Writing the Journey: Accra Chronicles 5th November 09

Posted: November 10, 2009 at 11:52 am

Kumasi beckoned…but we couldn’t go. Our van is in dire need of a doctor. Oil seal and kick starter issues, they’d said. The van spends its entire day at the mechanics waiting for Martin the Mechanic to apply some ounce of verve, however tiny, into his Ghanaian easy-does-it world view. The oil seal is resealed at 9.00AM, but with none of us playing headmaster over Martin at the workshop, Martin marks time and the kick-starter neither starts nor kicks. We have our sights trained on Kumasi, but our van is nowhere near that horizon.

So we seize the chance to eat our first decent breakfast – sausages, eggs, oats, fresh fruit, tea, coffee; rest, take pictures, and explore the area. We remain positive. A cheerful energy sizzles around the group.

Dreadlocked Driver goes to get some money – from our Naija GTBank – thank you! We note the spread of Nigerian Banks across Ghana with pride. Right across the road from the workshop, a Zenith Bank Branch stands in authoritative majesty. And we’ve spotted UBA, and Intercontinental banks elsewhere. The banking sector was the first to note the invisibility of banking borders across West Africa, and cross them. They dot the skyline of most West African cities.

 Lead Win Succeed, Dreadlocked Kangool, Chicken Feathers and Sports Causal re-enter cyber-borders, to see where the whole wide world is going; Blackbraids sleeps, Curly Curly is in scribble-mode, sipping Twinnings; Cap 67 watches the sports channel, Cap Nike potters around doing this and that emitting what Curly Curly terms a “nervous energy”; Resource Control edits his images, and plays his harmonica…

 Fried yams and roast plantains laced with shinto sauce surface from the search engine of Lead. Win. Succeed. It’s a welcome development! We swoop upon the finger-foods like butterflies to nectar. We smack our lips with glee at the vitality of the chilli. Outside, the sun in Accra is in a contest of “Who Blinks First” with itself. It wins.

 Our ravine-black bus returns and we all become more upbeat: we shall cross to Kumasi today! We test-drive the van, and discover that it still has unfinished business at the mechanic’s. Martin says it’s too late to reach the automobile market today, tomorrow’s another day. We troop there and painstakingly explain to Martin that we are Bamako-bound and are already behind schedule. He must double-up; get the repairs done tonite! The mechanics laugh quietly – and inform us very calmly that the auto market has closed since 5PM. We are nonplussed: “Are you saying there is nothing called “emergency” in this city; that we cannot find a single alternative to getting to the auto-market- tomorrow!? I’m not being boastful, but if this happened in Lagos, even at 2.AM, there would be mechanics and auto-parts sellers that would be willing to serve us – even at 2.AM!”,Dreadlocked Driver declares to the entire mechanic population at the garage on Spintex Road.

We all don’t understand it: thiconstant gentility in the face of urgent situations; this flaccid, follow-the-procedure attitude. It’s absolutely not “our way.”

Our van sleeps in the garage after assurances that it would be fixed first thing tomorrow.We find the beach near Teshie Nunga where we are swindled of 5 Cedis by a bunch of loiterers posing as “beach officials.” These are the irregular Ghanaians.

The beach is a rolling blackness tinged with a milky froth. Dark. Powerful and Alluring. The beach bar, by contrast, is dry, dusty and drab. A huddle of U17 Fifa World Cup Football TV viewers and bar tenders is too besotted to notice our arrival. We are starved. The bar doesn’t serve proper food. We take our leave and head for our “regular” haunt at Daniels. We refill, reenergise and ponder the laidback, and calm gentility of Ghanaian ways. Someone made a statement that “Ghanaians are so polite, they can take permission to greet you: Please, Good morning Sir!” Laughter rolls on the floor from our tables, laughing.

By Nike Ojeikere

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