This Internet cafe is having sporadic problems with their satellite connection, so I’m going to make this relatively quick.
Made it to the Volta Region with Bobo last night, and suffered through another suffocating night with no fan. Apparently the every-five-day rolling blackouts are country-wide; most power is hydroelectric, generated by the dam in the Volta River, and unfortunately the water’s been low of late (says Bobo). This morning Kwame, my Ewe tribe weaving instructor, and I started my weaving lessons.
If you’re thinking that I’m somewhere in the wilds of Ghana, with a nomadic sheepherder crouched down in his tent teaching me primitive weaving techniques, you can pretty much forget it. Bobo’s a very wealthy, sophisticated Ghanaian, and has taught kente weaving workshops all over the U.S, including Berkeley and Oakland. He’s got a huge compound (he has 11 sons and 7 daughters!) in, umm, in some town near Aflao (where I type this blog entry), with a small semi-guesthouse for foreign students.
That said, it’s still quite Ghanaian, or at least the food and weaving are. What I’ve eaten of Ghanaian food thus far has been fantastic – I couldn’t describe it, but it’s very tasty, even without bats, rats, and the rest of the livestock. 🙂
Kwame and I spent most of today setting up to warp and weave in the Ewe style of kente weaving. I’ll detail the process in a separate blog entry since I imagine it’s of very little interest to nonweavers (but maybe it is, I don’t know). At any rate, I’ll have to write it up tonight, so you won’t be getting it now. I’ve even taken a few short videos of Ghanaian weaving. Kwame and I worked together for a good six hours today, and my back and hamstrings are sore, but I’m feeling very good about my progress. I’ve learned to warp, thread, sley, and weave plainweave on the loom (more complicated than on a western-style loom), plus Kwame helped me do some tapestry-inlay supplementary-weft patterning in traditional Ewe designs. Can’t wait for tomorrow!
One interesting thing today: Bobo called me over in the afternoon, and I came over to find God’s own pile of cracked coconuts. They were busily scooping the coconut meat from the shell – and I’m talking giant sacks of coconut meat here – in preparation for taking it to the mill, where they would crush it, boil it, skim off the cream, and give them the resulting coconut oil to put into the food. (Coconut oil shows up in nearly all Ghanaian cooking, or so I’ve been told – maybe that’s why it’s so tasty.)
Anyway, that’s the short version of the last day or so. Tonight I’m going to start writing up my webpage on kente weaving, and hopefully I’ll be able to upload it once i get back to Accra.
Oh, and I do have a day job (I’m a software project manager) – but I was unemployed when I went through Southeast Asia. right now I’m just on vacation.
One note for anyone who’s been trying to reach me: Yahoo! Mail login doesn’t work from this Internet cafe, so I can’t get my email. I’ll try again from a different Internet cafe tomorrow.