At the same time the boys looked at Mr. Karl with a very critical eye. They asked among themselves how on earth would it be possible that such a tall White Man would stand right in the middle of their home surrounded by broken down houses, stinch hanging over the place dirty ways, electricity not in each house, water not always running and if have to be taken from a gigantic round plastic container that got filled up by trucks bringing them water every now and then; and when, children would be sent to the container to fetch the water and carry heavy load on their little and weak heads back to their apartments, most times even early in the morning before going to school. And now, this White Man is here with them as if he was one of them. He had no problems to laugh with them, was not arrogant, not snobbish, a humble simple man that had eyes to see, ears to hear, a brain to understand and collect many different information to form a vision inside his head; and he had a mouth to speak friendly with them, full of respect and speak his mind on top of it. So, how come that this man that surely must have lots of money would mingle with them would stand as if nothing was strange or peculiar about the situation, right before them. One idea came to their mind. Even as much as Mr. Karl looked to be a well-educated, well-mannered person with a great understanding of life`s matters, the fact that he was standing among them must have been an indication that he was a mad man. They looked at each other when this thought came up in their minds and wanted to test him, wanted to find out whether such a man could really be of sound mind or must be fooled with.
"I do not come from Kumasi, Mr. Karl," was he paying again attention to his Princess that smiled at him and had very well realized the intention of the boys around them growing in numbers. "My mother is an Ewe from Volta Region. But I was born here in Accra. And you know," did Princess add to her explanation, “that Volta Region and the whole of Togo once was a German colony?"
"Really? I did not know!" was Mr. Karl surprised and happy to hear at the same time. "So, this makes us not only friends by chance or destiny, this makes us in fact brother and sister by history...somehow!"
"Mr. Karl...I do not only love and admire your sense of humour....but," she turned around for a second being a bit shy of what she wanted to tell him before turning back, "but your brain is so sharp...so, so sharp. You understand things to well in such a short time."
"For real," laughed Princess and wanted Mr. Karl to move on as many more people needed to be visited and talked to, “your instincts...I am already so much in love with them." She turned around and asked Mr. Karl to follow her.
"So, Twi," did Princess explain further to finish the subject for the day, "is the most common spoken language in Ghana. But, as you rightly said, it is not the official language of Ghana...as that is still English. But it would be good if you speak Twi as more people will eventually understand you!"
"Outside of Ghana...what can I do with Twi. Speaking Russian, or Chinese, or English, Spanish or French...all these languages I can well use to do business with and meat a lot of rich and influential people with good understanding of world matters. And many people speak one of these languages. But with Twi...how many people that can benefit my life or the world speak Twi?"
Princess stopped and looked Mr. Karl into the eyes. She was not expecting such a question as for her this is all she knew to be in a country in which Twi is spoken by most people to learn and speak that language and be on the same level like them. She was thinking and thinking, looked helplessly down to the ground, up and around. "On that note, I guess you have a point. I never saw it from that perspective. When we here in Ghana speak English or more and more people also French it helps us to make business, to travel and understand the world of the White Man so that we can copy what he is doing and learn hopefully for our own society from that what we see and hear and read. But when we rely on our own Twi which is our cultural background and identity too much, it does not really help us."
"You mean, my little Princess...you are in that case spinning the wheel of misfortune?" Mr. Karl was most impressed by the understanding of the world that was in his young friend. He was amazed asking his brain again and again to explain how on earth it would be possible that such a young girl was capable to understand the truth of the world we are faced with.
"I would not call it spinning the wheel of misfortune," was Princess arguing with Mr. Karl and making her point. "But I have to confess something that makes me always wonder!"
"I mean when I look around our country and see that our judges not only have based the law of the nation on the British system but they wear this funny fake white hair that our former colonial masters still use in their courts. I mean, come on, Mr. Karl...how can any country like us do that and copy something that is not necessary but in fact of the past. I mean this fake hair looks stupid...really funny to me. What has that fake hair to do with delivering justice to the people and give the judges the much deserved and needed respect and authority in our days? Come on, that is madness and a clear sign that we as a people have not understood really who we are and what we are supposed to develop in our own system."
"I cannot believe, my little Princess, what you are saying. This is so much wisdom that you are talking. When I look around and see this place, and as I have met your parents and I do not know the school you go to...but have already so many big ideas and great understanding ... than I am really more than astonished about the cleverness and wisdom that is in you."
"Age does not mean," challenged Princess her German friend with a great smile on her face while she was twisting her body from side to side before him, "someone cannot understand what this country is all about...right?"
"It is unusual...as many of your age mates play with toys or in your case...sorry to say...look after boys and have a jolly good time with them."
"I am not of such girls, Mr. Karl...I want to achieve something in my life and not just waste my time here," was Princess pushing Mr. Karl to her favorite bofruz seller making him understand he should buy some for her from the money friends had send to him via Western Union as an emergency fund to make him pay for his immediate expenses. As Mr. Karl was well understanding her intentions he smiled at her and bought three bofruz, one for himself, two for Princess. She was happy and smiled at him. "And also, Mr. Karl...as my father once was a soldier in the army many years ago, we still have army uniforms not of our own Ghanaian design but copy the British. And also, the way our soldiers march is by British standards. Can you imagine that we have not much of our own will and fantasy to design our own uniforms and marches but simply copy them one to one after so many...I mean, so, so many years of independence. Can you really imagine that?"
"I cannot and find it really very strange," answered Mr. Karl while enjoying his bofruz. "I am of the view a country should send out ambassadors to foreign land, see what people do there, learn from them, see what is good and should be copied and improved on and brought back home while at the same time the mistakes made in that country which these Envoys can see with their eyes and brains but be avoided. I mean, come on, that is simply thinking."
Princess was eating her last piece of her bofruz before commenting on Mr. Karl`s remarks: "Oh, Mr. Karl...you must still learn so much about our country. Here there is nothing called easy. We are our worst enemies and make our life ourselves so, so difficult. But take your time and you will see for yourself what I am talking about!"
"Do you think Ghana deserves better?"
"Not as long as we Ghanaians...and I mean all of us...do not change our minds!" answered Princess with a clear and confident voice. She took Mr. Karl by his right hand and lead him into the courtyard behind the bofruz seller`s house out of which she is selling her bofruz along King Crackers and other biscuits, sugar bread and butter bread if available. In a small blue and white cooling box resting on a small separate table in which mineral water in sachets and plastic bottles besides soft drinks were stored to be kept chilled for the thirsty customers.
Both entered the courtyard in which the old mother of the bofruz seller greeted them in Twi unable to communicate with Mr. Karl in English. She looked at the White Man with great admiration and at the same time with unease not knowing how to treat him as making mistakes was what she had wanted too much to avoid. Therefore, it came to her mind smiling at a foreigner always would be the best strategy to please him and a possible mistake to make any foreigner would have mercy on her to understand her good intentions. Before her a metal washbowl was placed full of water, washing powder and dirty cloths. She was bending over to rub the cloths against each other to clean them. While she cleaned one textile piece after the other, she smiled and oversaw the children that played around the courtyard, got into the doors around and run out again having a good time. They did not mind Mr. Karl not knowing what to do with a White Man that tall. They rather preferred to play and stay in their own world. From house to house dry lines were fixed and because of the heat of the day the washing would be dry in no time.
The courtyard was of square shape, at each side three doors leading into apartments with one or two bedrooms that families of different sized had rented. The blocks of simple apartments were built by a cocoa farmer from the Eastern Region, someone that was fortunate enough to have made few years good profits from his products and decided to invest his profit not by paying the Ghanaian Tax Man, the GRA, but to divert it into rented housing complexes in Accra and Tema. Like all landlords of the country was he asking for rent advance for two years. In Ghana some landlords would even ask for rent advance for more years, up to five years even with no shame even in the light that the law did not allow rent advance of more than six months.
"You see, Sir," said Madam Monica Tetteh that had welcomed and invited Princess and Mr. Karl into her humble two bedroom apartment in the right left corner of the courtyard, "here in Ghana we have many beautiful laws, but the problem is, no one cares. None of the authorities do care, but if than only when it is in their own personal interest. You see the rent protection that we have in our country is not working at all. My sister that lives in Boston in the USA, she tells me always there they pay monthly, that would be for us here no problem rather a great help. You see, when our children leave school and find their first job, none of them has the money to pay rent advance for many years. The small money they can make in pity jobs is only enough to make most of our children survive from month to month. And here in our society you must know we depend on each other. I mean by that, our children after all are all we have. They are our support system in good and mostly in bad times. When we parents are sick, who takes care of us, Sir? The government has no mercy for us, has no idea how much we are suffering down here. They enjoy our money up there, chop and chop our national assets, make big stories. Just before election the representatives of all parties show up here at our door steps, make big stories, use fine words of wisdom, even give us rice, sugar, clothing’s, some big men even give out cars to big man in our community that should convince us to vote for their party so that when they are in power they can chop our natural resources. I mean, we people are not that dump and stupid, we know all these bastards that lie into our faces every four years...we know them, they are part of us, they are from here. When they sit in Parliament House and shout and cry into their microphones, we hear their voices, but we never trust them. At least I do not trust anyone of them. They are all the same. When they have our votes and get our money regularly as Members of Parliament....guess what...they simply do not care about us anymore. They stay where they felt most comfortable. And Sir, do not think when you see them on Television that they hate each other so much. What they say is just mouth talk, cheap, cheap words. When the media is gone, they drink beer and snaps together and enjoy together the money we people earn down here. They think politics is a game...and nothing else. They do not know that we must have all so many children that cost us a lot of money and that we have to invest the little money that we have to send them to private schools as Government schools are no good so that by time our children can find a better job or even migrate to outside so that they can support us in our old age. You have a good system in your countries, you White People, that protects you in solidarity while we have only solidarity in our own immediate families, our children are our social system, I am telling you. In this country, among Blacks, forget about it, there is no solidarity, everyone for himself. We are very selfish, Sir...I am telling you the hard truth!"
"I cannot close my mouth when I hear all these stories of which in my society not many know of," declared Mr. Karl his disbelief. "If more knew about it, I guess they would fight our win government about support this country with precious taxpayers’ money that we work hard for."
Monica Tetteh was about to get started to bring out her anger: "Sir...sorry, Mr. Karl...you see, most of us here in Ghana have no or only a poor and limited education. Over half of our population cannot read and write, especially in the villages...that is true. But this does not mean that we have no brain and cannot think!"
"No brain and cannot think...," laughed Mr. Karl seeing from his right eye how intense Princess was watching him. Monica Tetteh stepped out of the living room to bring more chilled drinks from the standby the roadside and rushed back to serve her German guest.
She opened the bottle of soft drink for Mr. Karl and continued to complain and lambast about the situation in her motherland Ghana: "You see...we, the people, are not as stupid as the politicians of all parties want us to be. We can think as we have good brains for that. Look, Sir, Ghana is blessed by the Almighty too, simply too much. Look around you, we have the most beautiful country you can imagine, beaches, water, fresh air, mountains you can fly down from, great history, great culture, so many tribes that have their own way of life to attract tourists from our cities and from your places. And we have gold, so much gold. We have timber, endless timber, Sir. We have oil now also and we have something which will stay with us forever even when all other minerals are gone...that is the best cocoa in the entire world. As in the cocoa industry and ever exert will testify, our cocoa is the best in the world. Now this God given gift...what are we doing with it really? Every year, for the past sixty or so years we run to your countries and beg for money so that our Cocoboard can buy from our farmers and sell to you people. This cocoa is a living treasure and not supposed to be traded for small money. Why Sir, let me ask you, have we not managed to set money aside so that over time we were able to pay farmers ourselves instead of paying your loans and the interest that comes with it. We even give out our cocoa as collateral so we can get more loan from you. Of course, this is in the best interest of the people above in higher places as only by that strategy they can chop from the money. I mean, if I would be a serious politician in this country, like the idea of our first President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was, I would not allow the export of any raw cocoa bean at all but force the international buyers to produce not only big blocks of chocolate to be further manufactured in your countries into end products, but I would force them to produce right here in Ghana end products only. And if there is no buyer for that the solution is very simple, then we must produce such end products ourselves. The White Man once had invented the machines to produce chocolate and on the internet you can get the plans how to build such machines or send people to work in such factories in your country and steel by seeing their invention, how these machines work and after that build our own factories to produce the best chocolate in the world. Instead we have CPC Limited in Tema producing chocolate since nineteen sixty-five and the quality is simply too bad. Even here in Ghana to eat this chocolate does not make us happy. The quality is poor, the flavours boring, for years always the same things. This is because the factory is in the hands of the Government and therefore politicians. The Management is not comprised of Entrepreneurs, of people that have a vision for this market. The Management takes its paycheck each month with a good pension at the end...that is all their interest...and in-between a bit of entertainment like a trade fair or so. And this mess is with all the natural resources we have. Can you imagine from Jubilee Field we as a nation only get ten percent of the profit and that on board of the drilling vessel is no device that tells you exactly how much they have lifted? I mean even I have a meter out there for water and electricity and they always tell me how much I have consumed and have to pay for."
"You are bringing on so many aspects of our country, Aunty," interfered Princess knowing her good friend that once started to talk about Ghana politics would never stop, "but I think we have to give Mr. Karl more space to see, learn, hear and understand...and not all at once. So, I beg of you, Aunty, let us now ask you for our leave and I do promise you I will bring Mr. Karl back very, very soon or he himself will find his way to come to you and then you can share more grievances that you have about our homeland Ghana. So, please let us have our leave now, I beg." Princess got up and signaled Mr. Karl he should kindly follow her to the door through which the heat was hitting them very hard.
"I do understand...and I apologies for my anger, Mr. Karl...but when I think of all the nonsense here that we are confronted with...it simply takes me over," begged Monica Tetteh her German friend and smiled all over her face standing close to ready dry jeans of her son and t-shirts of her husband that she took from the dry line while waving both her visitors good-bye.