First of all I must reiterate the point about the single woman in Ghana and also add, being a person who has obviously spent a substantial amount of time abroad also attracts people who think they are more smarter than you and are ready to drain every last of cash from your purse.
First example, this morning, I asked a carpenter to give me a quote to fit my kitchen. Bare in mind, my house is a modest size 2 bedroom, this is a very small kitchen. It will take around 2 bottom cabinets and about 3 on top. The estimated cost, GHS3,200, that’s like £1,500. Notwithstanding the fact that the timber is abundant in Ghana, and the take home these guys were getting in a month is about my shopping bill for a fortnight. I think that they thought that I was a foreigner with more money than sense, so they too should chop some. I didn’t get annoyed though, I said thank you and let the man be on his way. Already my aunt took one look at the man and said he didn’t look like he was a proper carpenter and she may be a pain at times, but she is like my mum, looking out for my best interest. If I’m going to pay such amount of money, I might as well pay it to a company. They were selling a kitchen unit at a well known furniture store for around GHS1,300 and they were an imported product. I wish them the best of luck in any event and hope they find someone who will pay their exorbidant prices.
Second example, my dear Uncle with a heart as good as gold and a good business sense, saw the potential in his sister-in-law for cooking. Now he lives in the US but he is planning to settle back in September. He has a lot of projects going on which he came down to sort out before leaving to sort his last one or two before coming down. One of the projects is to open a cold store in which he will sell amongst other things tilapia. In the meantime, his sister-in-law is living in his house in Ghana doing practically nothing. So before he left he set her up with a little kiosk to sell fried yam or Banku and Tilapia. Now this business, she would get the profit but doesn’t have to worry about the initial start-up as it is all being financed by my uncle.
On the first day, my uncle tells her that she shouldn’t sell, she should be giving out free samples, they try it and she advertise that she will be selling from the next day. You know the phrase, “and she couldn’t even give it away”. That is what happened. After two hours she came back to the house to say that the people don’t seem to be interested. Now where the location is, it is a main road and lots of people pass to go to the various locations on the North side of Accra. She is not the most formidable of characters but I thought she would at least, when people are walking by, ask them to try her free samples. There was a young man by her side, he could have gone up to the cars and have said try it it’s free. I have never known a black man in his life to pass up something free. My uncle got a bit irrate when she said she couldn’t give it away, and told her to go back outside, he didn’t say anything after that, but she advised herself to go and give the food away.
The next day, for the sake of my uncle I thought I would patronize the place. It was around 2pm and I was feeling peckish and the workmen were making a calamity in the house with the doors so took the car down to see if I could get some tilapia and fried yam. I saw the grill for the fish but lady was no where in sight. I went there the next evening around 9, she was there alright but there was no street lamp where she was seated and she didn’t think to light a lantern or some candles, I had been looking out for her and nearly drove right past her, how would a passer by see her? I wanted to tell her that she should light some candles so people can see her, but Ghanaians don’t really take to kindly to advise, they see it rather as a criticism. So I bought my food, said thank you and left. Did she crack a smile, not really, but at least she spoke to me rather than the grunts I had received in past encounters.
In this instance, the issue is this, she has been sitting in her sisters house, rent free, devoid of all bills with her sister sending money for housekeeping every month so she doesn’t see why she is being sent out to work. Her mindset is that my uncle is rich, he is not doing so badly for himself, but it wasn’t through shaking the money tree at the back of the house but through sheer hard work and determination.
But that’s not how she see’s the world, and unfortunately she is not alone. I really hope her business goes well, but past experience tells me by the time my uncle comes back to settle she will go to him cap in hand and tell him that her business has collapsed because she couldn’t get the customers. It’s the same old sad story and I’ve seen it many times. They don’t bother because if it doesn’t work out their “relative from abroad” will just send some fresh money.
They just don’t know how people are suffering in all kinds of weather and the bills that have to be paid and what they end up sacrificing to send money over for it to be spent very unwisely.