Starting Class

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

By Ruth Groenhout

Classes begin today. It feels good to begin a regular schedule and begin the work of the semester. (Of course, that’s always easier for the Prof to say than the students!) We spent the weekend up at the Akrofi Christaller Institute in the town of Akropong, and returned to the University of Ghana yesterday about 4:30 in the afternoon.

The Akrofi Christaller Institute (ACI) is located up in the mountains, and the altitude results in much cooler temperatures than we’ve been experiencing here in Accra. It’s a beautiful place. The main buildings were built in the mid-1800s, and restored when the ACI was established. It currently offers advanced theological degrees in a variety of subjects, with a specialization in African religions, so when we ate in the cafeteria and walked around the grounds we got to meet folks from all over the world who’ve come to study. We also enjoyed classes with instructors from the ACI, who introduced us to all sorts of things, from the complexities and importance of greetings in Ghanaian culture, to the intricacies of family relationships and basic ettiquette. We learned we should not pass things to people with the left hand, and we should not cross our legs when in a formal meeting. We learned that owls are considered evil by some groups in Ghana, and that American families with only one mother and father are pretty scrawny—many Ghanaians have a whole handful of fathers and mothers, aunties and uncles. And we ended with a wonderful discussion of Christianity and African traditional religions led by Professor Kwame Bediako, one of the world’s leading experts on religion in Africa. It was a thought-provoking and fascinating discussion.

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