Hello from Accra! I arrived in Accra just about a week ago, and have spent my first week here spending time with Village Bicycle Project (VBP), exploring Accra, and trying out lots of new foods. Most of my time has been spent with Jason, the VBP country director, just tagging along on his various trips and meetings around town. I’ve also spent some time hanging out at VBP’s warehouse with the trainers and consignees (the people who import the containers that Bikes Not Bombs loads jam packed full of bikes and parts in Boston). It’s always fascinating to talk to people on the other side of the container – to hear what they think of our containers when they come in, what bikes sell for what price, and what parts are valuable. And I’m pretty pumped that tomorrow I’m going to get to see a container unloading at the warehouse. I wish I could say it was a Bikes Not Bombs container, but, alas, that timing would be too perfect. Instead I’ll get an inside look at how other shipping organizations pack their containers, and see what that whole process is like.
So far in Accra I have not seen a single woman riding a bike. Admittedly, the traffic in Accra is formidable, and I haven’t seen a lot of people riding period, but I haven’t seen a single woman either. Folks tell me that more women ride bikes further north in the rural areas, so I’ll be interested to see if more women are riding in Techiman – a town in the center of Ghana where I’ll be going this weekend – or in Koforidua – the city where Ability Bikes is located where I’ll be starting next week. I’ll keep an eye out and let you all know.
On an entirely different note – One thing that has really struck me about Accra, and is so so different from my time in Sierra Leone, is the incredible amount of wealth in Accra. I knew that Accra, and Ghana generally (known as West Africa’s golden child), is a lot wealthier than other parts of West Africa, but I have been sort of blown away by how fancy some places are here. I mean, I generally feel shamed in West Africa about being sweaty/dirty/not well enough dressed, but Accra is taking my shame to a new level. Before traveling here I saw this article on Africas a Country about a new web series called ‘An African City,’ which they describe as Sex and the City meets West Africa. And although this portrays only a tiny part of life in Accra, I think it’s important to point out that this is part of life in Accra just as much as popular images in the Global North of African children in the street. Wealth and Poverty exist in extremes in all parts of the world – north and south. Anyways – check out this trailer for ‘An African City’ and let me know what you think.
Ok time for me to sign off from this packed internet place and try to track down some food. I’ll try to keep updating as I’m able. And take pictures. Really gotta remember to take pictures.