I miss Starbucks, a Tall Skinny Latte before starting the day just feels great there are no other words to explain it, especially on a cold winters day it’s just sunshine in a cup. However, as I am in Ghana and it’s kind of hot for a coffee and well you rarely get more choices than coffee with milk and sugar, I settle for a bottle of Fanta instead. As I get here extremely early to avoid the traffic I have made EstieRose my work local, it allows me that hour of peace in-between Smother talking at me and painting on a fake smile when I reach the office. On top of the other trivial emails which could be said face to face rather than email, my manager has taken to sending me emails FYA. She has not actually given me a proper handover or told me who does what for me to follow up on. It’s fine though, I will figure it out myself although what I really want to say is FYA (but it definitely won’t mean for your attention).
Today just like any other day, it was just me and the goat until my serenity was disturbed by a very scruffy looking guy. He asked if he could disturb me, and I said no, but he decided he was going to disturb me anyway. He looked like he had “cut” a few shots of whisky or was recovering from the night before, but was a very able bodied man just slightly out of it.
He asks me if I have some change to buy something to eat, it is likely that he wanted something to drink rather but nonetheless, I literally had enough money to buy my drink and nothing else. So I tell him very calmly (but slightly irritated) that he did not know how much money was in my pocket, I told him not to disturb me anyway and finally that I didn’t have any money.
Then he went on a bit, it was quite incomprehensible but I think he was telling me his whole life story, and then he mumbled under his breath “do you want me to steal”. I didn’t respond to him after that and he went away, but it’s like no mate, you don’t have to steal, I don’t know, try getting a freaking job.
Now I know, the economy is bad, there is no money in the system, I don’t know his circumstances, and there is a high percentage of illiteracy. However, this is a country where you can knock on somebody’s door and ask if they need any work done around the house, and there is a high probability that somebody will need a gardener or a cleaner and may offer you something for a bit of change.
There is this one boy in my estate, he comes round every so often to ask if I have a job for him, he irritates me a bit because he seems to have targeted my house in particular. But in another way I admire that he is not begging on the streets for a bit of change, this is someone who is willing to work for his money.
Then there is Willie and his wife Gifty. Willie does work for one of the neighbours and he actually started clearing up the weeds in my Garden. The first time he did so I didn’t have any money on me and he told me that he didn’t do it for the money, he just knew I lived alone and wanted to make the place look nice. As time went on if I needed something done around the house, I would call him and give him a little something for his troubles. When I needed a cleaner to come and help me out once a week I asked Willie, at first he was coming regularly but then he had to travel to his hometown quite a bit. So he asked if his wife could come over instead, she has been my cleaner ever since. The lady is so reliable that when my cousin was looking for a cleaner I took her over to do the job.
This is a couple who had very basic education and can barely speak English, however they are hard working and know the value of hard work. I even admire them more than some of my colleagues in the office (especially those who spend their days gossiping and chatting on Whatsapp/Facebook all day).
This man, looks like he spends the day begging, he will use his money to buy apeteshie and then sleep and then beg for a bit of change, buy bread and then more alcohol. I have not received a salary since last year and my savings ran out months ago, however I would rather go hungry than have to beg for money. It’s a matter of dignity, do I love getting up at 5 in the morning. Not really. Can I say I am passionate about the job I am doing, well we won’t really go there right now. The long and short of it is though, because I like to live comfortably, eat good food and relax after a long day watching a nice movie or show, I go out and work for my money.
This incident is not an isolated one. These guys (mainly) usually sit around spots and boldly ask you for money, some who are more honest than others will ask you to buy them a drink, some will ask for something to eat. I am very sorry, but I am not your mother neither am I your wife, why not spend that energy going from your house to the spot, looking for a job. There are jobs out there, you are never going to be CEO of a Forbes 500 company, but you can get a job as a cleaner, garden boy, hey even my mum is looking for someone to iron her clothes for her.
I don’t know if these people think that this type of jobs is beneath them or they are just lazy, but I can guarantee you if they got the opportunity to travel abroad, these are the exact same jobs they will be fighting for.
Ghanaians are supposed to be known for being hardworking people. Living here, I have seen those that are, but I have also seen a lot of very lazy individuals whether employed or not. There was a certain gentleman working for my aunt, the minute she walked out of the house he would go to the local spot around the corner. My aunt though well she has very little patience at the best of times, and believe me, he didn’t last too long.
For Ghanaians being these really hardworking people, I don’t think that they are any worse or any better to be honest. I have seen the best and I have also seen the worst. I do believe though that begging is in a lot of people’s nature, they think that if you look a certain away you must have, and they must have just by default and rather than work for it, they ask for it as if it is their entitlement. However they need to understand that it’s everywehre, there are the rich and the poor. You just need to work for yours and live within your means and strive to be the best you can be because you never know what is around the corner tomorrow.
Well anyway, that is my observation for this Monday morning, and in the spirit of practising what I am preaching, I will go and earn my keep.
Ei Maa Efia, if I can call you that. How do you manage to get it right all the time? In 2012 I was in Ghana for several months and I experienced exactly what you just described. Initially, out of guilt I would toss some money when asked thinking ‘that’s my good deed for the day’. People will even negotiate labour charges with me based on the look of my house. I cottoned on to what was happening and I would air my frustration
In Not so gentle manner. Soon I was known in the area as the troublesome ‘abrokyiri’ woman. You are right. We are all struggling so why the heck do I have to fork out money for everyone that asks for it? I share your view 100 percent. Go Girl!!!
Lol….thanks for telling me your story….I think they can sniff us out….and the worst part is when you cannot give them anything they rather insult you as if they are doing you some sort of favour haha
You are so right. Girl