Honestly, one of the things I constantly battle is loneliness. I live alone. During the day, work keeps me occupied with one problem or another. At night, however, there aren’t any distractions. French class has been helpful because the class size is small and I’ve gotten to know many people there. The only problem is everyone in that class is under 30.
Earlier this year I joined Rotary. After going to several meetings, I decided to give up on the club because the meetings are not set up for social interaction. Essentially, you arrive at 6pm. There’s a chance for 30 minutes of small talk, then the meeting starts. The meetings involve a bit of singing, e.g. “Row row your boat”, Ghana’s national anthem, Rotary’s song, there are announcements, then some playful “fines” to help support the club. In the States, I would expect the meeting to conclude with some socializing at a bar or at a restaurant. In Ghana, however, at the close of the meeting, people just rush for their cars.
After attending meetings on and off for a year, I realized I didn’t make any new Ghanaian friends from Rotary. I never felt comfortable enough to meet with people outside of the club and it seems the feeling was reciprocated. As I have described previously, there’s a bit of a cultural gap between Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians. I sent my complaints to the president of my branch regarding how the meetings are structured. Rotary Club as a social vehicle was disappointing.
There are two expat clubs that are relatively active in Accra: accraexpat and InterNations. Accraexpat is a website that offers resources for expats in Accra. It was founded by a French guy, Claude. As a website, accraexpat is pretty helpful when you first arrive. The only thing to keep in mind is that everything posted is through Claude’s eyes.
InterNations is an international private social network. There are two levels of membership – one is free and the other involves a small fee of about $10/month. InterNations offers all the tools that Facebook offers, e.g. contacting members, search tools, creation of groups.
They both hold monthly social gatherings at either restaurants or bars around town. Since I find it difficult to build friendships when the music is blaring and everyone is in rush to meet as many people as they can in 90 minutes, I decided to become an active member with InterNations and lead the “DinnerNations” group.
My goal is to provide a weekly venue for a small group of expats to get to know each other. During the first meeting, we ate at Alliance Francaise’s Italian restaurant, Nicolino. Nine people attended. Most of those were Africans from Francophone countries. Last week we ate at Villa Monticello. It was about five people — all “white” people. Next week, I’ve planned to have one at Cuzzy Brothers in Osu. Hopefully we’ll have a mix of black and white people.