Saturday 7th November
It’s a bright new day, and our third of trying to leave Accra. Dreadlocked Driver (poor chap) is off yet again to check on The Maria. We pray for Godspeed. At 3PM-ish, Maria is set free from the manacles of the mechanics with firm assurances that she’s good to go. We are happy! We take Maria home only for her to pass out at our gate. A mild sense of disappointment drips upon us. It’s looking like the public transport is the solution. It’s a clean and cheap means of crisscrossing Ghana and if you like, Burkina Faso.We decide to continue via public transport. Win. Lead. Succeed and Dreadlocked Kangool go in search of public inter-state transport.
While we wait, I engage De’de, Dreadlocked Driver’s uncle, and our pleasant host in a chat. (De’de is the Igbo word for “uncle.”) He has just packed bag, baggage, business equipments and his family barely two months ago and crossed borders to Ghana, to take up residence in Accra. I am intrigued by this bold move by a quite comfortable Nigerian family and wonder what motivated the migration. It is the same reasons as from when time began – the need for better security, a nurturing environment for his family and a breakaway from needless tension, violence, decadence and insurgency that is taking Port Harcourt hostage.“I asked myself: Is there anything in particular that I kept in Port Harcourt that was hindering me from moving away to a saner society?; yes, I do great business there and even now, I have some orders for furniture supply pending in PH; but when I arrived PH as a younger man, I didn’t have the business. It had come later; so, I reasoned that even that business wasn’t good enough a reason to stop me from leaving for a saner society” De’de said. His new home is certainly saner – he doesn’t need to lock up his gate all day long for fear of trespassers, even.
Cap Nike, Director of Espionage and Dreadlocked Driver rediscover the joys of football; Blackbraids takes a rest, while Curly Curly takes a walk .I “gist” with 8 year-old Ifeanyi, Uncle Dede’s daughter. Later we bounce her ball around. She asks permission to take her first ever snapshot of anyone or anything. I oblige and give her a chance. She makes photos of her Dad, Mum and house-help with excitement. It was a joy to have helped her cross that border.
At 4.00 PM our bus-hunting party drives in seated in a sleek blue, air-conditioned Ford F350 van with Joseph – the good driver, and Ajulu, a good friend of the group, in tow. Ajulu, himself a Ghana émigré, had phoned Nigeria and was told that we are in Ghana; so he sought us out. We move our stuff into the Ford and continue our abridged journey. We drive through the evening into night. The Accra -Kumasi road is very rough and tumbly at the Accra end where it is being curreently dualised. Where the dualisation ends, the road tapers into single lanes. Smooth and sturdy as an airport tarmac, and well-marked too, for road security, it makes night travel a pleasure, not a pain. It is single-lane road, but doesn’t give the heart-plucking fear that one feels night-driving through similar roads elsewhere. It’s inevitable: the constant comparison of Ghana with other countries, which haven’t been able to rise to their expected stature…
We are 3 days behind schedule so we elect to continue on the journey rather than sleep over in the Ashantihene’s territory, lost time. After a short rest at Unity Fuel Station, we and our Ford feel its way through the uncertainty of the night…
Friday 6th Nov 2009
Our raven black van – The Maria- some call it the Black Maria tongue in cheek, continues to be ill. Martin and his Mechanic Mafiosi cannot decipher its ailment – the kick didn’t kick, so they said its problem was “airflow meter!” but even after fixing that, No show.
We stay indoors all day, surf; do some “environmental scan” fish out new haunts, discover a “washie” spot, eat the rice n’ beans concoction (glory, glory!) laced with heavy fried fish ‘ponmo’ (tender cooked cow hide), fried plantains and hot, hot peppers.
It’s the day of the dreadlocks- Dreadlocked Driver and Dreadlocked Kangool conduct oversight duties over the mechanics while we wait hopefully, then, somewhat hopelessly when all our calls to them and the length of time they spend indicate that Kumasi won’t be sighted today- yet again!
We wait and wait with the overhanging apprehension, the return of The Maria. We become quieter. Some begin to brood, receding into themselves. Too worried to write, we become inert. We lounge. We loiter. We sleep off…. Later. We sense the arrival of the oversighters through the haze of sleep about midnight. No crossing into Kumasi tonight, most assuredly.