Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Parents’ Day Celebration, or Dance Party Ghana

Back in December (Tuesday the 14th, to be exact), I had the chance to attend a Parents’ Day at one of my schools.  Okay, what really happened is that the previous week, I asked if they had any end-of-year festivities and managed to get myself and Markus invited to the day’s events.

After visiting another school to work on Internet lessons, I arrived around noon and was thrust immediately into the craziness of the end of term.  There were kids running all over the school grounds, playing sports and jumping rope and dancing and just generally being kids.  I headed behind the school building to the small square that was fenced in by three large shade tents and a stage.  Upon arrival at the area, I was immediately thrust into the general proceedings by Lucy, the head teacher of the school.  Lucy introduced me to the committee overseeing the event, which may have included the chairman of the PTA, and took me over to meet some of the parents.  (There was a lone obruni mixed in with the parents, but I never saw an obruni kid.)  John, the ICT teacher who was the MC for the day, saw me and had me come over to be introduced to the crowd, which is when he said I would make some remarks later on.  When I caught up with Markus (who had been at the event for some time), he told me that they had introduced the MCI program and me in quite some detail before I arrived.

The next couple hours were much like any school program in the US.  Since it’s Christmastime, some of the younger kids did their version of the Christmas story, starting from “Mary” in a long dress being visited by the angel—a young girl draped in what looked like a piece of lacy curtain.  “Joseph” and a suddenly pregnant Mary had to walk a long ways to find a place to stay—all the way across stage—since the first two kids they asked for a place loudly announced “There—is—no—room” in the slow monotone that can only be achieved by a 6-year-old solemnly playing a role in the school play.  At the third house, the initial response was the same, but then he relented and said they could sleep with the animals.  Cue the three little boys on all fours at the end of the stage.  The microphone was placed in front the boys, who started loudly baa-ing.  Watching them crawl across the stage may be one of the funniest things I’ve seen in Ghana.

Of course, a long program like this couldn’t hold the attention of all the kids—or me.  At one point, I wandered off to see what was happening away from the festivities.  I was fortunate enough to get pictures of possibly the cutest little girls in Ghana.

Another entertaining portion was the loud, off-key rendition of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” by more of the primary school kids.  The girl who had “five golden rings” completely hammed it up, taking her sweet time to announce, “Five…. Gold…. En… Rings!”, with the length of time it took to sing it growing each time, to the obvious entertainment of the crowd.  In case anyone couldn’t understand the words, they held up illustrations, with “three French hens” held up backwards at first.

I completely botched my only public speaking role in the ceremony.  It was so late in the program that I thought no one would want to listen.  So I just told them how much I enjoy visiting State Experimental and how much energy and motivation I saw there and thanked them for letting me be there.  Over dinner, it was pointed out that it would have been a good opportunity to say something about GSK.  D’oh!  Maybe next time I’ll handle it better.

At the end, after the closing prayer and benediction had been said, the DJ turned up the tunes and the kids rushed the square like the Black Stars had won the World Cup.  The dust storm kicked up by the dancing made it all appear as a mirage.  Markus and I were the only two adults wandering through all of it, taking pictures of the craziness and the chaos, which was rather difficult because they kept getting so close that the camera wouldn’t focus.  I got swept away with the fun and became the only adult dancing with all the kids, which apparently completely confused them, probably for two main reasons: (1) adults don’t dance and (2) adult obrunis really don’t dance.  Markus was kind enough to capture a few pictures like these to help me remember one of the happiest occasions of my stay in Ghana.       

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