Millennium City

This piece is inspired by three very different incidents that happened to me whilst I was in Accra on various trips.

Firstly was when I took a trotro from circle to lapaz.  The driver was going to charge a fare, and impressed on the mate to charge a fare that was about 15% more than the original fare. His reason was that he was taking a direct route via the N1 to his destination and since that was longer he was gonna charge the passengers for the longer route.

But let’s analyze this. To go via the traditional route meant that he would lose as a commercial driver. This is because there was heavy traffic on that route and a whole lot of stoppages. This would invariably affect his fuel consumption and reduce the number of times he could come back for more passengers.

Inasmuch as the other route was longer it was quicker and more efficient and he could count on getting back for more passengers in the shortest possible time.

So why should the passenger pay for something like that when he wasn’t really in a hurry as much as the driver was.

When I pointed this out to the mate he got offended and abusive. Amidst the insults he said that he hadn’t migrated to Accra to look at the sea but also to learn how to be “tough and hardened”. This I found funny to which I retorted ‘how about those of us who were born in Accra’ (since apparently Accra toughens emigrants) much to his chagrin and the laughter of the other passengers.

And Yes I didn’t pay the extra fare.

The next incident is when I came to Accra to attend a daughter’s engagement and wedding. During the engagement I happened to be with the groom who had to lurk around the venue until he was summoned in and presented to his bride’s family.

We were bored sitting in the car so we decided to find a different place to sit to change the venue add atmosphere so three of us walked into the nearest cosy place we could find and it happened to be a barber’s shop. The doors were open so we just walked in. Nobody was in the shop so we sat down in the chairs and got to becoming comfy.

Apparently the barber (owner of the shop) was lurking around and seeing us enter the shop thought we were clients so he came over and I explained to him the situation and why we found ourselves in his shop. This guy looks me dead in the face and tells me for sitting in his shop it will cost us an amount of money equivalent to 5 people having a haircut fees. 

I keep my cool and I ask him how much it even costs for a haircut for all three of us in his shop at the moment although it was obvious we were already well groomed for an event. He shamelessly names a prize after which I tell him my piece of mind and we walk out of his electricity_less and music_less shop and go back to the boring comfort of the air-conditioned four wheel drive and music of our choice.

The final incident happened when I sat in a taxi and dropped my new android phone with its rubber still on it.  I had collected a new phone to be delivered to its owner up north but with her permission I’ve been told to test the phone to make sure it was working so that it will be in a ready to use condition when it was delivered. The very first day I put the phone on trial is the day I lost it in bizarre circumstances.

I had 4 different phones in my pocket and I hadn’t slept in two days because I had to meet deadlines at work. I was tired when I took the cab and the phone kept slipping out of my pocket so I pushed it back into the depths of my pockets, put my legs up on the seat and went to nap till my destination. I had just been talking on the phone before I dozed off and was expecting a call back in the estimated time it will take to get to my destination.

So when the driver woke me up that we had arrived a few short minutes later I was amazed. He’d apparently taken a short cut and I was happy to get the business I had to do over and done with so I go home to sleep.

So I paid him and got off to check my change. It was whilst I had finished checking my change that I decided to call the party I ya meeting when I reached for the phone that I realized it had fallen into the cab, most likely. Cab driver was barely fifty meters away in the traffic when I realized so I took my other phone to call the phone so he could pick up and I tell him I was behind him to pick up my phone. That’s when it happened.

It was like I was watching a movie. In hindsight I have laughed several times when describing the incident to friends. The phone was ringing (I remember I hadn’t had time to change the loud default annoying ringtone) and I know he’d heard it and seen it. Just then the line went dead and the taxi cab just swerved out of the traffic into the sidewalk and with a blaring of horns sped off.

Mind you it was still in traffic and if I wasn’t so tired I would’ve caught up with him but I was too tired to bother. I actually felt sad for the taxi driver to have sold his integrity for a phone but maybe it’s just me. 

These three incidents characterize what the capital city has become.  Immigrants to the city think that it is a place not to play and be tough to survive. To become tough, one has to shed all sense of humanity and not think of the other person’s convenience or the lack of it.

The taxi driver had heard me talk on the phone with the person I was going to meet and he didn’t mind that by running away with my phone Hollywood style I will not be able to contact whoever I was meeting.

As for the barber, he saw a quick fix to a slow day with no electricity to make a quick buck off these hapless fellows who walked into his shop seeking respite. Lucky us, we had a choice but we were only tired of it.

This is your so called Millennium City riddled with filth and corruption. A city where when the millennium plaque is unveiled, right after the ceremony, a lunatic spreads himself on the tiled plaque right in the middle of the city and takes a nap. 

How iconic!

How else would fraud and robbery not be the height of exploitation in the city when people are trying to live beyond their means to show off. And in the current economic downturn it has become obvious that the biggest crooks and manipulative folks are the cloak and dagger types in expensive suits sitting in air conditioned offices or with pens in their breast pockets.

What happened to our African sense of communalism where we cared for each other. These days even greeting to an elderly person is becoming as extinct as the dinosaurs. How much more inter personal relationships. Relationships are now based on what each party is gonna get from that relationship and pitifully this has even extended to marriages.

With the family being the basic unit in society how do you expect the society to make progress in development. 

This is not about government. Yes we’re having trouble in that department but let’s take care of the smaller issues too. These deal with personal mental revolution and changing our attitudes to some things. Then and only then will we be united in getting our nation to move forward in unity and solidarity.

Like I always say it begins with YOU!

Ghana Must Work!


2 Responses to “Millennium City”

  1. I just nominated you for the Liebster Award.
    You are doing good and deserve to be recognised.

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