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Accra Stay By Plan

Accra stay by plan

Dear Yaw,

I don’t know why you keep insisting on coming to Accra. You, people, think we sleep and wake up on a bed of roses. This is Accra where some bogus landlords give their houses out for rent, become homeless and demand that their tenants employ them as security men for their own homes.

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This is Accra where without 24 months’ rent payment (advance), you cannot find even a lavatory to live in. Oh, and speaking of lavatories. This is Accra, where restrooms can be converted into bedrooms for human beings to sleep in. One landlord can build a house and deliberately leave out toilet facilities; build toilet facilities right next door and demand that tenants pay each time they have to use it. But do we have a choice? We still go ahead and rent those; for how can we afford 24 months’ advance for decent accommodation in suburban areas? So we have to squat with others in coffin-like rooms in the slums because that is all we can afford. Attempt to take a walk in your neighbourhood through your backyard and you may well end up in someone else’s room.

The People

This is Accra, where the dark-skinned girls of yesteryear, in attempts to lighten their skin, have replaced their beautiful ebony black skin with patchy tie and dye looking skin. Yaw, you may not even be able to recognize some of the women who were with us in the village. Their natural black hair has been replaced with horrid looking wigs and other human beings’ hair. In the past, one would be frightened at the mere thought of replacing her own hair with another human’s own but it seems that is the trend nowadays. Over here, young ladies shave off their eyebrows and draw it back with black pencil lines extending all the way into their ears.

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This is Accra where some children living in the inner city slums are so smart beyond their years. They can use the internet to tap into a white man’s foreign account for their hard earned money. I hear some of the boys deceive the white men into thinking that they are women who are interested in marrying them and by so doing dupe them out of a lot of money.

Just last week, I heard on one of the local radio stations that a white old man had been left stranded at the airport. After waiting for hours on end for his ‘fiancée’ to pick him up, he finally approached airport security and relayed his story to them. I hear the phone number he had been communicating with this person on was now not going through. Obviously,   a victim of internet fraud, the poor old man had to return to his country sad and broke. Apparently, he had sent this fraudster all his retirement money and was relocating permanently to Accra to get married. What a shame to our proud and esteemed Ghana.

General Hardship

Accra is not heaven. You people in the village think we have it easy here eh? What on earth would you be coming to do here in Accra?  Mmm… tell me, Yaw! As it stands now, I have difficulty even feeding myself once a day; how can I even marry and provide for my family? At my age, I should have had children of my own but I cannot afford it. No, my nephew, you shouldn’t come here.

In the village, I can saunter to the farm and get myself a tuber of yam; at least, there are sheep and goats from my Father’s farm one of which I will not be denied should I make the request. I can eat fufu and aponkye nkrakra anytime I want to but over here, it is a luxury. Even that is crap compared to what Sisi has been making for us back at home.

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Back home, even strangers and wayfarers are welcome to rest their aching feet and drink a refreshing cup of water from Sisi’s cooler. Over here, every move is by agenda, and by agenda I mean money. You definitely need to be connected somehow; Accra stay by plan. Connections are what keeps the city running; it’s either ‘who you know’ or ‘who knows you’ or else Massa forget it. Without a plan, you will toil around for nothing and end up going to bed on an empty stomach on most days. Accra is no place to joke at all.

In this city, nobody is family over here. One has to constantly watch his back even among his own family members. For the love of money, a man sacrifices his brother without hesitation in order to throw money around and prove to strangers how rich he is. Here in Accra, we are poor but discovering money by the roadside is no more a cause for celebration. For how is one to know whether it is not baited by ritualists to turn an unsuspecting somebody into a sacrifice for rituals? Over here, one would rather steal than be given an item for free; for no man is his brother’s keeper.

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Filth

Yaw, as for the filth, the least said the better. One day you will hear that the entire city has sunk beneath the filth and your uncle is no more. The sights and smells of this place are nothing to write home about. It is nothing like our village where shed leaves are not allowed to overstay their welcome on the ground. There’s an evil thing called plastic bags; people in Accra use it for everything and leave it everywhere. It chokes the gutters so badly that when it rains people lose their lives. Every year when the rains begin, our hearts are in our hands. We all live in fear that we will wake up one morning floating on a river of rainwater.

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They lied to us Yaw; Appiah and Kweku Kusi lied to us. They painted pictures of the city that were totally untrue. The only thing stopping me from packing up my bags and coming back to the village is my pride. I cannot bear to return to the village in disgrace and with only my ten fingers.

Sincerely,

Your uncle, Kumi.

 

*****

Dear uncle,

I have heard you, but let me come and experience this so-called hardship for myself. For how else will I learn to appreciate Sisi’s soup if I do not taste the watery counterfeit of the city ladies? How can I say I have lived if I do not have a story to tell one day? Which experiences shall I recount to my children?  My uncle forbids me not from seeing for myself, the city which lights up at night as though it were still day. Forbid me not from seeing women who were as dark as night when they were with us in the village but transform into white women overnight with an accent to match.

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Uncle, it is better to have loved and lost than not to have loved at all. I am a man my uncle; if men have survived in this same Accra that you speak so bitterly of, then what stops me. Uncle, I am already on my way (do not fear); I have made my own arrangements and I have a good plan that has worked for many. I promise I shall not be burdening you with my presence.

Your nephew,

Yaw Opoku Asante.

 

  • Fufu and aponkye nkrankra – A Ghanaian delicacy of boiled and pounded cassava and plantain eaten with soup made with goat meat.

 

Accra Stay By Plan Story By Baaba Ennin

 

Other stories by Baaba

Ennin Baaba

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