The drums woke us up at 4:00 a.m., but my own bus wasn't due to leave till later in the day. The Pan African Literary Forum continued happily along the road back to Accra and to the airport. If you've ever been to Ghana, you know that driving Accra's main routes is like taking your car down the aisles of an endless Walmart. Every time we stopped, or even just slowed, we were presented with opportunities to make last-minute purchases of souvenirs of Ghana:
reading glasses, athletic shoes, stoves, little models of birds, just about anything you might think you need.
The only one of these enterprising folk who got anywhere with our crew, though, was an energetic fellow who had maps of Africa and Ghana for sale. One of our number said he wanted one so that he could get all the place names right when he was back home in South Africa writing about his trip. Then one by one, others on our bus picked up on his idea. The map seller somehow managed to keep up with our bus as it lurched through the city, handing his maps through the window and getting his cash before the bus took off again.
And once at the airport, it was almost as if we were still at Kokrobitey. Most of us had hours to kill before our flights, so we gathered in the two airport cafes to relive our experiences, joke around, promise to keep in touch, and start writing all our Ghana poems. We ran into a young woman from Indiana University, on her way to Uganda, who was on a research trip. She immediately became part of our group, discovering friends we had in common on two continents.
One by one, we each had to peel ourselves away from our dwindling group of writers, make our way to our flights and leave Ghana behind for now.