Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Shoulder Level! Solider Marching!

I made history on Saturday. I was the first Obruni to march in Ghana's Independence day celebration in Fetteh. All last week we spent the mornings marching in the hot sun down on the football park (soccer field). Most of the week they asked me to pretend I was a dignitary so that the kids could practice saluting me. But towards the end of the week they asked if I would lead a contingent of students in the 6th March parade. So for the first time on Friday they asked me to practice. I have never marched before, a shocking fact to all Ghanaians. My first lap around the park the kids all were shouting "Madam Chelsea! Madam Chelsea!" It was quite distracting!
I felt a little ridiculous, but wanted to get the marching down before my debut in town on Saturday! I had to swallow my pride to begin marching in front of the whole school for the first time. I was trying to stay on the drum beat, and on time with all the other girls. The whole time they are giving commands: mark time, shoulder level, forward march, eyes right, eyes front, and soldier marching.

Saturday morning we made our way to a school park in Fetteh. There were 3 schools present along with many members from the community. First all of the school children marched all the way through Fetteh. I was left to babysit the 4 young children- Irene, Nanaja, Nana Yaa, and Majoda. When they returned the actual marching contingents lined up in front of the dignitaries of the event. Each school had selected 25 males/females for the nursery/primary/junior high units of their schools. The poor kids had to stand in the hot sun for over an hour during the chief's speech. Finally, it was time for marching. All the groups lined up, with one teacher accompanying each unit. As we marched around I could feel everyone's eyes on me. The other teachers had told me not to worry, that the people don't watch how the teachers are marching, only the students. False. When you are white, everyone stares at you. The announcer started talking about me, but it was in Fante, so I couldn't understand. I found out later that he said something to the effect of: Look at that Obruni teacher marching with the Village of Hope. Isn't she doing great? Isn't it wonderful to have a white marching with us for Ghana's independence day?" When we reached the military representatives, chief, and dignitaries of the event we had to salute. Everyone said that I did great. Apparently all the Fetteh kids were saying I was the only Obruni they had seen that could march. Ha ha! I have been pleasantly surprised at the teachers commending me all week for marching with them. I can't help but feel like I earned a respect from my colleagues through the marching. They are slowly starting to treat me like one of them. I am really glad that I had the opportunity to march. It was a lot of fun, and I am real glad that I was able to appear somewhat coordinated for once!

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