I made a mistake in Winneba Part 1, the group of students who dance and sing to de-stress is not called the “Royal Warriors,” they are called the “Royal Guardians.” Sorry!
The next morning after breakfast we headed to the local market. Here we saw many seamstresses sewing the colorful fabrics of Ghana into school uniforms or other clothing articles. We saw many vendors of local foods and many vendors of random assortment of things from cellphones to other electronics or mechanical parts. We walked through the fresh produce market where lots of wheat, barley, corn, fruits, and occasionally meat were being sold. It was like a traditional market in Taiwan, but less developed and a lot dirtier. Nonetheless it was great to see the interaction of the vendors and buyers. We then came to a courtyard in the market where chairs were set up for us. Here is where we met the Market Queen. We learned about the system of trading in the market and had a short Q&A session with the Market Queen and traders, all of whom where female.
Market and Market Queen
The Market Queen’s role is to offer conflict resolution in the market. While most of the vendors are females, there are male vendors out there, it apparently depends on the product and certain areas of the market are gender specific. Queen Mother in the local tongue is Mamaba (I could be spelling this wrong). Some of the common problems she faces are situations where vendors are selling the same products next to each other and one gets more clients than the other, which results in jealousy and anger. She usually solves only 1 problem a day, and she usually does so by sitting down with the two parties and talking it out. It is peaceful conflict resolution. If one of the two parties disagrees with the Queen’s decision then they are forced to pack up and go home for 3 months. If the conflict involves three or more parties they bring the case to the police and it becomes a civil case. The conflicts are not recorded because they are solved on the spot, but if a vendor is consistently getting into trouble his/ her name is recorded for constantly causing problems. Usually one begins work as a trader/ vendor at the age of 20 when they are considered able to take care of themselves. They work from 6am to 6pm. The queen mother is appointed and it is a voluntary thing, so one can say no to an appointment, and they serve until death. When the women were asked about divorce and gender roles, they all laughed hard and clapped. There is no real concept of divorce. It is all economical, if the wife does not bring in enough money to the family the husband will tell her to stay home. However when the wife decides to begin trading, the husband must subsidize and help her. Even the husband wife disputes are peaceful disputes.
Fishing and Chief Fisherman
After getting to know the market system and how women do business in the community we drove out to the beach to meet up with the men, who do the fishing. We met with the Chief Fisherman and his men, and his role is the same as the Market Queen. He is also appointed and serves till death. The way conflicts are solved is also the same and if the situation becomes tough then they bring the case to the authorities. One problem that often comes up is when one fisherman casts his net in an area with a good catch and then another comes along and casts his net in the same exact spot! It all depends on money in the fishing world, if a man has enough money he can hire a carpenter to carve a canoe for him, the more money there is the larger the canoe. He can also buy good quality nets and if he does not have enough family members to help him at sea he can employ people. Sometimes the fishermen who don’t have the means to buy their own canoe form a group together and buy a canoe and nets as a partnership, but sometimes conflicts arise during this process which make it more difficult. They do not use modern technology to know when there will be fish or when a good time would be to go out fishing. The fishermen know when to go out fishing by looking at the ocean. If they have a good catch, they sail back to the beach wearing special clothing to show their fellow men that they had a good day, and thus they will not need to fish the next day. The fishermen mend their own nets, and the techniques of fishing and mending are taught by elders and learned by the younger ones, and most often kids go to school to learn about the fishing business in the community. To get the canoes out to sea from the sandy beach, the fishermen roll the canoes along pipes until the current takes over. One problem they face is that sometimes patrol ships larger than the canoes carry the fishing nets away harming both the fish and the fisherman’s livelihood.
It was great to see the colorful canoes lined up on the beach and to learn about both the market and fishing industries in a local community.
Our last stop in WInneba was the central campus of the University. Here we entered a lecture hall with a stage. This campus is the performing arts campus, and thus we were treated to a showcase of various dances from the region by the dance students. The first dance was the Kpanlogo, and dance from the capital region of Accra, and it is a Ga dance from the coastal region. Then we saw the Pawa dance, which comes from the north region of Ghana. The 3rd dance was the Sinte, a dance not from Ghana but from East Africa, which had similar elements to the previous two Ghanaian dances. Then came the Santo dance, which was a hybrid dance of various dances from different regions. Finally came the Adowa, from the Ashanti region of Ghana. All of the dances were accompanied by drumming and a few of them were accompanied by singing as well. The dancers all dressed in bright colored fabrics and were really good dancers! The last thing they did was perform the Kpanlogo again, but this time we were invited to go on stage and dance with them! It was really fun, and boy it was tough! We were all huffing and puffing and sweating from doing only a small portion of the dances that we saw that morning! Again I saw just how much energy and passion there is within the Ghanaian people! After this I sadly said good bye to Arko as we departed Winneba. But before we departed our trip liaisons bid goodbye to the mayor at his office.
On our drive back to the ship we stopped in the middle of the motorway and ran across it! Why did we try to commit suicide and run across and busy and unpredictable motorway? Well it was because we wanted to do a bit of shopping at a local handicraft market. Was it worth risking our lives? Well kind of, I mean it was nice to see some of the Ghanaian art and it was after all the first souvenir stop for all of us so it was exciting and new.
All along the streets I noticed a lot of Korean words and a few Chinese words here and there and I even saw a Korean Church, I later asked our guide about this and she said there is a pretty heavy Korean and Chinese presence in the main cities such as Tema and Accra due to shipping and trading businesses. I found this quite interesting.
We then arrived at the ship, which once again felt homey.
My trip to Winneba was great, I made two wonderful Ghanaian friends, and really experienced the warmth and energy of the Ghanaian people.
But my next overnight trip would really be what defines Ghana for me.