During the past month I’ve had houseguests. My housemate’s sister and her six children ranging from elementary school to high school age are here from Togo. The children are on break from school until October so most of the family decided to spend their vacation at my house. In general I don’t mind them being here. I find it interesting that they treat me like the guest in my own house. They wash my clothes, cook, and clean my dishes for me. I especially appreciate the washing clothes part. This saves me hours of my time and they do a better job hand washing than I do.
Having them in the house forces me to practice my Ewe. In Togo Ewe is the dominant tribal language and French is their colonial language. As a result my Togolese guests don’t speak any English. So to communicate I have to rely on my Ewe and one semester of beginner French. To make things more complicated the Togolese dialect of Ewe is different than the Ghanaian dialect. For example, the way you welcome someone back to the house is different. It sounds like a random example to use, but in Ghanaian/Togolese culture it’s a phrase that is used dozens of times a day. Even the word for bread is different (abolo in Ghana versus akpono in Togo). If I butchered the spellings, sorry to all of my readers who are Ewe experts.
Six extra kids running around the house can be entertaining at first. But after a month it gets old. Staying at someone’s house for a month in America is a long time. Too long in fact, you would probably be kicked out by then. But in Ghana, it’s almost expected. When you travel and stay over for only a few days, you will be asked why you are leaving already. People truly have a different sense of time here. Nonetheless, I’m still American so I’ve been getting a little annoyed with my houseguests lately. I’m starting to think teaching the kids how to play Uno was a bad idea. Now every night is Uno night. However, after learning that Togo is the least happy place on Earth, perhaps I can let them stay. That is, if they wash my clothes for another week.