My friend Nasa and I were jokingly saying we want to get dysentery or malaria so we can benefit from the weight loss associated with these maladies. Sick, I know. Even sicker that I started wondering what it’s like to get dysentery or cholera. I told some friends I want to get dysentery so I can blog about it. Yeah, writers block can make a blogger that desperate. All for you, dear readers. Woman here is willing to get dysentery so you can gain an insight into living with dysentery in Ghana, as you read this blog at Starbucks or wherever the hell y’all log into www.maameous.blogspot.com
You know what they say about being careful what you wish for? Well, when I was seeking a new experience last week, I had no idea that I was about to experience the real deal, something unwished for, and that when it happened, I wouldn’t want to blog about it. Imagine that your car did 3 summersaults, then crashed on the motorway whilst you’re driving and you survived. That’s some story alright. But who would want to blog about that? You’d just want to get on your knees and thank whichever God you serve for being alive.
See, the experiences that really make you grow and stretch...they don’t make for good blogging material. Who wants to read about real, raw, honest, stuff? It’s not “feel-good”. It’s not fun. So i’m sorry that I promised a fun blog and today, all I have to share is something that leaves a funny taste in your mouth. I wish I didn’t have to be the one to remind you that our world is a dangerous place. That some Ghanaians feel trapped and are looking for a way out... any way out. That maybe honesty is a luxury. That we live in a society that sells the wrong dreams. And that when we sell the wrong dreams, people will find ways to have those dreams. Even dishonest ways. And if they do, we pay the price. That we’re all vulnerable. I wish I didn’t have to tell this story, but it’s the only story I have and it’s true.
So let me share with you what happened to me before tomorrow comes and we all snap back into life as we know it.
After nearly a year in Ghana, I moved from my parent’s home. I found a nice little one bedroom self-contained place at North Legon. Spacious living room. Roomy bathroom. Lots of light. Good floors. Great neighbourhood. Tarred roads. No kiosks. Almost an affluent neighbourhood. Someone said I’m socially climbing. Which made me laugh because I’m hardly trying. My new neighbourhood seemed to me like the kind of place where people live in their guarded, high-walled houses, disconnected from the life on the streets...hardly the kind of place you’d expect to find desperate people. And now that I think about it, not exactly my kind of place...but I guess I was tired of looking, and so because I liked it, I rented it.
I rented it from two men, Kofi and Sammy. Sammy used to live in the space I now occupy and he told me that his mother is abroad, and as he was about to join her, she’d told him to rent the space out for 2 years. As is the practice here, I paid my two years rent in advance, signed a housing contract, and moved in.
About 10 days later, as I’m about to get ready to go to work, I hear an insistent knock at the main gate. I run out in my itsy bitsy night clothes, to let in an old woman, who, accompanied by a youngish man, informs me that her daughter owns the house and that Sammy did not give them the money. Great!
It is at this time that Kofi the caretaker, who was present when I signed the housing contract, and who lives in a different part of the house now comes to tell me that Sammy had actually gone abroad but had been deported back to Ghana. Niiiice! So my rent has been spent by Sammy and no one knows what to do.
Initially I’m shaken. I’m not sure what to do. So Ms. Independent calls her parentsJ. But what can they really do? It’s the kind of thing that makes you wish you had more people to rely on, and makes you realise that however dysfunctional your family is, they may be the only people you can really ever count on.
Over the next few days, one of the neighbourhood boys tells me that Joe the caretaker is planning to run away. I tell the old woman this and she turns around to inform Kofi that I plan on arresting him. Somehow I manage to take Kofi to the Madina police station as I suspect him of colluding with Sammy and because of the tip off. But at the police station, there is a long line, and the sergeant allows only the 1st three people to stay inside. He instructs the others to stand outside. So Kofi who has to stand outside runs away by the time the sergeant gets to me. Wow!
That was 3 months ago, and I am fine. The owner of the house came 2 weeks later and asked me to move out. I refused. The police fully back me, saying that since the owner of the house entrusted the house in the care of the two men, if they chose to rent it to me, she has no right to evict me. I’ve settled quite comfortably into my space and now that Kofi has run away and Sammy, having been deported back to Ghana has gone underground, I have the whole house to myself. Sweet!
This is where the story would usually end. I mean I got what I want. Why should I care about Sammy? But Sammy wrote a letter to her aunt begging her forgiveness and saying that he did what he did because it has always been his dream to travel abroad. As he was not getting any help to make this dream come true, one night, as he was praying God gave him the idea to rent out the house in order to realize his dreams. Sammy did not seem to me like a rogue. And all the neighbours who hear of his misconduct are shocked. They describe him as a very respectful, deeply religious boy. His grandmother describes him as a good boy who was misled by Kofi. She thinks that it was Kofi who planted these travel ideas in Sammy’s mind. So the question I ask myself is how did a good boy like Sammy get so sold on the dream that he would act contrary to his general good nature by doing what he did?
The allure of life abroad. The whole country seems sold on this dream. It doesn’t matter whether they’re educated or not. Rich or not. Recently it was reported on Ghanaweb.com that Ghana topped the number of green card lottery winners. In the middle of an economic recession, Ghanaians are scrambling over themselves to go to America. Pregnant women in Ghana are doing anything to have babies in America. Ghanaians abroad, even those who have lost their jobs, holding so tightly to America, it makes me wonder how they swallowed the lie so whole.
I think many Ghanaians who do desperate things to travel or remain abroad do so because the only dream they know is the American dream. Or the Abroad dream. In recent years we’ve seen people wearing t-shirts that read “I’m the Ghanaian dream” or “I’m the African dream” and it makes you wonder what the hell they’re talking about because currently, there’s no such thing. The dreams we’re currently selling are not our own. Maybe that’s the problem.
What would the good life lived fully in Ghana look like? What would the Ghanaian dream look like? A life in which your starting capital for your business comes from Ghana. And your house is built or bought using money that was made in Ghana. And your skills are developed in Ghana...A life where we look inward for solutions. A life where we feed and clothe ourselves. Where soon to be parents believe so strongly in the possibility of making a good life in Ghana that they see no reason to facilitate their children’s emigration by having them in America. A life in which I’ll have my children in Ghana, educate them here, and equip them so they can build businesses, and create wealth and employ Ghanaians educated in America or even the Americans themselves. A life in which people who want to be doctors do not sneer at curing malaria. In which the highly educated are interested in solving basic problems because that’s what we have. A life in which we too can teach the rest of the world a thing or two about life because we have found solutions on our own. A life in which our cultural festivals are so relevant and top of the mind, my kids can brag about them in the ways that some Ghanaians today can talk up the Kentucky derby. A life in which our young can dream dreams solid enough they need not borrow those from America. A life in which our dreams are truly our own.
Is this too much to ask?
PS: Apparently 2 days ago, someone pitched a tent at Circle so people could get their photos taken and forms processed for entry into the US green card lotto. Cost? 6 cedis. Filla and photos supplied by Sir Kiwi
Fantastic insight Esi. And OMG I cannot believe your story. Somehow, it is always the religious and church going people who spring the most surprises. So he wanted to go abroad. Hmph. The problem lies in PR Esi. Ghanaian society is inundated with aborokyire stories right from the cradle. We are shown how clean the streets are, how "civilized" they are. Right? Lol. We are not even allowed to speak our own languages in school in conversation. It is termed "Vernacular" I wonder what that means. So from very early we are stripped of what makes us indigenous. We are made to believe that the only way to move foward is to take up somebody else's identity and way of life and of course we must get out of Ghana immediately to make our dreams happen. That is why people like Sammy did what they did. Ironically those of us who ended up abroad were not desperate for it. It came our way and we took it. My friends from SSS who were most desperate to come to Yankee never made it out. The laissez-faire ones were those who were granted the F1 visas. So no wonder Sammy has been deported. Serves him right. For things to turn around, the youth ...right from nursery school... must be taught to believe in our local environment, our language, our culture. The media has a big role to play in this. Will it happen soon? We need agents of change. When I watch films like the Perfect Picture, I think we have a long way to go before we accept who we born to be. Good one tho.ReplyDelete
Great blog. The truth is refreshing - always.ReplyDelete
sorry Esi- funny Story though. Well, how i wish i was in Ghana. This whole abrokyre experience is not a dream but a nightmare. Yes, you may be earning pounds but the tax man take his chunk, your rent takes it chunk, transportation takes its chunk- so what is the point. You live to work and work to live.ReplyDelete
oooh Maame so insightful. I wish I could hit my chest and say to you Maam we are there. But are we? We have allowed the radio-stations and their cohorts of serial callers to set the country's agenda such that in the midst of fuel shortages all we talk about is whether one Prophet TB Joshua prayed for the Satellites or not. Would this put faith in us? Would this remedy the malaise that has gripped the country and which has sent us into the gutters?ReplyDelete
What is the Ghanaian dream? If we should hit the streets now (not only in Accra but in every village and township) and ask anybody we meet I am sure that at least 8 out of ten would tell you that their dream is to go abroad. Abroad, where all results are made; Abroad, where foods falls directly into one's mouth without hassle. Abroad, where our god lives.
thanks for this piece. And we thank god for your life. Nothing untoward is going to happen to you.
Woarabae! Sorry about this drama ... wouldn't wish this on nobody!ReplyDelete
Ghana has some ways to go to BE the DREAM ... but it can still be. I think part of the reason for things like these happening all the time is that the older generation doesn't have 'righting the system' as their priority any more, meanwhile, the younger generation still thinks they are not old enough to "start taking responsibility for this country".
Without a "halfway group" who will change this trend of 'waiting for George to come do it" ... we will surely lose any chance to save the best of who we are and can be.
But who will start this "halfway group", and who will have the guts to join? Then WHO will MAKE THEM RESPONSIBLE for their actions, and MAKE them walk their talk?!!
On that note ... the Charity Cocktail Ball to support CHANGE IN GHANA, this Saturday (24th Oct) is FREE! 6.30 pm
I will love to see you there, for some noetworking and collaborating with other strong-minded, gutsy, young Ghanaians ...
... Coconut Grove Regency Hotel, North Ridge.
Please invite all your friends ... I need your help for this.
I think we are getting more worried about the problems we are facing as GHs, but not sure where to head for some solutions.
A step, then another, then another ... never stopping ... will help. Hopefully, this Cocktail Ball is one of the ways to socially argue with each other on a way forward ... permanently.
Please text your yes, and your name to 0244 82 83 22 ... if u read this, are in Ghana, and will make it!
In the words of Esi, once said to me ... I'm trying to be 'the people' who will, not can.
And God forbid that anything like this should ever happen to you again!
This is deep and it is the truth. What's the Ghanaian dream? Other than us Ghanaians abroad wanting to return. (Yes, many feel trapped and want out- to get back to their homeland)We returned in the 90s but went back to the UK after 5yrs. We might have made it, but for the 1yr near-total shut down of Akosombo dam which was the last straw for our business.ReplyDelete
Sorry you had all that drama. Thank God you're safe.Regarding your disappearing rent man, I could regale you with similar stories throughout our 5 yr stint in Ghana including our house & land we bought that turned out to belong to the Govt. All this was eye-opening for hubby(he's broni), but he still loves the motherland and hopes to settle there one day.
My question is, how will this all change when you have to keep sending money to prop up parents and members of the family. All you hear is how HARRRD Ghana is and how everyone is a magician to live there.
BTW I replied to you post on my blog.
Well, the Ghanaian dream to me would be an eco-conscious self sustainable existence. Preserving our natural lush greenery and beaches for our own benefit. Appreciating our culture and growing up to be an old wise man/woman in society. Respecting one another and being as welcoming to our neighbors as we are foreigners. Farming being among the best jobs in the country to prevent migration to the cities and book long idiots. The so called modernization(westernization) of our country is scary and needs to slow down.ReplyDelete
Hmmmm......food for thought :)ReplyDelete
What a housing experience! As a new returnee, I am still getting in to the hang of this advance rent thing. CRIMINAL, there is NO WAY of getting around it. Pisses me off that the laws are so archaic!
Moving on....the Ghanaian dream is alive and well! In my book that means the political, social and economic SPACE to flourish. KEY WORD: SPACE. Ghana circa 2009 fits that bill perfectly.
I say that unapologetically because I feel many of us are flourishing in whatever pursuits we choose to endeavor in, wealth or economic and social security and comfort are all in the eyes of the beholder. Definitely there is poverty in our midst but I think the greater malaise with too many of us is poverty of the mind, poverty of ideas...poverty of imagination and ideas. A defeatist and victim mentality that is self fulfilling.
I am so grateful to have the opportunity to live and learn in Ghana at this time, it is a beautiful country that is experiencing a renaissance before our eyes, its DREAM is possibly emerging or better yet, is revived after a long drought of dormancy.
This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyDelete
Anonymous, i agree with what you said about poverty of ideas and imagination. Let me use the Nigerian film industry as an example. I could not believe how it started. Some Igbo business men in Eatern Nigeria allegedly had excess videotapes on their hands and decided to recored something on them. That something 12YEARS on, is now Nollywood. Local entepreneurship in its most basic form has materialized into a media powerhouse that has given us a window into thier way of life and culture. If we can apply this model in Ghana, we too can move ahead . But somebody has to start. Start small.ReplyDelete
For too long, the governemnt has been in the way of enterpreneurs. Dont you dare start a venture that people at the top will be intimidated by. Stay within some confines. Dont get too big. And so we Ghanaians are afraid of becoming successful I think. VERY successful. Its been covertly beaten out of us. Slowly but surely. As long as we remain good and obedient citizens of Ghana and not ruffle anyone's feathers with grand ideas, we will be fine. Unfortunately, that dosen't make for a confident business environment. It discourages risk taking.
I remember when A-Life supermarket first opened. The shelves were well stocked, people were in awe, optimism was everywhere. Very soon we heard that the Rawlings administration was trying to keep the owner in "check". Making his life difficult. As Anonymous mentioned, where is the SPACE in that?
The original Ghanaian dream is a simple one.ReplyDelete
Go to the farm
Make some fufu
Harvest your crop
Go to the palmwine bar or get some nice cloth for your kaba
Make some babies
Buy some clothes for them [slippers optional]
Die [ideally not at the hands of witches]
It's too late to have a uniquely Ghanaian dream after you've been exposed to others' dreams. And it is definitely impossible to will up a dream because you dont like the one you have.
It's sad to see what people go through for the Abrokyire dream but I believe for some people the hand to mouth existence in Europe or the US is better than whatever they can make for themselves in Ghana.
At the very least, their posterity is secured.
I see a lot of people of Ghanaian descent walking around London with chips on their shoulders to understand this. If they had been born in their mothers' villages back in GH they'd be clearing refuse for pennies but they dont know that.
On the religious aspect of Kofi scamming his grandmother, it wouldnt suprise me much if a pastor/preacher had encouraged him to do it.
My latest post touches on the effort people go thru to stay once they're here:
@Marian..."Somehow, it is always the religious and church going people who spring the most surprises"ReplyDelete
Could it be that it's b'cos we expect that such people will set a higher standard and so when, being human, they fail, we're doubly surprised/disappointed ?
"The problem lies in PR Esi. Ghanaian society is inundated with aborokyire stories right from the cradle. We are shown how clean the streets are, how "civilized" they are. Right? Lol"
I know! Interesting that you bring up this point because just this week, we were cracking up at work because we watched a you-tube video in which one Ghana burgher in London was showing us the london bridge and talking about how he wants those who don't have the opportunity to leave Ghana to see the streets of london. He was so excited...just 'cos he was in london. Proud even. You could tell he thought being in london added to his "somebodiness" And i was thinking...wow, i'd love to see the day when this will happen to Gh! This guy was doing PR for london and reaching segments of Ghanaians and all for free...hehe. So yes, you're right that the media has a role to play but in these times, anyone with a computer can create content and upload videos. So we too have a voice now and so can shape things.
"We are made to believe that the only way to move foward is to take up somebody else's identity and way of life and of course we must get out of Ghana immediately to make our dreams happen."
It's crazy! Because there's no way you can be great by imitating someone else. To quote a certain Mr. Cook, "We imitate others (who are imitating others who are imitating others). We settle for the trite and true, and when we do, we become less than what we really are. You must instead become more of what you are. Discovery your strengths and emphasize them. Become more powerful by becoming more authentically yourself"
And so you're right...we must be taught to believe in our local environment, our language, our culture. That we need agents of change. When I watch films like the Perfect Picture, I think we have a long way to go before we accept who we born to be.
Perfect Picture...you think it's an imitation of what the West does huh? But we have to give it credit for stepping up the game in terms of production and storytelling. And it does speak to an aspect of the Ghanaian experience, because there are Ghanaians who live the life depicted in that movie. That's their story. Sure, it could have aspired to be more than just a story...could have aspired to be a work of art, but hey, baby steps. right?
We have allowed the radio-stations and their cohorts of serial callers to set the country's agenda such that in the midst of fuel shortages all we talk about is whether one Prophet TB Joshua prayed for the Satellites or not. Would this put faith in us? Would this remedy the malaise that has gripped the country and which has sent us into the gutters?
Well, here's my 2 cents. If the radio stations are the ones with the power to set the agenda, then as they say, if you can't fight it, you join it. If people will listen to radio, then why don't we use that. But get new radio. New radio that talks about fuel shortages rather than TB Joshua? That raises 2 question.
1. Who will set up this new kind of radio
I'm not so worried about Ghanaian sensibilities and tastes. ie. whether Ghanaians would listen if such radio existed. I know people will mention Africa tv but Africa tv's lack of success, i believe is not a problem with content but how that content is served. Storytelling is an art. There's a skill to it. There are people who can tell any story and make it engaging and get people hooked on it. If TV africa learns that, they'll be on their way.
I don't think it's telenovellas that Ghanaians like o. They like being entertained and they like anticipating what comes next. It's a shame that only telenovellas are giving them that. The moment we learn how to do this, trust me, no Ghanaian will watch Esmeralda or whatever it is they show.
Again you ask What is the Ghanaian dream? If we should hit the streets now (not only in Accra but in every village and township) and ask anybody we meet I am sure that at least 8 out of ten would tell you that their dream is to go abroad. Abroad, where all results are made; Abroad, where foods falls directly into one's mouth without hassle. Abroad, where our god lives.
And again I say...people do not go to London or America so much for what it is in reality but what it represents. As you say it is where results are made, where food falls directly into the mouth and where our god lives. So all we have to do is show people that in Ghana too results are made here. In Ghana too food can be easy to come by. In Ghana too God lives here.
Unfortunately many of the people who could be role models...who could show people that results can be made here, who could be making the results here are themselves sold on the American dream...sigh!
@Golda, i'll be there!ReplyDelete
It's great to hear from someone who returned and even started a business and then faced so many difficulties she left again. I have a question for you.
Looking back, do you think that you went back to the UK because you knew you had that option? What if after the Akosombo dam shut for a year, there was no UK to go to or that you decided, i'm not going anywhere. If it kills me to stay here and succeed, that's exactly what I'm going to do. It may sound stupid but breakthroughs have been known to happen when people are cornered and cornered and they have to do something or they don't survive. Do you think you would have gone into a different business? Taken your learnings from that business and tried again? Because the truth is, wherever you are, as long as you try things, you will fail at some. The secret of many great people is that when they fail, they try again. And in your case, i'm sure you tried again, except you decided to try again in the UK. Why? Did you give up on Ghana? Did you just feel like it was the wrong place?
And why is it that when the British and the American fail at businesses, even because the economy or their environment causes them to fail, they don't pack their bags and move to Ghana? They stay there and make it work for them. And in some cases, it works. Or?
@Anthia "All you hear is how HARRRD Ghana is and how everyone is a magician to live there"ReplyDelete
That's about to change if it's not changing already. Hopefully this blog tells you a little more about what goes on here besides how hard it is to live here. Actually it's not that hard. Of course i make a decent living so I may just be speaking for a small percentage of Ghanaians but I also live within my means. I think many Ghanaians return from Abroad and want to live in mansions even though they were living in crummy apartments in NYC or London. It's an unrealistic expectation. And when they find that their salaries don't allow them to live in mansions, they say it's too hard.
People who take buses in London come home and say they can't take tro-tro 'cos they'll get lost. For real?
@Anonymous...As a new returnee, I am still getting in to the hang of this advance rent thing. CRIMINAL, there is NO WAY of getting around it. Pisses me off that the laws are so archaic!ReplyDelete
Yeah, it's impossible. I hear there's a law prohibiting house owners from charging more than 6 mths rent but who is enforcing it? I've actually found this to be a blessing. Because I ended up paying for 2 yrs rent with just 1 mths income. You can't beat that anywhere in the world. The trick is to shop wise and then milk it to your advantage. If u end up renting the expensive apartment,then it milks u dry. Goodluck!
I agree with you about the Ghanaian dream. I think all people every where have the same dream and that dream is the same one you just outlined.
Go to the farm - Work
Make some fufu - Be able to put food on the table
Harvest your crop -See the fruit of your labor
Sell it - Be rewarded for hard work
Go to the palmwine bar or get some nice cloth for your kaba - Be able to enjoy some luxuries and pleasures just for sheege
Make some babies - Have children
Buy some clothes for them [slippers optional] - And be able to cater for them
Die [ideally not at the hands of witches]- Die in dignity
Ghanaians want this. Americans want this.The British want this. Australians want this. And it is not too much to ask.
It's too late to have a uniquely Ghanaian dream
So it's not too late to have a uniquely Ghanaian dream. It is now time to show people that they can have these things here, if they set their heart and mind to it,and work hard.
And it is definitely impossible to will up a dream because you dont like the one you have.
Thankfully the one we have...as you spelled it out above is the same as everyone elses.
It's sad to see what people go through for the Abrokyire dream but I believe for some people the hand to mouth existence in Europe or the US is better than whatever they can make for themselves in Ghana.At the very least, their posterity is secured.I see a lot of people of Ghanaian descent walking around London with chips on their shoulders to understand this. If they had been born in their mothers' villages back in GH they'd be clearing refuse for pennies but they dont know that.
Actually, I disagree. Kwame Nkrumah was born in his mothers village as was I. And it is because I was born in my mother's village, (Aboso) not inspite of it that I am the way I am. It was a village in which I could go eat tuo-zaafi for free at the tuo seller every day after school. One where we took a bus to school and sang fanti songs sometimes and other times we walked a few miles to get to school. One where we drank water from wells and streams. Where in the evening, we listened to stories under the streetlight or went to De real to watch action movies. There is nothing inherently limiting about being born/raised in any Ghanaian village.
The only problem in my estimation is that like any place, my village would have its weaknesses. And if I found for example that water was our problem, then my contribution to my community could be to alleviate that problem when i'm in a position to do so not to just leave and say...even that place had no water. Who do we expect to go put water there when you who are from that place does nothing about it? It is people who build places. So my belief is that you build your place to be as you wish it to be. You don't go looking for what someone else has already built. But it's probably too much to expect everyone to be a builder. Yet it seems that America is great at creating its own builders and attracting builders from other country. My beef is that plenty Ghana's builders are building other cities.
"And so you're right...we must be taught to believe in our local environment, our language, our culture."
It is true, our language, environment, and culture (including our music) is what makes us uniquely Ghanaian. I have discovered a "small" irony: many of the folks who subscribe to this blog seem to have good things to say about making Ghana a better place. However a random (un-scientific) perusal of profiles of members of this blog revealed that most peoples' favorite musicians are all western singers/groups. Not one person listed Kojo Antwi, Nana Kwame Ampadu, Akwasi Ampofo Agyei, Akwaboa, Abrantie Amakye Dede, A. B. Crentsil, K.K. Kabobo, Agya Koo Nimo, Paapa Yankson, Obrafour, Samini, Ofori Amponsah(some of my favorite musicians), etc. as their favorite musician. Not a single person! Someone may regard this as trivial but I think otherwise.
I guess what I'm trying to say is if we claim the change we want to see starts with us, then we must truly be about it and not fall into the unfortunate (some say elitist) practice of prescribing solutions for OTHERS when we are actually practicing something else. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy classics by Stevie Wonder, Teddy Pendergrass, Anita Baker, et al. But none of their songs beat Ampadu's "Agatha" or Kojo Antwi's "Odo yede sen sika" remix in my book.
Are there any other high-life fans out there? That's our culture, right? Perhaps this topic could be a blog topic in itself: "What high-life song speaks to you the most?" Or a variation thereof.
Just my 2 pesewas.
Esi, we returned because the option was there. Also with hubby being broni, he saw no sense in 'flogging a dead horse' when he felt he could make it back in HIS homeland. To be honest, a couple of years after returning, I wish we'd stuck it out. After years of struggle we've established a business here(no mean feat), But we haven't given up on the'Ghanaian dream' of returning to settle, more so because the business could work well in Ghana/W Africa. I must confess though that I never want to burn my bridges ie I must have a way out if only for a break/breather elsewhere. Yes, it's true returnees want to come and live in mansions and drive posh cars mainly because folks will mock you "he/she came back after years in abrogyire and look at them in that itsy bitsy place, riding tro-tros" Nevertheless, some of us were not ashamed to live modestly and ride tro-tro and taxis -at least until my car arrived.Whilst we lived there I refused to buy into the silly idea of shopping in the latest supermarket buying cornflakes and burgers at ridiculous prices. Kaneshie market became my main shopping centre. My 5 kids were brought up on tom brown, coco, waakye, nkontomire,naketekwan, and the like with the ocassional 'papaye' thrown in. Even now when I visit I'll take taxis-even brave tro-tro, if I have no access to a car. But I promise you the older you get the less attractive those modes of transportation.You just don't want to arrive at your destination feeling as though you've been dragged through a hedge backwards.ReplyDelete
I might add there are many Ghanaians here struggling at 3 jobs whilst dodging authorities bc of lack of 'paper'.They look at you as if you've asked them to grow 2 heads if you so much as suggest they might be better off in Ghana. They see no hope at all in returning. Others would like to return, but feel they will die of shame and embarassment if they arrived in Ghana with nothing but their 10 fingers. Just thought I'd throw that in the mix.
This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyDelete
Wow Esi that is a pathetic story, with a beautiful, hopeful ending on your part!ReplyDelete
I'm afraid my resentment for Sammy would be so strong, I wouldn't have been able to see past his massive indiscretion to the bigger picture.
You are strong and visionary!
More filla: Apparently 2 days ago, someone pitched a tent at Circle so people could get their photos taken and forms processed for entry into the US green card lotto. Cost? 6 cedis. Filla and photos supplied by Sir KiwiReplyDelete
We will get there when we start investing in our human capital. Pay the teachers well, make them teach the kids to use their brians instead of teaching them to pass exams.ReplyDelete
the african dream is not impossible, it is very achievable. but with the uncertainties that trail our bad governance and leadership, people become weary of hope.ReplyDelete
Ei Sammy , now don't let this be the Sammy who duped my mom a couple of years ago. Esi, will send you a last name- i really want to know whether this is the Sammy "crook of the century" that I know.ReplyDelete
Better life in aburokyie. Really? With all the subtle and blatant racisim? With people automatically thinking that they are better than you because you're black? Or that your opinion doesn't really count.
I once took a Chinese class and we had to go in turns saying a number in Chinese- when it got to my turn I said the number with ease and really quickly, and then the class goes: wow! oh you did that really fast! My point? When the other people had their turn nobody made any comment of that sort. It was obvious that as a "black person" I "should" have taken longer in replying.
Simply put I'd rather be home where I do not have to deal ith all that- I don't know how soon that will be but it has to be pretty soon. I seriously need to check out the IT industry in Ghana
Esi, you articualte the problem so well and you're right.ReplyDelete
We do not have a Ghanaian dream worth aspiring to because we have not created one. How can we when we grow up on foreign books, The Bold and the Beautiful and FREAKING CARTOON NETWORK! It's okay to have these 'foreign contents' but it cannot be all we consume.
How is it right that in today's age of plenty technology we do not have the resources to feed 'Ghana' to the minds of our young ones? We do not have many exciting and good quality ghanaian books for young people. There are not many, if any, ghanaian cartoons. How about a Ghanaian children's movie? Movies made specifically for young people, movies that will swell their young hearts with pride for Ghana? Media content that will show us the truth of our plight and move us to work for the betterment of Ghana? Why are we not actively building a national identity, especially in our youth? Can the pride and excitement of Ghanaian soccer be transferred to energy and eagerness to work for Ghana?
The problem is that nobody tells us to love Ghana. The question is why?
And all of this is one of the reasons I love your blog and think you should never stop it. In fact, you need a little corner in the MIRROR newspaper so that all of Ghana can be as inspired as us who read your blog.
The lack of confidence in our own abilities just underscores our status- under developed.ReplyDelete
Greed has a lot to do with this problem. From our leaders to people with a voice in the country are all looking for what they can get from the ordinary man/woman who doesnt know any better. I am friends with Dentaa Afriyie on facebook and she is promoting a summer work visa to the U.S for our brothers and sisters through her office in Ghana. Yes, I mentioned the name and this needs to happen more often. We need to call people out.ReplyDelete
Excellent topic as always Esi...ReplyDelete
My mind is racing with soo many opinions and comments to what you have written and all the great contributions that everyone else has made. Like Ms Ahenkorah's post above, why does noone tell us how great Ghana is and how lucky we are to come from such a land. In the West, you are constantly bombarded with such images and messages.
Concerning Kekeli's comments, I tell you the next time someone tells me 'I speak such good English', I would not be responsible for the words that my tongue unleashes.
My opinion is that we need our middle class youth. And I mean myself and the rest of you guys up here making such insightful conversation. We are hungry for progress and are at the stage in our lives where we can effect change. All our talk is going to amount to not a thing until we are willing to do what is needed. Back bag and baggage and leave whatever passively demoralizing lives we live in the West, go back home and let action be the winner.
I shall end in defense of this Dentaa Afriyie that Nana speaks of: noone could have convinced me of the trials I would face in Europe and the US. I had to come here chasing my dreams to discover I may have wandered further away from them. Let Ghanaians travel, it's another good way to have your mind disabused of all the misconceptions you it accumulates about life overseas.
Ablotsii and Esi's rent palavaReplyDelete
Sad story, but am glad u ended it well. Strong lady, I can only imagine what you went through-( I've never been there).
When i tell people am coming back next year, they look at me like crazy.
But looking at the life Ghanaians are living here, i wonder why they want to stay. For a lot of them, they have been relegated to the back waters of the social ladder, security men and cooks. The few who manage to get a good education don't make it far either. I will not call it a glass ceiling.. it is a hard rock ceiling. Very few blacks have made it to the top of the corporate ladder here. On the FTSE 100 there is only 1 CEO who is black- an Ivorian.
I tell people back home who care to listen that , come abroad if you can for your education or to visit, but this is not a place to put your future.
Esi, is this the video you are talking about? Unintentional comedy paa!!!ReplyDelete
haha. yes, Anonymous. You found the vid! Cracks me up everytime:)ReplyDelete
I've spent an enjoyable morning visiting your blog. The problem with Ghana, from the perspective of someone who made the same journey back, even though I stayed in the States almost four times as long, is that it is a boringly smalll, impoverished country, with a tiny conservative elite that is fairly disconnected from what is going on out there in the country. Other than that,it's great.ReplyDelete
@Esi: strong woman!ReplyDelete
FWIW it must be admitted that in most cases the standard of living in aburokyire for even those without 'paper' is undoubtedly higher than they'd have in Ghana. That is why they make the short-term rational calculation to keep dodging until they get lucky. Then after they get some stability they spend the rest of their lives outside Ghana missing Ghana. The tragedy of it all.
Until the elite stop preferring holidays in London to actually showing some cultural leadership that will raise the general standard and quality of living, nothing will change.
Esi asks "What would the good life lived fully in Ghana look like?" I've never seen this good life lived fully 'in Ghana'. Because invariably a well-to-do person (deemed successful, popular/rich, whose lifestyle is aspired to by most people) in Ghana has cultural tastes and preferences that will be alien to the members of the 'least' in society. In an alternate universe you'd think a well-to-do Ghanaian's preferences will be just be a highly refined version of the least well-to-do. So that instead of borrowing GHS200 to perform a customary marriage as the least well-to-do Ghanaian may, the most well-to-do would lavish GHS10000 on a *customary* marriage. But no, they'd still spend GHS200 on a customary marriage and GHS9800 on a white wedding. If that does not demonstrate selling the wrong dreams (a.k.a. cultural bankruptcy) to those who aspire to be like them, I'm not sure what else does.
@Kofi I'm with you there on the *general* total cluelessness of the elite about the actual reality--insecurities, hopes, joys of the majority of the people--of Ghana.
I both laughed and sighed and cussed as i read your post. How sad and funny (a strange combination - i know). Rent two years in advance? I'm moving back home and soon! Lol! Lol on the circus looking tents posing as photo shops. How desperate.ReplyDelete
Sorry. I didn't mean to be "anonymous."ReplyDelete
I both laughed and sighed and cussed as i read your post. How sad and funny (a strange combination - i know). Rent two years in advance? I'm moving back home and soon! Lol! Lol on the circus looking tents posing as photo shops. How desperate.
I came home for several weeks of vacation and I visited the newly built "ACCRA MALL" to see what it was all about.I am in my mid twenties but was shocked to see how some girls/guys my age were dressed.Skimpy tight shorts that barely covered skin on their backsides.Young men my age dressed like Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, LLoyd and the rest and were trying hard to talk just like them. I do not dress like that and never will. We copy blindly. Our culture is of no value to us anymore and all that is "cool or hip" is what we've seen on TV as the American Dream.One thing many of my age mates parading through the Accra Mall dressed like Lil Wayne/Eve/Ashanti etc didn't know is that in Atlanta and other cities you attract more police scrutiny by dressing like that.ESI, well done on this article...good to know your rent crisis didn't flare up to a very physical violent stage.ReplyDelete
Oh by the way, I continue to live in the house. It's been almost a year now. Sammy is still nowhere to be found, and the matter is still in court. Sigh!ReplyDelete
Tell you the truth many people in the Uk and fed up with a small minority of people coming to the UK as social workers. There is hardly any that can behave and abide by the rules. It this pot of gold they chase and we all suffer because of it. Truth can't find one that can even spell the word.ReplyDelete