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Tourists, Ghanaian Beaches, Sex and the Conversation That Must Be Told!

Fri, 26 Feb 2010 Source: Pryce, Daniel K.

John Boight had always wanted to visit Ghana. Boight had heard about Ghanaians’ avowed good-naturedness and enviable friendliness from some expatriates, and he wanted to find out for himself if the proverbial Ghanaian hospitality was indeed a reality, and not a myth. As he kissed his three young daughters goodbye that gloomy Sunday morning in London, a cloud-bludgeoned sky above the city may have held an ominous message for him – a message he would not understand until several days later. And shortly before he drove to Hillingdon Borough-sited Heathrow to catch a flight to Accra, he mulled over many issues – culture, weather, communication, transportation, et cetera – that he would face in the Ghanaian capital, where he had booked a hotel for his impending two-week stay. He certainly was looking forward to this important journey outside of Europe!

It was a thirty-minute taxicab ride from Kotoka International Airport to his hotel, a semi-plush edifice perched on a hill, with panoramic distinction, in the western part of the capital city. From a lighthearted conversation with the driver of the taxicab he had hailed, he soon discovered that night life in the capital city was quite exciting – an assortment of discos, movie theaters and restaurants were available, provided they piqued his interest. At least, Boight knew he had these options, but he sagaciously chose to rest his tired limbs his first night in Accra.

Known for his sartorial elegance in London, Boight was convinced, however, that dressing in fashionable habiliments in this West African country would be unnecessary, since he did not intend to meet any important persons, except for one or two trips to the British Embassy to register his presence in the country. The next day, he walked about two miles from his hotel to the nearest shop, where he purchased a number of batik shirts – with two pairs of matching leather sandals and three hats. Life, he was convinced, would be great in Accra the next few days!

On his fourth day in Accra, he hailed a taxicab to La Pleasure Beach, ostensibly to catch a glimpse of the roaring, imbecilic waves that seemed to be engaged in an interminable dance with nature. He reminisced on the magnificence of the boisterous ocean – and was convinced that a higher power had to be in charge of nature’s clockwork, even in faraway Ghana. He watched as errant waves, like barrages, crashed against shore, each thunderous swoosh ostensibly louder than the previous one. But he had another plan. He would soon notice a number of scantily clad local damsels – and a few expatriate ladies as well. To the latter he paid little attention: he was used to his own kind. He grinned roguishly, twitching his left brow and pulling down the left corner of his mouth, in the process. A barely visible streak of saliva had formed around the corner of his mouth, saliva brought on by this new stimulation. He mopped the streak swiftly. Those who knew Boight well always recognized this roguish grin – when he saw something that caught his unbroken attention.

Close to shore and in a leopard-emblazoned bikini was a skinny local girl, about five feet seven inches tall and weighing approximately 120 pounds. Her tousled hair, wind-whipped across a small, narrow face, gave her the look of an angel. Boight was spellbound as he watched her smile-lit face, revealing a perfect set of white teeth that contrasted sharply with the color of her skin. He had always wanted to get very, very close to ebony skin – but touching one would be complicated – very complicated! – because he was married.

The married father of three felt a lump forming in his throat – he was falling for this stranger, almost half his age, and he knew it was wrong. He looked around briefly, as if to see if someone had noticed his palpably mesmerized state, but no one was paying attention. Undeterred, and ordering the still voice in his chest silent, he called out: “Miss, hello, hi, I – I – I am John Boight, but just call me Boight. So, what is your name? I think you are the most attractive girl I have seen since I arrived in your country a few days ago,” as he punctuated his signature line with his flirtatious grin. Facing him frontally, he noticed that she could not be more than 22 years of age, and at 43, he felt guilty that he was attracted to her. Puzzled, she responded through gritted teeth: “I am Araba. My last name I always keep close to my chest.”

With blood engorging his face, he wondered if it was worth continuing the conversation, but the scoundrel in him prodded him to be more daring, lest he be called a wimp when he returned to England and shared the story with trusted friends, men he knew could keep a secret. With the temerity of a predator, he flirted some more: “I am visiting Ghana because some friends in London had talked about the legendary Ghanaian hospitality. I am hoping that I can have a good time during my short stay, hopefully with someone as pretty as you by my side.” Meticulously observant, Araba noticed the notorious grin she was accustomed to seeing on the faces of men, the sort of gaze that betrayed the primordial emotion of lust. Agitated by the notion that this chubby, balding, pot-bellied man with drooping breasts was attempting to seduce her, she asked rather quizzically: “Did your London-domiciled friends also say that young Ghanaian girls were available on a silver platter to satisfy the sexual appetites of middle-aged white men, as part of the ‘legendary Ghanaian hospitality’ to which you just referred?”

Without waiting for Boight to respond, Araba, by now visibly incensed, and her voice a decibel louder with each additional statement she made, continued: “You perverts fly from God-knows-where and come here thinking that your pale skin will get every girl to spread her legs wide for you, right? Well, you are mistaken this time, bozo, for Araba does not do the tango with a conceited fellow.” With Araba’s outbursts catching him by surprise and further reddening his face, Boight did not notice the small crowd that had, by now, gathered to see what was going on between the two of them. A lanky teenager, no more than 17 years old, remarked to the miffed assemblage: “I think the guy is harassing her. He must be one of those foreign perverts who come here looking for sex. These male tourists think that all Ghanaian women will eagerly spread their legs just because they have some foreign currency to dangle in front of these women. Tweeaa!”

At this time embarrassed beyond words, Boight apologized to Araba, then grabbed his towel and bag and sauntered off in the direction of the entrance to the beach. Engulfed with rage for being treated like a common criminal by this young woman, Boight soliloquized about his final week in London just before he flew out to Ghana, when close friends kept telling him about how much fun Ghana and Ghanaians would be when he got there. An epiphanic moment it now was – that sudden realization that he may have misunderstood his London-domiciled friends, as far as their elucidation of the so-called fun that he, Boight, was going to have in Ghana was concerned. Did he truly misinterpret his friends’ comments? Were they talking about easy access to women? Did he badly underrate Ghanaian women? Were his friends referring to the weather? Boight was no longer sure what it was – but it was obvious that his experience earlier at La Pleasure Beach had left a bitter feeling in his gut. Was he too plainspoken or was Araba’s “rude” behavior typical of Ghanaian women?

Who was John Boight? What values did he hold dear? he asked himself repeatedly. Even as he continued his introspection, he made a poignant, yet strangely cathartic, decision: that he would never share his terrible experience with friends back in London.

The writer, Daniel K. Pryce, holds a master’s degree in public administration from George Mason University, U.S.A. He is a member of the national honor society for public affairs and administration in the U.S.A. He can be reached at dpryce@cox.net.

Columnist: Pryce, Daniel K.