You can’t pound your fufu and eat it too
Today marks exactly one month since I left the USA. The past month has been well, challenging.
My second weekend here, I went to the Ashesi University opening. Ashesi is a gorgeous campus that lies at the top of a small hill in the middle of a rural village. The road to get to Ashesi is much like many roads in Ghana, full of twists and turns. The road are not winding roads by intention but rather wind because of attempts of drivers to avoid the potholes and rough patches on the road as well as other drivers who may or may not abide by the suggested lines painted on the ground. At this inaugural event, the American Ambassador was there and delivered a short and comical speech about the USA, Ghana, and fufu.
The US Ambassador to Ghana found himself to be perspiring, a bit anxious, nervous as he bopped his way determinedly to the Ashesi University inaugural ceremony. As he made his way, he was reminded of the process in which fufu, a Ghanaian dish is made. Fufu is made by pounding cassava and plantain in a bowl until it is very soft in texture. It is eaten with various soups. The process is laborious, time consuming, and requires a lot of energy and patience. The ambassador compared making fufu to creating new initiatives in Ghana when involving Americans. He joked, that the only way for the relationship to truly work was through a lot of pounding, perseverance, diligence, and patience. Throughout the process you will exert a lot of energy and question if you should continue or just give up. However, when the process has ended and you see the result, you realize the tiring process was worth it.
His description of working here, as an American, is right on. The past month has been filled with frustrating days, disappointing meetings, and hours of dramatic venting, certainly this has been the “pounding” portion of the fufu making process, or for me, the research process, according to the Ambassador’s theory. However, he left out an important detail in the making of fufu, it’s most often made by two people working together. The two people develop a rhythm of pounding and turning the fufu to help blend the cassava and plantain. Once the fufu has been made the food is enjoyed by all parties in the home. Though this month has been filled with the “pouding” it has been filled with inspiring conversations, passing of wisdom, cultural activities, and a true appreciation for all of the blessings that I have been afforded. The process of research, is not meant to be easy, and the field of global health is a far cry from convenient…anything. The challenges that I have been presented are miniscule compared to the challenges of so many others and are teaching me in the only way that field experience can.
So, with IRB approval and maps-in-the-making, after one month of “pounding,” I am about to embark on the actual field work and collection of data. I’m positive that this will bring an entirely new set of challenges and lessons. I am also sure that this will be “pounding” part 2 and while I’m not sure how many parts will be involved in my pounding process, I’m thankful to be moving past part 1. They say you can’t have your cake and eat it too…but I have yet to see someone who pounds their fufu and has not enjoyed eating it. I’m only in the beginning stages of my “fufu” but I know that when it’s done, it will be more than worth it!