My friend recently shared a post on Instagram where she talked about the winter coat syndrome in Ghana. In the post, she shared a picture of winter jackets lined up somewhere on one of Accra side streets and discussed people feeling awfully cold in 26 degree Celsius weather ( 72-degree Fahrenheit) weather.
For a lot of people in the Western Hemisphere, this weather seems incredibly warm and the need for a jacket at that seems ridiculous. But is it?
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Before I moved to Ghana, I too never understood why my mom packed winter boots and light jackets in the blue barrels she sent back to family members in Ghana. I didn’t remember being particularly cold while growing up in Accra so the idea that I or others once felt cold or may feel cold never crossed my mind.
Like many people, I only thought about the proverbial scorching African sun, with temperatures reaching 90-degree Fahrenheit and above. Even lower in the 70s seemed quite warm to me.
That is, until I experienced the rainy season here, in its entire duration, and after the dry and Harmattan seasons, which countries in West Africa experience as well in some slight variation. Today, I have joined the African aunts and uncles who complain that it is cold when it is a cool 72-degree Fahrenheit after rains. I cannot sleep under a fan, let alone an air-conditioner. I am sure those in close proximity to water bodies and are on higher altitudes feel it worst.
It is no wonder that the people who bring secondhand jackets, winter boots, and coats to the country find a market. It may seem counter-intuitive to the mere eyes or the inexperienced but it makes sense of the person who lives here.
As one woman found out on trip advisor, the largest open-air market for secondhand goods, Kantamanto, is indeed the best place to go for winter clothes.
Indeed, today I am cold. I layer when I am inside. My friends tease me that I can no longer survive when I return to America during its spring, autumn and winter months. If so, that is fine. This is my new normal.