Relocation Chronicles

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Moving into a new community can be very stressful and needs careful attention especially when it has to do with the reason why a person is moving into a new community. If even a new community is sometimes seen as a stressful one, imagine what it will be like moving into a new region altogether.

Recently I have been attempting to relocate into a new region in Ghana that is different in culture and systems from what I have been used to my whole life. Imagine living my whole life in Accra interspersed with a few years’ stints in secondary school in Takoradi and Cape Coast that provided my only contact with a community outside Accra in my teenage years. It was only when I got to the university that through sport, I got to interact with international community along West Africa especially in Nigeria – Lagos, Ibadan and Zaria. Furthermore being on the Coordination and Orientation Team on the University of California Study Abroad Program has also brought me in contact with American students studying in Ghana.  America is said to be a melting pot of all cultures.

However thanks to learning I have read about various cultures all over the world and my studies in African culture and religion have exposed me to the cultures of Africans wherever they are. So pardon my digression but back to my relocation to a different region.

Relocating to Tamale in the northern region of Ghana, predominantly Muslim is a far cry from the life of hustle and relative comfort I am used to in Accra. Especially with the northern savannah regions being marginalized by the colonial masters resulting in it’s lagging behind when it comes to development and social infrastructure. Furthermore, the perception about the north that exists in the south is not favorable at all. When you tell someone you are relocating to the north, they ask what is wrong with you and if you are leaving a comfortable life down south where at least you are in a position to manage into a place where you are uncertain.

But I have come to realize that human beings are generally afraid of the unknown and as such would rather not venture into the unknown especially if the perceptions about that unknown are very mundane. Southerners only interact with the people from the north they see in the south and therefore generalize that they are all like that. But what they fail to do is realize logically that even they southerners are not the same. They generally don’t like to travel but the cliché ‘travel and see’ is very true in this case. If you refuse to travel then you cannot make informed judgements on a people. Sometimes even books don’t give you the full picture because the writer would have been writing from a certain perspective that you do not really agree to. You have to be there to see for yourself.

What interests you have when you travel can prove very key to relocation to a new area. These interests are what make the relocation so much bearable. For example, the sights can be so breathtaking that you will not want to see it alone but to share it with the rest of the world. This generates a further interest in photography to capture these sights. Chronicling my travels through pictures on social media have turned very fascinating results and a large following interested in the perspectives I give on my new location in Tamale.

It could also be the food. What do you like about food? As a friend recently pointed out, there are two groups of people when it comes to food – those who eat to live and those who live to eat. Which one are you? What will affect which one you are considerably is also the price of the food in the location area you find yourself in. if the food is cheap you will want to sample everything. Soon you become a culinary expert on foods because at least you can compare the food between your new location and your former location. I have been found to be using a toothpick as a stylus in recent times because of the amount of meats I have to sample every day as I walk along the streets of Tamale.

The people in the locality you are moving to influences greatly how you will fare in your new location. Most Africans are friendly and will welcome new comers but then it is up to the new comer to know the culture and systems in place so that you can conform to these unwritten rules and regulations. This will ensure that you have a peaceful stay within your new locality. Sometimes some of these customs may sound bizarre especially since you are from a different locality but you still have to conform. No cultural system is too bizarre and nobody is above a cultural practice no matter how mundane and outmoded you will think it is. Northerners, predominantly Muslim stick to Islamic practices and although there are Christians living up north it doesn’t mean that these Christians will not conform to the practices. I have found some of these cultures outmoded and sometimes funny but hey, they are what make living in the north interesting and sharing these practices is more fun even than living them.

The more relativity a person has in a new community or locality also ensures that life in the new locality is bearable. When family and friends are around then one is assured that at least there will be familiar faces. For the past 10years the number of southerners that have migrated to the north for work and other purposes have increased steadily. Furthermore, those northerners who came to study in the south are mostly going back to serve and work in their local homesteads and this has influenced  the need for rapid development of the savannah area in terms of social amenities and general standard of living.

However, there are some drawbacks and setbacks that come with relocating to a different area and paramount among this is the language barrier. Cultural diversity will ensure that you blend in but then when the language is spoken the look on your face says it all. If one can manage it, it is important that the language is learnt at the shortest possible time to facilitate easy access to conversations and life in general. It is interesting to note that some of the language will be the same in your language but will mean differently sometimes with funny consequences. In Tamale, whenever you greet the response is ‘Naa’ which means ‘cow’ in my krobo language. Now does it mean that every time I greet anybody at any time of the day, they call me a cow?

Cultural diversity for you.

Being used to life in Accra which is so fast paced, living in Tamale is kinda slow. The systems work slower and life is much on the relaxed side. It can sometimes get frustrating but if one is not careful before long one is singing to the same tunes that exist in the system. Conformity is key however.

Generally, relocating to a new community can be uncertain and sometimes stressful but then the onus lies on the individual to adjust and make the best of it.

 

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6 Responses to “Relocation Chronicles”

  1. ReloNavigator Says:

    When you move to new locations with prior planning, learning and interaction with professionals who may be able to help you adjust smoothly and will play in facilitating your immersion – your relocation will be successful. Uncertainties can be avoided with correct knowledge or guidance of experienced people who may point you the realities of the new location. Relocating to new places must be taken with great adventure to new cultural aspects of the place, meeting new friends, new work colleagues, and or do business.

    We enjoy helping people who relocates to different parts of the world. But when you plan to come and live in Bellingham, Washington – we will be here to help you adjust – http://relonavigator.wordpress.com/relonavigator-services/

    Enjoy and wishing you the best for your new adventures!

  2. “Sometimes even books don’t give you the full picture because the writer would have been writing from a certain perspective that you do not really agree to. You have to be there to see for yourself.” – true!

    “I have been found to be using a toothpick as a stylus in recent times because of the amount of meats I have to sample every day as I walk along the streets of Tamale”. — Hahahaha!

    That’s a great thought — “What interests you have when you travel can prove very key to relocation to a new area” — that you have verbalized Kofi! Essentially, your interests will determine your interaction with your environment which in turn will move you to develop other interests or deepen your current interests! I like that a lot!

    “Now does it mean that every time I greet anybody at any time of the day, they call me a cow?” — HAHAHAHA!

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