There is a small village in the eastern part of Ghana. On the outskirts of Hohoe in the Volta region. It’s called Wli. This town is home to about a thousand people, whose main source of livelihood is farming. This village is also home to the highest waterfall in West Africa with a height of about 143 meters from the top of the upper falls to the pool into which it pours. So there are a lot of tourist who visit this village to see the waterfall in all of its glory.
I happened to be one of the tourist visiting the waterfall, as part of a road trip my friends and I went on towards the end of 2015. When we got to the town mid afternoon, the town looked dead, with not a single soul to be seen walking the one road that went through the town, except for the visitor center that was at the entrance of the forest of the waterfall. Wli was our final destination for that day, so we dropped our backpacks and camped. The weather was magical.
After dinner that evening, we heard some drumming and singing in the town. We decided to go see what was happening.
On the streets that looked dead a few hours ago, the youth of the village had turned up. Chanting local songs, with drums, they sang, danced and marched through the streets. Those who couldn’t join the march, cheered them and quenched their thirst with water and bottles of Kasapreko. There was no occasion. This was how they jammed through the nights. There was no segregation, none to old, none too young, none too white, non too black, none too local, none too foreign. As long as you could turn up, you were a part of the celebration. We turned up with them too. They shared a communal love for each other. There was a mother who even tied her children together on a bench. Those around watched on for her while she danced for about half an hour, came back, said her thanks and offed with her children. The Wli people defined their happiness. They were happy.
It took very little to make the people of Wli happy. They didn’t need no 3g or electricity. They didn’t need to tell the whole world what was happening on Facebook. They didn’t need to let the world know what was on their minds with Twitter. No need to share pictures of what was happening on Instagram. Here was a community of peasant farmers, happier in one night with none of the modern day techno garbage, than some of us will ever be with all our cool tech in our entire lives.
Let me let you in on a bit of my background. I was born and bred in the big cities of Ghana and was fortunate enough to attend one the best schools the country has to offer. I have a degree in computer engineering and am currently in training to become a software entrepreneur at MEST; to ‘build a globally successful software company’. I haven’t known abject poverty or extreme riches. My parents have provided enough, to make living comfortable. I have never lacked.
My parents always wanted me to get a good education, so that i could get a good job with a good salary. What does it matter if it doesn’t make me happy. After all, I will have money. The rest can follow later. I spend my days working, and am so tired by nightfall to do anything else. I wake up the following day and the cycle continues.
Of late I have began to question everything. We wake up everyday chasing a dream, we hardly ever catch. And for those of us who do, it is often without people with whom we could share it. Because the tunnel vision we often develop to catch our dream often ignores the people who really matter to us because they fall into the peripherals. By the time we realize it wasn’t all worth it, it is often too late. But we have heard the stories and we know most of the time, we are chasing a mirage. We are blinded with vanity. And for people who get out of the vain chase in search of what makes them happy, they are met with people who look on bewildered asking ‘what the f*ck are you doing mehn?’. We live our lives generally bitter about everything and hatful towards people.
The declaration of independence states that
“…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”
We equate money to happiness and often think our cool modern toys will make us happy. We wake up daily to jobs we hate because the money it good, in hopes that it will make us happy. If we ever find out what really make us happy and are ever brave enough to do them, we will become better people generally. The world will even have a chance of becoming a better place. But it is not easy to wake up one day and just quit your day jobs. It requires very long term planning and and a lot of courage. Did I mention long term planning? The system has trapped us. Its not our fault. If you ever find out you can quit before it too late, take a chance if you have the courage. It is worth it.
Take a leaf from the book of the Wli people.
Try to live happily ever after.