To Bolgatanga, fleeing the internet survey Latif and I have been running in Tamale. It turns out a whole hour online is too much to offer people – I got 111 responses in just a few hours. People often buy time online here in increments of 10 minutes. So next time I will offer half an hour instead, and see what happens. Survey Monkey, the service I am using to do the online research, is brillant though, I recommend it. You can see the results in real time, analyse them, cross-reference them, and see the IP addresses so you know where your results came from. And it loads easily, which is important in Ghana where connections are slow. However, in this case it was too efficient. I left it alone for a few hours and it became a monster. More thought needs to go into this…
I am in Bolgatanga now, staying at Doris’ house. Doris is great – she goes shopping on her motorbike in Bolga market’s tiny alleyways, shouting hello to people as she roars by.
Her compound, where I am staying, has lots of very polite children who make a sound exactly like muppets, and white chickens dyed pink running around.
Bolga is interesting – the Upper East region is quite Catholic, so suddenly I am seeing pigs running around everywhere, along with the cows and goats. We came back tonight to find a family of piglets wandering around the compound, as people were trying to sleep out in the yard. To misquote George Bush, it turns out it is possible for humans and piglets to coexist peacefully.
At a bar in Bolga, I was reminded again how normal it is for children to work here. They sell water and food, work on farms and plantations, in shops, everywhere in fact. The Ghanaian census counts the working population as everyone over the age of 6. Sometimes it’s disturbing, but usually it is just normality. This evening, quite small children (around 10 or so) were serving drinks in the bar where Doris and I went. One little girl served a table near us, where four large men were sitting. One of them put his hand on her back as she put his drink down, and though the gesture was momentary, it was one of the nastiest things I have seen since I came here. It explained perfectly why, although child work is not always exploitative, it’s dangerous to accept it as normal.