L’étrange étranger est ici pour rester.

Komoayili, Karaga District, Northern Region, Ghana

The sun is setting and the sound of a motto disturbs the impromptu football game played by children on the road. Then, the silhouette of a motto appears and the driver can be seen. It is Mr. Abdulai, a well-known and respected man from Karaga with an unknown passenger. Upon further observation this unknown passenger is… a WHITE DUDE wearing a ridiculously big black shiny helmet?

WELCOMING VILLAGER: Anulla (how is the night? I hope it is fine, in Dagbani)

WHITE DUDE: Naaah (It is fine, in Dagbani)

WELCOMING VILLAGER: Akbiera (How is your sleeping place?, in Dagbani)

WHITE DUDE: Gom bièné (My sleeping place is good, P.S. my Dagbani is simply written phonetically… I don’t think that they use French accents.)

WELCOMING VILLAGER: Some more advanced Dagbani that I don’t understand (in Dagbani, of course)


The WELCOMING VILLAGER laughs joyfully with his surrounding friends and shakes the WHITE DUDE’s hand. The WHITE DUDE is also laughing, but appears moderately confused.

Welcome to my new life my friend, welcome. Or as we say in Northern Ghana, a marraba, to which you should answer, ngugna.

A week ago, a Monday afternoon, I moved to Komoayili. In Accra and Tamale, l realized that Ghana was different than Canada. Taxis need to avoid many farm animals on the highway, people greet each other profusely, the sun is warm, and as mentioned before… the mangoes are delicious! But, living in the guest house and then at Ben and Erin’s place (two African Program Staff), I did not feel any “culture-shock”, je n’étais pas vraiment dépaysé.

The view, as you approach the village on a motto...

Cependant, en arrivant à Komoayili, tout ça a changé. Je ne peux plus communiquer adéquatement avec les gens qui m’entourent. I cannot communicate effectively with people around me… and I make babies cry. Yup, you’ve read right, I’m so strange that I make little babies cry. (Update: I’ve figured out a way to establish common ground with these young ones. It is called the “exploding fist handshake”. Basically your traditional “pound it” with an added twist. You open your hand at the end and make the sound pewwwwwww. Winner. Every-single-time.)

See? Told you we were friends!

Even though a Martian might fit in better than me, people are really nice and I’m making friends. The welcoming (and English-speaking!) Assembly Man gave me a few rides to town on his motto before Abanga, a great co-worker gave me his bicycle for the summer. Swaélé, the Assembly Man’s son (and many other amazing village children) have been teaching me some Dgabani words that I’ve diligently been written in my notebook and reviewing every morning. Some village men have promised to bring me to the farm on Saturday. I’ve spent hours simply sitting outside with the other men under a beautiful star canopy. I’ve also showed them pictures of a dairy farm in Earlton, my family, and we’ve surfed Facebook together so that they could see more of my life.

Part of my big host family, and a glare from the hot Ghanaian sun!

Life is good. Life is slow, since we are waiting for the rain to start planting*, but life is good.

Thanks for reading and I’ll try to write more soon!


*Second Edit (I wish I could’ve posted this earlier, but I was waiting to have a few pictures and then internet!): Since I wrote this last Tuesday, it has started raining in Komoayili, therefore I had the chance to plant groundnuts on Saturday AND Sunday!


7 thoughts on “L’étrange étranger est ici pour rester.

  1. Excellent post, Marc!
    I, too, make babies cry. At first it was very saddening, but now I’m used to it. Their mothers just laugh–apparently that kind of thing is hilarious.
    They also think it’s funny when I answer greetings with a question mark. My favourite is “alaafee?” Generally that causes fits of laughter and mockery.
    I hope village life continues to be great!

    • Hahahaha that’s funny, I’ve also been answering some greetings with a question mark when I’m not sure about the answer, with a similar response!

      Village life is pretty great thanks! What about you? I’ve been reading that Star Wars has been showed in your village haha, nice one! Do the kids in your community speak fluent English?

      Keep on writin’ and rockin’ my friend!


      • They don’t speak English, but they kind of understand what’s going on. Mostly they just like the lightsabers and lasers, though. I was surprised when I played Episode II this weekend and they remembered every character’s name!

        Lovin’ the blog! I’ll see you in a couple weeks at the retreat!

  2. L’étrange étranger est ici pour rester…….. pas trop longtemps j’espère!!!!!!
    J’étais contente de voir ta photo.

    • Trois mois haha, on se voit bientôt mes chères demoiselles!

      En passant, j’ai montré les photos de famille aux gens de mon village et l’Assembly Man en revenait pas comment tu avais l’air jeune maman!
      Je lui ai dit que ça te ferait plaisir d’entendre ça haha!


      • Je ne connais pas l’Assembly Man de ton village mais je l’aime BEAUCOUP!!!!


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