It was a deep blue room. The windows fluttered with red and cream and blue Ghanaian designs. There was no white background for the power point, so chewing gum was chewed and used to stick up large sheets of white paper. The wind blew down the paper and the power point was tried against the blue paint. It was good enough.
Then tape was found and the white paper was put back up.
Bernice stood and pointed at her watch.
Seven hours of training later, after much discussion, lots of questions, and many strident corrections by Bernice, we agreed to meet in the morning to start the surveys in Ngambo village. We were to greet the chief first, then the team could start.
The chief and elders of Ngambo sat most of the day under a thatch pergola with a couple of animal skins drying across two of the cross-timbered ends. We walked over. The chief leaned forward and welcomed us.
Dr.s Kathleen Ragsdale and Lindsey Peterson then made a short English speech—a reminder that the team had come by in March to request working with Ngambo; a reminder that the project was on soy innovation and measuring for other agriculture factors like soil health and crop choices, women’s empowerment and micro loans; a declaration that we were happy to be there and a request for permission to start going into the village huts to talk to the people. One of the surveyors translated.
“Analatoon,” thank you, we said, in Konkomba. The Chief spoke in Konkomba: they were honored to be of help to Ghana.
“Analatoon.” We bowed this time.
Formalities done, we went to the nearby trees where nineteen freshly trained surveyors stood waiting to start in pairs. No one knew Bernice had ridden in early on a motorbike.
She was a teacher and had her salary held for a year now. This was because she was outspoken about a politician and then that politician was elected; he was friends with her supervisor. She was now so deeply inside a hut compound that no one knew she was in Ngambo at all. We counted heads. One short. Then a shout went up, Bernice, finished with her first two-hour survey in one hour, was on the move and sighted.
The team went out to the huts and we waited for the completed surveys under the trees where bats hung upside down fifty-feet above our heads. Chickens took their chicks on walk-about for good bits to eat. Ghanaian mixed-breed dogs slept, goat kids ran, piglets went darting over and through piles left here and there, and short-haired sheep that resembled goats until you looked closer ambled.
A villager with long, long legs walked up with a pan of dirt from a termite mound mixed with teak tree leaves and poured two piles onto the ground for his flock of chicks. Termite mounds here reach eight-ten-twelve feet tall in the fields and resemble craggy mountains. This villager had lured a termite town near the village so he could have access to termites for his chicks each day. He clicked his tongue until the hens brought the babies around. The long-legged Ngambo man stirred the dirt piles with a stick. The hens and chicks chirped and pecked feverishly. Anytime a chick from the wrong family ventured into a pile, the hen shooed it quickly away. Group unity was held as paramount.
In the meantime in the human world, Bernice had powered through her work without waiting for her partner, and thankfully the chief did not know proceedings had begun without his official word. After a long and sweltering day, the team finished day one.