As I’ve said many times before, there is no way to describe Ghana, no all encompassing phrase or specially crafted word that transfers an experience like this from my senses to yours; you just have to experience it. But to have the Disney designed Africa of my childhood run haphazardly into the Africa I have experienced in great detail was… well, trippy for lack of a better word. There were no lions hoisting cubs over sun tipped cliffs, no menacing hyenas plotting my demise, not even an omnipotent blue-butted baboon to explain life’s meaning, just me and Isaac in an Indian made car cruising down the road listening to a childhood fantasy reliving itself. To stereotype an entire continent with one movie, especially one with talking animals, is ill advised at best and downright dangerous at worst. The big realization was that I’m doing one of the things I have dreamed of from boyhood, and although it’s different than I had imagined it, it’s nonetheless a dream come true (And yes, there have been a few monkeys along the way).
There have been other revealing experiences this week as well, one of which was a little more important than my pre-dawn Disney moment. As some of you may know, I’ve had a cold for a few days, nothing major but still a hassle to say the least. No one likes to be sick but I must admit I tend to get a little whiny when I feel under the weather. But this time I forced myself to be more Ghanaian and I think it helped a lot in my recovery time. So what does it mean to be more Ghanaian? It means to find the silver lining in all things, no matter how bad. It means to be happy even when life’s circumstances tell you to do otherwise. One boy I met this week personified this way of life. His name is Andrew.
Andrew is a student at a school near the Volta River in a little village named Obane. We were passing through on a mission to repair a piece of their merry-go-round when, as always, a crowd of kids came out of nowhere and watched us inquisitively. I noticed one of the boys had a small hole in his neck surrounded by scar tissue. I asked him what happened to his neck and he just smiled and disappeared into the crowd of boys. Undeterred, I got Isaac to ask him what happened but they spoke different dialects and didn’t understand each other. Worried, I went for my trusty camera and snapped a few pictures to bring back to Accra and to show one of our doctor friends. The whole way back to Accra I kept thinking “how does this boy have a normal life?” He seemed happy, even healthy, and when I asked one of his teachers about the hole he said he had never noticed it before. If I had a hole in my neck everyone would know about it! If I stub my toe on Monday it comes up in conversation Saturday right after the salutations. But Andrew just goes right along with his life despite his problem. And what’s even more revealing is that those around him don’t define him by his problem because he doesn’t either. You will all be pleased to know that Andrew's hole is not life threatening, but we will be getting him into a doctor just to make sure.
And that brings us full circle back to my haircut. I've tried, there is no silver lining there.
No positive side.
It's bad. Biblically bad.