We walked back to my hotel from the chapel where we distributed to glasses, followed by students at Patrick’s school. The students had just been released so they were done with school for the day and had fun singing my name as they walked behind me. Patrick and one of the students took the mirror and books back to his house while I went back to my room to shower and nap. I was so tired that I slept for a few hours and when I woke up and went out to the back of the hotel, one of the guys that works here, Nicholas was holding a chicken by the neck. I shrieked which made all of the guys burst out in laughter. They told me that they were going to slaughter the chicken in honor of Patrick’s birthday.
The previous evening we had been talking about the slaughtering of animals in honor of birthdays and other events but I did not realize that they were actually going to do it. They informed me that a cow cost about 900 Ghana Cedis which is a little less than $700. In comparison, a chicken cost about 4 Ghana Cedis, about $3. So a chicken it was.
I went back into my room to grab something and when I came back, Alex, another one of the guys that works at the hotel was holding the now headless chicken. I was glad that I missed the actual slaughtering of the chicken. The next I saw of the chicken was at dinner when it was served to the guests of Patrick’s birthday party.
Before the guests arrived, Patrick and I went into town as it was market day and we needed to get the ingredients for a salad and some more rice. We quickly hurried around the outdoor market – kind of like a farmers market and picked up the necessary items. I bought Patrick a chocolate bar and a pineapple (which we all ended up eating for dessert) as well as the other ingredients.
We returned to the hotel where the workers were busy preparing dinner. I had no clue how many people would be coming but I knew that Raymond and his family as well as some of Patrick’s students were expected. The final count was at 22 people. It was quite a function – yes, that’s the word they used to describe this birthday party. We all sat in the outdoor covered and screened patio which has tables, fans, and music.
As a bunch of Patrick’s students arrived first and looked pretty bored, I brought out some colored pencils and construction paper and had the children make birthday cards for Patrick which they presented to him later in the evening.
Around 8pm, all of the guests had arrived, all dressed up, and a while later, the function began. It was not exactly what I expected but it was very nice. One of Patrick’s friends, Jemimah, was the MC and first explained the reason we were all gathered together and then asked Patrick to go around and introduce all of the guests. Then she invited anyone who had any stories about Patrick to talk. A few of Patrick’s friends shared stories and memorable experiences. Then, some music was put on and a bunch of the guests got up and danced. I walked around and took photos of the guests with the intentions of getting all the photos of the night printed at some point and put into a little photo album as this was Patrick’s first ever birthday party! He was very excited that this year, he had the opportunity to celebrate his birthday and I was happy that I could help him do that. With his teacher salary of 60 Ghana Cedis (about $46) a month, I don’t know how he lives, let alone would have any money to put on a birthday party.
I made sure that the party was done right and told Patrick that I would be happy to buy all the guests a Fanta, Coke, or Sprite. The drinks were enjoyed by all, especially the children. After singing happy birthday and saying prayers, we were finally allowed to eat the dinner that had been served about 20 minutes earlier. While all of the guests had rice with tomato and chicken stew, Patrick and I had rice with salad. We eat dinner together every night and as a result, he has been somewhat forced to eat what I eat, which means no meat or fish so he wanted to continue that tradition. The food was delicious.
During the meal, Patrick’s students got up and sang him a few songs, including happy birthday again. After the meal was cleared, the pineapple which had been cut up was brought out. Then, Patrick thanked all the guests for coming and celebrating with him. His students presented him with the pictures they had made for him and one of Patrick’s friends presented me with some drawings he did for me. Everyone went around and shook hands and said good night. It was past 10pm so it was time for people to get home and get to sleep.
Patrick truly enjoyed celebrating his birthday and repeatedly thanked me for helping to make it possible.