Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Falling in love

Human interaction

Living in rural Ghana you quickly learn that life here is very simple and consists of human interaction. Greetings and conversations are an important aspect of life here whereas in the UK, people are absorbed in technology.
The Elderly mans home

Human interaction in the UK is not quite like it is in Ghana. Some days I leave the office later than 4pm, on those days as I’m walking home, I meet an elderly man sat outside his home. In a plastic green chair lent against his blue house, he asks how my day has been and how I am doing. This has almost become routine. Every evening that I am home later than 6pm, he is sat outside his gate and I walk down the street expecting to meet him and prepare to engage in conversation with him. I’m almost sad when I don’t see him.
Before arriving in Ghana, I had no idea what to expect from the community I'd be living in. I didn't realise people would be so welcoming and the elderly man has become a home comfort.

The people
Being Muslim, I am mostly greeted with ‘As-Salaam-Alaikum’, the Arabic greeting meaning ‘Peace be unto you’. This is a general greeting amongst Muslims all over the world. Tamale has a majority Muslim population, so this is how I am generally greeted, compared to the other UKV's and my counter-parts. On a daily basis and by complete strangers I am greeted this way and as we are now in week six, I am beginning to realise that I will not experience the feeling of being greeted and having a conversation with a stranger in the street.
In the UK, I tend to walk around with my headphones in and in my own world. It is very different here in Ghana, you can be greeted by anyone at anytime and more often than not, it leads to a conversation.

Men Congregated for the last prayer of the day:
Isha Salah
Prayers are also a daily part of life for Muslims. In the UK, the call to prayer is not recited through a speaker for the community to hear nor do Muslims pray outside. Everything is enclosed within the four walls of a mosque. Due to the call of prayer not being announced out loud, Muslims across the UK follow a timetable for the five daily prayers. Each household will have a calendar of each month and the times for prayer. When I first arrived in Ghana, I downloaded one on online for Tamale, having no idea that I'd never even look at it.
No matter where I am, I can hear the call to prayer and so I always know when to pray without needing a timetable. I now walk along the streets reciting along with the Imam (leader of a mosque). There are even provisions for women to pray at mosque. Trade comes to a halt while men and women align the streets and pray in congregation.
No identity?
I am a Pakistani, so I am fairly brown in complexion. ‘Slaminga’ means ‘white person’. Children refer to white people as ‘slaminga’ unless they know the name of the person. Being fairly brown in complexion, I find it amusing that I am also referred to as a ‘slaminga’. Not only am I called a ‘slaminga’ but it is also generally assumed that I am Arab and that I can speak Arabic. I can be flagged down in a street and asked to speak Arabic and this has almost become a regular occurrence. In the UK I stand out as being Asian but here, I am either a 'slaminga' or Arab.
At a local school some of the students wanted a picture with me


Sanyia Kausar

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