Wednesday, July 30, 2008
The Battles of the Ever-Broke in the City of Accra
The block we work in strikes a pose on the Independence Avenue (the emerging finance centre) of the City of Accra. I like to enervate the air-con, shift the glass windows out of the way and delight in the shamble-shuffle of feet flogged too long by life, the half-price chatter of passersby, the half-volume drone of new vehicles and the full-bodied squeakiness of battle-worn tro-tros. I glean no less news in this way than by listening to Joy or Atlantis or the Beeb. I shut down my mind and laptop for the day, at half-light, not long ago, when I heard a racket outside. I poked my big nose out, and sniffed trouble as a horde poured out of a stalled tro-tro with its hazard lights blinking. As different conflict centres broke out, I saw a nursing battle-axe untie her carry cloth, lift her nursling off her back with one arm, dump the baby on the pavement and dive for the jugular of the driver’s mate. Another woman rushed to gather up the tot in her arms (and she could have sneaked off with the child). As I shut my window to that world, the prevalent shouts were about toffee change. So little money to kill another (or disown a baby) for, in the City of Accra. The depth of the poverty scares me.