Sunday, December 27, 2009

An Un-White Christmas

Saturday, 19 December 2009, Accra:

 Where have all the obrunis gone? 

I didn’t really notice it at first, but there are hardly ANY of us white folks here in Accra anymore these days.  My guess—and I’m probably right—is that most are traveling away for the holidays.  What could also be contributing to the seemingly fewer number of white faces ‘round these parts are the rapidly increasing number of Africans traveling IN to Accra for Christmas and New Years. 

Whatever the case, Accra is chiefly obruni-less.  

What immediately tipped me off to Accra’s whitelessness was the eeriness of Osu.  Osu is a part of Accra that primarily caters to whites, tourists and better-off Ghanaians.  There’s a gelato-and-espresso place, if that gives you some sort of an idea what I’m talking about, and a rather upscale restaurant that sells pricy yet decent sushi—until, that is, when it’s turns into the hot spot rooftop watering hole for ex-pats who want to get piss-drunk and bitch about things they love about Africa.

The main road that runs through Osu is Oxford Street, and both sides are bunged to the brim with tourist-trap-type vendors and kiosks.  Ghanaian football jerseys, DVDs, African masks, sunglasses, shoes, jewelry, “original” art, pineapples, fruits, vegetables—and number of vendors is out the wazoo.  I’m staying: vendors out the MOFO waZOO!

The vendors, typically male and nauseatingly complimentary about your “beauty” until you walk away, are everywhere on Oxford Street and they are, to be as mild as possible, maddening. 

“Oh, my beautiful friend, come look at my jewelry.” (he grabs my wrist)

“Oh, beautiful lady, I have some beautiful artwork.”  (he grabs my wrist)

“My sistah, my sistah, come, come and take a look.”  (he grabs my wrist and gives it a tug)

This is not to say that all the vendors who clog Oxford Street are disingenuous or rude, but in general, the vendors/money-chasers in Osu are on you like white on rice.  And it’s unfortunate for you if you happen to be just the color of rice they’re most actively pursuing. 

So, when I was walking through Osu earlier today, I was stunned, nay, flabbergasted by the lack of attention I was getting.  NO ONE seemed to notice I was there!  I mean, I may be relatively tan and seem of curious ethnicity, but I’ve got obruni branded on my face, clothing, gait—absolutely everything about me screams obruni.  And yet not one man, one vendor, not one single person hassled me or uninvitingly introduced him or herself into my personal space as I walked down Oxford Street. 

It was a strange phenomenon, to be sure, and I briefly wondered if my malaria meds were doing something extra weird to my mind and vision or if, truly, I was walking in a winter weird, African land.  

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