Yelling Yevu– At home when you walk down the street, it is by no means socially acceptable to yell out at a fellow pedestrian, “Hey black person!” or “Asian kid!” or even “WHITE MAN!” Identifying someone as their skin color or ethnicity is a concept that is far from “PC” back in the states. Here, it is a different story. Anytime the three of us walk down the street, we are constantly greeted by shouts of “YEVU!” from every corner of the Earth. Usually the word comes from kids running up to touch the white people or identifying that there are whites walking by so that other kids can be summoned from their homes to get a look. Fair, there is very little ethnic diversity here, making us feel like minor celebrities everywhere we go. It’s always a fun game trying to identify where the “yevu” comes from. Often we hear it being shouted from quite a distance and must stop and look around, usually, to find a young kid peeking out from a window a block down the road. We have even taken to greeting the few other whites we’ve seen by excitedly pointing and saying, “yevu!” The interesting part is the origin of the word, “yevu.” It was coined years back meaning, “tricky dog,” due to the whites taking advantage of Africans throughout history. Today, the word is merely an identifier and by no means are we being referred to as the tricky dogs themselves. Being shouted out at every turn seemed like an absolute audacity in the beginning, and is still quite annoying, but it adds to the experience of seeing Ghana through my personal lens.
Lights off– At any moment, the lights could go out. In the evenings, we keep our headlights and playing cards near in case we need to entertain ourselves sans electricity for anywhere between one to twelve hours at a time. No, the electricity shutting off is not necessarily due to the monsoon-like rains we have experienced. Most times the power goes out when no weather has been experienced at all. This is called, “lights off,” or, “doomsa doomsa,” for the Ghanaians. The Ghanaian power company shares power with Togo, Benin, and Cote d’Ivoire leaving electricity to be scare. To compensate for this, the Ghanaian power company turns the power off in certain districts every once in a while to conserve energy. During rainstorms, power shutting off is expected, but on more than one occasion we have experienced doomsa doomsa for up to twelve hours as a conservation measure. If the power does not come back on by 10 PM then it will remain off until 6 AM the next morning. We are lucky, though, because from January until early May the electricity would be turned off in Hohoe for twelve hours every third night. I am truly grateful for my investment in a headlamp, and the expense has been long paid off.
Landscape– Start down any of the roads leaving the hustle and bustle of Accra and you will begin by seeing dry, flat, and dusty lands. But continue further north, away from the ocean and the beaches of Accra, and you will enter rolling hills. Mountains beyond mountains (pun intended), untouched lush green lands, palm trees, and tropical green plants. In the distance, the tops of mountains appear to be soft as if one could imagine the velvety feel of the grasses or imagine there might be trufula trees growing there. The Lorax would be proud of the protection of the trees and land, outside of the cities, in Ghana. I’m not sure what I expected in terms of landscape, but I continue to be amazed with the countryside’s beauty. It makes for wonderful hikes and great appreciation of nature from the locals and visitors alike. One surprising fact is the lack of flowers. Ghana is quite green but there remains little color variation aside from the many shades of green. A marvelous aspect of Ghanaian pride is their belief in conservation of their lands and lack of support for deforestation. The increased “untouched-ness” of the land as you move away from the city, definitely adds to the disparities between city, town, and village, but it also adds to the depth of charm of Ghanaian culture, people, and life.