My Accra adventure

July 25, 2019

For the first three weeks of July 2019 I was in Accra, Ghana. I was there working on a film, Coming to Africa, that is going to be released next year. I had the opportunity to interact with the people of Accra and observe how African people live and interact daily. Accra quickly dispelled the concept of jungles and Tarzan by showcasing modern architecture that you would see anyplace else in the world.

First off Accra is a modern city. Just like any major city in the world you have rich areas and poor ones. I had to laugh because of the way a vast majority of the media portrays Africa. The media will lead you to assume that Africa is only jungle and consists of impoverished villages. This may be true in certain parts but if you land in Accra this image is quickly dispelled. Once you get off the plane you are in an airport that is similar to any modern airport in the world. You have people moving and grooving just like if you walked into JFK airport in New York.

Once you walk out of the airport and hit the city you realize that you are a long way from the jungle that Tarzan played in. You are in a modern concrete jungle like any mid-sized city in the world. I won’t say New York because Accra is not that big, but Chicago would be a better comparison as far as population. The cab ride is the one thing you may have to get used to. In Accra no one pays attention to signs while driving and right of way seems to be whoever has enough gall to cut over or pull out. Oddly enough in the three weeks I was there I only saw one fender-bender and it was where someone bumped another vehicle. The Accra version of driving relies on people being aware of other drivers and understanding they may cut you off. It looks and feels like madness but it works.

I stayed in both a hotel and a private house. The hotel was modern and felt like a Hilton or Sheraton hotel in the USA. Keep in mind Accra is like any other major city in the fact that if you want Four Seasons action, they have it. You do have to be careful of the water. The water isn’t treated like in the USA so when you brush your teeth it was suggested to use bottled water. The house I stayed in was similar to any mini-mansion in the USA. Granite counter tops along with flat screen television in every room, etc. One thing I found interesting was in Accra you can have electric fences to keep out burglars. Can you imagine how that would work in the USA? Maybe I should check into this.

The people were the prize in Accra. I met some very nice people and the interactions as a whole were positive. In Accra they want to feed you and make you feel at home. Many people feel that the African American has cultural ties to Ghana, which may be true. The men wear jerseys and jeans like in the USA and of course the women wear weave like the USA. The latter was a downer to me, but it is what it is.

Overall I understood that Accra was a booming city with room to grow and the people still hold onto their culture. Are their faults in Accra? Yes. Is Accra the jungle and people living in grass huts? No, and if they are I didn’t see it.

Frank James IV © 2019

The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the writer and not of the Milwaukee Times Weekly Newspaper or NCON Communication, its staff or management. “Being Frank” is a bi-weekly column exclusive to the Milwaukee Times Weekly Newspaper.

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