Sunday, October 04, 2009
It's A WAWA Day!
Mary Kay writes:
A dear friend of mine, Steve, had a wonderful phrase he used to use, when he lived in Ghana: “It’s a WAWA day!” WAWA stands for “West Africa Wins Again”. This is the phrase that he used whenever things just didn’t go as planned. In our North American culture, we are so used to events running on time, schedules going smoothly. We value efficiency so highly. Our culture is full of phrases that celebrate this concept: “run like clockwork” and “time is money” are two that come immediately to mind. But things just don’t work the same way here in West Africa. So when the two worlds collide, it is easy to get frustrated. These are the WAWA days. Because in the end, all you can do is laugh about it.
I had a bit of a WAWA day yesterday - a wedding that started at 12:00 according to the invitation, and 1:00 pm according to the program they handed out, actually started closer to 1:30. Which wouldn't have been a problem, except that we had another wedding that was supposed to start at 2:00. We don't know what time the second started, but the reception was still going strong when we finally arrived at 5:00! Both brides were beautiful, both grooms grinning from ear to ear, and both couples duly married in the eyes of the state and of God. So I guess it didn't matter, but it sure was making this schedule conscious oboruni (foreigner) anxious.
It also reminded me of the blog below, written several months ago, but never finished or posted.
Today is definitely a WAWA day – capping off a WAWA week. I am sitting in the airport terminal in Tamale – and will be for the next FIVE hours! (Which, by the way, is why I actually have time to write a blog!) Now, before you start imagining some fancy airport terminal with shopping and all the amenities, let me describe my surroundings. The departure side of the terminal is a space about 15 feet wide by about 60 feet long. There is a check-in counter, which both airlines share, a small snack bar that sells minerals (cokes) and biscuits (cookies), and a dozen or so molded plastic chairs – the kind you put on your back deck. That’s it!
The airport was just renovated in 2008, so it now boasts air-conditioning, a metal detector and x-ray baggage screening. Prior to then, it was open air, all luggage and carry-on was checked by hand, and individuals were “patted down” prior to boarding. So now, it actually feels pretty luxurious. But I will miss my friend, the security woman who used to do all the screening of women passengers. Maybe Africa is getting to me more than I realize!
There is no Chili’s or Burger King to get a meal, no shop with books and magazines, none of the usual trappings we associate with an airport. But the woman who runs the snack bar is always very friendly. She runs the place, day in and day out, with a small baby – maybe 3 or 4 months old – on her back. She gets here at 5 am, because the flights in and out of Tamale are (usually) early in the morning, and she always has a smile on her face. And she makes the best omelet sandwich ever! A treat I look forward to every time I come to Tamale.
And I am blessed. I don’t have anything urgent I am rushing back to Accra for, unlike the UN official who will be missing several meetings today. I have a book to read and a laptop to write on, so I can be productive. I can slow down a bit from the hectic week and enjoy a small space of peace and calm, rather than racing on to the next task.
Maybe sometimes when West Africa wins, I win too.
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life… Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:25, 27, NIV)
“Don’t worry, be happy.” – Bobby McFerrin