Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pray for Peace

I don’t know what people will talk about or what will be on TV after December 7th. December 7th is election day in Ghana, and that seems to be all they care about here. There have been some concerns raised about peace, but for the most part, everyone has seemed optimistic that the elections would be peaceful.

I hung out at Fred’s house on Saturday after the PTA meeting. He told me about something horrible that had happened earlier in the week. Apparently, a warehouse in another region of Ghana had collapsed suddenly, and at first no one knew why. After some investigation, the cause of the collapse was determined; during “lights off,” someone had lit a candle to see in the basement of the warehouse, and somehow the basement caught fire. There were firearms and bombs in the basement, and the explosion they created caused the structure above to collapse, killing some of the people who were in the warehouse and damaging the buildings and homes that surrounded it. It was a mystery how the firearms got into the basement. The man responsible was licensed to sell firecrackers and toy guns, not bombs. How did he manage to smuggle those into the basement?

When I heard this story, I became really sad. I felt so horrible that all those people had died. “It’s such a tragedy!” I murmured.

“It’s a good thing,” Sister Juliana said, and I was shocked. She explained, “That man wasn’t supposed to have those guns. He was planning something bad. He was probably going to cause trouble after the elections. Now since this happened, maybe there won’t be a civil war. If there were a civil war, we’d have to send you back to your place.”

This scared me quite a bit. Ghana is known as being a really peaceful country... it would be horrible if a civil war broke out! I’m supposed to be here for another 8 months or so. I don’t want to go home just yet!

“Don’t worry, Kate,” Fred assured me. “There won’t be a civil war. Everything will be okay.”

I believed him, until this morning at the school’s weekly worship service. Every Wednesday morning, instead of going to assembly, the older students meet in the conference room to sing worship songs and to listen to one of the teachers lecture them on moral issues, usually telling them all the horrible things that will happen to their life if they don’t listen to their elders when they’re young. This morning, however, Monsieur Kofi made them close their eyes and pray for peace. He kept bringing up the fact that with the political tension being as it is, a civil war could break out after the elections. He spent the entire thirty minutes talking about a civil war, telling the children to pray for peace! Pray for peace!

Then I was really scared. I’ve never experienced a civil war, and I never want to. I don’t want to go back to America yet, but if things became unsafe here, I’d have to be sent back. I’m worried about what would happen to my students, to the nuns, and to my other friends here. I want there to be peace on earth!

“Don’t be scared. Nothing bad will happen,” Monsieur Kofi said when he saw how freaked out I was.

“But you just spent all that time making them pray that there won’t be a civil war!” I exclaimed.

“It’s good to pray for peace. It’s all in God’s hands. But Ghana’s a peaceful country. This election won’t change that,” he said.

So now I’m confused. I know that Ghanaian adults like to say things to scare children... maybe they think of me as a child to be fooled. I guess no one will really know what will happen on December 7th until that day arrives. Most people believe it will peaceful. I really hope they’re right.

Either way, it’s good to pray for peace. I like peace.

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