Saturday, October 3, 2009


So for a religion major who’s dating a Muslim, I know surprisingly little about Islam. This past weekend was Eid. In Ghana they tend to call it Sallah. I was told that this is the "local name" for Eid but I don't think that's right, because isn't Sallah the five prayers a day thing or something? Anyway, my impression of Sallah is that it’s like a snow day. You know, you have a huge project due the next day, but it’s been snowing, and everyone’s calling each other, do we have school tomorrow or not? You’re excited because if you don’t have school, you have an extra day to do your assignment. But if you do have school tomorrow, it’ll suck because you have stay up late and finish it. And there are rumors everywhere, “yes we have school,” “no I heard teacher so and so say we’ll have off.”

So Saturday night everyone was calling each other, “has anyone seen the moon yet?” If someone sees the moon, fasting is over! If no one sees the moon, then it sucks, because you have to fast for another day. So everyone’s calling each other, and rumors are going around like crazy, yes the moon’s been sighted, no it hasn’t been. And unlike a school district and a snow day, there’s no superintendent to make a definitive decision on Sallah. So what ended up happening is like half the mosques declared Sallah on Sunday, and the others declared Sallah on Monday. Also, I am mentioning the snow day analogy because when I mention it here, no one knows what I’m talking about because they’ve never had a snow day.

Alright so ending fasting was exciting, but otherwise Sallah in Accra is kind of boring, sort of like Easter at Penn. In Rahman’s hometown, Tamale, which is predominantly Muslim, Sallah is a huge deal. But here in Accra it’s nothing. Me and Rahman wore pretty new clothes to mosque in the morning, and afterwards we ended up joining Rahman’s cousin and a friend for breakfast at this chain pizza restaurant that was the only place open on a Sunday. And then we just went home. No Easter eggs or peeps or plastic grass or ham dinners with family. It was good pizza though.

So Sunday or Monday was Sallah depending on which mosque you listened to. And then Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana’s first prez/big independence movement guy/huge pan-Africanist/Penn alum)’s 100th birthday was also on Monday, and so on TV for the past month they’ve been showing all these British documentaries on Ghana from the 1960s. Old documentaries are fun. And Nkrumah has a funny accent.

Let’s see what else. I’m still on the listservs for a bunch of Penn organizations, and promises of free food are really making me hungry.

And multicultural relationships are funny too. Right now I feel like I have both my parents’ short ends of the stick if that makes sense. Similar to my dad, I’m a foreigner in a weird country where I look different, talk different, and don’t really fit in anywhere. But similar to my mom, I’m white/Western/American, and therefore my culture matters less than everyone else’s, because you can’t have white pride. It’s giving me perspective or something.

Also, I tried getting my iron repaired yesterday (it won’t heat anymore) but the guys at the repair shop closed before I came back for it, even though I came back in an hour just like they told me to.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Coup from Bucknell?

Check out this report from Reuters about a plot to overthrow Ethiopian goverment.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Philly's Own Kulu Mele to Perform Tomorrow in Queens, NY

Kulu Mele African American Dance and Drum Ensemble, & Soul Steps
Queensbridge Park, Queens NY
Saturday, August 1, 2009
FREE Masters class at 4:00 p.m., Performance at 5 p.m.

Founded over four decades ago by the great African drummer, Baba Robert Crowder, Kulu Mele African American Dance & Drum Ensemble is the longest running African dance company in Philadelphia. Performances include an exotic blend of music and dance of Nigeria, Ghana, Guinea, Senegal, Brazil, Haiti, Cuba and African American heritage. Soul Steps specializes in the live performance, artistic instruction, and educational outreach of African-based step dance. Under the direction of Maxine Lyle, Soul Steps delivers spirited performance steeped in the personal and cultural stories of the Soul Steps artists and the generations of ancestors they represent. Masters class before the show is for all ages, and is free.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

African Diversity

This is the adult intellectual counterpart to "Africa is Not a Country" by Margy Burns Knight. Peacemaking Through the Arts (PTA) used this children's book by Knight last year to teach children in after school programs about the continent of Africa.
Rahman’s favorite phrase right now (he has those quite often) is “I make sorry waa!” (“I make” is high tone, “sorry waa” is low tone.) It’s pidgin for “I don’t really care but I’ll sarcastically pretend to feel bad for you.”

So the other day my students were whining about all the assignments I gave them and finally I couldn’t help myself, I let out a “I make sorry waa!” and they were so surprised. “Ei! Ms. Tran speaks pidgin?! It must be the waakye.” Yeah I eat a lot of waakye. They don’t sell waakye near where I work because I work in the ritzy part of town (Labone) that charges 10 GHC for banku and mostly sells foreign stuff (hamburgers, Kentucky Fried Chicken, sandwiches with shrimp in them, and who knows what else), so the kids make fun of me for bringing my 1 GHC waakye-in-a-bag from home.

Yesterday I got to see two of my Legon peeps which was nice. One was my friend Jeremy (the one who took me to his home town for the chief’s durbar and took me to the place with the biggest tree in West Africa which was not as big as you would think the biggest tree in West Africa would be. He is also the one who watches tons-o of anime and gave me a very detailed synopsis of Naruto over several nights) and the other was my friend Courage (the one who taught me how to say "I'll walk all over your face" in Twi the first time I met him).

P.S. For those who don't know, I'm working as the Education Fellow at Ivy League Consult Africa, a private learning center in Accra, Ghana that focuses on international admissions.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Penn's Landing African Festival

On Saturday August 1st, the African Cultural Alliance of North America, in collaboration with PECO and the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, will present the 2nd African Festival on the great plaza at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia from 2-8pm. Performing artists include Gebah Swaray, K.K. Fofu, Balawala Malawala,
Universal Dance & Drumming Ensemble, the Liberian Cultural Dance & Drumming
Troupe, and many more.

Vendors of food, merchandise and resource information are welcome to apply. Sponsors are also welcome. Call 215-729-8225...ext. 102. For more information, email
Voffee Jabateh or Abe Walker.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Google: Africa

Don't worry, Google is everywhere. They were even in Ghana for President Obama's visit. Maybe Rachel can fill us in on what it was like from an insider's perspective.

Check out the Google Africa Blog.