Oxford Street Musings

Ghana Osu Oxford Street

I went to the Oxford Street a couple of days ago. That popular street is renowned for its cosmopolitanism, vibrancy, and wealth. I went to chase some business chale. A man has to be super ambitious in these times. Oh, by the way, for clarity sake, I’m talking about the Ghanaian Oxford Street – the one in Osu; cos I am sure my Ghana people have some in various other places.

I spent about 6 hours in that part of town that day; 1 hour out of the 6, I was sitting inside Papaye, the upstairs area, gazing out of their panoramic glass window (or whatever it’s called), observing the human interactions on that stretch of the Oxford Street.

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For the past 5 years of my life, I have had to reeducate myself, come to terms with some harsh realities, and unlearn many years of nonsense. The biggest life lesson I have had to learn – and in a hard way – is that on this Earth, numbers matter. The biggest of these numbers is money. 

Starring down Oxford Street that day, this profound life lesson seemed to get louder and louder. Every interaction was directly and indirectly transactional. I further observed that there were levels to the game. The area that my eyes could see, would probably cover about a 100m, from the numerous corner shops, the street hawkers, the taxis, trotros, aboboyaa’s, security guards, fraudsters, pastors, banks, and corporate shops on that stretch, I can estimate that there’s a daily transactional volume of at least GHS 100,000. This is even a very small estimation.

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The real Osu Oxford Street deal

Now here’s the interesting thing, out of all this volume of trade with occurs on a daily, the indigenous people and locals are at the bottom of the food chain – I don’t think collectively they get more than 50% of the transactions which occur there.

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Oxford street, like any other high-trade traffic center in this Ghana (I’m sure a couple of other African countries too), is controlled and owned by foreigners. 3 predominant groups – Lebanese, Indians, and Chinese. 

There’s much to be learned from these business-minded cultures, something which I hope my generation and beyond can learn, and fast. I shall try and enumerate some:

  1. The only thing that matters is the numbers. 50 cents said it romantically – Get Rich or Die trying. This means working hard…eii sorry, working smart, and hard. My meeting not surprisingly was with a business owner from one of these cultures. His family had been in Ghana for decades, it was now his time to fill the big man’s shoes and take the business to the next level. As at 5 pm, when many civil servants in this our country are home or sitting in trotro inside rush hour traffic, he and his team leaders were having a close of day review meeting, to discuss…the numbers!
  2. Stick together: Have you seen a group of Chinese eating with any other group before in this Ghana? You’re thinking about it eh…. that should tell you something, it is rare. Ghana people live in this lie of we are welcoming and nice people. Nansins. We are nice to everyone but ourselves. Funny thing is, to develop as a people in the numbers game, if you don’t stick together, you wouldn’t last 1 minute (sexual innuendos intended). Sticking together also means thinking generationally. The beauty of collaboration is that the skill sets which are found in different people can be shared across (horizontally) and down to other generations (vertically).
  3. The only thing that matters is the numbers…oh, I already said it.

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My point

Ah well, me I talk my talk. I would rather any day, strive to be at the top of the food chain like on Oxford street, controlling a large portion of that daily transaction rather than do the normal belt or spectacle selling. I like the big reward. Well, that’s just me. 


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Oxford Street Post by Mawuena Anku Quarcou

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