Updated with photos
Tomorrow is my last day in Ghana and I have many stories to tell, though I may not get to all of them here. But, I do want to tell you what happened today.
I was determined to get my hair braided while in Ghana. Especially after a young woman told me about a man named Clement who would do it for 21 cidis. The braids I want easily cost $150 at home. I was totally up for it.
At 11 this morning he came to my hotel and told me that I needed to give him cab fare. Ummm, ok. I go upstairs and pay his three cidi cab. He’s gone for 30 mins. In the hotel lobby, a native Ghanaian now in the US (maybe Ann’s neighbor!) tells me, “There is no such thing as ‘time'” here and that Clement will return.
Clement comes back and I ask him where is the hair for the extensions and he tells me he needs to buy it and he doesn’t have the money. I get a sinking feeling. Fine, I give him 10 more cidis. After all this goes on, the front desk woman tells me that the work should only cost seven cidis plus hair. Not the 21 he told me by phone. He comes back after an hour. I tell him I am only paying 20 cidis including cab and hair for my friend and I to be braided. He says o.k.
Clement begins the braiding session asking for hairspray. That’s what I thought he said with his French Nigerian tinged English. Instead he layed hands on me and gave the prayer above. Oh. pray. Not spray. My bad.
Then, for two hours he braids faster than I know to be humanly possible. He also says prayers outload in French, Ebo and his broken English. I learn that the woman who gave me his number is his sister and of, uh, somewhat ill repute. He gives me the five finger blessing when he’s done, “Acachowwah” in the Ebo language.
Six hours later when he has completed both my friend and myself, I pay him 25 cidis. In a country where the average salary is two cidi a day, it’s a lot of money. He should only get 14. That and he told me it would take just two hours for both of us yet it takes triple that (sinceh he ducked out for lunch and dinner). He asks me for another five cidis. My friend suffered from Western guilt and gave it to him. He then proceeded to again lay hands on us before asking for our leftover lunch and shampoo.
His prayer must have worked because my hair is lovely.
I fly home tomorrow! And let me tell you, the three days spent in the Ghana interior make me appreciate toilet paper, hot water and mosquito netting more than I thought possible.