Sunday, August 29, 2010

We respond to reader comments

One of our faithful readers, who endearingly posts as "Anonymous", has asked:

"What's the deal with Ghanains getting up so early? A revival starting at 4AM? That sounds crazy... Please elaborate."

Very good question.

Needless to say, a 4am wake up call is a fair bit earlier than we're accustomed.

In case there is any doubt about whether Ghanaians are early risers, we can provide the following anecdote:

Kacey was discussing the Revival in Ejuretia with Julie (local librarian and one of the village matriarchs), complaining that it was too loud and too early. She remembers the conversation thusly,

Kacey: "So did the 4AM revival wake you up this morning?"
Julie: "No, I was able to sleep right through it."
Kacey: "Really?!"
Julie: "I even slept in a little bit this morning"
Kacey: "Wow, that must be nice. Did you sleep until 7 or 8?"
Julie: "No, no. I slept until about a quarter to five."

This has been seconded by Rocksin (the scorpion remover, see "Not One of Townes' Friends") that many of the Ghanaians who work in Kumasi will hit the road by 4am to get there. If you don't, you're likely stuck in a crowded tro-tro and in traffic for several hours.

As for broader theories about why Ghanaians wake up so early? Here are some of our conjectures:

1) Roosters - There may have been a part of me that thought roosters were a quaint fixture of the pastoral life. They greet the sun around 6.30 or 7am as someone is preparing bacon and eggs for me, the smell of Folgers in my cup wafts up the stairwell... no longer.

Roosters start crowing sometime around dawn, often times long before the sun actually breaks through my window. It's tough to sleep through.

2) Communal Living - We met a Peace Corps volunteer who had lived for 2 years in Ntonso, a village near here. For the first year or so, she lived in a compound with other Ghanaians. She had no privacy, and noted that the day started early, particularly with the sounds of small children. There was no sleeping "late" with kids crying, needing to be fed, washed, etc.

Plus who wants to be the last to roll out of bed in the morning?

3) Nothing to do at night - While there are numerous "Spots" around the village where one can procure the local drink, a beer, some gin, etc., there aren't many other options - especially if you don't want to hang out at a bar. Once it gets dark, things rapidly start slowing down in the village.

Plus, add mosquitoes into the mix - they often come out after dark - then there are other incentives to be tucked away inside early in the evening.

4) Squeak-toy bird: A bird that has yet to be identified but sounds exactly like a horrible squeak toy. This bird appears outside of our window sometime around 3am and its squeaks pick up by 4:30. Just thinking about it makes me want to cut down all of the bushes and trees near our house.

5) There's stuff to be doin' - In the morning, lots of people are lighting fires, getting the pots out and cooking breakfast. That takes time. There are no Hot Pockets, or gas ovens for lots of people. If you want to be eating by 7, somebody's got to get up early.

1 comment:

Tirzah said...

i will never complain about my 6 am any more and I think Rob might have a furture there b/c his fav time used to be 4:30. I convinced him otherwise.