Accra: University of Ghana

Accra Dignified humility. Earnest irony. Gentle strength. We are barely back home when we learn of his death from typhoid.

They tell us the meanings of their names. Abrafo means “warrior.” Adisa means “one who will teach us.” Danso means “reliable.” They laugh when I tell them my name means “wagon maker.”

We are invited to Sam’s house on the University of Ghana campus to watch the World Cup match between the Black Stars and the USA. There is great tension in the room as we all crowd around the TV, intent on every touch of the ball. The tension turns to joy when Damani puts Ghana ahead. Joy becomes despair when Dempsey evens the score for the Americans just before half-time. But despair is short-lived as Stephen Appiah scores the winning goal in stoppage time. The city erupts in celebration and continues well into the night. Reality returns when we gather in a chemistry lab a few days later to watch Ghana’s defeat to Brazil.

She has a passion for cleaning, for disposal. She has a gift for mobilizing people, for covert action. I find quiet satisfaction in solitary productivity.

We are characters in an Umberto Eco novel, wandering dark corridors past secret vaults and guards with keys who determine which passages will be opened, what knowledge will be revealed.