Borders are places of transition. They could be places of decision. Of leaving the old and embracing the new. Or discarding the new and choosing the old, the good, or the bad. Otherwise, they could be places of flux- where the old and the new, the good, the bad, intermingle constantly in comings and goings….
After a night of needed rest at the GHIS Palace, Lomé where we had our stress washed away, we set off today. The morning sun streams unto the coastal waters, palm trees and into our bus. The sun is a harbinger of hope… Accra, here we come!
We reach Aflao. No particularly polished roads or stately buildings announce its presence. There is an earth road-regular red laterite grounds. It calls to mind Malu Road in Apapa, Lagos with those trailers off loading the ingredients of commerce. The more things change, the more they remain the same?
But a few hapless touts hoping to make the quick cefa are running like around the van like sly foxes, literally ordering Dreadlocked Driver to hand them our documents! No way! We shout back in several tones and timbre- the nasty sting at Benin-Togo border still so close to memory.
“And who are you to be demanding for our passports? asked Dreadlocked Driver with a frown, ending the question with fiercely spoken words in his mother tongue. Laughter flows from the rest of us. Other queries follow: Where’s your ID cards? Why are you not wearing uniforms? Are you customs officials? The questions spurt from our van in torrents. The group is decided: not the minutest cefa is leaving our pockets today for unofficial officials at any border.
The touts are stunned by our response, then, as though realizing our resolve, they begin one and all, to look perplexed; then annoyed. ‘You go spend time well well for there! You go see”, they threaten.
We don’t mind! Go away! Are you government officials? Go away. Not a dime to you guys today, hisses Curly Curly. Derisive laughter erupts from our van and the touts finally slink away to seek new prey. No borders of bribery will be by us crossed again.
Aflao@ Ghana is a flavour of many pleasures… courtesy, gentleness, timeliness, orderliness, friendliness, brother& sisterliness, pride, smiles, laughter, and love. We wait a while, but it is like the waiting of the mouth for its favorite food: the unharried waiting for anticipated certain-to-happen pleasure. We are so impressed the goodness of Ghana, we commend the Ghanaian Border officials with waves and smiles and God-bless yous.
Whilst,Dreadlocked Kangol, Sports Casual aka Director of Espionage, and Dreadlocked Driver, sort out immigration formalities, and Win. Lead. Succeed, assisted by Cap Nike, set about retrieving the unjustifiable 32 Cedis that a con-artist forex dealer has fleeced from him during the By-the-Border transaction, an irony plays itself out. We had been advised by a veteran of the road, Cap 67’s wifey, to conduct all forex dealing here because the people were more honest than elsewhere. The con-artist money changer flies in the face of that, but another forex dealer at the same border gives some of us the best bargain ever. It’s a reminder for why we must never cross into the borders of stereotyping.
Back in the van, Resource Control, Blackbraids Chicken Feathers engage in an interesting conversation about marriage and things marital. The pros the cons, the lowest common denominators. Curly Curly Blackbraids and Resource Control buy blue-black harmonicas. Music making then commences with Resource Control punctuating every conversation, expressed opinion, point of view, and idea, with bursts of approval or disapproval from his blue-black harmonica. It’s all so funny; deep-belly laughter follows his bursts of play.
Our van chooses not to play ball today. After zipping from cruising from Lagos to Aflao, past Anloga, Keta, Woe, Scrogbe, Salo and Dabala, it coughs to a stop at the checkpoint in Lolita. But no worries; Providence is at work. We make brilliant photos. And new friends. The Policemen are friendly concerned and helpful. They facilitate the intervention of a mechanic and soon we proceed again. At Alisekpe our van suffers another cough-to-a-stop, but we proceed again past Sigakope, and Adidome. We cross the big ocean at Sokpoe. Sports Casual buys fried turkey bottoms as Chicken Feathers announces that eating poultry is a border she cannot cross.
Kumasi was our pre-chosen rest point, but circumstances conspire to choose Accra. We take it all in our stride. It’s the adventure in the journey. The intermingling of the expected and unexpected across invisible borders. We call up friends and family in Accra who have no clue about our coming. Still, they rally round us with zest and passion, help ferret out inexpensive rest places where we refresh ourselves, and call up mechanics to fix our ailing van. They make our Accra stop-over with the good milk of human kindness. We are thankful to the Creator for multiple mercies. It’s a new day tomorrow…. Kumasi, full blast ahead!
by Nike Ojeikere