Sunday, March 23, 2008

Manslaughter on the Streets of the City of Accra

When I was a little child, you could have thrown the following words at me – murder, manslaughter, homicide and genocide. I would have missed by a generous mile which one of them was the most serious crime. Going by the sound of the words, murder seemed like a game you could play at home. Homicide and genocide sounded non-domestic, and yet they fell so pleasingly on the ears. But manslaughter called up the bloody image of a wretched man wielding a wide-blade battle axe, coldly cutting through thick swaths of human flesh, tossing limbs and heads and gore everywhere – a butcher of men, the cruellest criminal of all.

There is a novel way of driving in the city of Accra. It is not exactly new to the much-maligned commercial driver. It is the private (perhaps educated, or maybe not) and substantial-income-earning Accraian who drives their own car. The peeps we suspect by strange instinct of being more sensible :)

This Accraian drives dangerously close to you, tailgating and boorishly harassing you to speed up, when there is a traffic jam everywhere. A brilliant idea lights up in their coarse minds and they veer off onto the shoulder of the road. Never mind pedestrians or stray dogs or trees or children. There, they compete in crude driving and yet cruder insulting with the famous tro-tro driver. The slightly smarter ones among them swerve onto the dead centre of the road, between the lawful flow of traffic in both directions! These are mostly evil geniuses driving SUVs, and playing dodgem with the bikes, confident that they can bluff or bribe or browbeat their way through breaking the rules or even manslaughter.

On Good Friday, right in front of me, a four-wheel drive cut a runway in between the traffic, spread out its wings, taxied and sped off. But before it could take off (for I could swear that was the only intention) it swept a bike off its wheels and sent the two riders flying north and south. The tattered jeans and broken limbs; flowing blood and sickening screams sent a motherly woman crying. I do not know if the bikers died but the scene was close to my childhood image of manslaughter.

Now driving out is so scary in the city of Accra. Something is thirsty and wants to drink human blood.

No comments:

Post a Comment

After writing your comment, please select the Name/URL box below, and write your name in the box, before submitting your comment.