Kumasi Our Life


Young Businesswoman with Her Finger on Her LipsA couple of days ago, I LOST it on a group of boys fishing off a stinky bridge. They started shouting at me and Bob and eventually we responded in kind.

We had gone shopping for Lebanese flat bread, tofu, pineapple and cauliflower and everywhere we went kids were calling us out. This is normal and happens to us on average fifteen to twenty times a week. We’ve been here well over a year now so I’d guess we’ve been hollered at by groups of children upwards of a thousand times.

What was kind of cute the first five or six hundred times, has become supremely annoying and we’ve stopped responding. We decided to pull our energies inward, preferring intimate conversation to street theater.

Push the Obroni button, get a response, ask for money. The novelty has worn off. The routine has gotten old.

My Australian friend, fellow blogger Chrissie and I recently walked through the neighborhood to lunch, attracting similar hoards of barking youngsters. She informed me that Ghanaian children are not supposed to greet their elders first. It’s a respect thing. Which only added resolve to my decision to ignore them.

So Bob and I had been walking for about an hour, it was getting hot, we were carrying loads and the 6th group of kids started clamoring for our attention. Bob pressed his finger to his lips and caught the eye of one young lad who silently pressed his own finger to his lips in solidarity. But the rest of the boys continued yelling at us.

After we passed, they only got louder. And louder. Until I turned around and absolutely lost it. “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” I barked back at them. They jumped back, eyes open in shock. I continued yelling, Bob chimed in.

It wasn’t pretty but we got it out of our system, turned and went our way in silence.

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.

2 replies on “Silence”

Oh for goodness sake – they are just children.

Once when I was living in Kenya, I stopped one of the groups of children yelling ‘Msungu, Musungu’ (which means white person). I told them my name…after that they started calling all white people by my name.

I actually remember it quite fondly now, though in the two years I lived there, indeed I must have been shouted at thousands of times. How nice to be so admired — without doing anything — that kids yell in happiness when they see us.

I am living in Accra now. I think the children are more used to seeing white people, so there’s little clamoring in joy. They still do give me more honor and respect than I probably deserve, however.

It’s true – they are only children. I just sat down to start writing “Ghana Reset” based on that exact realization.

Two days ago, I turned my charm back on for the little kids who tentatively call out “Bloonie” and was richly rewarded by shy smiles and demure “Eye’s”. Their mothers seemed pleased to have their Afia back. Or perhaps I imagined that… The packs of pre-teen street kids in Kumasi are still over-the-top cheeky but I can ignore them.

I must have sensed your comment, written two days ago. Thanks for helping bring me back down to earth.

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