Saturday 10 March 2012

Beauty in Accra

The view from my doorway is lovely. I began this stroll to find the ant hill I saw two days ago in a field when I was getting a ride to the Institute of African Studies with Irene Odotei. I assumed there was only one mound. On the way, I learned that the U of G was graduating enough students for the Vice President of Ghana to attend. The car jam was huge. Students and their relatives wore beautiful clothes for the occasion, both traditional and current. A group of International Study students from Holland were also enjoying the sights and celebration. Unlike the Ghanaians they were willing to pose. I had great difficulty finding people willing to have their photograph taken. I stopped asking and had to sneak shots, which is why I don't have good photos of the event. At one point about a dozen half naked young men chided me in their language - Twi (pronounced Chwi) - from a balcony. They were yelling and acting tough, mostly smiling. I whipped out my camera and yelled, "You want a photo!?" They yelped and ducked behind the balcony. Their audience - a field full of well-dressed people and myself - burst out laughing.

The ground has a red colour from the rocky soil, called laterite, a clay enriched with iron and aluminum. It gets blown around a lot in the wind. It sets off the white student residences nicely, but is a pain for people to drive on when a road is in disrepair or where the dirt must suffice.

I did some quick reading on how these super colonies are made and what their function is. It seems the terminates either carry the sand to the highest point and drop the sand, or they actually sculpt as they go along.  The ants store food inside. Ones that are broken open reveal a pile of refuse at their base. The queen termite is also protected on the inside. She has been known to live up to 21 years. The males all die very quickly after they've performed their function. Probably why I didn't see any termites. In 2008, a professor here, Kwadwo Osseo-Asare got his students to do a little research on these hills. What they had to say is very interesting.