As a Ghanaian, I liked Helene Cooper’s article, “An envious neighbor in West Africa” (Meanwhile, May 3), despite the comical depiction of certain Ghanaian ways and practices. No matter if our Liberian guests laugh at us; we Ghanaians even like to laugh at ourselves. It is that same psyche that provides all the tolerance and the genuine welcome we give to all comers. How else do you think we got a former president named Jerry John Rawlings?
All the same, certain vital ingredients were missing from Cooper’s article. If she had delved a little deeper into Ghanaian culture, she would have realized that the Bible verses and “kooky logos” she saw all over the place come from the same source as the proverbs that Ghanaians – indeed, most Africans – use to spice up their conversation, to lighten their burdens or to pass on the folk wisdom of the ages.
And I find it impossible to believe that the Liberians don’t like our food. Where did they go to eat? I dare say the thing she called “ground-pea soup” is not Ghanaian. What I know is absolutely delicious; it is called peanut soup or peanut-butter soup in the United States, and I know that all my American friends loved it whenever they had the opportunity to sample it. Not only is it impossible to make it without the tomatoes decried by the Liberians, you must also put in your spices, including a touch of ginger, and the smoked fish or any range of choice ingredients to bring out the authentic taste. Otherwise your “ground-pea soup” will be totally bland for any Ghanaian.
For culinary guidance, the next time she is in Ghana, I recommend that Cooper talk with the customers at a Don’t Mind Your Wife Chop Bar. (Sorry, there is no Don’t Mind Your Husband Chop Bar.)
Ike Minta, Accra, Ghana