Media in Ghana 2018
In summer of 2018 I had the incredible opportunity to travel with fifteen fellow University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications students to Accra, Ghana. There I worked as an intern journalist at a local news station, Net2TV. A typical day on the job consisted of going to local events and press conferences, writing up stories, obtaining the footage from our videographer, recording audio, and editing the clips together to be ready for the evening's airtime.
- Videos -
I attended this conference, created the news story, recorded the audio, and put together the video in Adobe Premiere Pro.
I edited these clips and audio into another featured piece again through Adobe Premiere Pro.
- Words -
While in Ghana, students kept a blog with posts on various experiences, thoughts, photos, and more. Read on to see a few of my personal highlights, and click here for more!
A slight tap on my shoulder got my attention. “Madame, you need to cover your head.”
I instinctively did a slightly awkward “duck and cover”, looking down as if that was the order.
“Do you know how to put it on?” I shifted my attention up to meet the twinkling hazel eyes of a man who, in his hands, presented a beautifully folded hijab.
I’ve now spent well over two weeks in Ghana and I’d say I’m starting to get the hang of things; spicy foods, upset stomachs and the struggle of transportation seem almost (almost) comfortable at this point. This group of students has become close-knit and coming home to them to talk about our crazy work days is a relaxing and pleasant way to end the evening.
This particular day, I was working with Net 2 TV’s news crew, going around and catching stories to film and later write about, putting the videos and audio stories together in news clips. After attending a press conference, my crew and I got in our Uber (yes, there’s fortunately Uber in Ghana) and headed towards what I thought was back to the station. We pulled over on the side of a dusty orange road and were told to hurry. With little time to question, I hustled out of the car to catch up with the crew.
White, weathered walls came together and opened up in a patterned maze of corridors. These narrow hallways eventually gave way to an open courtyard where a dozen women or so were preparing vegetables and a mysterious stew in several large, steaming cauldrons. I questioned whether this was a lunch stop, but the excitement soon dissipated as the crew continued a few steps forward and began taking off their shoes. Unaware of whom or what we were there to see, I followed in removing my shoes and was welcomed further down a hallway.
My bare feet hit the cold, clean marbled white tile and sent chills up my legs as my eyes adjusted to the dim lighting. All around me were people with distinguished expressions and a pleasant demeanor, clothed like royalty. Beautifully embroidered drapes hugged the windows, blanketing these strangers into an inviting meeting of friendly faces.
I learned through broken English that I was at the home of Chief Imam, the highest Muslim religious authority in Ghana. Political figures were visiting him to ask his opinion on new measures being implemented.
Realizing I was in front of such an important figure without my head covered, I took the hijab and turned away in hopes my being there hadn’t been offensive. Obviously struggling to correctly drape the fabric around my head and shoulders, some giggling men escorted me outside to help.
After a few trial-and-errors, they resorted to asking for assistance from an elderly woman making stew in the courtyard. Some tugging, pulling, shoving of the hair, and knots pulled tightly across my throat transgressed, and I was good to go! Watching the corners of her eyes crinkle as she focused on the wrapping sent me reminiscing of dance recitals as a toddler; I’d watch my mother and instructors struggle to pull my loose baby hairs into a sleek bun so tight my face went with it.
Back inside, now fully covered, I was met with kind and amused faces. Never once did I feel judged or discouraged for being there and my standing out was accepted gratefully. I had never quite experienced something like this before; being of the minority in a situation, not knowing the culture, and still being welcomed with opened arms does not always happen for most so I took full advantage of the beauty of this moment.
Here I am pictured with Chief Imam and other political figures. (I was not sure if this was a smiling type of situation, so I apologize for the deceivingly unenthusiastic expression).
“ADENTA, ADENTA, ADENTA!”
*croak croak croak croak
“AH! Daabie, daabie, daabie…”
Americans are very noise-sensitive.
Ghanaians are not.
I started noticing an array of sounds my first night in Ghana; I went to brush my teeth and heard what I feared might be the toilet plumbing regurgitating its water until I realized it swarmed the entire house. Frogs. Who knew they could be so loud and menacing. Once I identified the noise, it seemed to gradually grow in intensity, and threatened to sprout goosebumps on my arms. (It sounds dramatic, but it really did have me feeling jumpy. Pun intended.)
The roads are buzzing. Honking, shouting, and loud motorbikes are only a portion of what makes traffic so wild here. Sounds have you looking in every direction.
Roosters don’t always caw in the morning; they like to do it at noon, in the evening, at night and at 3 am! Multiple times in a row. It’s to attract a mate, sure… but if you ask me, you can only call a girl so many times before you should realize she isn’t having it.
Work is where I hear it all. My office has a window facing the street, projecting car horns, bells, shouting preachers and jumbotron advertisements my way. The door to my office carries echoed shouts of what sounds like a reality TV drama, but really is my coworkers engaging in daily conversation. I realized this was just the norm when I asked my coworker why they were fighting, and his response was confused because they were “just having fun”.
My colleagues have noticed these themes at their internships as well; we have all bonded in the way we misinterpret the ever-present noise here in Ghana.
As my time here is almost run out, however, I have learned to be at peace with these sounds. I feel I can almost be more productive at work when instead of trying to depict each noise individually I allow it to be a sort of busy, stimulus hum.
I have taken advantage of the provocative roosters’ sounds, as they caw so often I have been lucky to get some in-action footage. Now every time I hear them I’m humored by the memory of how ridiculous the little guys look.
Finally, when the dark sky crawls over the sun’s glow, the massive chorus of frogs blankets the neighborhood of the Aya house in its melodious hum. I’ll miss this.