On the bus

Traveling by bus in Ghana can be an enlightening experience. One trip Ed took on the bus, someone stood up and prayed for safety in travel just before departure. Very refreshing! A newly-arrived British colleague decided to take a bus from Elmina to Accra along the coast. She was quite surprised when someone stood up and prayed for God’s protection over the ride to Accra. When the bus pulled into the station in Accra, she was very pleased and equally surprised that someone stood up and thanked the Lord for a safe journey. People are quite used to that kind of worship in Ghana. Just last week, one of our guesthouse guests was telling of her bus ride up country where, during the length of the trip, two different people stood up and gave passionate sermons. But even more amazing is that the last one took an offering! I was wondering about the stewardship of that offering, but apparently it’s not a problem.

The religious freedom we have here in Ghana is amazing. I can even get lost in worship in a store in town with the awesome worship songs played over the sound system in many  stores. I’ve even seen employees freely worshiping.  They are singing happily, themselves sort of glowing with a joy and peace. It is truly refreshing.

Tamale – Kumasi by STC

The State Transport Company bus terminal in Tamale is a large open building with bays for four Greyhound-type buses. There are even unintelligible loudspeaker announcements about departures to remind me of a great Bill Cosby routine.

Traditional leather goods

Traditional leather goods

I see a stand selling leather, wood, and other curios. I pull out my camera only to be reprimanded, nicely, by a small group of young men who say that I should ask first. They then grant permission before I ask. They are right to be sensitive about the way their continent is portrayed which is sometimes exploited. I think I got a nice photo of traditional northern Ghana crafts.

An older woman passenger is handing out tracts in English. She talks to me about Jesus telling me that I need to be saved by the blood of Jesus. I assure her that I agree.

Inside STC bus

Inside STC bus

We board in an orderly procedure with no jostling or pushing. Instead of the expected four seats with an aisle, there are only three. I am going business class! There is, however, something missing: there is no toilette.

When the bus started, the tract lady rises and prays out loud for a safe trip, committing us all into Jesus’ hands.

I am now watching a Gospel music video of a Ghanaian group doing Rock of Ages very tastefully (in my opinion) but to non-traditional accompaniment – keyboard, drums, bass guitar, and electric guitar. They blend from that into Peace Like a River with reggae overtones. Yes, the bus is equipped with two video monitors. The medley is going on for some time moving from hymn to hymn.

After an hour, knowing that the trip will be 5 or 6 hours, the lack of a toilette has me a bit preoccupied. We stop beside the road to let out two passengers and two others make a dash for a little outside toilette. I don’t need encouragement to follow.

Three cell phone towers in village

A different village along the same road with three cell phone towers

Having done a bunch of classic hymns, the same Gospel group goes on to I Have Found a Friend in Jesus. Then, There is Power in the Blood with reggae overtones, done to video clips of an Anglican-ish communion, wafers and all.

Oh! Did I mention that I am traveling on a bus of The State Transport Company which is wholly government-owned?

Next up is one of my personal favorite groups, Ladysmith Black Mambazo doing a mixture of Gospel and other in their great southern-African style.

We pass through a little burg of mostly mud and thatch buildings with five, count them, five cell phone towers. To prove it I take my phone on the Internet and post that last sentence as my Facebook status.

We have an abrupt and radical shift in our entertainment programming. I am now being subject to videos of the “sport” of professional wrestling. (My apologies to any fans.)

Used auto parts for sale beside Kumasi street

Used auto parts for sale beside Kumasi street

In Kumasi, which is known as vehicle repair and rebuild central, we go through a part of town where everyone is selling some variety of used car parts. It’s like a big used parts yard spread out along both sides of the road with dozens, or perhaps hundreds, of individual shops. One stand had nothing but used jacks, another just rear-view mirrors, several had rows of motors, and so on for blocks and blocks. It was a great trip. I plan to do it again