Last Sunday we got on the plane from Accra to Tamale Airport. I got the strange sensation of that Camilla and I were wildlings and we were about to conquer the north, behind the wall. Because it is a wall, it seperates the “rich and the rich poverty” of Accra from extreme poverty in the northern parts of Ghana.
We embarked on a plane with AWA (Africa World Airlines), who’s tagline is:
“Touching Africa. Touching the World!!” Exactly like that, and I find those two!! exclamation marks to be hilarious.
We were lucky enough to get a cab with air condition, that made the one and a half hour ride a pure bliss. My first impression of the north was all the police stops, men in uniforms with guns, the bargaining over toll and the young ladies running up to cars, attempting to sell their groceries. We bought three eggs.
My tummy was filled with butterflies, and when Camilla said: “Behind this hill is Karimenga!” they all flew out – finally we had arrived.
We arrived just before the sun set and when the cab drove into the village we were greeted by most of the villagers. It warmed my heart to see Camilla freakishly happy and to see how happy they were to see her. Her second family.
I was introduced to everyone, met the baba of the village, met Joshua (Cam’s friend and colleague) whom I have heard so much about, met the mama of our compound and was invited in to the room where we would sleep, in the building that Cam and the other’s have built.
I was baffled. Firstly because, never ever have I lived in that environment, secondly I could not grasp how Cam has spent over a year in the village in total. That all made sense the day after the sweatiest night of my life (sleeping under a tin roof in 43 degrees C is not to be recommended) and I saw her walking elegantly through the village as naturally as if it was her home, talking in FraFra with everyone she saw.
Needless to say, even though it is poor, the people are rich. I got the opportunity to jump into relationships that Cam has built with everyone under several years, and I got to listen to conversations and thoughts that I never would have been getting to partake in if it was not for Camilla and her ability to connect with whomever, whenever. They discussed death, love, conflicts, relationships, all those universal human factors that make us all able to converse and connect.
That first night they celebrated the baptising of a child, hence they played loud music and danced, unfortunately it was abruptly cut off because a woman in her forties died that same night. Death and life, all at once. Death gets very close there, they dig the graves themselves and bury the bodies in the village.
Coming to Karimenga was a first-hand experience of the circle of life, in a manner that I’ve never had the privilege to see before. The community is built on relationships, trust, hard work, helping hands, love and a team-work out of this world. I am in awe by how hard they work, out in the fields in 45 degrees, and not one complaint.
Those were my first impressions, but not even all of them, and tomorrow I’ll write the continuation.