We got an early call from Dela. He had seen the weavers coming into town to sell their ware to traders at a crossroads and wondered if we would be interested? Ooh this is exactly what i wanted to experience: buying from the weavers themselves.
I had a very rude awakening. Things are done in Ghana the way they are done. Period. I managed with Dela’s help to make contact with several weavers but they looked at me in amazed puzzlement. …and turned to the Traders with the question, I am sure, ‘What do i do with her??!!’ Dela, my wonderful ambassador explained patiently how I wanted to buy from the weavers themselves so I could pay them directly. And when i handed them the money they laughed coyly and shyly shook my hand. Of course there were traders hovering like vultures all around me. Not happy. But indulgent of the silly white woman. No worries she won’t be here tomorrow but we will.
Kinda the last straw for me was i saw a Rasta Man selling some baskets i liked. From the get go it was a dismal failure… First the trader in that area came charging up to Dela thinking that he was encroaching on his territory. He calmed down when he saw me and realized this was just a one off deal … The young man selling the baskets then backed off obviously worried the Big Man would punish him by not buying any more of his baskets … but one of his friends started in on him to sell me one in between the trader’s price and the market price … oh boy a big argument ensued and i felt completely like i had started World War 3 ….. Finally i did walk away with my basket but with a very, very humbled heart.
Doing something good is so very tricky and so not straightforward. Jeepers, just being a tourist here is tricky and not straightforward. In our bumbling way we so easily do more harm than good. Somehow this trip i finally really got ‘Ghana’s way’. It is so emmeshed and intertwined in everything here. For one thing everything seems to be done through a middleman.. And if you don’t go along you will be punished and ostracized by all. Me, the outsider, can do so much more harm than good for the little guy without even realizing it.
It is really a matter of becoming really sensitized or something. Or maybe it has to do with the pendulum swinging. I was way over here when i first came here so now i have to go way over there to the other side to get back to the middle. Anyways it feels like it has taken me a long time fighting every inch of the way to get to this understanding that I must work within ‘Ghana’s way’. I spent the rest of the day cogitating and digesting my new understanding. This other end of the pendulum for me starts to express itself in the idea that i would like to do as little harm as possible. Like going into a lake without making a ripple ….
What else we did was to go to the post office to send off our baskets we had bought and Lisa sent off her beads. The baskets were just way to bulky to lug around with us even with the car. This is always a long process but i am patient about it now because the Ghana Post is so efficient and good.
By the time we had finished though we were completely wrung out … it had gone up to at least 45 degrees today – so we went back to our little oasis to cool down…