Tom Palmer, a children's author who writes fast paced football novels, went to Ghana recently to do some research for the latest book in his football detective series. He visited a Kuapa Kokoo cocoa farm and one of the schools that we work with, and wrote a lovely blog about his travels for the Dubble website.
It is always fascinating to read first impressions of people's visits to far away places. When you first travel to a new and unfamiliar country, you are like a natural anthropologist, excited by the minutia of everyday life, recording details and impressions that you will later find commonplace and familiar but which contain important insights that are worth holding on to. It is a bit like a dream that will lose its vivid colour unless you record your observations.
Tom recounts his visit to a football match in Accra, with the energetic fans packed into the stadium "with flags, horns and drums" and "running round the perimeter of the pitch". It reminded me of my visit to an Africa Cup of Nations game in Kumasi when I had an opportunity to visit Ghana last year. The atmosphere was electric. Everyone was standing up, with people clapping, dancing, singing and drumming. One group nearby had brought an entire brass band in with them! A man near us was wearing only a pair of pants and painted head to foot in the colours of the Ghanaian flag.
Tom talks in his blog to one of the young people we've worked with in Ghana, Raphael, who has visited the UK, asking him what he thought of this country: "People walk too fast, he said. In London. They are almost running. They never have time to talk to each other."
Joycelyn, a teenager from New Koforidua in Ghana who visited the UK with us last year to promote Fairtrade Schools, made a similar observation: "I have noticed that time in the UK is quite different from Ghanaian time. The people here do everything faster, like walking, or at work, everything is fast!"