Two rather abstruse names are used for two different kinds of heavy-duty reusable bags in Cameroon. I was able to get the history behind “fertilizer,” a general word for an all-purpose shopping bag, but despite Johannes’ explanation, I never quite got a handle on why the extra-large plaid suitcase-style bags were called “Ghana-must-go.”

Fertilizer. Fertilizer came/comes in a sort of gunny sack, which of course, would be reused as a carrying bag, small mat, or however it could be pressed into service. Over time, the content word was lost, leaving the adjective, and the word came to be used for bags in general.

A common phenomenon in word formation.

Ghana-must-go. I’m sure there’s a nugget of etymological fact in this explanation, but I’m not quite sure where it is. Johannes, Scotts’ cook, says the bags have this name because during some football (soccer) tournament they were used by the team from Ghana. Everybody wanted Cameroon to win, so they said “Ghana must go,” and ever since those bags have had that name.

I’m afraid I just don’t follow the logic in that explanation. Then, again, I don’t share the cultural assumptions of Cameroonians, so maybe it does make sense.

But, speaking of Ghana, it has very quietly elected another leader. In the midst of the escalating retributive violence in the Middle East, and the utter ravishment of Zimbabwe by cholera (exacerbated by Mugabe’s greed and utter disdain for his people), this very hopeful note about an African country has gone largely unnoticed.

“John Atta Mills has been sworn in as Ghana's new president following a cliff-hanger election victory….President John Kufuor has stood down after serving the maximum two terms. He is the second elected head of state in Ghana's history to hand over to an opposition politician.”
(read the full BBC story here)

Ghana’s newest leader is from the opposition party, making this the second time in the 50-odd year history of the country that the ruling president has actually stepped down when he was supposed to, and allowed an elected opposition leader to take power.

This encouraging news goes some distance to explain why some observers say Ghana is “a long way ahead of many other African countries”.

Go Ghana! We hear far too little good news today, particularly coming out of Africa.


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