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.


  1. Hi Nana Yaw,

    Having tried strainously as I have, I can finally testify that at long last I have read a post that the elements of my mind are able to grapple with.
    To me most of your postings are like unhackable codes.
    They stealth through the corridors of my mind inducing a state of bewilderment and awe!

    You as a wordsmith may not have realized that there are hordes of people groping in the dark trying to unearth the depth of your words.

    I believe I find it difficult to comprehend poems because I am analytically inclined and really struggle to weigh and unpack the
    words every time I read them.
    I guess I need to learn how to lay aside the fuss and enjoy the beauty of the words.

    Be as it may, I really admire you for your mastery of words. The reading of your blog makes me a better Being.

  2. You left me wondering - so what happened to the jugular of the mate - was it ruptured or smashed? One of the major causes of the brutal conflicts in our part of the world is poverty. Too many young men turn to rebeldom or sobeldom (soldier/rebel)for lack of profitable activity.
    We should celebrate your 100th post (I guess it will be posted today)in style.

  3. Awww Posekyere, thanks for commenting.

    I admit many posts are a little over, but I am trying to find my voice in there somewhere.

    Yes, I am a wordsmith who is also trying to be a raconteur. Maybe if I start to find stories, the extra dressing will go away.

    Thanks again.

  4. Poverty - the thing any country should fear the most. The cause of instability.

    100th Post - Yes, today. Dunno what it will be about, but I am bubbling with excitement.

  5. I think you really hit the spot with this one. With your words you caught the feeling of being a bystander to this sharp divide between the have and havenots in our everyday lives. However i'd leave out the geographical description to not interfere with your style, why did you suddenlky want to explain the layout of Accra?

    Seing a fight over tro-tro change is a dramatic experience for any middle class person, which you caught beautifully with an eye on the street scene and one on yourself.

  6. Thank you, Kajsa. The more I see this poverty, the more I think of the French Revolution and even the Khmer Rouge.

    About style, first, I am learning lyrical landscaping by practice, and I believe describing the landscape grounds a piece in reality. But I also understand your point on non-interference with style.

  7. And, Kajsa, I had to describe what the Independence Avenue now means. In the midst of plenty (Finance Centre) people were willing to fight to the death of money which is almost worthless to the average middle-class person. I wanted the irony.

  8. Wonderfully written, captured so well. Next I wish someone would contrast this life-risking fight over pesewas to the general generosity of the Ghanaian spirit. Shall we both tackle it, Nana Yaw? I'm sure the end results will be miles apart anyway. :)

  9. Pesewa fights v general generosity? Why not? Let's sync and write it some time soon.


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