Mittwoch, 27. Januar 2010

25. 1. Leaving Sodom and Gomorrah

Manuel had to go to the hospital for further examinations. I went to Sodom and Gomorrah again, this time with Mamasita. We went by “Trotro”, the public busses. This time we visited the other side of the river, the “residential area”. It was 10 o´clock in the morning, and many children were playing between the e-waste on the riverside. They did not speak English, so they probably don´t go to school at all. We played with them and took photos, Mamasita bought water sachets for all of them, which made them really happy. Then back to the other side, were they burned out copper and lead as usual: flames and smoke, children working, girls selling water, a herd of cows eating the organic waste in between.

The girls found photographs in the waste, some old black & white, some faded colour pix. They gave them to me, laughing, and I gave them water - another nice dividend for one of our lucky shareholders.

Mamasita presumed, that this site will grow in the future; I decided to think positive -activists like Mike Anane will raise consciousness, and this madness will stop within the next years. We will do our best to help to spread the information.

I took a taxi to the New Accra Shopping Mall to meet Manuel and Stefan with the truck. There was so much trash on the street, so I decided to throw out my dirty paper handkerchief out of the cab. Immediately a policeman approached and told me, that this is not allowed. Embarrassed, I apologized, and he let me go. The taxi driver told me, that this could have cost me a fine of 100,- Sidis (Eur 50,-), or 6 months of prison as an alternative. Keep Ghana clean!

The doctor allowed Manuel to go, so we left Accra. It was clear, that our budget will not allow us to go to Lagos for further research: Lagos is far too expensive, and we are running out of private money as well. We decided to go back to Cotonou.

24. 1. “Pooh-pooh Beach”, Accra

Mamasita, a Polish-Spanish artist in our hostel told us again, that the shore around Accra is incredibly dirty. It is her third time in Accra, and she knows the situation well. We started together, this time with our truck. We chose to go near the lighthouse, where the river running through Sodom and Gomorrah flows into the sea. We noticed, that we were approaching the right place by the intense smell of shit getting stronger.

Getting out of the truck, a fisherman welcomed us to his nice beach – if we were here for swimming? He told, that he and he colleagues were out there fishing every day. The water was brown, the smell indescribable. If they are also fishing shit? Well, sometimes they had nasty things in their nets, yes. He brought us to the source of “pooh-pooh”, and Stefan filmed the smelly, brown liquid going into the sea. All of a sudden, a fierce looking man, accompanied by 2 other men with big muscles appeared and shouted at us: we need permission of the mayor to film here, he knows were the material ends up, it will be in TV and in the internet and he will have trouble. We should delete our material.

I was collecting water sachets all the time and told him, that we are only collecting trash to make recycling art. I showed my collection, which confused him completely, and he let us go. He had a big car, and the fisherman said, this is big brother, making big money out of pooh-pooh.

Stefan took our fisherman to a place hidden between bricks and made an interview: many of the fishermen´s children are sick all the time, because the fish is poisoned. They went to the mayor to complain, but the mayor told them to wait, things will become better. They are running out of money, because the doctors are expensive. They don´t know where to go, and there seems to be no help.

We went back to the tourist beach to eat, but we will never eat fish again in this area, nor swim in the sea, with the “pooh-pooh-beach” only 2 km away from the posh tourist hotels with their expensive, “clean” beaches.

23. 1. La Beach Resort

We were told, that lots of Accra´s waste ends up on the beach. Stefan and I took a taxi, telling the driver, that we are looking for a dirty beach. We ended up at “La Beach Resort”, were we had to pay Eur 2,- entrance fee.

The beach was packed with tourists, shops, a bar, lots of merchants selling clothes, CDs, masks, jewellery, food, horse rides or themselves (women and men).

The beach itself was quite clean, except a few water sachets and some plastic bags. Inside the water it looked different – you had to swim slalom between plastic bags.

So here somebody collects the plastic on the beach – but were are the “wild” beaches? We could not find, there was one expensive hotel after the other, with air condition, swimming pools and beach bars, wellness programs and plastic burning in the backyard. Entrance fee to the hotel beach for non-residents is about Eur 7,50.

We went to Sodom and Gomorrah again, some people recognized us, I bought some water from the girls and gave it to the workers, who use it to cool the hot metals.

A bunch of young men came running over the place, some of them had soccer balls and they started to play.

Sonntag, 24. Januar 2010

22. 1. Not a Waste Recycle Studio

In the morning Manuel was fine, but quite weak and tired. I called John Owoo, an art journalist from Accra, recommended by Wendelin Schmidt. We met up at 2 p.m., and he brought us to an artist working with waste: Tei Mensah Huagie, founder and director of “Not a Waste Recycle Studio” (

Here we found our “missing link”: an artist recycling plastic. We found our good old friend, the water bottle in installations and pictures, water sachets as clothes, bags, walls, but also flip flops as chairs and hats, as well as hammered corrugated iron and cables as sculptures. Tei is a witty fashion designer and sculptor, with many fresh ideas, like his work “Public Urinal”, a light wall construction, made out of painted PET bottles.

Tei is working a lot with students, he conducts workshops in recycling art and sells the products. This educates the young people not to throw away things on the streets, but see everything as potential materials for something new and collect it.

We wanted to buy everything in this plastic wonderland, but we are at our very limits now. I loved his installations and pictures, but his prices are near international level, so we could only afford some small works (bag made out of water sachets, 1 hat made of flip flops).

20. 1. Stuck

Igor left early in the morning for his flight to Lagos. Stefan and me were sleeping on the roof top terrace of the Hostel, suddenly Manuel stood in front of us, he felt worse. This time we took a taxi to the best hospital in town, Western standard, located in the big, new Accra Mall.

Again paying, this time for blood tests and EKG. The doctor prescribed Aspirin and 3 days bed rest.

The shopping mall was a strange new world for us: what wonderful goods like real milk, yoghurt, butter, cheese, black bread, coffee, cakes, fruit – everything more expensive than in Austria, but what a paradise - unreachable for most of the people living here.

19. 1. Igor leaving

Picking up Manuel from the hospital in the morning failed – he had to get another drip. Stefan went to buy him something for breakfast, a nurse accompanied him. Stefan asked for some vegetables, the shopkeeper and the nurse were shocked: vegetables for a sick man? No, you can´t do this!

At 3 p.m. we finally could take him to our hostel.
Money is running quickly – drips, injections, pills, taxis… "Heaven" is an empty box of matches on the streets, and real women use "Maggi".

It was Igor´s last day with us, so we went to the market and bought lots of vegetables, fruit and some wine. Then we cooked a nice meal and stayed up late. Igor gave Gansberger´s second antlers in a photographic ceremony to a Swedish couple, who are building a lodge out of mud (with wood construction) at the west coast. We will visit them at their “Desertrose Lodge” next time we come to Ghana.