Once arriving to the sea, the city of Accra, the
humidity levels sky rocketed. There was
never a moment one was not covered in
perspiration, and your clothing continually
remained drenched in sweat. But the sea,
it was worth it.
Men strolled up and down the sand on bicycles,
selling glass bottles of coke and orange Fanta.
Shishkababs were grilled inside of split in half
barrels filled with wood and coal. I don’t
know what the meat was, but it tasted good!
The smell was incredible. There were also
bicyclists with small foam coolers strapped to
the fronts of their bikes. They sold Fan
Ice, little bags of vanilla ice cream. You
would bite the corner off and suck the ice cream
out. It was so refreshing on the hot
An inlet of water formed like a small pond from
the ocean. It was my favorite place to
play because it was calm and shallow. I
hated waves. I remember the first time I
found chunks of gold, or so I thought it was
gold. I looked down into the water and
watched as the sunlight lit up the rich gold
color, peaking out from the sand. I picked
up several pieces and ran excitedly to my dad.
We were rich! My dad smiled, “Stephy this
is fool’s gold. It’s not real gold.”
Darn it! Stubbornly, I held onto them
anyway. Maybe daddy was wrong.
I loved when we came to Accra. The food,
in particularly, was my favorite part. In
the little town of Wa where we lived, there
wasn’t much to buy. We had a basic open
air market place where cow heads and tiny fish
baked in the sun, creating a pungent aroma.
But in Accra, it was the city, and there were
actually restaurants on the strip.
Frankies was one place that reigned supreme.
Outside they served soft serve ice cream, and
inside, it was like stepping into ‘America’.
The air condition was on full force, which alone
was rare to find anywhere else, and the small
counter lay covered in enticing treats, small
cakes and pies, a sugar heaven.
Walking down the street smells wafted of grilled
corn on the cob. You could hear it popping
and crackling as the kernels blackened over the
bright red coals. There was Kenke, a
mashed white substance, wrapped in huge banana
leaves. It was salty and unusual but as a
kid one of my favorite things. Small
clumps of salty dough balls were splashed in
huge pots of grease. They sizzled into
little crispy pieces of salty, greasy breaded
paradise. Everything was served to you in
All of the vendors’ tables were lit by candle
light and small lanterns. I will never
forget the ambience walking down the street at
night. I loved it. The smells of the
cooking foods and the burst of firelight as
coals were fanned and stirred, sparks flying
constantly in the air. To me, it was
A small 6 year old boy came up to us one night,
only a little younger than me. He was
hungry. There was so much poverty; it was
heartbreaking and overwhelming at times.
Living there, we learned there was only so much
we could do. My parents paid for some food
and gave it to the boy. It was simple food
but the child was so happy, and he ran back to
his older brother excitedly to show what he
received. Witnessing so much of this as
children distilled a strong sense of
appreciation in my siblings and I. We
understood at a very young age that we were
blessed with food and clothing and still carry
that deeply within our hearts.
I know if I visit again, it will all look
different to me. I’ve heard there’s even a
McDonalds there now on the strip. But
sometimes, when I find myself feeling sorry for
myself, or not appreciating the things in my
life, I close my eyes and remember Africa, of
simpler times, of a small child laughing over a
piece of bread, his eyes lighting up as he
shared it with his brother. I’ll always
remember the embers crackling through the air at
night, the smiles of beautiful people, happy
with life…and most of all, I’ll always remember
the smell of the rain.