Into the Ashanti Kingdom

Tired this morning, waiting for the morning flight to Kumasi. Yeah, another morning, another flight. By Friday I will have been on 10 different aircraft run by four different airlines. I am counting UNMIL as an airline here – it was too cool not to.

Anyhow, we’ll be back in Accra this evening, but have meetings out west for the day. From Kumasi, I’m scheduled to ride out two hours more of bumpy roads to a Cadbury cocoa plantation where CARE is doing advocacy and community training. From our briefing last night, it sounds like Cadbury’s been working hard to do the right thingfor local communities.

While I’m getting bounced into the hinterlands, Elliott’s going to be hanging out with the local royalty. Remember that superpower I mentioned? Well, a US official we met with last night stressed the importance of understanding the tribal substrate here, and offered to broker a meeting with a local chief while we were in Kumasi. Don’t think “grass skirts” here – this guy’s got an MBA from Yale. We get him on the phone, and he insists that, while we’re in town, he take us to meet the “queen mother”. Huh?

Turns out that Kumasi is the traditional capital of the Ashanti kingdom, and the Queen Mother (note caps) is the traditional ruling matriarch. We’ll meet in the royal palace, and will talk later in the evening to coordinate protocol.

Off the phone, we huddle and regroup. No way in hell I’m going to that meeting – protocol and etiquette scares my socks off. Details here in Ghana: crossing your legs is a sign of disrespect, and never, never, never gesture, point, pick up or offer anything with your left hand. Welcome, southpaws of the world.

So I’ve begged off to do the agriculture portion of today’s track while Elliott goes to party with the chief and queen mum. We know they’re in good hands.

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