By Rukayat Ositade
I have always found road trips more fascinating and somewhat more adventurous than any other form of transportation. Of course putting into consideration the purpose of travel and length of time, they may not always be ideal. Albeit having no experience of sea travel- I find that choosing between air, rail and road- the road most certainly leaves me on a permanent high.
From experience, my road sojourns have afforded me first class introductions and welcomes to cities, villages and settlements I otherwise wouldn’t have discovered. My fascination however isn’t so much with the cities, after all, most major cities of the world have certain things in common- the sky scrapers, traffic, posh restaurants, technological advancement to mention a few. On the other hand, villages and settlements retain the culture, history and tradition that is otherwise lost to the urban dweller. Not forgetting their key but often overlooked contribution to economic development either through local farming, crafts or other forms of trade and production.
The most memorable sight travelling by road in this part of the world is the sheer assortment of local road side delicacies, they certainly do play tricks on the salivary glands. For those brief moments when access to emails and mobile phone signals dare to be unavailable, you do realize that life actually goes on. When I had an impromptu offer to travel from Nigeria to Ghana by road, I knew there was no way I was passing this opportunity.
A first time visitor to the west coast, I had no expectations but looked forward to the trip especially the notorious border immigration. With the sole purpose of escaping "Eko Wenjele" for a few days, I was good to go! The trip on the other hand for my co traveler was an opportunity to visit family and buy decorative clay pots for re sale. Being an art enthusiast and interior decorator with a bias for tribal and ethnic influences, I knew this trip would present more inspiration for my design work. Vume is a small village near Sogakope, some 163km from Accra.
Large tracts of clay in the village have encouraged the commercial production of ceramic vases and pots which have helped the pottery industry in the area to develop. The drive from the Togo-Ghana border of Aflao into Accra gave us the opportunity to pass through Vume. On the road side were colourful display of hand crafted vases and pots, all in different sizes and shapes. I like to think of them as elegant, each with it's own distinct personality. A closer inspection of the pots highlights an intricate and delicate design scheme- some made with shells and cowries. It certainly did remind me of the pot making video during my British museum trip. Not content with mere admiration, I wanted to see a live display of the actual pot making process.
John, the owner's son who is still in secondary school was kind enough to explain and show the steps involved. One thing came to mind, identifying one's creative streak is empowering, getting through formal education or vocational training to improve these skills is a foot in the door, displaying your finished product/service is certainly an achievement. With pride, John finished making the mini pot in less than 15mins; I was certainly impressed. John may only be a teenager and is yet to fully understand the gifts of education and creative awakening his parents have handed him early in life- this very brief and profound experience reminds that creativity is not a chance occurrence, it is inherent in everyone in varying doses. You only need dig a little bit to identify and embrace your true gift.