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18.06.2019 Feature Article

The Underground Man - Part 13

The Underground Man - Part 13

„All I can say, Anna“, had Monika Willers been advising her daughter with the voice of confidence, „if you want to accept the school`s recommendation given to you in this letter before you you must know I cannot help you as my education is low. I do not understand anything of what you need to know. You would have to fight your battles all by yourself. All I can gladly do for you is to back you in my own way, to encourage you on your way, give you a place to stay, food and we see what else will be possible.“

Anna had looked at her mother at the kitchen table that decisive Sunday morning, and had responded: „I will go for it, see how far I can get and do all that is possible not to give up…but fight my way through.“

“My support is what you will always have”, was Monika Willers shaking Anna`s hands.

Irena had entered the kitchen, got some food from the fridge. Before leaving home, had turned around and told her mother: “Do not wait tonight for me. My friends and I are going out for a party. We need to have fun after all our hard work…and it will be late.”

She had turned around for her mother to see the pocket of Irena`s jeans was filled with a pack of cigarettes. Form the money she had earned being an apprentice in the famous fur designer company Dieter Zoern to become a fur coat dress designer, she spend most part of her small income on cigarettes knowing about her father´s health problems, two open lungs, TBC and amputated leg. It would never stop her from smoking.

Anna had gladly accepted her mother`s handshake. Now it was time to get ready for Fanoe in Denmark, a place for holidays like times before.

After packing Anna came to the playground on top of the bunker to reflect on the years in her old school behind her before it was time to visit High School in City Nord. Anna was breathing slowly but not regularly as she should have. She did not know why, but felt to kneel down on the ground and look up to the shinning sun. Anna was all by herself alone. She kept her mind open and vigilant. From down below she felt as if someone would stretch out his hands through the thick concrete of the bunker to touch and hold her legs. It felt to her someone seems to ensure she would not slip and fall, only possibly to shake along the way, but never to fall to be scattered into pieces. Anna felt protected, not be limited by these hands around her feet. She looked down to her sneakers but did not see anybody`s hands around her legs. Her mind started to ask the `Why` question only for a second. Her spirit made her silent.

“Sure, many people receive social benefit Hartz IV claiming it is not enough to offer a decent life , having to work before on low wages or being war widows with small pension. So Hartz IV is needed to be topped up and to pay all their bills. Some of these people portrayed on TV collect bottles or clean toilets to have that needed extra income. But for me…”, stopped Joe watching over a couple on the lawn hugging and kissing each other feeling his wife and two children in his heart. From the little money he had for himself, he send used shoes and clothes to Ghana so his wife could support herself and feed the children; like so many Africans that support each months their families back home, that was in his blood. He knew some turned off their phones when their own income for the months unexpectedly was not enough, so the family could not bother them too much.

“In Africa, when you have no money or land to feed yourself rom, all you simply do is to die…that is dead simple. In your society you go and ask the government to support you. Which government in Africa is there to take care of someone in need? We have no social system to protect our people. But people have to take the initiative to protect themselves. No wonder, we produce so many children and put into their blood the conviction to have many children on their own. To ask us using condoms helping young girls to get less pregnant but early age is not working to reduce the problem of overpopulation and children production as it does not create any financial support to the families otherwise. For us it is also normal to give children to siblings or others that want a child in the house to help out”, continued Joe and explained Africa`s reality, setting it against White Man`s campaigns to reduce the poverty in their African countries.

Few weeks after summer holidays on a late Saturday afternoon, Anna had met Joe sitting in Stadtpark close to Landhaus Walter that had a Jazz Concert going while their guests were eating and drinking in the restaurant or backyard gardens.

“While people here complain about the money they get from government, any African would be happy to know each month’s money would be in his hands….to share even with others. When you are trained to live on unsecure little money in Africa, what is on the table here in Germany is like a paradise to you. Very unfortunate is only shortly after arrival of our people in this society is, that they become clever and find out the weaknesses of your system. Ladies like to produce child after child to live well on social welfare, your child support. Some of them are so cleaver even to build their own homes back home from that support and when there, enjoy a good time, or when on pension, are the kings in their African communities. To them I have suggested again and again they all should come to Ghana and live a life in dignity as their small pension give them a good life. And Ghana is safe like no other country in Africa, so no need to run away…except for money!”

For Anna all these concerns were still far from her own reality but it was interesting to hear about his life.

Anna had invited Joe for a discussion in her new class. On sixth floor of the yellowish painted school in City Nord, few minutes away from Rübenkamp Station. The teachers had organized a discussion session for the older classes in the hugh assembly hall that had the capacity to accommodate up to one thousand students, half of the students that attended the school on various levels and from of education.

Anna was a bit tired. Her bike that she used each morning to ride from home to school in under ten minutes, had a serious fault. For that reason she had to walk all on foot to school. Her work last night had been unusually hard. To make it possible for her to attend classes and pay for books and personal extras, Anna had started to clean at Shell Oil Company Headquarters of Germany in City Nord. After homework done, she would go out every evening to clean twenty offices to come home three hours later, eat, rest and attend to bed. She was not angry or jealous to watch other students from her class having champagne parties during break on the car park among expensive cars given by their parents. One student sitting opposite Anna in the class room was the son of a concrete mix selling company. He was lazy knowing and telling ever body openly he would not have to work hard at school, as the time would come to take over his father´s company, that simple. Anna was somehow glad about her status convinced to endure hard times that would certainly teach her to be better in life and overtake that lazy boy one day by far. Inventors used to be poor people mostly pushed by their life´s circumstances on day, one day surely to greatness. All her life Anna would never be jealous of anybody, only asking herself what she could do to achieve her own stone in life.

…to be continued

Karl-Heinz Heerde
Karl-Heinz Heerde, © 2019

This author has authored 304 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: KarlHeinzHeerde

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