Mahmoud Al Fawal is a gentle man, but when he sweats, he gets in a bad mood. And he always sweats. It's Saturday morning, 80 percent humidity, 34 degrees. Mahmoud leaves his house, wipes the sweat from his balding head and opens his car. He plops into the leatherette seat of his rusty Toyota.
The sweat runs down his neck, the steering wheel is hot from the sun. Mahmoud drives off, slowly, around the potholes. When he meets a car, he groans and scolds through the open window. This is a one-way street, there is a huge sign there! He does not understand, why Ghanaian people can't understand such a simple rule. Mahmoud does not understand much here. His new home is still alien to him, even after three years.
He is a Syrian who fled the war. Thousands of kilometers into a foreign land, like millions of others. Only Mahmoud has not gone to Europe, to Germany or Sweden. He lives in Ghana, in West Africa.
Every morning, Mahmoud parks his car at eight o'clock in front of his shop, "Cell 4 Sale", in the middle of Accra, the capital of Ghana. Mahmoud sells cell phones and speakers, he olso fixes phones, laptops, printers etc. He is the master of the "Electronics" as he calls everything “technical“ in his mix of English and Arabic.
On the street in front of his shop there are minibuses, people, scooters blowing constantly fumes from their rusty exhaust pipes into the heat. Mahmoud coughs and unlocks his Shop even though his Shop is air-conditioned with sparkling clean new cell phones shine in glass showcases.
His Shop, "Cell 4 Sale" has only been around for two years, but Mahmoud is very well known. In a city a lot of cell phone retailers, mini-repairers and electronic waste recycling companies, everyone recommends Mahmoud when it comes to devices that are virtually beyond saving. He is known only under the name "Mahmoud" without his last name.
"I love everything about Electronics," he says. Wires, cabling, circuits - for him that's more than just things. The compelling logic of technology has always been a haven for him. "With electronics I create my own world in my head." In Damascus, Mahmoud mocked his remote-controlled toy cars as a child. Now he is 34, and he still laughs when he remembers it. Mahmoud learned to fix electronics from his father, one of the best restorers in Damascus.
"My father is an unbearable perfectionist," says Mahmoud, and tells how his father was once commissioned to restore an antique door at the Presidential Palace. When he had inspected the door, he said to Assad's armed men, "You have to rip it all out, the entire lintel, otherwise I will not accept the order." The lintel had just been minimally wrong, says Mahmoud. 99 percent straight, but not perfect. His mother was terrified. Nobody refused a presidential order but his father did, even though he was not a politician, said Mahmoud. Nothing was more important to him than his craft.
Francis Tawiah (Duisburg - Germany)
Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."
Reproduction is authorised provided the author's permission is granted.