I’m moving. This week.
I should be happy about moving, right? Almost consistently for the past five years, I’ve moved every 3.5 months, thanks to the transient nature of the Waterloo co-op program. So now, after 3.5 months in the small district capital of Kpandai, I should be happy that I have to get up and move, check-out, move-on, explore a new place and set up a new life in the Northern Region capital of Tamale… right?
Somehow my body doesn’t think so. I am really, really just downright sad about leaving.
Maybe it is because Kpandai has become my comfort zone in a place that is so very different from home. I know where to eat, where to buy things and I recognize and know many, many faces and the stories attached with them. I know who is going to greet me as I walk by, I know local government representatives, I know when market day is, I know the typical Kpandai sounds, I know where to get credit when credit is scarce, I know my favourite goat kids and their mums, I know the school bus driver and the barber, I know where the colony of weavers like the roost, I know how to complain about the roads in/out of Kpandai like a local and I know what time the rice water lady will come by the office. Honestly, in many ways I know Kpandai better than some of the Canadian places I have stayed. I’ve started to feel a part of, rather than just an observer.
Maybe its because I think my work contribution to the District Assembly here has been small… I’ve hardly been able to consistently meet with my counterparts, let alone change any behaviours or attitudes that would improve government functioning in Kpandai. I know that many things were not in my control, and that is part of the reason that I’m headed to Tamale – embedding someone in a district is possibly not the most effective way to create district change – but I still can’t help but feel that I haven’t provided enough value back to the district I’ve come to care so much about. I’ve been completely alone in my office for the last few workdays, unable to even transfer any of the things I have been working on.
Maybe its because my host mum was shocked when I told her that my remaining time in Kpandai was small. She was really sad and said that I mustn’t go, as everyone in town really liked me. I absolutely love my host mum, Ama, and will miss our amazing conversations, and her amazing ability to understand Canadian culture when I try and explain. I will miss her exclamations of pride regarding my increasing fatness in Kpandai.
Maybe its because I haven’t had a good ole hug in a long, long time-oh. Ghanaian culture does not include any forms of public affection. At ttaalllll. The two hugs I’ve had with Ghanaian lady-friends were very awkward. I’m usually not a hug-gy person, but man, sometimes you just need one, you know?
Maybe Tamale will be great, (after all, you can get pineapples, cheese and ice cream in Tamale!) but I’m skeptical about finding the same community feel that I’ve become so attached to here. Tamale has over 450,000 people, it is full of obrunis (foreigners) like me and it is absolutely huge.
I am glad that, in my new role as a consultant for the region, I’ll get to come back to Kpandai regularly. I’ll be able to continue to support my coworkers here (it may even work better, as they seem to be in Tamale more than they are in Kpandai!) and continue to see old friends and familiar faces. I am grateful that I was placed in Kpandai for my immersion into Ghanaian life; I have come to really love Ghanaians and Ghana and am looking forward to calling this country home for at least nine more months.