(this message was written for the EWB message board at http://www.myewb.ca as usual I chose to post it here as well for your interest!)
This Christmas snapshot is a gift for EWB… from the children in my family here in Tongo, the Upper East Region of Ghana. (I was really luck to be the EWB member on scene and available to receive it on our behalf DESPITE being on holiday at the time!)
XMAS in Tongo …
Family and food are the same, gifts and New Years are different.
On Christmas in Tongo, my family members spent the day visiting and greeting each other as well as extended family who live near the main compound house. Small gifts such as coule-coule (fried peanut snacks) and roasted meat were exchanged. In my family house, all sixteen of us enjoyed a rich dinner of rice and stew, along with some fresh watermelon. I fit right in so far as family visits go, because ‘sister’ Sarah Grant, EWB OVS working in Damongo, Northern Region, came to visit! She even brought pineapple, a very rare treat around here!
In keeping with Canadian tradition I secretly bought three yards of material for each of the women in the house, and provided (local) rice for the household meal. I also proudly visited my landlord, Ilaho Tikaha, with the gift of a big guinea fowl on boxing day. He is the senior of four brothers who live in and around the main compound house, called Tikaha Iyre, with their families. My host father, Patrick Tikaha, is his junior and built one of the smaller houses that has branched off from the main compound.
I was a little disappointed to learn that my timing was a bit off on the gift giving. Apparently, in local tradition, most annual gift giving happens at the Daal festival, which is New Years around here. It was a few months ago, in October.
Although my host mother was visibly confused when I presented her with the gift of material, everyone eventually understood that I was following tradition and seemed to appreciate my desire to include the house. It made for an extra special Christmas anyway!
Best WISHES for a happy holiday and prosperous (Canadian) New Year!