Celebrating independence Blog
Meanwhile, I shot a bunch of pictures at the hash.
I expected to be able to buy cheap clothing in Ghana, and maybe even get clothes custom made for a fair price here. That was the main reason why I brought two old pairs of pants and some old shirts with me to Ghana. Indeed, clothes are relatively inexpensive, but the price of custom made clothes is the best. Although, when you decide to have a tailor work for you, you have to accept the facts that the first items of clothing he will make will be quite unlike what you want and all clothes will take weeks more to produce than what the tailor claims it will take.
All that made it inconvenient that both pairs of pants that I brought didn't even survive the first couple of weeks of my trip. In my first pair of pants, the first holes appeared the day I left for the States and in my first week in Ghana, the crotch of the second pair of pants was ripped open completely. Thank God for ducktape that somebody had taken with him to Ghana and was lying around in the house. It repaired the crotch of the second pants and the holes in the other.
I had asked Ebenezer in our first week in Ghana, to get his tailor to stop by at Geekhalla. It took Ebenezer a week to talk to his tailor, who claimed he would be able to stop by the week after, but he finally appeared two weeks after that. All that time I only had those two pants, covered in ducktape. Those were some pretty tough weeks.
The extra time, before the tailor would arrive, did give us a reasonable amount of time to get cloth for the stuff we needed and in one weekend Tomas, Jason, Peter and myself went downtown and literally spent millions of cedis on cloth and clothing.
March 6 is independence day in Ghana. In 1956, Ghana gained Independence as the first country in sub-Saharan Africa and in 1960 it became a republic. The exact same year that Ghana's most popular beer was born, 'Star'.
In the semi-dictatorial setup that Ghana had been in for the more than forty years since 1956, celebrating Independence always was quite a party. Now, however, after twenty years of Jerry Rawlings, twelve of which as a dictator, the expectation was that the celebrations would be less elaborate.
Accra doesn't have much impressive architecture. Probably the most intriguing is the National Theater, built a couple of years ago by a bunch of Chinese. Another interesting construction is Independence square. A concrete field with a large arch on the side of the sea, capable of holding some 30.000 people, a part from the people that can sit on the benches around the square itself.
The most important part of the March 6 celebrations are the marches that occur throughout the whole country, in every city, in every village. Months before the actual celebrations, children at every school or institution, are selected to march on March 6. The most important marches, or parades, are at Independence square in Accra.
Since daytime temperatures seldom drop below 25 degrees in Ghana, it is no surprise that, on March 6th, before the start of the actual parade, when thousands of children are waiting on the square to start marching, many faint because of the heat. Even though all activities are held early in the day, starting before nine in the morning. Then again, many of the children are standing around since 7am.
In the end, the whole parade, march and speech of Kuffour turned out to be rather boring and way to long, the marches being less of a spectacle as I expected. The most interesting, probably, was Kuffour, the newly elected president of Ghana, being escorted onto the square by a police squad and, later, lighting the 'eternal' flame.