Wednesday, 25 April 2007

names

I met some student's on the beach at Kokrobite the other day. They were from Denmark and African studies students just like my group 12 years ago. It made me reflect a lot upon broken dreams and life's surprising twists and turns. Getting where I am has certainly involved a lack of planning. I am happy but not even close to the person I was going to be!

When I first arrived in Ghana in 1995 I became known as Akos. This means I was born on a Sunday - I wasn't - but people gave me the name and I took it. It made me feel part of things – but of course it just highlighted how much I was not a part of things as I knew so little I took the wrong name. However, it is part of my history and who I am. It seems silly to change it now.

At this time in my life I was firmly 'Sister Akos' to nearly all who knew me and Akos to those older than me. Of course I was also Obroni (white) but generally only to those who did not know me. Now my stature, my age and my children have matured me and I am now known only as 'Auntie', 'Auntie Akos' or sometimes simply as Maame (mother). Now normally the only people who call me sister Akos are impossibly old or huge ladies with whom I am considered on a level. In Ghana all of this is very respectful and I appreciate it. My boss for example is sometimes called Grandma despite being nowhere close to this age – it is simply a sign of respect.

However, my husband and his brothers and sisters could and should still call me sister Akos – not least because they are all older than me. They don't because they are amused at my horror of being called Auntie. It seems you are never too old or mighty (a very nice term to describe larger women here thus not the horror of Evans but rather 'mighty clothes of the mightly lady in store now') for someone to take the piss.
I am pleased at my lasted twi acusition though "please don't call me white. My name is Lotte and I would like to be called Akos'. It has made me feel much more part of the neighbourhood to be greated like everyone else.
For those who asked. The insults in traffic are generally very mild although at one point I did resort to telling a guy his car was ugly and when he still insisted on driving into us I hit it - hard many times. My twi it seems is just a prerequisite to the ultimate miming and gestures that follow.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ghanaians call every white woman "Akosua" and every white man "Kwasi".