I apologize for the lack of posts. I managed to get a stubborn bacterial infection and was sick most of last week. After surviving some super strong antibiotics, I’m finally starting to feel normal again. Regrettably, I was stuck spending one of my last weekends here in Ghana in bed. C’est la vie.
Before me bedridden weekend, I had an eventful Friday. Along with the two new CRAN interns, I bowed out of work and took part in several traditional Ghanaian activities.
In the morning, we met Ebo, a master woodcarver who has a shop within Cape Coast Castle. He was going to try and teach us the basics in woodcarving. First, we stopped by his shop to check out the final products and learn about the different types of wood he uses. Ebo mostly carves with mahogany, ebony, and a local type of wood whose name I cannot pronounce. His work was extraordinarily beautiful. He had sculptures and wall hangings of all different sizes and colors.
Ebo led us to a workstation on the beach with three small boards and a variety of tools. We were to practice using basic woodcarving tools and make a wood etching of a beach scene. Ebo had already drawn a picture of a boat in pencil for us to follow. We first carved the border, and followed with the boat. Next, we each could add our own designs. We carved our names on the back and then finished with a border around the edge.
Woodcarving is hard and I am terrible at it. I was easily the worst out of the three of us, and poor Ebo had to keep helping me. After a disastrous attempt at hollowing the seat of the boat, Ebo promised to fix it for me. After asking him if my carving was alright, I learned that Ebo is a lousy liar. He gave me a hesitant, “It’s nice,” which really meant, “My toddler could have done a better job.” Despite being very difficult, I really enjoyed our woodcarving workshop and am interested in seeing the results once Ebo “fixes” mine and applies varnish.
After lunch and brief tour of Kingsway for the newbies, we headed back over to the beach for a traditional drumming and dancing lesson. We were joined by the Missou University students, which helped limit my embarrassment. First, we were talk some simple drumming rhythms by our instructor, One Ghana (Yes, this is his legal name. I asked). I really enjoyed the drumming and hearing the different types of drums.
Next was the dreaded dancing portion. It was especially awkward as we drew a crowd of Ghanaians watching us for their nightly entertainment. We were asked to dance barefoot, which was uncomfortable due to the many pebbles on the ground. After a brief warm-up, we were led through a short routine that had lots of clapping and jumping. Being tall, I was able to hide somewhat in the back. Since, I was sick at the time and had just started my antibiotics, I really wasn’t thrilled with the dancing. I was super tired and just wanted to sit down. Luckily it was over fairly quickly and was only somewhat embarrassing.
Overall, I really enjoy participating in some traditional Ghanaian activities. For me, the highlight was definitely the woodcarving. While I’ve always known that woodcarving is difficult, actually attempting to make something simple was very humbling and gave me new respect for the master craftsmen. I wasn’t a huge fan of the dancing, but a majority of that was because I was feeling so ill. I’m sure I would have enjoyed it more if I were healthy!