Life Pursuits and Chieftancy
Allow me to lead you to just outside our compound door where we park our borrowed ‘political’ vehicle, then ‘moto’ you to one of the local Junior high schools for a computer class, moto you back to our compound to greet teacher Angelina on a sunny deck, and then end the day by making an evening moto ride to the Chief’s Palace.
Moto – a motorcycle, usually a 125 cc or 150 cc used on a variety of terrain. The borrowed one I used took about 5 trips on the pot-holed and dusty 40 minutes ride to Bolgatanga, and many an hour on usually rocky bush trails leading me to schools and dry-season farming sites.
“Can you Pick me up”? – This actually means “Do you remember who I am? We have met before.”
Here we are! We just stepped out of our rather spacious yet utilitarian compound to take a photo of some of the successful and very gratified teacher diploma students. It took some planning on their parts to come together to greet and express their appreciation. Front row: longtime friends Leticia and Sandra, back row: Simon, Moses A., Sylvester, and Moses N., and next to Moses N. is a smiling placard of the man who loaned us this vehicle for the many tasks we set out to do. He is The Honorable Boniface Gambila, the former Member of Parliament.
We took a moment to give a prayer and thank the deceased Kongo resident Agnes Dinaa who played a key role in ‘making it happen’ for these outstanding young people, whose lives are most definitely changed because of their successful pursuit. This was one of my most rewarding and happy moments. But alas, we have a computer class to attend!
Here we are at Logre Junior High.
I witnessed the start of the day with kids assembled in straight lines, the singing of the national anthem, saying the morning prayer, and then having their uniforms, haircuts, and shoes inspected before marching into the building while singing a French “ABC” song. I met the headmaster who asked “Can You Pick me up?” He being of good size, I quickly realized he was not being literal, and I summoned my good sense to say , “Yes, Of Course!”. He is Samuel, who I’ve known for 10 years, and it was very good to see him again. The teaching situation for this computer class is far better than the norm for tech education. Often the computer is drawn on the chalkboard with keyboard functions explained linearly. But here, though it be three to five to a computer, they actually get some ‘hands on’ experience. The teacher we see in the background is Paul Kurug, a graduate from our scholarship program. Michael Johnson, one of the contributors to the scholarship program donated a lightly-used laptop to Paul, who finds it’s use now indispensable. You see a whiteboard. They are ready to use a projector, but currently this is not financially feasible. Paul did an excellent presentation on use of ‘tools’. We must move along! Former teacher training student is waiting to greet me at the compound!
Here you see myself and Angelina Dimah shaking hands.
Angelina is a first year teacher at a local Junior High. Like many teachers starting out, she receives no pay for an unpredicted period of months. In the past the first year teacher has been paid retroactively, but now there is talk of only paying for three months back pay even though the teacher may have worked 8 months. The process is politically driven to a large degree, with many campaign promises, some unfulfilled. She is hoping to get some source of income by getting a freezer and selling cold drinks as the weather gets even warmer than the 100 degrees it is now. She also has found the right man and hopes to marry. Presently she is dependent on her mother-in-law-to-be and feels badly that she is so reliant on her, thus hopes to do something to gain some funds. She is bright, vivacious, and hopeful. We get news that the chief of Kongo has requested my and Chareundi’s presence at the Chief’s Palace. Never make a chief wait for long!
Chareundi Van-Si, a good friend and first-time volunteer in Ghana moto to the Kongo Chief’s Palace. It seems a presentation is in order. I recall Lisa and my first visit to Ghana when, on Christmas Day 2005, we were called to the palace where our children, Michael and Kristin were presented with smocks. Though the chief receives a small stipend from the government, he somehow was still able to afford making our children very welcome and impressed. And now, Chareundi was honored with a smock on this visit in 2017!
In fact, much to the amusement of the Kongo Chief, Chareundi declared himself “Junior Chief of Kongo”! We celebrated the event by imbibing a small amount of the chief’s gin. The little boy on the Chief’s lap is his grandchild, who is quite fond of the Chief. By the way, the rather large bird in the background is a turkey. We gamely hop on our moto to report the happy event to Lisa and Marilyn. They were impressed!
At this point, I must admit this ‘day’ I just described is actually a composite of events that took place over several days. For literary purposes, I threw them into one. Now wasn’t that fun? David Stone