This will be my first blog to write during my stay in Ghana. I will be in Cape Coast, Ghana for 4.5 months. I did arrive on February the 4th in Accra, the capital of Ghana. My flight last for some 8 hours, not too long but the temperature difference was enormous, it was almost below zero in the Netherlands and here in Ghana it is around 33 degrees. Since I did arrive at night, the ACIPP Coordinator Dan and I stayed for one night in Accra. It was a very nice way to meet the first Ghanaian people. We drank a beer and watched a movie outside the guesthouse with the owner of the guesthouse. The next day we went to Cape Coast with a tro- tro (mini bus/van) which was a very nice first experience with the public transport in Ghana. It took us something like 3 to 4 hours to arrive in Cape Coast.
At the ACIPP house I met Mavis, the house manager, Katherine (former ACIPP Coordinator) and Francis a Ghanaian guy how lives across the street. I felt immediately welcome in the ACIPP House! They showed me my room in the house and the rest of the house. I live in the house with two other interns from the U.S. (Dana and Mike) which I met later that day. Since I did arrive on a week day they were at their internship address during the day. After this brief introduction in the house, Dan showed me Cape Coast, the centre. We walked from the house to ‘Science’ station; this is a 15 to 20 minutes walk and it gives you already a good insight in the enormity of the University of Cape Coast area (short- UCC). But if you do not want to walk to ‘Science’, you can take a shared taxi from the house to ‘Science’ as well. From ‘Science’ station there are many shared taxis which bring you in the city or other destinations.
Shared taxis are taxis you share with others; you pay a set price for the ride which depends on how far it is. You should see it as bus lines but then with cars which have the taxi colors and signs on it. A shared taxi from ‘Science’ station to Kingsway costs 75 pesewas, until this weekend but the gas prices went up so now you pay 90 pesewas. A shared taxi is much easier to take since you do not have to bargain the price like if you take a drop taxi (the taxis how I only know them). But bargaining the price of a drop taxi is somehow kind of funny, since they all have an Obruni price.
Obruni is the name for a foreigner/white person. If you walk by on the streets, kids will call you Obruni all the time, and will continue with “how are you, I’m fine”. It is kind of funny that they call you Obruni all the time, even though there are many Orbuni’s around in Cape Coast close to Kingsway station. It’s just what they always say when seeing an Obruni. And you will get used to it!
So my first day in Cape Coast I saw the main street of the centre, where the office where I work is located. I do my internship at the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), which is located in the building next to the Barclays Bank. I was surprised about the many shops I saw in Cape Coast and the things they sell. I think that they sell anything you can imagine; there is even a sort of supermarket offering European and American brands.
My first experience about Ghana is that everyone is very nice; they are very helpful and kind. I can easily ask the way or have a little chat with anyone. They will take the time to explain to you what you want to know and teach you some Fante in the meanwhile. Fante is the language spoken by the largest group in Ghana. Though until now, everyone I have met speaks English, the other interns of ACIPP and I take some Fante lessons, since it is very useful to know and understand something of the native language while being here for our internship.
I am in my second week of my internship at CHRAJ and they offer an interesting program for interns. During my internship here the upcoming 4.5 months I will take part in the mediation sessions, which are cases that are brought in by any Ghanaian against another
person, organization, institution etc. These mediation sessions are used to find a settlement for the complaint. Every Friday we go to the Yes Fm radio station for the anti- corruption program, to gain awareness for the fight against corruption. We will go to public schools for the public education program on Human Right subjects. I have my own research project to write a research paper and at the end of my internship I have an interview at the CHRAJ head office in Accra. The first two weeks I have enjoyed myself in Ghana. All the people I met are very nice, I have fun at the ACIPP house with the other interns, Mavis is a fantastic cook and there are always good people around the house. The weekends are free to do what you want, you can go to the beach –public or private beaches – go on a trip and in the evening enjoy the night life of Cape Coast.Author: Carly Kloos, intern for the Commssion on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ). She arrived in Ghana in early february and stays for 4,5 months in Cape Coast.