Okay, so I’ve decided that I want to repeat what I’m doing here in Ghana, everywhere in the world. Every country. Every culture. I want to soak it all in. Be immersed in others’ ways of living. When you try hard enough, even the strangest traditions can become somewhat understandable, at least from someone else’s perspective.
Yesterday at school Sam and I were sitting around the desk, eating rice. We started talking about his father, who is a king, and the process of selecting the next king. Sam told me that usually it is the son or nephew of the current king who has the highest education. Sam is second in line behind his cousin, Elvis. Neither of them want to be the king. Sam says that he will literally flee Ghana if they choose him.
Here’s the thing though. If Sam or Elvis refuse, the village people will come after them. Chase them.Lie to them, trying to get the boys to visit the village so they can be forced to take on the role as king. What happens is this: A group of people will tie him up and paint his legs down with goat’s blood. Yes, you heard me right. Goat’s blood. After they do this, the chosen one must be king. If they run away they will go mentally insane, according to popular belief.
“But if they do that to you, you will still run, right?” I assumed.
“No. I will be forced to be king,” he replied. He smiled and took another bite of rice. Like it’s nothing.
Such an intelligent, down-to-earth man, and he believes that just because some goat’s blood is rubbed on his calves he will be sentenced to insanity upon fleeing. And after I talked more to him about this, trying to convince him that he will stay in his right mind, I realized something.
These beliefs and traditions are engraved in their minds, souls and hearts. This is their culture. This is what makes this place what it is. The thing is, people don’t want to be kings anymore. They don’t want to live in rural villages in the bush. They want to become urban-apartment dwellers. They want to work on computers and go to the cinema on Friday nights.
So, naturally, there have to be some things that will convince future generations to return to their roots, and this is one of them. No, the strange myths might not have started that way and I’m pretty sure that these people don’t see this as the reason for holding such beliefs, but it makes sense.
If Ghana loses its traditions, its culture, its roots… it has suffered a major loss. And for the first time since I’ve been here, I have felt completely at peace with the strange, sometimes disturbing practices like this. It’s all about perspective.
I think it’s wrong to have more than one wife. Traditional Ghanaians don’t. Most Ghanaians think cremation is wrong. I don’t. To them, it’s one of the worst, most disrespectful things a person could ever do to another. My dad wants to be cremated when he dies. We see it in movies, in books, in regular life. It’s a common practice, and for them it is just plain awful. Unheard of. A terrible sin.
Well anyways, just another day in Africa. Gotta love it. So until next time.