He looked around. As his eyes got used to the darkness of the place, he saw sleeping bodies on the pavement of Tema Station covered in light sheets to as prevention from mosquitos attacking them. Mr Karl walked over to a corner in which he saw a young woman with her baby boy sleeping for the night. He approached her silently, but she heard his footsteps, opened her eyes to see for the person coming closer to hear. Her heart was beating she was afraid arm robbers would come to her to steal the little money she had hidden under her body. It was not common that anyone would come to them at nights in their sleep. At Tema Station, the young girls and mothers mostly felt secure from any attacks. They were all Kakayos or in Kumasi called Paopas mostly from the North of Ghana, from villages where jobs were scares and hunger the order of life. They believed when heading down south jobs to make end meet would wait for them. They often had no connection to Accra or Kumasi, only had heard from others that they could find a job there and have a better life than back home. Home was the place of the family and emotional security but as long as the family was not able to assist them the only option for these Kakayos were to leave home and walk down all the way into unknown and unchartered territory. Some of them left their families being pregnant; some of them got pregnant while sleeping rough on the streets of Accra or Kumasi falling for the promises of young and older man to be helped and get shelter, mostly failed promises of a hot night.
"I did not mean to disturb you...I am sorry," excused Mr Karl himself while seeing into the fearful eyes of that young Kayayo with her baby boy by her side that she had covered completely under the sheet. He had put her skirt, the second one she had, the only two she had for many years now, under her son´s head for him to have a bit of comfort during the night. Mr Karl could see how minute by minute the fear in the eyes of the young mother disappeared as the mother saw in the White Man coming closer no threat to her life. She got up and sat straight while Mr Karl got down to sit next to her. "I hope it is okay that I can talk to you!"
Lucy agreed to have a talk with him and said: "You are somehow lucky to have chosen me as my friends here around do not speak English. They never went to school and in their homes, they only speak their tribal language."
"Then I am really lucky," was Mr Karl incredibly happy to have met Lucy.
"But what is that with the tribal language? Can you teach me?"
"We have many tribes in Ghana, Sir...," started Lucy to explain and looked straight into the eyes of the German man sitting beside her. While talking both kept a clear eye on anything around them and listen to unusual sounds that popped up every now and then. A Zoomlion Waste car was passing through the night along Atta Mills Avenue just close to Tema Station and the sound of the heavy truck was clearly to hear in that quiet night as most cars were parked before their owners' houses. Lucy was skinny, dark in complexion, her face round, her lips big as a woman`s lips can be, a typical reflection of being an African woman, her nose flat and wide stretching into her face. She was not a beauty by her looks but visibly by her personality.
"For you simply Karl," smiled Mr Karl at her. "We are friend now!"
Lucy smiled back and was more and more comfortable talking her heart out to a man seriously interested in her fate and not in her body saying: "Yes, I am also not so well educated...Karl...but I am not stupid at all. I mean people in this country especially the once at the top, take us for granted and try to play with our mind. They think we are dump...but let me tell you we are not dump...we know the dirty games they are playing with us, believe me...Karl. By the way, I love your colour so much and... forgive me to say that...your nose is so, so long... that looks funny to me!"
"And your nose...the big one, so flat...makes me laugh so much too," responded Mr Karl while both had a good laugh.
"God has all of us created in His own image!"
"Then I ask myself which nose does God have...pointed like me or flat like yours?"
"Karl...you are really funny," was Lucy not able to laugh while making sure her laughing would not wake up her baby boy or anyone else around them. "You White People are not like our own people. I mean no one would ever come here and sit down with us and talk to us. Our own people see us as dirty people that are worthless and needs to be looked down upon. I could never imagine in my wildest dreams that someone of your status would humble himself down here and talk to me like normal, from human to human...I mean no one of our own people would ever do that...never. Most of them especially when life was good to them forget where they once came from and get very arrogant. They buy mansions, cars, and drive through the streets as if they are the kings of the land. You are the first White Man that I have ever met in my life but right now, right here I have the feeling that we have known each other for exceptionally long already. there is nothing strange about you...easy feeling and easy talking. I like you a lot...Karl...I really do. You White People seem to be less complicated than our own people...and humble people!"
"I accept it as a compliment on behalf of my fellow White People...if I may," smiled Mr Karl and felt good sitting at her side talking the night away.
"Permission granted," busted Lucy loud out in laughter seeing that some of the other Kakayos, a mother with a baby girl carrying forty-five kilos of used clothing bags each day on her head while she ties her baby behind her back. "I guess we have to be a bit quieter!"
"I guess so," smiled Mr Karl and could have a glance at Joshua that slept peacefully under the light sheet she had bought from Kantamanto Market vendors for exceedingly small money. The boy touched his heart like his own boy one day would touch him. He wished to hold him in his arms and give him comfort but he knew so well to safe the whole wide world was impossible to do. In such moments he had to cool himself down by giving his present and comfort to people keeping their story in his heart forever and always so when the time would come they would eventually see a better life, at least most of them. "He is sleeping so peacefully. I wish one day he would no longer have to sleep on the streets but be a great inventor and better the lives of many."
"I pray to God...Amen," took Lucy Karl`s hand kissed it and was surprised. She touched his hand repeatedly. She looked at him, looked him straight into his eyes and said: "Your skin...is so soft...amazing!"
Mr Karl was puzzled by her words: "You think so?"
"Yes, I have never touched the skin of a White Man before...but your skin is so soft while our skin is harder...just feel my hand!" asked Lucy waiting for his response.
"For me...I do not feel that your skin is harder than mine...and I do not care about your big nose, skin, curly hair, white shining teeth, your structure, your skinny body, your baby boy on the pavement all asleep...I want to know your story for me to know and understand what is going wrong in this country and what needs to be done as your own people seem to fail you all the way on all levels."
"You are a good person Karl...so I will tell you my story," started Lucy to explain herself with tears in her eyes. "You know in the North of our country tribalism is rampant. Villages fight each other overpower and land issues even kill others from other villages. Ghana Armed Forces are stationed there to keep the peace but still, people die by the hands of our own people just over land disputes. My grandfather had told me when I was very small sitting outside his mud hat near the village tree where our ancestors gather each and every night to discuss our fortune or misfortune that during Colonial Masters time these conflicts did not occur often but when our own people took overpower the anger among us came out and saw the light of the day. You should one day come to our places up there and see the tension in the hearts of our people against our own people...you will not believe that this is possible in a time like this. I mean you people fly to Moon and Mars and we still fight ourselves over land issues that could have been resolved years ago for good one or the other way. I mean we also have still six witch camps with hundreds of alleged women in the camps to perform witch craft...can you imagine that in our times as an independent country that is supposedly able to manage its own affairs?"
"You speak like a wise old woman!" smiled Mr Karl and looked around. No one to be seen, no car to be heard, all birds were asleep.
"As I told you before that we are not educated does not mean we do not know and are dump...that is what our own people want us to be and what they believe is that we are so...I mean stupid and do not know anything that is going on in this country. One day they will be woken up by force and get a great surprise... then they will realize what they have thought about us all the way is not true...we are humans and as humans, we can think...and can think just like any other person on earth. Formal education is one side of a coin...but using our brains and common sense is the flip side of the same coin...Karl. But our own people are too arrogant to respect us and understand humanity at its best. This is a big problem in our country...as I said a country supposedly able to manage its own affairs. When you look around the country and consider the time that has passed already, generations with no end, how can someone think he can be taken seriously to have managed the country and its own affairs? Look right before you and what do you see...stinking gutters and a run-down place where people are forced to sleep with their babies. Is this a country you can call professionally managed and managing its own affairs? I cannot call it that way as I need to see evidence for words spoken so, so sweetly into my ears...and this evidence I simply cannot see anywhere in this country."
Karl reminded her of his request: "You talk like a strong and powerful politician...but I want to hear your own personal story, Lucy."
"Yes, please...your own story!"
Lucy took a deep, deep breath and said in a quiet tone with confidence and sadness at the same time: "My father was a teacher at our local school for Maths and English. he died just two years ago just before I came to Accra. My mother is the daughter of a farmer with small land behind our house. Our house stands in the middle of a small village with not more than about two hundred people...so an exceedingly small place with no running water and no electricity. The nearest tarred road is about forty-five minutes walking away from the village or using a motorbike around fifteen minutes into the bush by a bad dusty road. During the rainy season to reach our village by bike or car is nearly impossible. My village is cut off from any civilization. We have only a small kiosk in our village where we can buy our daily bread and sachet water. We do not have any factory or workplace in our village. Our people go out to farming their own lands or must travel far for working in a factory or restaurant. We have no school...and even for that one we children must walk for long even having to cross a river with a boat or by feet. My parents have six children, one of whom died already, a baby boy at the age of around eight years old. We live in our own mud hat, one room for my parents, one living room for all of us to sleep on the muddy floor around the chairs and table, no wardrobe, no TV of course. One room is the small kitchen with firewood on the ground where my mother always does the cooking in the darkness and smoke of the charcoal that we must buy and pay much money for. The door to our small house is a normal curtain, not even a proper door. Washing we do outside in a metal sink that is a big bowl and our toilet is behind a banana tree a whole in the ground with a small structure made of wood above it to give us shelter from the looks of others. Our property has no fence around and behind the mud hut that we have is the small farm my mother us using for maize and cassava. One of my aunties living further down the road at the tared road was feeling lonely in her house so she asked of my oldest sister to be given to her and help her in her house as a maid and companion. She did that even she was not happy about the decision made for her. The time came my father started to drink snaps and more snaps. The school warned him and finally, he got fired from the school. So, he lost a job and as he was more drunken no one else gave him a chance to work. The whole day was he sleeping and drinking. He was a quiet man, so he never did any harm to us our or mother. My mother is a strong woman, an extraordinarily strong woman. She is a great Christian. Going to church and having a great supportive Pastors always gives her strength. As there was no money in the house and the maize and casava from our own small land was not enough she went out to work for others on their farm and come home with little money. Farmers around knew about her situation and her faithful and great character, so they decided to let her work as much as possible to take care of her family, her children, and the drunken husband. When she came home with some money to buy food my father often took money from her for his snaps and came home drunken while she went to bed hungry even sometimes not having butter bread and Lipton for breakfast. She never shouted on him but made sure to hide money from him which sometimes, after all, he found eventually. As a Christian, she would never abandon him. Normally someone in her position would kick such a useless husband that even takes the small money away for snaps instead of feeding his own children out of the house...but my mother never did that. She took the situation in faith to her God and prayed always for his strength. Till today I still do not understand how it was possible for her to take us to school. We needed a book and uniforms and all that we needed to pay for. I mean in your society schooling is for free, not so here in Ghana. Even people say it is for free but at the end of the day it is not free and the way of learning...I mean the schools are in poor conditions, mostly no tables but we need to sit on the cold floor and listen to the teachers that have no material for us. So, therefore many people send their kids to private schools as public schools are not helping us to make it in life and to abroad. Their parents sacrifice a lot of their monthly income to send their kids to school. But coming back to my story and not talking like a Politician...I have to say...my father was more and more of a burden to my mother and us as a family with all the snaps he was drinking. So, I decided as I grew older to go out after school and help some cocoa farmers on their farms and make some money. Even they treated us unfairly, sometimes arguing about the money we were entitled to get so that in the end sometimes we even did not get any money at all. You see, how we are treated in this country by our own people? They are not fair to us but everyone tries to cheat on the other one...sorry, no talk as a Politician...I get it...so let me continue and say that my mother is such a strong woman I want to copy always. She, as I said, could have easily kicked him out but kept him in the house, never spoke and bad word into his face, never disgraced him in front of others or talked bad about his character to anyone outside her own heart and spirit. She is always lifted by the spirit of God that strengthened her in all her misfortune. Sometimes I heard her, I do not think that she knows about it, crying in the night while my father drunken as he has slept beside her in the same bed. She cried her heart out and when it was too much for her, I would see her leaving the hut to pray outside to God. to be that loyal to her husband and a woman...all I can say I admire her so, so much and wish to always follow her in her footsteps. So, over time schooling became a problem for us. And there was a teacher in school, my English teacher married with three kids. One day he called me to come and sit by his side. He talked to me about my school results. He promised me to help me to get better and the best in the class. Also, he said he would help me with my schooling problems so that I could still come and attend school with no problem. His words were sugar in my ears, so nice, so friendly and so sweet. Little did I know that there is never free lunch in this world. So, I was naive in those young teenagers’ days. One fatal afternoon when all other pupils had left school for home, he asked me to stay and forced sex on me. It is not uncommon that teachers in our country do this to their female students...not uncommon at all. Especially in the villages where a teacher has great authority and a great reputation...you see innocent young girls pregnant. Many of them keep their mouth shut and when their parents want to confront these teachers, they keep their mouth shut also. Most parents have no money to take such teachers to a court or the Police Station. Sometimes such teachers offer parents small money for them not to say anything, basically, that is it. These teachers walk away free without ever seeing a prison from inside. That is Ghana for you...true and real, I am telling you from evidence. So, there I was, pregnant with the baby from my teacher. My mother knew what had happened as he was able to see it in my eyes. I felt so, so ashamed I even thought of taking my own life...but my mother did not allow me to do so. The teacher refused to take responsibility for the child even when facing me one on one blamed me for the situation that I made advances towards him and confused his mind, dragged him into having sex with him for better schooling. My pregnancy advanced and the baby was about to come out. So, I asked myself what best to do. The villagers around looked down on me more and more. They thought I am a witch. And in my country here when people in the village suspect you as a witch you can end up being lynched and killed...easily. Some people, especially in villages, have no shame to kill someone out of jealousy and witchcraft matters...no problem at all. We are not like you people with great laws and great law enforcement, with social workers that would take care of a girl like me and prosecute such teachers...sorry, no Politician should come out of my mouth anymore. Thinking and thinking what to do and overcoming the wish to take my own life but feeling the pressure around me of the villagers more and more I wished my mother good-bye and left. I did not know where exactly to go to but people along the way advised me to come down here to Accra and work as a Kayayo here around Kantamanto Market. I was able to join people that were nice Samaritans to bring me down here so that I can stay here and make each day as much as possible to feed my baby first and after that myself. The money I get is only enough the day. Sometimes when I get good jobs and I have extra money I send it via mobile money to my mother so that she has something to eat. She does not know how I live here. Because sometimes I can send her some money, she thinks that I am okay. I feel ashamed that I have no money to rent a room, self-contained or not, if it a room in a house away from the streets so that my baby is always safe. For myself...oh, I can manage, but I care for my family in the North and for my baby more. God gives me the strength to work hard, even harder than I can work. In him, I put all my trust and hope. But as for my mother, she does not know who I live here in Accra and I do not want her to ever know. She should enjoy the little money I can send to her and not be worried. When she calls me, I lie to her? She deserves a good life, better than I have and I want to make it possible for her as she made it possible for me in the past to be where I am today. I rather go hungry at nights, but I want to see my son have enough to eat and my mother to have enough to eat also. For that, I can sacrifice myself...no problem for me. I am as strong as my mother was teaching me by living example. And there should be no Politicians in this country ever to lie to us good people of Ghana that they care for us. They only care for themselves and their families. they chop our money very well and lie into our faces. No, after all these lost generations and time not used and natural recourses not used well and people still hoping for better days to come trusting our two political parties that at the end let us all down...we the good people of Ghana are wasting our time with false and fake promises over and over again...it is about time we wake up and get moving into a real beautiful future with evidence to show and no more stories to hear about corruption cases and the misuse of our country as cocaine and illegal drug hub to empower people at the top of our society. We the good people of Ghana have to unite ourselves across party lines and take our land back into our own hands."
"The Politician is coming out!" reminder Mr Karl Lucy that was not near to be stopped in her anger.
Lucy laughed and her eyes smiled brightly: "Sorry, Karl...but sometimes anger about Ghana politics simply takes me over. The madness in our country is just too much!"