martes, 19 de septiembre de 2017

Krokobite beach in Ghana

I went by trotro (vans that work as local buses) near Tudu Station (in Accra) for 5cedis (1€) and 40min. You get off at the last bus stop once in Krokobite, 2min walk from the beach. It is less crowdy, almost no people in fact, than Labadi beach and luckily you will be able to see fishermen with their long little boats arriving and unloading the fish they caught. There are also some nice bars to get a beer and listen some music. The problem I found was people pooping right at the beach, not appalling for swimming lol. Dont let the beach boys fool you with their tricks and "friendships". I feel sometimes we tourist are too nice and ended up not enjoying our time just because we want to be open to the obruni-grabbers as Ghanaians know them.

Panoramio - Photo of Krokobite beach
Krokobite beach. Source: www.panoramio.com

viernes, 15 de septiembre de 2017

Racism in Ghana

I know this will be controversial. I am from Spain, where there is also racism, and when I saw a post titled “Racist Spain” I got mad and upset. It is shocking our capacity to merge with concepts, such as our nation, and feel so identify with it that we defend it from bad depictions we hear (read) about it.

But here I am, about to describe the racism I felt while living in Ghana, and in other African countries as well. I know I will be criticized for it, but I guess after reading other opinions and testimonies of racism, homophobia… and other intolerances, I can also speak up about my experience as a minority.

During my two months in Ghana, one month in Kenya, one month in Ethiopia, and thirteen months in Somalia, I felt treated differently. Some people would always tell me that because I am white I cannot complain about racism. Racism for many non-white people is the oppressive system that doesn’t provide equal opportunities to its citizen based on their skin color. Well, I agree with that perception of racism, but I also feel that the minute you judge me and act towards me in a different way because the color of my skin is different from yours, you are being racist.

Obama cloth by Abby Line Berry. Source:  https://abbylineberry.wordpress.com/2011/10/27/five-reasons-africa-got-my-goat-today/
Prejudices and stereotypes play a big role in racism. In Africa, this is not different. Being a white person turns you out into an ATM with legs, in general terms. Although it is true, I assume genuinely, that most of the white people in Ghana have more money that the average Ghanaian, it is really frustrating and annoying that constantly people approach you and call you out in the street to get some money or influence from you. They are following a stereotype, but that doesn’t mean it is right.

In the same way that is annoying, frustrating and racist that many black people feel judged as poor and ignorant in the white countries, I felt bad when in black countries locals don’t treat me as everyone else.

The thing that I most hated was that every time I got out I had to listen people calling me obruni (white man). Every time I wanted to shop, they raised the price five to ten times higher than to a local. Every time I was walking on the street taxis honked at me because they do not think a white man could feel like walking or taking a bus (trotro) like everyone else. Every time I went partying hookers came around becoming their main target. Children followed me, touched my skin, touched my hair, joked at me… I felt like: yes, my skin color is different, no need to remind me all the time.

In Ghana they call you obruni, in Kenya is mzungu, in Ethiopia is faranji, etc. It amazes how shameless people call you out these names to your face knowing that it only takes few days to understand you are referring to me by my race. They don’t use other physical feature, but your white skin color. I guess it is cultural but in the West it is very rude to call out someone by any physical feature unless it is a nickname that both agreed to use. One thing is to use a physical feature to describe someone and another is to be called obruni in the bus, in the market, at the street, by police, by taxis… It is just too much.

The good thing, if there is a good thing about racism, is that the racism here positioned you generally in a higher status than the locals. They think that because you are white you have money, education, and honesty. The police would never harass you or blame you as it happens in the West with black people. They won’t kick you out or refuse you from getting in any place. Students and teachers would respect you, and your opinion in discussions would matter. It can get to your head if you don’t watch carefully.


To sum up, being a white person in Ghana, and so far in the African countries I have been, would always be a problem to act naturally. Even if you are black from the West, they would not treat you like them. Most of the people, the uneducated, will always treat you different because you are a Western, but specially if you are white and female. They will think you are naive and generous, and that you don’t lack resources or support. They will try to get benefits from you such as money, influence, or popularity (how many random people asked for a picture in the street, I can’t remember). It is sad, but it is a reality. Some white folks I met who have lived there for years became kind of arrogant and distant with the locals because of these daily attitude towards them. To worsen thing, some tourists promote these kind of racism when they approve being called obruni, accept to be shot pictures randomly in the street, or pay more money than the average Ghanaian for the same products/services.  

*Racial discrimination- treatment or consideration of or making a distinction in favor of or against a person based on the racial group to which the person is perceived to belong rather than individual attribute.

domingo, 27 de agosto de 2017

Crush in Accra

I think the first time I saw her was when I stepped into the pub. My eyes saw her but my mind said “she cannot be here. She would have texted you”. I walked straight to my friends table trying not to turn my face to where she was dancing. I sat right away and started talking to my friends, giving my back to where she was. A while later, one of my friends came back from the toilet saying she met someone on her way back who told her she knew me. Damn, so there she was. I felt disappointed. I thought after the nice night we spent at her place, she would have liked to meet up again. I had texted her about my plans, and expected a similar thing from her. My bad.

I decided to pretend I was surprised of seeing her there, said hello to her best friend warmly and just a nod to her and the other friend. I am not sure she noticed my mood. I tried not to look at her much during the little talk I have with them, and came back to my table quick. Later, some people started to leave the bar, many heading to the nightclubs nearby.

I went to the toilet as an excuse to see her again and talk since my table was in the other side of hers. They told me they were going to a club, one of the best in the city and most selective. Do you know that feeling when you hate someone but at the same time you cant let her go? Well, that was my case: I waited for them to leave and then I convinced my friends to go to the same club. I know, I must like feeling pain and jealousy when I am going to the same place that the girl I like who plans having fun without me.

afro hair, black, boho, curly hair, cute, dark skinned, grunge ...
Fuente: favim.com

When we arrive the entrance fee was so expensive, for men of course, girls are the product at these places so they do not pay, that I ended up with no money for the rest of the night. We went in and there she was dancing at the center of the dance floor. So beautiful and charming. Guys around looking at her eager to approach her.

We join them, but I kept dancing without looking at her or being near her. She approached me, hugging my neck while dancing. I was trapped by her smile, I could not even felt her arms on me. She asked me if everything was alright. Red alarm! she was noticing my mood. But, wasn’t that what I actually wanted? Attention from her. I was confused. I was mad at her. But at the same time I wanted her so much. I was wordless… I said I was fine. I tried to keep a little and superficial talk while we were dancing. How was work, what her plans were for next week… Finally she moved apart saying we should be in touch and keep talking what I replied “how can you say that, you don’t talk to me anymore”. That was my attack. She got the message and went away. It killed my heart.

Sitting on the couch I could see her looking nowhere… lost on her own things. Did not look like she was having fun. I didn’t think she could be worrying for what I said, but to make sure it wasn’t that I came to her like a regretful puppy and asked her for a dance. She said she didn’t want to dance. Second shot to my ego. I asked why and she said something related to the music, the volume… we both knew it was an excuse. Something else was going on.

Ten minutes later she stood up and started to dance closely with a guy on my back. Ok, so now the volume, the music… was it different? Obviously not. Again I acted as a masochistic fan watching the girl I had a crush with dancing with another guy. Everyone with us could feel my tension and upset. I can imagine my face in that situation. I can never hide my feelings.

They kept dancing in a sexy way: touching, grabbing, grinding… Me, just looking stupid observing the drama going on. I tried to change my spot and give my back to them. Changing position did not help. Before I could see them with my eyes, now I could feel them on my back having fun. I was dying :(

Twenty minutes later she came to talk to her best friend, and then left with the guy she was dancing with. Was she taking him home? At that time I should have given up, but still wanted to fix things. I wanted to tell her I liked her and forgave her for not being considerate. You would probably think I was being egocentric. I agree. I sometimes surprised myself how selfish I can be.

So they left, leaving me there “dancing” back and forth without any rhythm or attention to the music being played. A minute later I looked back and saw her coming in alone. I prayed for her not to approach me. I was too mad to talk to her. You betcha! She put her hand on my shoulder to say she was leaving. She came to say bye after all. I didn’t say anything. Then, she moved forward for a hug and a kiss, but I was fast enough to step back and to offer her a handshake instead. She reacted surprised and said “What’s the matter? We’re just friends”. She thought I was just jealous. But what hurt me the most was her lack of interest in me. I guess I have to man up.


miércoles, 26 de julio de 2017

Un paso adelante, y cuatro para atrás

En mi último post comentaba como mi jefa había tenido un momento de empatía y consideración con nosotros. Quise imaginar que era el inicio de un cambio.

Pues no. Si el otro día avanzó un paso en el camino de la generosidad y la colaboración, hoy retrocedió cuatro pasos.

Hoy, después de un mes trabajando juntos en los que no me ha permitido realizar las tareas que acordamos, y describimos en el "contrato" de voluntariado por el que vine, me dio la oportunidad de dar una sesión a los profesores a quienes instruimos. Preparé la sesión con mucha energía, imágenes, buena intención... Cuando llegó la hora, mi jefa decidió ponerse hablar con los participantes, y no me ha dejado hacerla.

desconsideración | De Visita con mi Padre
Fuente: devisitaconmipadre.wordpress.com

Ni se ha disculpado, ni se ha responsabilizado de lo ocurrido. Después de 40min hablando con ellos, mi sesión era de 30min, me ha pedido que empezará. Obviamente no podía empezar porque ya era el turno de la siguiente ponente. Cuando he dicho que el tiempo de mi sesión había pasado, me ha recriminado que no soy lo suficiente flexible. Repito que mi sesión era de 10,30-11h... Una vergüenza.

Pero qué le voy a hacer. Las dos primeras semanas reaccioné ante tales comportamientos y su respuesta fue clara: sino te gusta, recoge tus cosas y vete. Fácil le fue decirme eso ya que fui yo el que se había gastado 1000€ en hacer el viaje, pagar el visado, vacunas... y además era voluntario, nadie me pagaba y por tanto se me podía sacrificar. Su mensaje fue que el desacuerdo se castigaba en esta (su) ONG, y por tanto, si quería quedarme mejor era mantenerme callado.

Ni que decir tiene que opté por callarme después de la inversión de tiempo y dinero que ya había realizado, además de las magnificas personas que estoy conociendo aparte de mi jefa.

Para terminar, decir que mañana podré recuperar el tiempo de mi sesión gracias a la presión que mi jefa ha recibido por parte de una mujer del Swiss Credit quien vino hace una semana para donar a la ONG y quien se está dando cuenta de la tensión y mal ambiente que mi jefa está creando en el proyecto.

Así que una vez más... estoy agradecido a la vida por darme una de cal y otra de arena y así ofrecerme la oportunidad de aprender a comunicar mejor y desarrollarme como persona.

Un abrazo y mis mejores vibraciones :*

lunes, 24 de julio de 2017

La patrona

Hoy, al acabar el día nos ha reunido la jefa del proyecto. No nos ha sorprendido que tras un duro de día trabajo, quisiera reunirse con nosotros antes de que nos vayamos a cenar y a descansar. Lo que sí me ha sorprendido ha sido su actitud positiva frente a las adversidades. Nada común en ella.

Entre nosotros, nos referimos a ella por el apodo de "la patrona". El apodo se lo ha ganado a pulso ya que se comunica con nosotros generalmente de forma intransigente y unidireccional. Cuando existe un desacuerdo, su respuesta es sentenciadora y casi amenazante. No da cabida a la negociación por mucho que la lógica y los indicadores de la actividad que llevamos a cabo le nieguen la razón. Es una persona con un carácter muy dominante, de la que no dudo se pueda confiar a la hora de resolver problemas de tipo técnico o logístico, pero que carece de las habilidades sociales para, en mi opinión, dirigir equipos.

Sin embargo hoy en la reunión me ha sorprendido: era obvio que el esquema que teníamos planificado para los participantes de nuestro proyecto se encontraba algo estancado en ciertos puntos y eso le molestaba. Todos esperábamos que embistiera contra aquellos responsables de las áreas en las que el proyecto se había retrasado, pero, a pesar de ser obvia su molestia, centró su atención en los próximos pasos a seguir para resolver la situación. Solo había dos o tres opciones: retrasar el desarrollo de otras áreas en pro del área menos trabajada, o continuar con nuestro esquema a sabiendas de que una de las áreas no se había desarrollado en su plenitud, o una tercera opción mixta.
Tres estrategias para motivar a tus colaboradores
Fuente: www.pqs.pe
Lo que me sorprendió no fue solo el hecho de que no embistiera contra los responsables del área retrasada, sino que además contase con la opinión de todos nosotros, el staff, para decidir qué opción tomar respecto al problema. Para mayor sorpresa, luego ha venido a cenar con nosotros de forma amena y sociable.

Tras este hecho algunos hemos comenzado a discutir cuales serían las razones de la patrona para haberse comportado de forma tan receptiva y crítica frente al problema planteado, ya que todos nos esperábamos una respuesta menos considerada y más abrupta. Unos dicen que estará madurando. Otros que está cansada y sin ganas de pelea. Otros que siendo nuestra ultima semana de proyecto, no quiere sentar malas energías antes de despedirnos... A mí me gustaría optar por el primer caso: mi jefa está madurando y ya no quiere ser patrona. Quiere ser una líder en la que se pueda confiar y trabajar codo a codo.

Quiero creer que las personas pueden cambiar, por mucho que nuestra genética e historia personal nos haya llevado a desarrollar actitudes poco constructivas. Podemos cambiar.

martes, 18 de julio de 2017

Dar y recibir feedback

Hoy, durante una sesión a profesores noveles en Ghana, hablábamos sobre como dar y recibir comentarios y críticas a/de otros profesores, superiores, o incluso alumnos.

Durante la sesión no he podido dejar de recordar aquel principio budista que dice así, "cuando vayamos a hablar siempre hemos de considerar: ¿es el momento correcto? ¿hablo de hechos (verdad objetiva)? ¿hablo amablemente? ¿es útil lo que digo para la persona a quien me dirijo? ¿hablo desde la buena intención, o pretendo (sé que voy a) ofender?"

Esto me hace pensar que dar y recibir feedback es algo que no solo mejoraría nuestras relaciones profesionales, sino también las personales.

La de hoy fue por tanto una lección de vida más que una lección docente o pedagógica.

Gracias por la experiencia de hoy.

Right Speech (samma-vaca)
Fuente: newbuddhist.com

Fuentes:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/snp/snp.3.03.than.html

http://fakebuddhaquotes.com/if-you-propose-to-speak-always-ask-yourself-is-it-true-is-it-necessary-is-it-kind/

domingo, 16 de julio de 2017

¿Por qué te levantas cada mañana? ¿Cuál es el propósito en tu vida?

Me levanto cada mañana para:

1. Hacer de este mundo un sitio mejor.
2. Aprender quien soy a través del reflejo que me da la vida.


Cada vez que consigo responder con positividad e interés las trabas y alegrías diarias, reafirmo mis propósitos.

Desde Ghana con amor,

Un joven profesor madrileño.