Thursday, April 02, 2009

How to Teach Your Child to do Laundry, Ghanaian Style.

One of my earliest memories is of a learning moment in kindergarten. We'd been taught to write numerals, and I'd gotten everything except how to write the number 8. The hand movement required to write it was too complicated for me. My inability to write this number had become a source of great stress...stress I received from my teacher.Back then, I considered myself pretty smart. I was the girl who could do it all. If only one baby was going to say a poem during the annual school show, that kid would be me, so i fancied myself to be special. Then one day, I saw a little boy who i thought was dumb (yep, even at that age, we had learned these things)write 8. I was looking at his book, hehe, and I saw him write one small zero on top of another. The result was something that looked like 8, not a perfect 8, but still a 8. Aha! From then on, I knew how to write eight. My teacher could not have taught me this: she may not have wanted to teach me a short cut, or she may just have continued to explain it in her old complicated way...old people speak, and sometimes that does not work.

Point being, children learn best when they learn from someone who speaks their language such as another child. That's why I've decided to share with you a simple, step by step method which was written 15 years ago on 31st March 1994 by yours truly. If you need to teach your kid to wash, use it. Even if you don't have a kid, I'm sure you'll get a kick out of reading the essay:) or it will remind you of how it used to be when you first started doing your own laundry or washing as we say it in Ghana. My comments are in blue.

How To Wash A School Uniform.

In Ghana, most people wear the common school uniform. (lol, i guess in a child's mind, all people wear uniforms...people being children) That is the shirt and a pinafore or shorts, and this is how to wash it.

Firstly, you fill three buckets with water. And you get your soap. After that you put the uniform in the first bucket. You wash the collar, the armpits and then you wash it all. Then you squeeze it and put it in the second bucket. After that you come back to the first bucket and wash the pinafore. That one too you smear the soap on it and wash the top and then the down one and put that also in the second bucket.

You wash the shirt and the pinafore all over again in the second bucket. Squeeze it and put them in the third bucket.

In the third bucket, you don't add any soap to the uniform but just rinse it a bit and take it to the drying line and dry it. You must hold the clothes firmly with a peg on the drying line so that it does not fall of the line and get dirty.

This is how to wash a school uniform.

PS: The next essay was written in class 3. There is a great line which I just have to share so you can ignore the whole essay and skip to the part which is highlighted in red.

My Teacher

My teacher's name is Mr. G.E.M. Ata
He is 57 years old
He is dark in complexion, he has white teeth (who doesn't?), brown eyes and black short hair.
He lives at Achimota house number 14 (hmm, i wonder how i knew this).
He have two children one girl and a boy.
He is a teacher at University Pri. School. He teaches very well.
He have toath for about twenty five years. He have a baby bence (hehe, what exactly is a baby benz? I'm sure i knew what i meant then, but i certainly don't now:)
My teacher is very ornest (haha) and gentle.
He likes beating children who tell lies.
I would like him if he was my father (aww).
He likes eating plantain and beans.
The game he likes best is football.
I like him because he is a good teacher.

PPS: The conversation about cheating has been very interesting and relevant. I'm going to write another entry soon in which we'll try to understand if cheating is bad.


  1. I had a good laugh reading your essay! It brought back so many memories for me. The school uniform, pinafore (haha) and the baby benz. You know, I'm pretty sure the term baby benz was used back in the day....I cant remember exactly which model fell into the baby category though, but you know us ghanaians, we are quick to make up names for any and everything. But my favorite line hands down is "He likes beating children who tell lies". It just sounds so wrong reading it as an adult but as a child back then, I'm sure it was fine, even a compliment perhaps.

  2. lol how time flies!! thanks for the nice trip down memory lane! you know how most ghanians like to generalize i'm guessing baby benz was just a mercedes car(which ever model) every beverage is tea/milo, every toothpaste is pepsodent, etc lol

  3. I dug around a little, and found that it wasn't just Ghanaians who called it that. The name probably came from advertising...This article names the baby benz among the top ten greatest ever mercedes. who knew?! see here:

  4. HAHAHA! Yes, Mr Atta and his "Tetteh Maame yoks!"
    I loved both pieces!

  5. No pun intended for writing your comments in blue like the "blue' used to whiten the clothes hehehe love it!!!