This morning’s run started like all runs so far in Ghana: I was up as early as I could be, out the door before sunrise, hoping to beat the sun for the entire run. There are only two directions to run from the White Dove Hotel, both going through villages, though there is a junction on the westward route that gives access to a country road. That’s the option I took this morning, heading north past groves of palms, corn and cassava fields, and occasional unfinished buildings (see “Building Boomlets”) and dirt driveways leading to small clusters of huts. I had been out about 25 minutes, almost at my turnaround point, when I realized the drumming and singing I was hearing through my headphones, intruding on the podcast in my ears, was coming from the road ahead of me. I had just rounded a curve, and there they were: a group of twenty runners, all keeping step to a bell and two shakers being carried by runners. That wasn’t all: there was a leader calling out songs, drill sergeant style, and the entire group was singing as they ran.
I passed them, waving and smiling (they returned the greeting, of course), reached my turnaround point, doubled back, and caught up with them. They weren’t moving fast; while the cadence of their music was perfect, they were taking small steps. But the unity of both their music and their running was striking.
They appeared to be a group of youngish adults from Dzodze, probably in their late twenties or early thirties. They were mostly men, but there were a few women in the group, too. I ran with them for a minute or two, then passed them, continuing to run to their beat the rest of the way to the junction, where I headed back east to the hotel.
I’ve seen many runners besides myself during my morning workouts, and even saw some less-organized groups of teenagers run past my hotel room before I headed out this morning. Ghanaians run, and they wisely do it before the sun has risen far in the sky. This is the first time I experienced singing and percussion with a run, though it made perfect sense in this profoundly musical place.