Guests learn from Charity and I-“quote from USAID STAFF NEWSLETTER: “their combined knowledge of Kumasi is more than the guidebooks” and we learn from guests. Take for example Juricho and Khalifa, the two students mentioned and pictured in the last post. They were here on a two week internment looking at urban gardening in Accra.
Here’s what we learned. Less and less land is devoted to growing vegetables in Accra each year. Mostly the only place you’ll see any land devoted to urban gardening is under high transmission lines. Here in Kumasi other uses are reserved for areas around high tension wires….We also learned that half the vegetables that go on sale each day in Accra go rotten!
Why, because people can’t afford them. When the per capita wage is about the equivalent of two dollars a day U.S.…about GH C3.00, it’s pretty hard to buy a pound of, let’s say, tomatoes, a staple in stews and soups, at GH C 1.50. And that’s the Kumasi price; it would be more in Accra.
I mentioned the two students to our son Frank recently returned from Canada. He said, “It’s all the rage in America after Michelle Obama started backyard gardening on the south lawn of the White House.
Hey, I wonder if Michelle boasted about her garden to Mrs Naada Mills, Ghana’s first lady when she visited in July of 2009. I can just imagine the conversation:
Michelle: Naada, you should see my artichokes now. In America, everything is big, even my artichokes, ha, ha.
Naada: to herself –what in heavens name is she talking about. out loud-That’s nice.
Michelle: Do you have a garden?
Naada: A garden? Here?
Michelle: Didn’t you hear? I thought the whole world knew. I started a garden on the White House lawn., even got school children involved-they are the future after all.
Naada: We don’t do that here. This is Ghana.
Michelle: It’s called urban gardening.
Naada: Oh yes, watchman and labourers do that here. And I guess some moneyed people, but you don’t see their efforts behind their high walls.
Michelle: Maybe you could change that. Start a garden at Golden Jubilee House. You’ll be a role model promoting the eating of vegetables.
Naada: That would be good. The Ghanaian diet is mostly starch.
Michelle: Well, if you need any help, just call me on the hot line. Ha, ha.
Naada: to herself-What is she talking about? What would people think if Ghanaians saw me out with school kids farming? Out loud: hee, hee.
APPENDUM: Kumasi, where I live, is called the GARDEN CITY OF WEST AFRICA, a name given to this fabulous city by Queen Elizabeth on a state visit to Ghana many many decades ago. Driving though the city, she saw all the gardens and remarked, “It’s like a garden.”
Kumasi lived up to its name particularly through the 70’s. During military rule under General I.K. Achaempong, the government started the highly successful OPERATION FEED YOURSELF program and Ghana actually started to export foodstuffs. I was here then all through those years.
But alas, Kumasi today really can only be called ‘SIGN CITY’ -where there’s any green, it’s soon covered by a billboard….