In Ghana, large plastic bags, printed with plaid or otherdesigns, are prolific.  The bags arecalled “Ghana Must Go” bags.  I haveasked numerous Ghanaians why they are called this.  They reply that Nigerians call them that, forunknown reasons.  I finally learned thatthe name originates from Nigeria’s political turmoil in 1983, when manyGhanaians fled Nigeria.  They hastilypacked their things in these bags. 

Upon discovering these bags, I decided that they would be agood inexpensive option to carry our surveys, and dispatched the field managersto buy a couple for each of their offices. The tough field managers, who are a sophisticated combination of book-smartand street-smart, came back with bags printed with cartoon bears and cartoonpigs.  Secretly amused, I asked themwhether they thought the print on the bags reflected the seriousness and professionalismof IPA.  The next day a third bagappeared bearing cartoon Mickey Mouse.

The bags held up during the course of the surveying,ferrying blank surveys to the field and completed surveys back to Tamale.  StuffNigerianPeopleLike.com claims a GhanaMust Go can carry a child and his dog for miles.  When I took our complete batch of surveys toAccra, the bags weighed in at 35 kilo per bag, which unfortunately, seems to bemore than a child-dog combo.  My bags weredestroyed in one bus trip to Accra. To add injury to insult, plastic handles onthe bags chafed my palms, which have been peeling unattractively for weeksdespite copious amounts of shea butter.  

The surveys ultimately made it to the data team, whopolitely did not comment on the layers of dust the surveys had acquired duringtheir sojourn through the Northern Region.  The lesson is that while I highly recommendGhana Must Gos for children, dogs, and objects with high volume-to-mass ratios,I do not recommend them for objects with density greater than or equal to adusty IPA survey.

2/2/2011 14:58:03

Ghana Must Go bags are terrible for carrying surveys! You can get away with the smallest sizes, but the big ones are far too big. I spent a good portion of my first 3 months in Ghana hauling surveys to RDS and back... back when we were both on the 2nd floor. You youngin's don't know the half of it!

2/3/2011 00:40:54

Clearly this wisdom should be included in all IPA Ghana training materials.

4/22/2011 07:13:10

Those bags are very popular in South Africa too. I can see why they would be problematic for surveys, but they're great for laundry! I never got the hang of carrying them on my head, though. (Sorry, I'm obviously a bit behind on your blog.)

10/24/2012 15:37:07

I enjoyed reading your blog, thank you.


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