“Nkawkaw revisited” 

City names in Ghana seem to be thrown together after a drunken rummage through Scrabble tiles; Mawuabammu, Kwadwondromkurum, Kafordzidzi are just a couple of these foreign-sounding lip-contorting locales. But few names in Ghana tickle my verbiage fancy like Nkawkaw (En-Coco), and after my most recent trip there I have a newfound love for more than just the name. And in the coming months three of the most remote villages near this triple score town will get electricity-generating merry-go-rounds and a much brighter future.

Driving through what must have been the set of Avatar, the picturesque vistas and goliath trees are accentuated by busy farmers transporting their labors from farm to market via whatever means available. Bananas by the thousands, corn, mangoes, and other jungle delectables trot down the road, flaunting their sweetness. Villagers stand at the road’s edge, barely out of tires reach, waving hands and wearing grins, shouting “Obruni!” as we pass.

These are the days I love! When I’m trapped in Accra, siting at my desk, going through papers, or waiting in offices, I yearn for the village feel, eager to get back to where I feel I should be while in Ghana. And each time I escape the pothole-riddled asphalt jungle I am rewarded handsomely, usually only figuratively. But today it was of the very edible kind. Isaac and I were in the area hunting for schools where we could install our electricity-generating merry-go-rounds, and with the help of a guide named Mr. Danso, we made our way out to this secluded enclave of rural beauty to find school after school which stand in great need of help. It seemed that down every road there was a tiny termite clay building with no doors or windows, only desks and eyes, soaking up their chalk-drawn lessons for the day. After visiting four such places I was feeling overwhelmed by how deprived this area was, but at the same time recharged by the unadulterated joy of the locals.

When we took a noontime break, Isaac and I walked around to find a snack, boiled corn. Finding a bench, we sat down to eat but were soon whisked indoors where fufu and fish soup had been prepared for us much to my chagrin. Isaac quickly explained that we didn’t eat fufu this early in the day, we preferred it for dinner and while we were very flattered we’d have to decline. So the fufu threat left the table, but the soup and fish sat there starring at us, the soup fumes already burning my eyes. I could see there was no getting out of this one, I had to just grit my teeth and hope there was enough Imodium on hand once I got back home.

After (mostly) finishing my fiery fish concoction, we loaded back in the truck, which was now also loaded down with bananas, pineapples, and avocados, and set out to visit a few more schools before heading back to the hustle and havoc of Accra. All in all we found three schools that we will install systems at this year, one of which will be next month in partnership with the Forever Young Foundation. Floating home through city traffic, and then off to sleep, I could feel my batteries recharged. My tolerance for waiting in offices, siting at my desk, and shuffle papers was increased because I got another look at why I do it.