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10.08.2019 Feature Article

The Underground Man - Part 49

The Underground Man - Part 49
LISTEN AUG 10, 2019

"That is called politics!" corrected Kwame his friend and pushed her back to the Accra-Tema Beach road heading for Sakumono Village to find a TroTro that would take her back to her hotel.

"But that is not fair", said Anna while they were standing at the junction before the railway tracks to catch the TroTro that would take them to Pentecost Church junction to see her off for the day.

"The white man does not want us black people to walk on water. Like opium he gives our leaders and countries loan and donor money for us not to understand what is going on in real life and not only in political debates. Our mind, the mind of our people, is not clever enough to see behind the curtains what is going on on the stage of life, which characters are playing which role of the script and who wrote the script in the first place. Our mind of corruption on all levels of our country makes it impossible to see the game that is played above our heads and our future. Yet, do not be mistaken, it is in our hands to change our story and make this country great and strong...only in our minds is our future...not in our words wasted in useless debates and gossiping about our neighbors!"

They had to see one TroTro passing by packed with people before they could set off toe Orchard Garden Hotel and for Kwame to head back to his apartment in Dansoman for which he had paid two years rent advance even the law of the country permits only six month, but no one cares in Ghana anyway what the law says.

After a good afternoon sleep Anna was ready to be picked up by Kwame taken to the Circle in Accra. The dusty roads of the city, the heat, the slow moving traffic branching off from the road along La Palm Beach Hotel to Accra`s City Center leaving Ghana`s Police Headquarters to the right left marks on Anna`s energy again. Even she was not moving at all, she felt exhausted once again.

"To see all these school kids in their light and dark brown uniforms to me as a German a very strange!" mentioned Anna while her taxi had to stop in front of Paloma Hotel due to congestion of the massively used road by commuters and commercial vehicles.

"Yes...that is not the only tradition we have inherited form our colonial masters", laughed Kwame watching the coconut vendor getting his machete ready to open a coconut, put a drinking straw inside for his customer to enjoy the healthy water of the fruit very helpful to keep kidneys in good shape. "We source them from’s cheaper...that is what the government is telling us!"

"What a nonsense!" protested Anna of such stupid idea not to enhance and protect the local and national industry. "But I have seen some factories to produce garments around Cocoa Cola Roundabout. Can´t they do the job?"

"Of course, they can do...but our government has no sense, no idea highly indebted with the understand?" lectured Kwame his friend that looked sad.

"I was hearing they also go into galamsey, take your gold on this small scale mining opportunity by which they destroy the rivers with poisonous mercury, make it hard or even impossible for Ghana Water to have clean drinking water for the rural communities, destroy farmland for cocoa trees... ."

"We get loans from the Chinese to build our infrastructure and give them as security our natural resources. They take them to China but get them not at the international market price, but far below which is harming us double. On top of it we allow them to build our roads and power stations to create jobs for their own people as of which are too many in this world. When we catch them destroying our water bodies and arrest them, put them before a camera and threaten them to be punished and expedited...guess what is happening?"

"The Chinese Ambassador will visit the president and state their interest in a good cooperation between both countries...right?"

Kwame shook his head and agreed: "When you are in the hands of the lender caused by your own mistakes, by our wrong decisions taken, by your greedy mind, by not thinking for generations to come...but look into today, into what you can chop and your family can benefit wonder then that other nations play their foolish games with you and all you as local and national politician in this country you can do is to take foolish in parliament and media outlets to position yourself for the upcoming election. There is no party in this country fit to take over the good job of stewardship that the Office of the President is supposed to one is there!"

"Then...what is the solution?" asked Anna concerned

Kwame looked into her eyes, deep and intensively; then said:" We need the White Man back...but...but not as colonial master...not as a representative of any white country, all we need is white qualified men and women with great vision for our nations on the African continent that can bring us as independent countries happiness, a happiness that we deserve. We all know that Democracy is not working here being an open door to steal from our nations in open ways. We are at a stage in our history only the strong hand of a man with a selfless heart and great mind, with great vision, can move us forward. As the saying goes here in Ghana, when you go to church and see a white man, you can go home again as you have seen God...that tells you all. Even look at this our judges, they have this funny artificial white hair when in their court room, something we have inherited from our colonial masters. Or our army, look at their uniforms and their behavior when marching on Black Star Square...all from our colonial masters. Till today we copy them but have not their sense. True independence also shows in such symbols...but we are copy cats that have no sense for ourselves, no dignity of proud and successful black man. And...and when you talk in public here in Ghana the truth, people will not hear it, rather insult you very well. Such people I call fools...simple fools. When you touch them, they cry out loud to the heavens...I am telling you...that is the kind of people that we here are."

"The few days I am here, I noticed that you are not as peaceful as we think back in Germany...these killings. And the military presence in the North of your country."

"Very not everything that happens here will hit the international media", agreed Kwame while paying the taxi driver directing Anna across the newly constructed Nkrumah Interchange build by a consortium from Brazil und which vendors were selling their items, food and clothes, music and phones. "But from all other African societies, I think we are the most peaceful one. Not because we are such good people, simply because of our location."

"What do you mean by, our location?" was Anna curious to know while pushing begging children away. Behind them under trees giving shadow she saw the parents watching over their children asking for money with open hands and depressed impression on their faces. Mostly they are professional beggars coming from Niger was Anna informed.

"We are located in the middle of French speaking and Muslim countries. If we would start a civil war here, where to go to? There is no country we could run to that would be able to give us shelter. When you watch the streets of Accra you see ladies carrying big plastic bags called `Ghana go home` given to us when we had to flee into Nigeria once and they were fed up with us at shortest of time sending us back here!"

" mean...", had Anna to watch the heavy traffic knowing once Ghanaians sit in a car, pedestrians are seen as useless folks easily to be pushed to the side or run over, "you people here are only peaceful by force?"

"We fear blood that is true, but in the end when you see our location as a country you will easily come to the conclusion as you did!" said Kwame holding Anna by her hands stopping her. He directed her steps towards the former GOIL petrol station behind GCB Tower at the Circle. "Do you see the ruins there, the houses burnt to ashes?" Vienna City Amusement location opposite was untouched as he explained her. "In the night of June third two thousand fifteen, when heavy rains were flooding this place and lifted petrol from the underground tanks of the petrol station, people took shelter under the roof of the station not knowing they were standing in water polluted by diesel. Behind the houses was a restaurant. A guest threw a burning cigarette into the oily water and the petrol station exploded killing over one hundred fifty innocent people. Debs Bediako, owner of the pharmacy located next to the station died in that night killed by the waters. His assistant survived with severe burns. When we buried Debs Bediako from Bediako Brothers Pharmacy in Osu at the cemetery, this worker told me that his medical bill got not paid by the government as promised by former President John Dramani Mahama. He also knew of other victims that the promise made by the President the day after the disaster to care for the victims had never been fulfilled, were only lies for the international media. We knew this from year before when the Melcom disaster occurred and was called the greatest loss of lives in the history of the country and the former mayor claimed anyone responsible for the loss of so many lives would be hold accountable for what he had done wrong. In that case like in all others in our country, politicians are fast to open their mouth and come up with popular promises making light shine on them to have a good standing on the international floor knowing pictures do lie to the masses...but in reality, nothing was ever kept of the promises made. Melcom disaster was never in court, victims of that tragic night never got the promises made fulfilled...this is Ghana for you, I am telling you. So, so sad!"

VIP Bus Station was just behind the overfly to the left. Not many people queuing. The bus to Kumasi was ready for boarding. For two hundred and fifty kilometers the bus would need around four to five hours during the night to reach Ghana`s second largest city with one short stop on the way. During the night Ghana`s roads are not as busy as during the day but more dangerous. The bus passed Achimota Shopping Mall to leave the boundaries of Accra. A handful of ladies asked the driver to stop near a quiet place to ease themselves. Most passengers stood side by side, ladies and men alike, to ease themselves. Anna tried her best, separated herself a few meters from the Ghanaians but knowing they could potentially see her going about her private business made it impossible for her but to keep her water for a real toilet in Kumasi. While entering the bus again she was still shocked that in this country collective toilet making was not a problem for most people.

"These are Joseph Mensah and his beautiful wife Mary...very good friends of mine", was Kwame introducing an old couple waiting for their arrival in Kumasi City Center close to the famous open market for mostly used clothes and shoes. "This gentleman", was Kwame taking his old friend into his arms, "used to work as a car mechanic for Audi company, but when it closed down in Kumasi, became driver for the Director of Roads and Highways travelling the entire country up and down to check on the condition of the roads. Anything you need to know about the corners of our country, ask this fine gentleman and he tells you story after story never ending." Both laughed while Mary took the small suitcase of Anna over to the taxi waiting to bring them to their humble apartment. Mary was not able to speak English, so Kwame was assigned to be an interpreter.

Joseph and Mary had roots in Kumasi, Accra and Volta region for which reason this spoke Ewe besides Twi. One of their children had died as young boy, but Eric, Victor, Alberta, Gideon and Seth were still around to take care of their parents. Anna was informed that Alberta was married to a German in Hamburg enjoying great life assisting them with whatever they needed to have life in peace, just like most Ghanaians travelling outside.

"We do not have a good social system like you in Germany, I mean, we have basically no social system as SSNIT you cannot count on. So, our social system are our children, only they we can trust that when we cannot work or are old and need to be taken care off, they will support us. So, you will therefore understand, that we here in Africa need to produce more and more children...a lot of them. Surely, this creates an enormous overpopulation and is hard for us to manage...I mean to feed all of them...but what option do we have as our governments fail us...simple as that!" explained Joseph just before the taxi stopped before the house in which they had rented a two bedroom apartment with indoor toilet and shower of their own, not standard in the country.

"Along the way I have come across so many uncompleted houses and office buildings that make me believe they will never be completed," mentioned Anna her observation while Mary had served Fufu to eat with their hands unfamiliar for Anna.

"There are so many houses that people start building but they root over time and will never be completed...that is true", commented Joseph after washing his hands enjoying fresh mangos, yellow once. Anna got offered a pealed export mango knowing with the local mango she would have problems between her teeth. "The government should protect people from wasting their money just like that!"

"And there are so many broken down cars and trucks along the roads and in the bushes. What about them?" asked Anna while sitting outside in the shadow under a mighty tree seeing the linen washed in the early morning hours put on dry lines to be taken back to their beds in the night.

"Oh, you mean all these broken cars?" laughed Joseph a bit shy to speak to his guest so welcomed in his humble house. "They are dangerous for drivers especially at nights causing many accidents, fatal once even. But not only that, they are also dangerous for the environment...very dangerous!"

"I have seen that you talk and talk a lot in this country...all the time. Accra and Tema are full of noises, really a noisy place here. In my country in the streets it is not like that. We do not make so much noise. The cities are quieter...but here, cars make so much noise and then...people talking and talking, and so many busy bodies...unbelievable. Busy bodies wherever you look. Too much, honestly speaking. I am not used to it and I wonder, what can you really talk about from early morning until bedtime that makes sense at all?"

"Not much!" jumped Kwame into the conversation attracting all eyes on himself. "To think is better than talking."

Karl-Heinz Heerde
Karl-Heinz Heerde, © 2019

The author has 351 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: KarlHeinzHeerde

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