The Buchele Adventure

This is record of the Buchele Adventure, as reported from West Africa.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Returning to Ghana #4 - A visit to Eric's Village, part 1

Returning to Ghana #4 - Visiting Eric's Village, part 1

For years it seems like I've been talking about visiting Eric's village, the one he grew up in. Eric was born in Kumasi, but was raised in Adenkrebi, about an hour north of Accra. This is the photolog from that visit.

So Eric warned me that it was a lonely place, that there was nothing there, and he wasn't kidding. I think for me, the best part was watching how people welcomed him. The closer we got to Adenkrebi, the more people recognized him, and yelled out his last name as we drove by. This is the road to Adenkrebi, the one that turns off the main road.

This is Eric's oldest brother. Notice the heavy coat. Its rainy season and we're out side Accra on one of the hills that surround it to the north. Its maybe 70 degrees, and he had a coat on.

Here is the "town drunk". Eric tells me again that if I want the truth about anything or anybody, ask him. Because he is the drunk, nobody pays any attention to him, and he sees and hears everything. (click here for more about "town drunk")

Here is the kitchen, located in the courtyard.

To the left of the cooking area, will be water collection barrels, capturing rainwater from the roof. They barrels are 55 gal. steel barrels with concrete on the inside so they don't rust.

Outside the building I see a familiar site, a new bore hole pump, except it isn't locked, and looks--- I don't know--lonely. I've seen many of these pumps, and usually people rush to show me it works, or I see people lined up to use it, but this one sits alone, overlooked, idle. I see it was installed May 17, 2008.

I ask about it but the subject changes and we move on. Later we walk by it again, and I ask again. "It is spoiled," I am told, and I wonder, how long did this pump work?

I wonder if the Rotary Club of York, Maine knows this. Visiting their website, I find a picture of it working a year ago, but today its spoiled. [website]

I am told the more sustainable bore hole projects are set up on a nominal fee based use system. Each gallon of water pumped accrues some nominal fee. The money collected from that fee goes into a maintenance fund so that when something breaks, there is already money saved to have it fixed. I've spoken to a few Christian organizations wanting to drill bore holes, and install pumps, and I always ask them if there will be a fee for the water? The answer is always "NO!" it will be free!

"What happens when the pump breaks...who will pay for it to be fixed?" I ask. Not always, but often this is a question that has not been asked, and usually there is no answer except the water will be free. Charging money for water seems cruel to these organizations, but it seems to me even more cruel to give someone a well with no plan for its maintainability. I don't know the setup for this bore hole in Adenkribe, but I suspect it was not fee based (there is no lock on the pump) and today, a year after it was installed, it sits idle, unused, broken.

There are stories passed around the expat community of cars, bicycles, pumps, generators, other things that require ongoing maintenance being given to a community, or a household. When they become broken, the expat gets a call saying "Obruni, your __________ has spoiled, come fix it (or send us money to have it repaired)" I wonder if the York, Maine Rotarians received such a call. I've emailed their president to let him know, and wonder what he will do.

This is the Presby Church in Adenkribe. Its the one Eric was raised in. Outside there is a bell tower built by some Germans.
Eric tells me it rings three times before the worship service. 45 minutes
before, so people know to come in from the fields, 10 minutes before to let people know its time to leave, and when worship starts.

Inside the worship area:

Here is the most alarming part, the white Jesus. I ask Eric about it, and he says "Your people gave us these pictures of Jesus..."

I don't know if I should laugh or cry. I believe that one should never take away or explain away a belief system, or understanding without having a better one. What sort of picture could you replace them with? I mean I understand I'm in no position to say or doing anything, but if I were, what would I do, I wonder.

Comments are most welcome!


Blogger John Powers said...

I stumbled upon this blog early on in your adventure and got hooked. Thanks.

The question about pictures of Jesus is an interesting one. I looked at pictures online a little bit and stumbled upon Jesus Mafa site.

The paintings are beautiful, but painted by a French artist--strangely not named on the site. However the way the images were created seemed worth telling.

63 scenes of important events in the New Testament were selected. Villagers acted out the scenes and photographs were made. Then sketches from the photos and finally the paintings.

Visual story telling is important. The idea to act out important parts from the Bible seems a great way to begin. My utterly uninformed hunch is that the dramas might be something with a cultural fit. But I'm clueless as to whether photographs or sketches of such enactments would be viewed as art, i.e. making special or holy.

I'm out of my element from religious, cultural and art making point of views. But here's another uninformed hunch: My sense about making art is that it should come from a place of offering a gift.

People are often reluctant to give a gift to themselves and even a community gift can seem frivolous. And yet a beautiful image can be more easily shared nowadays. To be able to share an image on letterhead or a card--even if it's reproduced by hand is a way of sharing the congregation of a church might like.

The pictures in this church serve as a reminder of being connected with the larger community.

So what to do--what I think to do--is to find someway for the congregation to say to other Christians that we are part of the whole: An adornment of their church seen not just for them, but part of a larger conversation.

6:38 AM, July 02, 2009  

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