Category: Ghana, Botswana 2018

Roadside Shops, Bonkwaso, Abesua and Dinner at the Kwartengs

April 6. After breakfast at Four Villages, we visit two remote, rural villages, Abasua and Bonkwaso, which Carol and I have visited several times with the Kipharts and, sometimes, with the Olopades.

The drive to Bonsakwo is about two hours. Traffic is heavy, which is not good for our schedule, but great for Phoebe and me, as it gives us a chance to try to photograph from the car. Besides the villages and the people we know, what I most think of when Ghana pops to mind is the miles of small roadside stands and stores that line the road, each distinctive in color, state of repair and purpose. I could spend days walking the streets to take time to photograph them, but there’s never time. So these shots I’ve picked almost at random from those I took are a poor substitute. Since they’re taken from the car, often in motion, they’re not what one could get, composing on foot. Still, in a sense, perhaps they give a more accurate picture of our experience. I’ve cut the number way back, but there are still a whole lot of them. But, hey, it’s my damn blog, so I get to put as many of them as I want in.

At Bankwoso, we were greeted by elders of the village, who formed a line to shake our hands and tell us that we were welcome, with a group from the village watching under a tent. We were thanked profusely for all that we’d done and, at the same time, there was a request for more, in this case, a computer. I was asked to speak and talked about how happy and honored we were to be there. I said that this was Carol and my sixth trip and so it felt like coming home to the many friends we’d made over the years. I told them that this was Phoebe’s first trip and that given the choice of any where in the world to go, she’d chosen Ghana. I told them that we’d come to Ghana, because of the Kiphart’s, who were responsible for most everything they’d thanked us for. After my short talk, we were treated to a short dance performance by some of the children. We gathered for obligatory photos and I gave away some Cubs championship hats, which were very popular. (I brought 18 caps along to further my principal goal of this trip—establishing a Cubs fan club in Ghana.)

At Abesua, we met with the chief and elders under the same tree that we’d met with him several times with the Kipharts. The Abesua chief was Dick’s favorite, simple, committed to his people and very effective. We had a ceremony that followed pretty much the same format as the Bonkweso ceremony, but with less fanfare. Afterwards we made a brief stop to see the computer lab that the Kiphart’s has donated and to see a couple classes of young kids. The chief was happy to pose with his new Cubs hat.

After Abesua, we did the drive home, again through heavy traffic, stopping for a late lunch at a sports bar across from the Four Villages. We made much better time than we would have, because Steven, our driver, created his own lane by pulling into the middle of the road and continually honking his horn. A bit harrowing, but effective. Back at the Four Villages, we howered and blogged, then were picked up for dinner by Daniel at 6:15 and taken to the lovely home of Daniel’s parents, Joe and Ida Kwarteng for dinner. Joe is a Ghanaian who attended The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, before moving back to Ghana and becoming the Dean of the Agricultural School at Cape Coast University.  Joe and his wife, Ida (who grew up half in Lebanon and half in California, and who met Joe at Ohio State,) have been very active in supporting farm schools in which young boys and girls can learn the skills necessary to farm successfully when they are older.  Ida is in the U.S. and unable to join us for dinner.

We are joined by Daniel and his girlfriend, Priscilla, who has cooked a delicious dinner for us, Joe Kwarteng, Jr and his girlfriend, Leila, and Dr. Annie, a very lively, Madagascar-born, Ukranian-trained doctor who’s work with infants and mothers we’ve seen each visit (and who, of course, was supported in her efforts by the Kipharts.) joe Jr, Leila, Priscilla and Annie are all doctors, so we’re prepared for medical emergencies ranging from ophthalmology to child birth. It is lovely having dinner in the Kwartengs’ house and there is lively discussion by the Ghanaians, mainly Joe and Annie, about what was wrong in Ghana and what needed to be done (largely involving and rewarding younger people for work) Much concern and grudging admiration of the Chinese was expressed and, though we didn’t actually discuss it, I have the sense that Joe may be a Trump supporter, because he thinks we need to be tough with the Chinese. But, I don’t mind, because now Joe is a Cubs fan.

Back to the Four Villages for blogging and sleep.

8 comments to Roadside Shops, Bonkwaso, Abesua and Dinner at the Kwartengs

  • Wendy

    Great post, great photos!

  • susie Kiphart

    Beautiful pictures. So happy that you all are there and seeing all our friends. The Olopades have done such a fabulous job working with Alex (Peter’s son) to oversee all the projects the Kanters and Kipharts have had the joy of watching. In spite of all we read on a daily basis, there are so many good people working to do good things! Safe travels and love to Phoebe.

  • Ahdina

    I love your drive by shots! So wonderful to see your special connection to Ghana unfold.

  • Gil C.

    It’s like visiting an alternative universe to the world as defined by Trump and Fox News. Thanks for lifting our spirits!

  • lauri pollack

    Sounds like a lovely time. Enjoy!

  • Stuart Paris

    Great pictures and f@bulous family of Kanter.
    Reminds me of a book from long ago, “The Family of Man,”
    What an amazing experience of a lifetime for Phoebe to share with her grandparents.
    Continue to enjoy.
    Much love,

  • Julie Heifetz

    Arnie, Carol and Phoebe,

    I’m so enjoying following your adventure, learning about Ghana from your blog, imagining the thrill of taking this all in together. carol, I’ll be eager to read the poems!



  • Eve Levine

    Thanks for your wonderful blogs! Loved the trip!
    Glad you are all safely back!

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