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Bits and Pieces: Drawing Camels in Accra

Spend some time around me and you will probably see me draw a camel. Spend some more time with me and you will probably see me try to get other people to draw camels. You also might have heard me mention my website idea: kidsdrawcamels.com. I regularly coerced my students (aged 11-roughly 17) into drawing camels when I was teaching. This may seem like a form of cruelty, but it usually resulted in everyone, students included, having a good laugh. That’s because camels are funny-looking and they are difficult to draw if you’ve never tried or don’t have a reference. Personally, I have camel drawing down to a science. But I am in the minority. Ask a random person to draw a camel and see what happens. This is me drawing camels with some Ghanaians:

Ghanaiansdrawcamels.com? Peopledrawcamels.com? This may happen.

I bought an enormous checkers board.

During the game, our guesthouse was infiltrated by “Scratch It,” the Ghanaian lottery. We bought losing tickets.

pure water in Ghana

500ml of water for about three cents. It is called “pyuuure watah,” but the purity is often questionable.

While hanging out on the roadside, there was a request made for me to be filmed buying porridge. All set to go, a taxi drives up and the driver trys to get my attention by repeatedly yelling “obroni.” Obroni, depending on the Ghanaian you ask, means white person. The term itself does not bear judgment. It becomes obnoxious in its overuse. In the video, you hear the driver saying “ooyea dayne,” which apparently means “what are you doing?” But before the cameras were rolling he was just yelling “Obroni! Obroni! Obroni!” I was eager to unleash a Twi phrase that goes something like “ooh hoon obruni da,” which means “have you never seen a white person before?” This was my chance.

If I had known “ooyea dayne” meant “what are you doing?” I could have answered “may tuh coco” – “I’m buying porridge.” Next time.

Depending on the neighborhood, Ghanaians are sufficiently surprised if you are white. If you are white and able to speak some Twi, they will laugh or run out of fear. In any case, it’s entertaining. I didn’t speak much Twi when I was in Ghana five years ago. I was staying with twenty other NYU students and two English-proficient Ghanaians. I was also living in the most international part of Accra. Learning Twi was not a priority. Now I am in Newtown. In this neighborhood, where Hausa, Ewe, and Ga are all spoken frequently, Twi is the universal language. English starts with “how are you?” and ends with “I am fine.” As a result, I have learned more Twi in two weeks than I did in five months. I will be writing a longer post on Newtown in the future.

In a week’s time I have watched “Crocodile Dundee” (I and II!!!), and “Lake Placid.” In “Lake Placid” Bill Pullman, playing the part of local fish and game warden, leads an expedition to capture a thirty foot long crocodile that is eating people in Maine. Believe me, I’m trying to get to the bottom of ostensible crocodile obsession in Ghana. So far, no luck.

Music and a short documentary to come once I find a faster connection. Till next time..

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{ 7 comments… add one }

  • dan July 17, 2010, 2:32 pm

    “I smoked him, right?”

  • Ben Gubits July 19, 2010, 2:19 pm

    BAHAHAHA!! You definitely smoked him.

  • Ben Gubits July 19, 2010, 2:29 pm

    That’s a lot of sugar!!

  • Charley July 20, 2010, 9:58 pm

    can I record some vocals to your music Phil? I love it! You totally inspired me!

  • vivek July 28, 2010, 5:48 pm

    “see here’s my camel, okaay….”…”a hump..a hip…”

    gold

  • phil August 12, 2010, 12:25 pm

    Charley, please do. How do we arrange this?

  • Nicole Kruz September 2, 2010, 7:05 pm

    Hah! Flawlessly executed, Phil. Well done.

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