|Pictures by Mandolyn McConaha|
On Tuesday, March 6, Ghana celebrated 55 years of independence. Everyone had the day off except all students in Humjibre, who gathered in their cleanest school uniform (and nicest shoes) at the top of the hill. Martial drumbeats were heard since early morning and by time Jen and Mandolyn and I made it to the street to watch the parades, students were assembled in rigid lines and were beginning their marching. Even the very youngest ones, in their purple preschool uniforms, attempted a lock step march, but their big eyes mostly wandered to the raucous crowds lining the street. Teachers rushed alongside, scooting the straying ones back in line.
We followed alongside as the various schools began their marches through town to the football field. The early morning clouds had lifted, and everyone was in a fantastic mood. I kept running into people I’d met months back, now back from school or from working in the city and home to celebrate. I kept getting further behind the festivities, and it began to sink that I am leaving this great place really soon and I have not taken any pictures of these kids! How am I supposed to blog about this?
Fortunately, Mandolyn was there. Mandolyn McConaha is GHEI’s new communication director, replacing yours truly. She has spent a lot of time abroad, and even worked in a communication director type role with an NGO in southeast Asia. She also has a background in photojournalism, so her pictures were going to be way more awesome than mine that day anyways. Remembering this, I went back to slapping hi-fives with rowdy dudes, and finding food (including someone cooking a “Flying Rat”. Did you know that rats fly? They do in Humjibre!)
The schools gathered on the football pitch to march once more, this time past the seated VIPs. As they passed, they delivered swift little salutes. I asked a spectator, if he did this when he was in school. He told me, with a touch of patriotic nostalgia, that he was the lead drummer during his Junior High years. I recognized some of the GHEI YEP students, leading their schools. I spoke to an older gentleman who remembered Ghana’s very early years till now, “Fifty-Five years and not enough progress!” He didn’t have much hope for seeing a drastically better Ghana, but he thought the kids marching today will. Ghana is still a young country, and people are proud of it.
|by Mandolyn McConaha|