Most Kudos

        To say that the citizens of Kwawu Dah were grateful is to say that Pennsylvania is a few miles from Ghana. What we receive today is an extravaganza, complete with speeches from dignitaries and schoolchildren acting out a play. The seat of honor’s occupied by the village’s chief. He’s in tribal regal garb, gold-encrusted sandals and native cloth robe thing, and his thanks to us are given in Twi and translated by the emcee. Meanwhile, we’ve barely if at all spent more time working on the computers in this village than we do attending the ceremony. Not that I was bored: the kids’ performances more than offset a slurry of speeches. The musical numbers were enjoyable, but I loved the skit. Acted fully by children and including a good imitation of the tribe’s chief, I crack up in confusion and amusement as the kids convinced the audience to “send your children to school” with a successful student going on to become a computer scientist.
        In the face of the festivities, one has to wonder who’s really the chief chief. While Kwame, the guy who organized us coming here, left his native village to study to earn his doctorate, what was the chief of the village doing? People may respect his decrees, but it’s because of Kwame that there are now computers in this village still without phone lines...
        After our entertainment, we finish the day with some commercialism: the kente cloth market. Vendors here are significantly more aggressive than at the wood village, with several street kids hawking bracelets pushing each other out of the way in competition for our attention. After awhile, we give in, get out, and go for a third time to the wood market. At this point, I’ve already bought all the gifts I need; now, I’m just buying for the sake of negotiating.
        I begin bluntly: telling the shopkeepers I know what the prices should be, laughing at their high initial prices, and making counteroffers well below half of the prices they name. This works well to offend but not so hot to actually buy, so I switch strategies to going for wholesale. I actually get a seller to agree to ~8 decent masks for a total of less than $15 but make the mistake of trying to get a little more merchandise included for the same price. By the time I try to take the 8-mask agreement, the guy backs out: his friends have convinced him not to take the deal! I yell about how he already made agreement, but it’s in vain: no sale. Time for only one more attempt, so I go for the bulk strategy again; even though I try “am I buying from you or your friends?”, this sale also falls through due to comments from the peanut gallery. Whatever: I was just going to put them on Ebay anyways:)

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