>A friend of mine once observed what a shame it is that homes here are separated not by fences or shrubbery, but by tall walls keeping fear inside and jealousy out. Sitting in the cage of one’s car, it is easy to forget or fail to observe Ghanaian poverty beyond the abstract, general poverty that you are aware of in theory and no doubt lament. From a friendly distance, of course.
Using a trotro involves walking between stops and that’s where you meet people who have fallen through society’s cracks: in the spaces in-between. Around Tetteh Quarshie Circle, for example, where you are accosted by Chadian child refugees begging in their characteristically aggressive manner for alms. In front of Airport Residential – one of Accra’s wealthiest environs – where you join the people walking past the dusty, half-naked man people assume to be mad (but who may just be homeless) lying asleep in the middle of the busy sidewalk. Homeless people asleep on folded out boxes underneath the Kanda overpass.
Travellers often touch down here, see big posters boasting civilization, go home to air-conditioned houses, step out to eat, look down on and complain before spending their nights hopping from club to party to club, before returning to the Diaspora to report that Ghana is doing well.
It’s not that simple.
Politicians often move by motorcade, roads ahead of them cleared by enthusiastic cops on bikes. So when we hear of presidential candidates taking a trotro rides to connect with the people and see firsthand some of the problems that everyday Ghanaians face, we should be impressed and hopeful for change.
I’m no better: I walk past and hand out a coin here or there, and try to be fair in my dealings with people. There’s so much more to do though. Ghana is not doing well.
We are coping.