We pulled up to the gates of Cedi Glass Beads directly after arriving at the Volta Region from Accra. It had been an easy, quick journey, leaving us with plenty of energy... and we immediately realized that we'd need it, after being welcomed by the shop's enthusiastic owner. He wasted no time, jumping straight into a lengthy exposition on the craft of bead-making, then marched us straight over to the ovens.
Sometimes, I just feel stupid. Sure, I completed high school and graduated from college. I was even a Cub Scout! But my practical knowledge pales in comparison to the people of northern Ghana, all of whom seem to know how to create things which are immediately useful... with their hands! I might be able to write code, giving your website a blue as opposed to white background. But this little 80-year-old lady? She can mold a jar, make butter, and sew you an outfit, all before breakfast.
If some dude in the USA says, "Oh yeah, some friends and I get together to cure leather in my back yard", your instant and one-hundred-percent-accurate reaction is going to be: "Whatever, hipster". In Ghana, though, there's nothing hipster about it. We visited the Tamale neighborhood of Zongo, whose DIY leather "factories" would be the dream of so many bored Americans. Here, though, they're just another way to make a living.
Maybe it's because we come from such industrial societies, but Jürgen and I are always interested in seeing craftsmen ply their trade. The only hand-crafted products back home are the friendship bracelets your nieces force upon you. So when we're in a place like Ghana and we see people producing actual goods, it's exciting. What are those, coal pots? Sure, we'll watch you make coal pots! The lucky subjects of our attention were a couple guys holed…