When you ever get on a bus for a long journey here in Ghana, you have got yourself into a world of many possible original Ghana moments. And you can never regret it, I tell you.
Yesterday, I had to make a very quick dash from Accra to Takoradi and back before 4pm. A marathon it was, and I won. One of the things you notice on any respectable bus crossing the motherland is that, once the bus sets off, there are some nice young men who accompany you part of the way, either preaching the fire of God or selling some local medicine. Whoever told them that all the sick people suddenly mass up together and get on one bus, only God knows!! Sometimes when you are lucky, you get an interesting young man, and yesterday that seemed my lot.
So this man looks unassuming and not least like someone who can talk. But when he started, everyone sat up in their seats.
Typically, he started with a prayer, asking God for a good interaction and our unfettered attention, casting out any spirit of disrespect for his drug-selling “ministry” and binding anybody who has made up his mind that he will not buy; “so help me, God!! Amen”. His prayer got half the bus laughing but he still had to bring us all in, when he noticed that the response was so feminine. He went on to ask for the men to let him hear the macho in our voices, to which a group of rowdy boys sitting at the back gladly obliged, screaming their loudest Amens for a prayer long said, thank you!!
This man goes on to say that he has been selling for twenty years and some of us people in the bus probably had no teeth by then. Then he went on winding along about how the government should be sending all those university people to some of their labs so that we can improve local drugs instead of teaching the folk to go and work in white people’s labs, doing white people’s drugs. He got a loud “Preach On” from the back, and a few giggles to spice the whole thing.
Then he knew he had our attention. He goes on; “Look at China!! They have been doing their own medicines. Today, it is China tea, China herb, China leaves, even China grass. Why won’t they grow?” The man animated his very common sense and people were clapping all over the bus, with one lad punctuating his speech with “Wiɛ”, “Nana kasa” and the Ga “Obaa wɔ” and the like.
Our seller man was on fire. He went on preaching about the fact that since today was his birthday, he was going to change all our lives on the bus, that whatever ailment you or your family has, you had better said your farewells because he was known all over Nkoranza and the surrounding places as Okumyareɛ, and that only Accra people were too inattentive to his business, and hadn’t they nearly collapsed his job when he sold there three years ago? That was why he liked Takoradi people and Cape Coast people and all the people in-between because they made the business grow and that was good for local economy. His pocket, that is. Then he shouted a big “Praise the Lord”, to which the now-excited army of women screamed, “Halleluyah”. “Kronkron” and they shouted, M’Awuradea”. “Asalaa ma le kum” – “Ma le kum sala!!” And now the whole bus was charged.
By this time, whether he liked it or not, his drugs were going to run out. Whenever he said a few lines, seeming to be hearing “Obaa wɔ” for the first time, and throwing caution to the wind as to what it could mean, he made it his campaign slogan and shouted it the more until all our passenger folk started repeating it for him. People started raising voices over each other to buy a bottle of the syrup and wasn’t he glad? He sold them all out and thanked the driver for the standing space, before he got off the bus at the next junction, mighty pleased that he had done the Lord’s work in an Accra-bound bus long before the sun had even done half its assignment for the day. He grinned broadly as he walked away.
Today is the day before Ghana drills first oil from those fields sitting in the ocean far away. I was walking on the pavement once when I heard two primary kids apparently discussing their homework. “So what shall the government use the oil money for?” says one. And the other one seemingly lost in thought, tells him, “I don’t know, but maybe it will be like free school feeding and free school uniforms so they will go round and give every school child some of it.” I stopped, I tell you. Then I smiled to myself and continued to walk, thanking God for freedom of speech.
Okay, so let’s get on with life but never miss a chance to enjoy the original Ghana moments that make our beloved country tick. Ghana just rocks, I tell you.