Diary of MyWeku Restaurant: The allure of Ghana
I left Ghana as a 17 year old, but went back for the first time on holiday at age 30. So taken in by what I was seeing on my return, that I made it a point to pop down at least once a year. 10 years on and I continue to be wowed or more accurately wooed by mother Ghana.
At first it was the buildings springing up everywhere. The capital city to me seemed like one big construction site with half built or half finished buildings everywhere. Eye sore to some no doubt, but to me this was an indication of a re-birth. I recall going on rides with my Dad just to gawp at all these plush residential areas full of incredibly designed and large buildings which were never a match for the match boxes we lived in, in London. A couple of years later a mall or two were built and in the Osu area sprung an “Oxford street.” The Oxford street became the entertainment (it still is) epicentre of Accra. I recall going to Citizen Kofi, a night club, with friends and experiencing a newly built restaurant called Papaye, which served fried rice and KFC-like chicken. I disliked the food at Papaye big time, after all I lived in a foodie capital that had real authentic Western KFC and Chinese type fried rice. I would often bypass anything that looked or smelled remotely non-Ghanaian on the Oxford street. Chinchinga (roast spiced meat on skewers) washed down with a bottle of beer was my thing. Sometimes, I would travel all the way from where I lived in Adjiriganor to La pleasure beach to eat, a journey that lasted about an hour and a half in slow traffic. There is something therapeutic about eating by the seaside. I once sneaked into the La township, a somewhat deprived part of the city, but one to which I had an immense connection. This was where my maternal grandmother would bring us (grandchildren) to celebrate the annual Homowo festival, a centuries-old festival. I knew where our family house was. I knew it was close to the local Presbyterian church which served as my marker. I recall walking through the town and marking the occasion with one of my favourite dishes – yor k3 gari (black eyed beans stew with gari) by the road side.
There was always something new in Ghana. I could clearly see the offshoots of development even though generally resident Ghanaians themselves showed less optimism. I guess in life you have two choices. You can choose to see the glass half-full or half-empty. I had an advantage. I had been fortunate enough to travel to far flung parts of the world and could sense when a city was dead or alive by what I saw around me. To me lots of young people, buildings (commercial and residential) springing up, new business being established and even the vehicular traffic all indicated something good – GROWTH.