After living in Philadelphia for two years, I naively assumed that Ghana was going to be quiet and peaceful. Man, was I wrong. The first week here, I could barely sleep due to the amount of noise at night. Here’s a bit of what you would hear if you visited Cape Coast, and many other parts of Ghana as well.
These noisy little suckers crow every morning around 4:30 AM and randomly throughout the day. During my first couple of weeks, they would wake me up every day. I would silently curse them and attempt to fall back asleep (which never happened). Nowadays, I can sleep right through them and not even notice. It’s always funny meeting people new to Ghana as the roosters always drive them nuts.
Goats & Sheep
Animals are definitely “free range” in Ghana. Along with the chickens, goats, sheep, dogs, and cats wander around eating anything they can find. The goats and sheep have owners who will eventually eat them, but the animals are let loose during the day. Around sundown, the animals return to their respective homes for the night. I’ve asked several people how you know which goat is yours and have yet to receive a definite answer. I’m seen some animals spray-painted or mutilated to mark ownership. You can almost always hear the goats and sheep bleating. The goats, in particular, are hilarious because they sort of sound like whining children. The baby goats are adorable and I keep joking that I’ll bring one home with me.
I used to think that Philadelphians were the most honk-happy folks that I’ve experienced. Well, Ghanaians beat them by a mile (or a kilometer). Drivers honk for a multitude of reasons here and each honk sound slightly different. The first is the universal angry driving honk. This is generally what I was used to hearing at home. Secondly, drivers honk to warn pedestrians to get out of their way. Road rules are not strict at all here (Car accidents are one of the most common cause of death) and cars drive all over the place. Therefore the honk is a useful method of telling oblivious walkers to move. Lastly, taxis honk in order to get customers. These often consist of short double honks letting pedestrians know that there is room in their taxis. Occasionally it can be annoying to get honked at when you are try to walk somewhere, but a brief head shake seems to do the trick.
Growing up, I wasn’t supposed to play outside by myself unless I was at my grandmother’s farm. Most of my friends had similar safety precautions as children. Here, children seem to have much more freedom to wander and play outside. I believe that this is due to the “takes a village to raise a child” mentality that Ghanaians have. For example, Papa Kofi occasionally doesn’t have school on days that Auntie Alice still has to work. She packs him a lunch, locks up the house, and sends him out to play for the day. He spends the day out with his friends, visiting their houses, or simply wandering around. Since there are so many adults looking out for him while Auntie is at work, Papa Kofi is safe the whole time. Therefore, hearing children laughing, playing, crying, and yelling is pretty much constant.
Church/Call to Prayer
Depending on your proximity to your local church or mosque, you might be serenaded by worshippers on a regular basis. There is a small Christian church located right below my window and there are services about three times a week. Despite its small size, that church is loud. The services are in Fante, so I don’t understand most of it, but I enjoy hearing the music. A former intern lived across from a Pentecostal church that would broadcast people talking in tongues. It’s also very common to hear the Muslim “Call to Prayer” near mosques.