Sunday, July 15, 2007

Do you know the national anthem?

Before I left the U.S., I was watching one of those mindless entertainment shows, probably on VH1 or E!, about celebrities and famous people who gave embarrassing renditions of the national anthem in public--or worse, forgot some of the words. To be honest, I haven't sang the song for real since middle school, and when they play it at sports events, I usually zone out. (I sure sound like a terrible American, don't I?) In Ghana, I've actually had the chance to show off my singing skills (or, rather, lack there of) by singing the U.S. national anthem on a few occasions. Two weeks ago, we visited the elementary school where two of our Duke friends were teaching, and we spent the morning teaching math and spelling. Later in the day, the kids all sang us the Ghanaian national anthem, but then made us promise to sing the U.S. national anthem to them in return. Luckily, I remembered all the words.

The other night we went out for dinner with those same two friends, since it was their last night in Ghana. Per usual for our time in Ghana, the night turned out to be a bit odd--our Ghanaian friend George showed up with a video camera and filmed us; uninvited guests kept on arriving and sitting at our table; and someone got in an extended argument with the waitress about peppers. One of the stranger moments was when we spontaneously broke into song--one particular song, the Ghanaian national anthem. Stesha and I only know the first two lines ("God bless our homeland, Ghana / and make our nation great and strong!") so needless to say, our singing ended rather quickly. But having felt deprived of Ghanaian patriotic knowledge, we later decided to ask around so we could learn the rest of the song.

The idea quickly turned into one of those sketches on Jay Leno, where people on the street are asked very basic political questions, but no one seems to know the answer. The most amusing response was from our taxi driver Friday night, who was so excited when we asked him to sing the Ghanaian national anthem, but then realized he didn't know past the fifth line. He also gave us a few amusing interpretations such as, "Go to the fair forever!" (The real line, according to Google, is "Bold to defend forever.")

We still don't know the national anthem. But maybe we'll learn it before we leave...

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