Accra life is full of noise! Whether sleeping or whilst awake, you can not live in Accra without defining your life with noise. I decided on this blog whilst strolling around and I realised that wherever I walked there so many noises I just do not hear back in the UK. Living in the countryside back home the only noises I hear are the distant churning of traffic, the occasional fox screaming in the night, our dog, Branston, fearfully barking at those he doesn't know, my father moaning and my mother worrying!
As I lay on my bed writing this blog I already have the noise of the women who clean the rooms and wash our clothes chattering outside with my Air conditioning unit whirring in the background. For me, with a Tinitus issue (ringing in the ears) the AC is a comforting side. Let me not forget the huge massive cockerel (affectionately known as Roostie) that perches not far from my room and screams throughout every day and night (which is certainly not comforting) (I have actually offered to build this chicken/ostrich a house away from my room . As long time readers may remember the noise of a chicken actually contributed to me being kicked out of accommodation so I am trying hard to tolerate this beast!)
Other noises that I hear from the room are mainly rather annoying. Even now there is a gentleman (possibly the landlords new driver?) singing (at least I think he is singing) with a lack of tune and in what I can only describe as a zombie like fashion! Then there is the sweeping, which certainly is not as bad as in past accommodation. Very occasionally the house ladies invite their amateur pastor friends over who pray in a very exuberant fashion usually saying the same thing over and over again in different ways. They are walking thesaurus and trick people into thinking they are saying a very long prayer but in actual fact its the same sentence. Can I Hear an AMEN! HAAAALLEEEELUUJAA!
(Oh my, this guy singing has got issues!! A high pitched wail is now being practiced!)
Let us now leave my room (I know that may be difficult) and head out onto the streets of Accra. Africa is known stereotypically for its singing, dancing and drumming. I think it is true to say that rhythms run throughout Ghana and define the jobs of many. If you go to the chop bars (small eating spots) you will here the boom...boom...boom of the fufu pounder smashing into the cassava, yam and plantain creating the staple food to eat with some nice soup!
Sellers throughout has certain rhythms and almost melodic phrases to tell those around them what service or product they are providing. The first you will hear when you come into the hustle and bustle of Accra, whether strolling around or sitting on a Tro Tro is ''Yeessss Puuure" selling the little sachets of pure water, which are the most cost effective liquid sustenance in Ghana.
If you have a problem with your shoe, your flip flop has broken or you simply need a bit of a polish job done then listen out for the loud Clack...Clack...Clack of the show maker. He walks around with his wooden box, full of polishes and new heals (which reminds me I need a new heal!) and tools, as well as his wooden stick to beat it. So many times I have been standing there and one of these shoe makers has come out of no where and made me jump out of my skin with a surprisingly loud CLACK!. Very useful for a lazy guy like me though!
Next comes the ting ting.....tingtingting...ting..ting of guess what? The manicurist! (Yes indeed here in Accra we have mobile manicurists!) You seem them around painting ladies nails and working on trimming mens nails. This is the first place in the world where I have seen so many men getting there nails done! In fact even I (the manliest of men of course) have had my toenails done! I was kind of forced into it by an ex as I foolishly spent my whole day waiting for her to get a weave on, or bonding, or something. (For those that don't know about black women's hair all you need to know is that it takes a bloody long time!! If you ever have to wait...go and do it in a pub!) It is unlikely I will ever get a manicure or a pedicure again, but if I do fancy it I will just listen out for the ting ting of the manicurist's tools.
Ok now for another ting ting but this time of the glass variety! And this is a rather more manly one ( I think anyway) This is the tingletingletingle ( notice the difference?!) of the Akpeteshie seller. Akpeteshie is a local gin brewed in Ghana in conditions that those who drink it would definitely not want to see! In Accra there are about as many drinking spots as there are churches. (and believe me there are thousands of churches) But even with copious spots the gin lovers will be glad to know that if they find themselves out of reach of one of these spots the mobile bar will walk past them tingling his tune ready for you to get drunk on the move! Brilliant!
I almost forgot, the honkey honkey of the fan ice man! This fellow (or these fellows) is (are) the ice cream seller(s) around town! They sell frozen yoghurts and ice cream. I must admit they are a welcome refreshment on a hot hot day and the sound is a very welcome one!
So I have mentioned some of the more subtle noises of Accra but lets face it there are some far less subtle noises to be found here! Apart from the tro tro's screaming out where they are going to...CIRC CIRC CIRC or ACCRA KRAKRAKRA etc etc (those who have been in Accra will know of course what I am talking of) there are the drivers that drive using their horns rather than steering wheels or breaks. I have often tried to work out if the different rhythms on the horn mean different things. Kind of sounding out like the talking drum at a traditional ceremony. But, now, I am pretty sure they are just randomly played to either tell the other driver (or pedestrian) that they are going to pass first, or rather confusingly to tell the other driver (or pedestrian) that they can actually pass first. It could just be to say that 'hey, I am coming round this corner'! Or maybe just because they are checking that the horn is still working. Some even have there horns hooked up to other switches to make it easier to sound! This has to be one of the most irritating sounds in Accra!
Another extremely irritating sound for me comes from the thousands of churches that I mentioned earlier. To be fair it is only one kind of Church (I think) that is making the most noise. The charismatic churches (which can be found in massive rich expensive buildings or randomly in the middle of a football pitch somewhere) pride themselves on being able to talk in tongues! Quite annoyingly we have one of these little church kinds hiding somewhere near out house! Now, you would think that speaking in tongues is quite an amazing thing (that is of course if they are not all pretending because they are worried they are the only one not speaking in tongues!) but these guys are so proud of it that they get a microphone and a massive set of speakers and scream their tongues through it for the whole area to hear. What I dont understand about the tongues is that it seems to be the same phrase repeated over and over and over (and over) again. Surely to actually be able to speak in tongues it would end up in a rather boring conversation!? And if the guy is using his microphone you may well end up with a headache.
There are thousands of other sounds around and it is likely that I will have to write a rejoinder at some point to this blog but I think I wrote this one to just let people know that they should really listen to their surroundings. There are many noises that are taken for granted but in actual fact have a use or a meaning that we have not thought about.
And Bish Bash Bosh...I am out!