I recently made a late evening stroll between my town, Addo Nkwanta, and a neighboring town. As I walked between those two towns, I was captured by the sounds that emanate from the jungle here. This experience made me keenly aware of the soundscape here. Without the benefit of a sound recording device, I will try to walk you through a day, using only aural characteristics of Addo Nkwanta.
Roosters: As it turns out, despite my romanticized assumptions to the contrary, roosters do not just crow at dawn, and they do not just crow once. This is the sound that will jerk me out of the darkest sleeps. Around 3 or 3:30, the roosters on my compound will begin to crow. Who knew that roosters were so loud? Not me, as it turns out.
Brooms: While the roosters' crows wake me up, it's not until I hear my family sweeping, that I know it's time to get out of bed. I have to admit, I still think it's a funny sight to see someone feverishly sweeping a dirt floor (to be fair, it should keep her busy for a few years). Okay, the purpose of the sweeping is actually to get the goat, sheep, and chicken leavings out of the way, but it is also an enjoyable, slightly percussive way to begin another sunny day in Addo.
Bleating: Addo Nkwanta (and Ghana at large) is replete with goats and sheep. They're everywhere. As you walk out of your bedroom, and into the real world, you are greeted with the shouts of hundreds of goats and sheep, each seeming to express immense disapproval at its pending day of garbage-eating and pooping (a seemingly simple schedule). The bleat of the west African dwarf goat is half baby-crying, half person-yelling-“blaaaaaah.” It's a strange sound that you hear no matter where you are in town, and is a simple reminder that you are still in Ghana, lest you forget. Incidentally, I have never seen the first sign of goat milk, goat cheese, or locally made wool anywhere.
Distortion: As the day wears on, Ghanaians seem to become bolder and bolder regarding how loud they are willing to play their radios. By the time you have taken your lunch, the speakers around town are viciously buzzing, as store owners and barkeeps try to outdo one another in terms of volume. Eventually, all melody and lyrics are lost in the dizzying crumple of distorted speakers.
Charcoal: As the afternoon heat begins to subside, and the twilight begins to take over, hundreds of women across Addo Nkwanta fan their stoves, to the quiet hiss and pop of smoldering charcoal. Some of the shopkeepers begin to shutter their doors, and the town quiets down a bit, as the Kofis and Kwames of the town return home for their bowls of fufu and borodeε ampesi.
Crickets: Long after all the radios in town have been unplugged, after all the charcoal stoves have cooled off, even after the goats have called it a night, the insects of Addo Nkwanta begin their symphony. In Addo, you can ever really get very far from the bush, and (as our thousands of various bites will attest) you can never ever get away from the insects. The bites, however, are simply the price to pay to be lulled to sleep by a chorus of a hundred thousand insects.
I fall asleep to the sound of the crickets, and a few hours later, I wake up to the crow of the rooster.