I consider myself a pretty independent woman and when I come to a new place I pride myself in how easy it is for me to adjust to the area. However in every city there are always a few obstacles that make me question my independence. In general it makes me test my trust in people, especially in people that I just met. I blame growing up in Toronto for my lack of faith in humankind as I was brought up to not trust people that I’ve just met.
In Accra my biggest obstacle has been navigation. Here no one knows/goes by street names because that infrastructure was not put in until later so everyone goes off of landmark like schools, churches and business (which are not always major business). An example is that they still say by the old US embassy, this embassy has not been there for the last 5 years, this makes it very difficult for a foreigner to come in and feel confident navigating around town. Being a geography student I like maps and I like to be able to feel orientated but unfortunately google maps is hopeless here and there are really no other maps available that would be helpful.
The first time I took a cab with one of the other Canadians we had someone else give the cab directions to where we were going, because a lot of the places are even hard to remember e.g. Osu, Caprice, Laboni etc. Even with someone else’s directions we got very lost and I have never felt so hopeless. Relying completely on a stranger that you have just met to take you across town in there rusted old cab had me nervous. While in the Cab things started to look unfamiliar and started to become more dispersed like we were heading out of the city, turns out that the cab driver later told us that he did not know where he was going and of course we both think immediately that we are going to be kidnapped or stranded, but he was very nice and got out and asked people for directions and got us back safely.
I realized that in the western world when we rely on people it is looked at as a weakness or we feel that we owe that person something after (Maybe it’s just me). But I feel that as we have gained independence we have lost a sense of community around us and have isolated ourselves. In Canada you find this sense of community in the most remote areas where people have no choice on relying on people because that is how their community has survived in the past.
This provoked the question “How do we bring the sense of community back in to City life?”