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24.08.2019 Feature Article

The Underground Man - Part 60

The Underground Man - Part 60
AUG 24, 2019 FEATURE ARTICLE

"Life these days as it seems to me has no value anymore...we life anyhow...whether dead or alive...does anyone care? Any values around that we observe and protect? I cannot seem them...where are you...values?" was Paul turning round and round shouting out loud as no one was around or to be seen in the distance. "We live as we please...we live anyhow and judge people anyhow...no more standards that are absolute; only standards that comfort us and change as we need it!"

"In the olden...olden....very olden days when someone got killed no one asked too many questions about the why and how...only seeing the relative, the friend dead was enough to trigger anger and revenge", went Anna back memory lane. "In those olden days life was easy...in a way...I mean it was clear you kill someone, no question asked...and I take revenge and kill one of you...yourself or of your family and tribe...simple as that...eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth...straight forward. Then the time appeared life got more complex, really, really complicated...so, so sophisticated, moral standards were driven from the bible and other religious books regulating life among us human beings. Time after time more sophistication was added to it, laws extended for motives, for reasons to the extent that life as the most important part of our world has lost its value...is anyhow!"

"You mean...back to the roots?" challenged Paul his friend while they were walking along bushes on the right side of their walk way towards Wedel. People came towards them with dogs running around free; only when making their smelly dog owners took out their black plastic bags to collect the shit left behind by their dogs not to disturb any other person with their love for four legged animals.

"When I think of this country...God have mercy on us...everything is written down in rules and regulations, in punishment and entitlements. Life in Germany is only for professionals, for people that are lawyers able to walk around the country with rules and regulations under their arms."

"Germany is indeed an overregulated country", agreed Paul laughing his head off, "but when you look into other countries like Africa, laws are not much...and law enforcement is a joke...on the police side and on the court side. You can bribe anyone, even when your own lawyer has your papers to defend your interest in court, the opposition party can buy that lawyer and he turns against you with the evidence you have presented to you. I know from Ghana that they have quite some good laws that could potentially help them improve their situation and move the country out of poverty and the big mess they are in, but judges you pay for a service to come out as the ruler of your case...even you are rotten as hell. There they do not care...but walk the lip talk...I am telling you!"

Anna stopped Paul facing him decisively: "So, what is better...a society like here with all these rules and regulations, a society like in USA where people insist on their freedom written down in the Declaration of Independence and all the following Amendments having guns at home shooting anyhow killing innocent people with their mindset the central government should better stay out of their personal business or the system that rules in Africa meaning laws and courts that money can buy?"

"There is no perfect society in this world...there was never anyone as long as humans live!" answered Paul walking up the hill in Wittenbergen to look over the Golf Club of Blankenese on his way home. "We all can only hope that it will be possible for many people to live in a society that is matching their expectations as close as possible."

After six and a half hour flight from Brussels he touched down at Accra late afternoon. To pass immigration procedure was not a problem, only the cue waiting for the officers to check all arriving passengers on Kotoka International Airport was as usual a long process. Passing custom with nothing to declare Andre sat down outside the arrival area to have a rest before setting off to Cape Coast, Ghana´s former capital when the country was called the Gold Coast. All his belongings, credit card, camera, cash money, passport and other papers, were in a medium sized black suitcase used often on his journeys when spending only a few weeks in foreign country. While he was tiding his lacings on both shoes, he got up again wanting to grab his suitcase only to see it had gone. Andre looked around nervously, asking people standing around awaiting their guest and business partners. Nobody had seen anyone taking his suitcase away. His mind was numb, he did not know what to think. Panic captured his heart, flashes of fear crossed his mind. His heart wanted to stop immediately. He forced himself to get his mind under control, to think straight, to come up with the right solution. It was never possible that people could steal all he had on him leaving him stranded in foreign country. Never could that be possible, his mind, his will, his life did not permit that. How on earth could anyone possibly to such great harm to him, left alone with nothing on him even to show his identity. He put his hands before his face to hide any tears forcing themselves to appear and take the stress that had mounted from second to second in him far away. He sat down forcing his mind to keep calm, to think straight, and not to allow any signs of panic overcome his life. Only clear thinking could bring the solution that is what he was telling him at any second.

He was feeling someone approached him touching his right arm. It took him a while to look to the side and down, there she was a little girl, a teenager, black colored with a big smile on her face. She asked him whether he would need her help as he seems to be lost completely. The teenager girl introduced herself as Princess Katherine Trebarh that had come to the airport with her father Pastor Trebarh to pick up guest from America for Prophet Doctor Emmanuel Badu Kobi from Glorious Wave Church International in Sakumono, Tema Community 18. Andre explained to her his situation and how desperate he was. She smiled at him with her beautiful face being completely calm. The aura around her showed that her parents had taken great care to raise their daughter to become a great lady later in life that would always know to carry herself every well for others to be aware of who she was. Princess convinced her father to help Andre and find a place to sleep for the meantime. He knew a trusted friend having a small house in Sakumono Village close to the slum that certainly would give Andre shelter and be a great help to him. Not wasting time, they drove Andre to Innocent Osei running a provision store with the best groundnut paste in the entire city while his wife sold paint and operated her own hair salon for fake hair from Brazil, the most expensive sort of natural hair money could buy knowing that African ladies insist on adding hair to their most beautiful African curly hair to match White Ladies styles.

Innocent Osei was indeed the most welcoming host anyone could wish for, friendly, a great personality, wise and known all around town for his outspoken mentality. No authority would ever be able to shut him up, when seeing a problem, he would proper address it with clear and straight forward words and ideas. What was wrong in his eyes was wrong no need to sugar coat it rather to fight for what needs to be done. He loved white people seeing in them better people when it comes to honesty, precision, discipline and hard work. Germans were dear to him unlike French or Chinese messing up African countries very well as he insisted to propagate. He rushed his house girl to prepare the guest room for Andre to take a good night sleep for the following day to discuss the way forward. Andre was thanking Pastor Trebarh, and especially Princess Katherine, so much for their kind assistance.

The sun was burning on him the following morning. Innocent Osei went out for a meeting in Tema Community 2 giving Andre the chance to walk around Sakumono Village particularly the area in which the poorest of the poor were living, run down houses among islands of newly build once looking like strongholds to fight against the odds of life on the very same spot generations before had settled down and move on in life. Charcoal hips lay between the structures. Wild small skinny dog run freely between the houses side kicked by children wanting to have fun. No proper drainage system was put in place by the authorities, therefore the locals had to help themselves to push human waste out of their area. In the open gutters that were mostly destroyed by time with no care taken by the people living around, were a source for mosquitos to bread and other dangerous bacteria’s to blossom making the babies target of preventable illnesses. The smell of pee, washing powder, shower water, left over from cooking flowing in the grey mud towards the nearby Gulf of Guinea was present all over. Touching the air felt to Andre like touching diseases. While walking and looking carefully into a world so far from that he was used to, poverty shouting into his face scratching his soul at any second he discovered a new sign of inhuman living condition. A half rotten wooden swing door got open letting him have a glance into a courtyard with five houses standing around. Small doors with mosquito nets were the entrance to a world yet still unknown to him. He saw little toddlers washed by their caring mothers while standing in metal bowls on Fridays used for the weekly washing of dirty clothes. The mothers were carefully scrubbing the head and bodies of their off spring that seems to be contend with the actions of their mothers. Older children played around with chicken chasing them from side to side. Few were busy to go through silver fishes and pick out the once not suitable to eat late afternoon. Most of the children had gone to the nearby school in their dark and light brown uniforms knowing the toilet of the school behind the main structure was a disease trap with an open whole to use and dirty floor to stand on for which reason most of them preferred to use nature for their personal needs. It was common for the children from early age to see the opposite sex´s private parts and how they needed to release the other side of digested food and drinks. They did not feel any shame, less did they have an option to feel it. Only when love set in at later age were the children thinking twice but only when having the opportunity to separate themselves in their female and male corners. The life exposure for these children were limited to the small areal of Sakumono Village, the school, the churches, Shoprite up the road towards Accra of Spintex Junction on foot or by TroTro. Money was not available to take them around Accra or Tema always. The limited exposure limited their insight in life and made them go round and round the same old family story. Mallams were present in the area in their numbers, powerful once followed by a crowd having no hope for a better future. Christian Churches had sprung up around the slum to save them from destruction. Pastors on their way up to make a name for themselves had a great opportunity to prove themselves to be stronger than any traditional healer or Mallam, that God was more powerful than the evilness of the underworld, of Satan and his demons.

Along the railway tracks on Accra-Tema route up on a sandy hill, young people had set up a chop bad and drink spot fenced with wooden planks to shield guest of nosy eyes not to see drunken neighbors and cannabis smoking friends. Under a simply erected shed few meters away children and teenager gathered each afternoon and the whole of Saturday to waste their time with gossiping about others of the slum making plans to disturb their lives. They did not know what to do with the time outside school and released from domestic help; no money available to entertain themselves. Parents were scared to see them crossing the busy Accra Tema Beach road a death trap for many of them. On the other side of the road the beach was dirty filled with plastics and bars especially filled with young folks over the weekends showing off their latest cars no matter how old really, as long as it was a car to drag girl in having fun with them. Cars for the people around was not only very much needed as public transport was never good and enough to reach places, expensive when using them daily after all, but it was much more a status symbol, showing to each other how much money someone had made in life. To have a posh car outside in the drive way of an old house was of greater prestige to them than a posh house and a small car.

Andre passed between a rows of two houses in which each small single rooms were rented out. A woman had put her provision stand before the entrance of one room but taken all the food stuffs away for the day selling only in the evenings making extra money for herself working during day light in the nearby market. Chicken searching for food run around his feet. He smiled seeing them not as a main course rather as a starter of a three course dish. The door before the wooden stand got opened, a mighty men presented himself to the sun. No shirt exposing his curly hairy cheats with short light grey trousers and black slippers that is how he presented himself to the day. His eyes were sharp, his mind vigilant. The moment he saw Andre his facial expressions showed happiness. To hear Andre was from Germany made him so, so happy. Germans to him were the best people in the world. He admired them. Andre was forced to have a seat and listen to him. Lucky Evergreen introduced himself as a movie Director passing through challenging times, his wife and child were in Kumasi the city he originated from. He asked any question that came across his mind as he wanted to know all about Andre, what his dreams were, his life-experiences, and the misfortune he had found himself in. Then he suggested to shoot a movie with him, he the main character. Andre mentioned not to be an actor at all, only a writer of novels. This was enough for Lucky Evergreen saying if not Andre, that movie would never be shot. After all, he was proud of himself to be able to direct anyone, especially someone with the talent to write about people, to create characters, to handle in such a manner that he would certainly come out as a great actor over time. Lucky Evergreen insisted and emphasized the need for the White Man to come again and manage the affairs of Ghana and the rest of the African continent, but, this was very important to him, not as colonial masters, but as a force that can bring positive chance for the benefit of all people inclusively. He told Andre about a movie idea that he had already in his mind for years blessed by his Prophet. One day, one day he would meet a White Man passing his life and it would all come to pass is what he told Andre before seeing him off exploring the rest of the slum.

Karl-Heinz Heerde
Karl-Heinz Heerde, © 2019

This author has authored 330 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: KarlHeinzHeerde

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."

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