MEST Day 1 – Exploring Accra

18 Apr

Colourful fishing boats

I actually flew out to Ghana a few days early so that I could try and explore Ghana beyond Accra for a few days. If you’re at all interested in reading about that, it’s here on my other blog.*

Day 1, Tuesday 5th April– Meet the EITs and explore Accra

After a round of introductions between the MBA consultants and the EITs (entrepreneurs-in-training), Peter, the class’s senior faculty, set us a challenge. This would be my chance to get to know Robert and Badu, with whom I had already had many chats over Skype. Armed with a small number of Cedis (GH₵) we were to use whatever means of transportation we could afford to travel around the city and get three photos taken of each MBA with his team at an Accra landmark (and get lunch at the same time). A special bonus beer was on offer for any teams that managed to get a photo of the Jamestown lighthouse, as Peter had previously tried to get a snap there but had been unsuccessful (no photos allowed!). A second mission was for each MBA consultant to buy a “trophy” for his team which would represent a learning for them.

So of course we went out, flagged down a cab and headed straight to the Jamestown lighthouse. Once there we were instantly approached by a guy that wanted to give us a “tour” of the lighthouse. Unfortunately being an “obroni” (Caucasian) made you quite the target for the local entrepreneurs (the ones that didn’t quite make the MEST grade) as I’d discovered in Elmina. We went past the lighthouse and headed down to the fisherman’s village. We were approached by a number of people wanting to “help” us, including one guy that was quite insistent that he give us a tour. Robert got rid of him, but we still gave him GH₵1 as we left anyway (for not abducting us and turning us in to fishfood?§)

Robert explained that because it was a Tuesday the fishing village was quiet as it is the day of rest for fishermen (God created the sea on Tuesday?). Although it was quiet, it was not really the sort of place I would have felt comfortable going on my own. However, with team at my side I really wasn’t that bothered. It felt so much better exploring Ghana with Ghanaians. Down there on the (rather dirty) beach I got some photos of the fishing boats (so much colour) and a kid with a bowl on his head at a jaunty angle.

Jaunty

We went back up towards the lighthouse and took the opportunity to snap a few pics. Result! Then we decided to walk towards a mausoleum, taking some pics at the Jamestown Fort Prison along the way. With hindsight that might have been a mistake – it was absolutely sweltering and I was boiling and worried about getting sunburn and/or sunstroke. It got to the point where I was sidling along the side of buildings to try and take advantage of the shadows. Still we made it there, with some singing entertainment from a bus full of school kids along the way.

Jamestown Lighthouse

Open for business?

At the  Kwame Nkrumah mausoleum we headed straight for the air-conditioned museum. Oh yeah! I needed that. We got a few pics around the park and monument then we went on our way. On the way our of the park, I found my trophy for the team**. I was only allowed to spend GH₵5 on it, so I was very happy to haggle the street-seller down from GH₵8 to GH₵5 straight away. Now I had my opportunity to experience tro-tros – private minivans that cram as many people in them as possible then run on set routes. It has to be experienced! Having lunch in town we discovered that the ladies appreciated our trophy. Can’t say I blame them – they clearly know quality when they see it.

Another taxi trip saw us at Independence Square where we got a photo of the Freedom Arch. Mission achieved!

We headed back to MEST, where we had dinner and gave the group a debrief and explained what our trophies were meant to represent to our teams. The day had certainly been good for getting to know Robert and Badu – they were great guides – and we had a pretty good time talking about their business over lunch, where we threw about a few new ideas that could be explored with their core idea. A great first day!

*what’s nerdier than having a blog? Having two blogs of course! I have about four so go figure…

**can’t tell you what it means – that’s between me and the team (and everyone else at MEST).

§I jest.

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One Response to “MEST Day 1 – Exploring Accra”

  1. Peter van Dijk April 20, 2011 at 10:00 am #

    Hi Steven,

    Great Blog. However, I’m quite disappointed about one remark. Nobody ever offered me a beer for taking a picture of the Jamestown lighthouse. Hmmmm.

    Cheers,
    Peter

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