The first two parts of this trilogy has almost always talked about food and other trivial issues that I have seen and encountered during my stay in Wa. The second part of the series saw the reaction I expected; some people outside the region took a rather keen interest in the article and have been prompting me to write my final piece. On the other hand, some people were not too excited about the article because of what I wrote about the “kenkey.” The thing is, you might be incensed and livid about what you read but quite honestly it is the truth. When I mean truth, I don’t just mean the “kenkey,” I mean every other thing I wrote. In this final bit of the series I am going to share some things that I have noticed in the municipality that must not be encouraged at all. A community that listens and learns is a community that thrives.
People have argued that money is what makes everything grow. I for one have never believed this argument. For me, I have always believed that attitude is the basis of growth in everything we do. Growth in your spiritual life or academic pursuit and especially in business or career, success depends largely on attitude. Although this is my conviction, I am bound to believe that there are people who share the same conviction. I have lived in Accra for the better part of my life and any person who has been in Accra knows one thing; “business saturation.” There are so many people doing the same thing, in the same area and yet they are all expecting different results. But how do you as an individual gain the results that you really want? It’s pretty simple; you do your things differently, work harder and the results will change. In Accra, as early as 5:30am, the whole business community in the informal sector begin operations. Shops are open, market women begin to unpack their wares, trotros and taxis are already out and the whole city is alive. The thing about Accra is whether rain or shine, there are always brisk business activities taking place. The same cannot be said for Wa, well as far as I can tell. There have been a few times when I have gone out after 6:00am to purchase items only to find out that on an approximately one mile stretch with close to 20 shops, not a single shop was open for business and the reasons have been; it rained, the weather was too cold or it is too early. During the day, you can visit shops to transact business only for you to be told that the people who run the businesses have gone out or gone home or for no particular reason, cannot be found. Now this begs the questions; if you do not have the right attitude towards work or towards your business how do you expect to grow? You can decide to blame the President and his government all you want but if you do not change your attitude towards work, there will be no forward movement for what you do.
During our Junior and Senior High School days, most of us read a book titled “courtesy for boys and girls,” but there are times when I think that most people did not read it. A few days ago went to buy airtime from a shop very close to my work place. The attendant who was quite an older woman presumably in her forties, decided to relaxingly finish taking her “selfie” before she got up to serve me. In Accra trotros and taxis ply particular routes and so you are sure that if you board a trotro from “Lapaz” to “Circle” there is no way that the trotro will decide to pick people going to “Achimota” and alight them first, probably go to “Mile Seven” before finally heading back to “Circle.” Here in Wa, the most common means of public transportation is the “Mahama Kamboo.” Boarding these vehicles are always adventures waiting to happen. Recently I boarded a “Kamboo” from “Dondoli” and I told the driver I was going to “Dobile,” to which he agreed. Along the way he picked another person who was going to “Kabanye.” I didn’t fuss about it much because it wasn’t much of a diversion. The person alighted and another person boarded and she was heading towards the “Airstrip” area, again I wasn’t bothered much because I wasn’t in any hurry and that there is a route connecting that area to “Dobile.” Somewhere along the line, someone joins and says she is going to “Loho,” the driver okays this person to enter and tells me that the place is just a few minutes from the airstrip after which he will take me home. I was in the “kamboo” only to realise we had gone to another village over a mile away from where I was going. When I confronted him, the only thing he had to say was sorry. Out of 7 days in week that I use that “Kamboo” I argue with these drivers about 4 days out of the 7. The reason being, they do not have the common courtesy to communicate with passengers to see if they are ok with something. I am by no means saying that drivers in Accra are better, but at least they stay the course they have to. These are some of things that keep the whole region back.
Every region has it culture, and every region’s natives cherish the culture that their forbearers left for them. Inasmuch as times have changed, people have always tried to keep their culture the way it was times before. That being said, there are parts of the Ghanaian culture that needs to be scraped and stakeholders in various sectors are doing what they can, towards that direction. Although there is much being done to eradicate cases of Female Genital Mutilation and instances of child marriage, it is sad to note there are things that are holding the region back. A while back, I was going to the office to pick my bag and head home when a lady friend asked me to pick her bag for her but she suddenly came running into the office to pick her own bag. Astounded, I asked her why only for her to tell me that the two guys she was standing with told her that it is on insult on masculinity for men to be holding women’s bag. Fast forward, there was a time I had to go to the market and get some food stuff and I asked a friend to go with me, he told me categorically that he will not go because the market is not a man’s job but that of a woman and so he does not see any reason to go when he has a mother and sister. This is an attitude that runs through most people in the region. There is this belief that there is no way a man should sweep, cook, go to the market or even help in the kitchen. Here in Wa, most guys do not do anything because of this believe that it is a woman’s job. They will rather sit under trees and drink “Ataaya.” The saddest part of the issue is that although they will not help out, they mock and look down on people who do calling them names like “obaa berima.” Now visit other regions in the southern sector of Ghana, there is nothing more captivating then a shirtless man pounding “fufu” for his wife. Some people in the Wa Municipality I have spoken to say it is not tradition for men to pound “fufu” when women are around. I am no feminist, but such classless male chauvinistic behaviour among the men in the must stop or the region might remain where it is. There is still this sense of male superiority that brings and keeps the women down. Make no mistake, I am not a female writing this, I am a man and yet it hurts to see my fellow men undermine and maltreat women all in the name of culture.
Wa is a nice place to live. I always tell my colleagues up here that in Wa everyone knows everyone, because it’s not so much of a big place. Known as the youngest and poorest region in the country, the region and its people need a lot of work to develop.
Written by: Mark Kwasi Ahumah Smith