Akwaaba! (Welcome!) to Ghana

Ghanaian patriotism and 50 years of independence

Inside the airport terminal red, gold, and green sashes streamed from the walls and ceiling. Black stars dangled with pride, each decoration celebrating Ghanaian patriotism and 50 years of independence.

I met with the contact in charge of taking my group to our residence. I was amazed by the amount of people waiting in front of the airport. People immediately started shouting at us, "Taxi! Taxi! Let me take your bags!" Men clamored over each other to offer their services, only to be rebuffed by our bus driver.

On the way to the residence I saw walled communities of homes set atop red clay dirt. Some houses were small and looked abandoned until I spotted children running in or out of them to play.

The roads were filled with mud and traffic. Lush greenery provided a background to women carrying plates of peanuts on their heads and babies on their backs. Men held up goods for us to buy on the side of the road or in between the unmarked lanes. Occasionally a magazine was slapped against the window in an effort to get us to buy one. One man startled me as he slapped a National Geographic against the window with Malaria plastered across the front in bold letters. I stared at the mosquitoes on the cover, hoping that Malaria and I would not cross paths during my stay in Africa.

As we continued to wait in traffic, a school bus filled with children pulled up next to us. They waved and smiled and seemed thrilled to see a bus full of foreigners. And in keeping with the Ghanaian friendliness we would become familiar with, they began to sing. Their young voices streamed through the windows of their bus to ours, as their shining smiles brightened up our long day. When traffic started to move, they waved good-bye, and we said hello to our first lovely memory of Ghana.