.
Walking to the grocery store was my main purpose since I had no water, soap, or food to speak of and was extremely parched and afraid to drink out of the faucet. I've heard some very bad things about doing that from my fellow co-workers who have been there a number of times. As I walked to the store a man by the name of Kojo, "born on monday", also known as "Black Africa" he told me, stopped and said hello. I didn't see anything in his hands so I stopped and said hi back. We then started a conversation that to my surprise lasted around 20 minutes right outside of Koala supermarket. He proceeded to give me a lesson in the history of Ghana, me wanting to know what he is trying to sell me. After that whole deal I bought a painting from him for way too much only because his pitch was good, he was well spoken and he was very polite. And I just liked his overall attitude. This man was the only person that tried to sell me somethig that day that wasn't pushy and genunely seemed to want me to learn something from him and not just buy something. What surprised me most was after I came out of the store people flocked to me wth things that they wanted me to buy. Undoubtedly they had seen me talking to Kojo and realized that I was a nice guy nd would probably talk to anyone. Which is true. So, for the next 20 minutes I am trying to walk down the street and every single person I pass by is grabbing me and asking my name. "Matt, I have something for you, you must see..." "ok" I say, "watcha got?" I wasn't in the mood to buy anything and a lot of them were pushy. Then Kojo comes out of nowhere and says hi to me and shakes my hand. Little did I know he was helping me get away from everyone tryin g to sell me whateer it is they were selling.
So I walked and talked to Kojo wondering why he would do such a thing. Take up his own time to help me out when he wasn't going to get any more money out of me. He says to me, "Matt, you have a kind heart. You no just walk away and ignore me when I say hi to you. You listen to what I have to say, and you know where I am coming from. " This made me happy to hear how grateful he was that I stopped. He wasn't a scary guy, wasn't dirty or threatening. Just a man trying to earn a living as best as he knew how, and was full of faith and belief. He asks me later, "who is most-high?" I say, "You?" because his eyes looked a little red. "No, Matt. GOD! God is the most high, and from up there he can see everybody, and everybody must live in peace and love together, not apart. And because you stopped to say hello to me, we are now living together and God is happy now." This was a most profound statement and made me realize something about Kojo, that he was extremely grateful to be on this earth regardless of his financial or material position in life. He was grateful for the love of the world and the peace that he knows is there, thepeace that most have forgotten or can not see. He was grateful for the people around him and the God that drives him to be who he wants to be. I wish one day I could be so lucky as to see the world in that light.
I learned a lot in a very short amount of time on this day, and can't wait until I learn much, much more in this place. I can only hope that I have the willingness to listen and not to judge people for what I see and instead give everyone a chance to prove themselves to me. Prove that they can be who they want, and not who they are supposed to be. To prove that they don'y fit the stereotype, the lingering essence which most people see when they think of Africa. Because all people need is a chance to be heard, and for someone to listen.