The insistant drone of the first call to prayer for the faithful assured me that I had returned home to Ghana. Shortly after that, early bird songs outside my window reminded me why I chose this lovely place in Accra as my base for the first days back. Bibie Brew’s New Morning Arts Cafe in Tesano is a an oasis of calm within the hustle and bustle of this city of six million souls, all striving to improve their hold on life, and each chasing their own dreams and avoiding their own devils.

I returned last week from a four month visit to Canada. While there I found myself reacting to a way of life to which I have become unaccustomed since my relocation to Ghana. Oversize pick-up trucks and overstocked “super” stores can be overwhelming for someone much more at home in a small village that relies on a few small kiosks and local women selling vegetables or fruit from wooden tables for most of its  daily consumables.

I have returned and I was reassured of my return to the familiar with an event that occurred within moments of my arrival – the lights went out and the luggage carousel ground to a halt in the arrivals hall at Kotoko International Airport. I looked over at one of my fellow passengers, a Ghanaian woman returning to visit family, as we waited for the electricity to come back on and we exchanged knowing smiles. I could not help but comment “welcome back to Ghana”.

This post will go up on my blog as soon as MTN is able to repair their connectivity – apparently they have had their own “problems” since last weekend, just prior to my return. But, no worries – this post and my blog are not all important and this “problem”, like the brief lights off delay at the airport are just reminders that “quality of life” should not be measured by how well “things” work but rather by the way people interact with each other.

I recall the comments from a friend of mine a few years ago when he was “out” to visit his daughter in Montreal. He remarked during his first few days there that it was such a pleasure because “everything works”. Some time later, he was expressing how much he missed Ghana – he was no longer so enraptured by the smooth running systems that he saw in North America – the electricity that was reliably on all the time; the smooth flow of traffic on well maintained streets; the prompt and courteous service at the fast food counters; the professional and uncorrupted conduct by civil servants. He was bored, and looking forward to his return to Ghana.

As I say, there is much more to life than the “stuff” that western commerce offers us. Last Monday afternoon at the airport, the uniformed woman in the Immigration booth flashed me a welcome smile as she stamped my passport and handed it back to me.  I exchanged some good natured bantering with the Customs official and he shook my hand and said with a grin, “Akwaaba, Nana” and I was on my way out to the taxi stand with my new driver friend, John.  In each of these interactions, as brief as they were, we acknowledged our common humanity and that is something much more important than any “problems” we may encounter with “stuff”.

I enjoyed my four month visit to Canada – it is always great to reconnect with family and good friends, and the memories of my time will remain with me as I go about my life here. A break in routine is always good, but it is good to be once more back Home Sweet Home.