What’s in a Name: Ya-ya calls me “Uncle”

gh2_iloveghana.jpgYa-ya, our helper and housemate here in Accra, calls me "Uncle," a term of respect for one's elders. She sometimes also calls me "Kwame" (rhymes with "Swami"), because that's the day on which I was born: Saturday. Everyone at work calls me "Kwame Joshua."

gh2_iloveghana.jpg

Ya-ya, our helper and housemate here in Accra, calls me “Uncle,” a term of respect for one’s elders. She sometimes also calls me “Kwame” (rhymes with “Swami”), because that’s the day on which I was born: Saturday. Everyone at work calls me “Kwame Joshua.”

Tay was also born on a Saturday, but being a woman, her name is Ama, or “Ama Sutay.” She refuses to be called “Auntie,” which is what Ya-ya originally wanted to call her. And apparently, “Ama” isn’t satisfying enough to Ya-ya, who has decided to call Tay, “Honey,” usually with a possessive in front of it, as in “Where is My Sweet Honey?” I’m unsure whether Ya-ya heard me call my wife “Honey,” and stole it, or if it’s a Ghanaian thing.

gh3_yaya.jpg

“Uncle Joshua!” she calls from the kitchen. “Honey! My Sweet Honey! Dinner is ready!”

We emerge from our air-conditioned womb of a bedroom and break a sweat on the way to the kitchen, where we serve ourselves some new combination of sweet fried plantains, “red-red” bean sauce, and fish or chicken.

After that, Effo and I plop down to watch a pre-tournament “friendly match” between the Ghana Black Stars and Turkey or Jamaica or South Korea. Ghana definitely is a football (soccer) nation and this is the first year their team has ever made it to the World Cup, so excitement is high. There are four other African teams playing among the 32 World Cup contenders, and folks are talking about nothing else besides the first match this week. (For more, check out the Bootsnall Ghana World Cup blog).

We are asleep before ten, up before seven, at work until five, then walk half an hour through the Accra streets to reach home and Ya-ya’s shouts of “Uncle!” and “Honey!” We enjoy our routine, which is broken only by the odd night out in Osu, or a trip to some crazy outdoor African market (vegetables, fish, snails, pig parts, etc.).

gh3_snails.jpg

Perhaps we’ll build up the ganas to get out of town and explore the coastline a bit, maybe go to that beach resort in Cape Coast. Perhaps we won’t. After 14 months of motion, it’s nice to be “settled.”

More from Joshua Berman
Himalaya, Mountain Mama: The Hunza Valley
While Pakistan struggles with a severed submarine Internet cable (the communications ministry,...
Read More