Squeezing in and out of the tightly arranged stalls of Kejetia market, I must stand out like a peanut in a bag of raisins. I haven’t seen a white face all day, but that’s fine with me. Calls of Obrunyi fly from practically every stall I pass. The sound of a Muslim preacher bellows across the market, the crowds of people chant their response to his sermon. I’m not looking for anything in particular, only to experience the largest market in West Africa. Maybe I will buy some of those big red berries that look like dried tomatoes.
I come upon a woman proudly presenting a big sack-full of them at her stall. She looks at me expectantly. I point to the sack “could I have a small bag of those please?” She proceeds to fill a huge bag. “Oh, just a small bag please, only two cedi’s worth.” She continues to fill the huge bag.
“Are you cooking tonight?” She inquires. “They will only last 4 days… do you know how to prepare palm nuts?”
“Oh, yes,” I reply, feigning confidence. “I will grind them into a sauce.”
She laughs heartily. “You must pound them sister, no grinding.” Her hands slam an imaginary wooden stick into the ground a few times and gentle laughter erupts from the surrounding stalls.
I smile, blushing fiercely and agree, “Yes, of course, I will pound them, that’s what I meant.” I hand over the crumpled two-cedi note and attempt to leave before I embarrass myself further.
“Sister, a question before you leave…” a sceptical smile creeps across her face…” is that your real hair?” I hold up a few sections and invite her to check. She leans over and probes my scalp to be sure. The women from the surrounding stalls, not wanting to miss the opportunity to inspect my hair, form an excited crowd around us.
Satisfied that I am not wearing a wig, she ventures… “One more question: Do you pray?” 5 curious faces now await my response. Not wanting to offend anyone, I admit that I don’t…but I do meditate, and they are quite similar things.
My answer is greeted with interest and she raises her eyebrows. “How do you meditate? Can you show us?”
I gather myself and try to summon an explanation “Well, first, I find somewhere quiet. I take a deep breath. I focus my attention on my breathing and bring my awareness to the different parts of my body. I clear my head of all my worries and thoughts. Then, I visualise positive energy coming into my body in the form of a bright light, which clears away all the negative thoughts. Then, I say ‘thank you’ for all the good things in my life, my health, my job, my home, even my hair!”
My explanation is met with big smiles of approval. Ordinarily, I would feel very self-conscious speaking in front of a group, but here, where I am the odd one out, I feel completely accepted.