Let me just say from the beginning that I am sure that this particular article is going to generate a lot of controversies. But come to think of it, what’s life without a little controversy? After all the President of our dear nation His Excellency the President Nana Akuffo Addo said sometimes one has to draw controversies. So, obviously, I am taking a cue from our very gallant and smart leader. I came to Wa in June, 2016, that’s about nine months give or take. As much as the stay has been interesting, there have been some things that have caught my attention. Some of these things are interesting, some a bit weird, some others are just not right, thus the title: “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.”
Obviously, I think that it is only fair, that I start with “The Good.” I am quite sure that readers will understand and appreciate the order in which I chronicle my stay in the Wa Municipality.
Now, first things first, people who know me personally might know me to be a foodie. I enjoy eating as much as cooking, well to be honest; I enjoy eating a bit more than I enjoy the cooking. I have lived in Accra most of my life and believe you me there are some “killer” waakye joints in the region, particularly the regional capital, Accra. Off the top of my head, “Auntie Muni Waakye,” yes this joint is known for its regular visits by the celebs and some high standing members of society thus, its notoriety for being “crazily” expensive: cocain Waakye they call it. Then, there is “Extra O” in lapaz. A friend of mine (Sheriff Mustapha) told me about that place, so I had to go check it out myself. I have to say, sumptuous waakye but that one too “Charlie the price nu someway bi.” Enough about Accra, naturally being in a different environment but still being a Waakye aficionado, I took it upon myself to find places to eat good food. To be totally honest I tried a few that were totally whack. But then, during the election coverage after spending the night with my fellow journalists, some military and policemen and officials of the electoral commission I stumbled on a group of soldiers, well built, armed to the teeth with a dangerously terrifying appearance eating Waakye. Now the aroma of the Waakye was so enticing I had to put my fear of military men in my pocket and ask them where they bought the food. Now surprisingly, these soldiers gave me the directions without a fuss. So I find this Waakye woman just along the Ministries road and it was heaven on a plate. To enjoy Waakye in Accra you are looking at close to 10ghc for an average spender, but I enjoyed my Waakye here for far less. Then some weeks late as I was reliving my Waakye experience to a colleague, she directs me to another joint, a bit expensive though but still, you have got to commend the cook. Aside the Waakye, there is a wide variety of meals you can find here in this region that we southerners do not enjoy. Talk of “koose” mixed with boiled moringa leaves, a little pepper and salt to taste and teeny tiny bit of oil to soften the mixture and you are good to go. Take this from me; it is a delicious as it is healthy. Ei! Before I forget there is the afternoon porridge with the tiny lumps in it. Let’s just say with that “kooko” no need for groundnuts. My picks for morning “kooko”; there is a place around the hospital area and another closer the Sinapi Aba area on the Dokpong Road.
Now everyone knows I am a foodie, so away from food. Although some people might disagree, the cost of living in the Upper West Region is relatively lower. You can rent a single room apartment for a low as 450ghc a year. Although 450ghc is a substantial amount, fellow travellers from the south will agree with me that housing in Accra is a bit on the high side because you might have to rent a similar single room apart for 600ghc a year and bear in mind I am being generous with the amount here, because they are going for a lot more absurd prices than you can imagine. Talking about cost of living, few days ago, it been reported by several media house that transport fares have gone up in Accra and as usual the bus conductors are having a hard time charging new fares, the passengers are having a hard time paying the new fares. Here in the Upper West Region, more often than not, it’s a flat 1(one) Ghana for your pocket when you board these vehicles we call “Mahama Kamboo.” Sometimes it is unfair, but other times, it is worth it. But all in all I must say that the fares are fair.
If you have ever been to Kumasi, Accra: especially the Osu RE area, the Kojo Thompson Road (late afternoon), the 37 Military Hospital Road all the way up to Opeibia. All these roads have one thing in common and yes you guessed right; Traffic!! To dodge the traffic jam, you have to be up and leave home by 5am. And honestly, may the good Lord help you if you live at Madina, East Legon, Airport or Adenta and you have to use the 37 Military Hospital road between the hours of 4 and 5 pm. You can sit still in traffic jam for close to an hour; if it’s your lucky day you might actually meet what we like to call “go slow” and well I find that one a lot more irritating than the still traffic jam. Anyway we are not talking about Accra are we? I have been in Wa close to a year and in all my stay here I cannot recall a single traffic jam I have been in. There most basic means of transportation is a motorbike and then came the “Mahama Kamboo” and these do not cause traffic jams.
Let me end with this one, here in the Upper West Region speaking precisely from what I have seen in the Wa Municipality, there are a lot of opportunities that abound. Firstly there is farming: Yes! Farming. I have spoken to a couple of people who are into small scale farming and they do not seem interested in expanding into medium scale. Now farming is big time business when done right. There are vast, arable and uncultivated lands in the region. I asked around and all you seem to have to do is go see the landlords of these lands and agree on a percentage that goes to them after harvesting and boom! Just like that you have got yourself a sizeable piece of farmland. You should see the Wa market; flooded with groundnuts and tomatoes and okras and yams after cultivation. All you need to do is transport them south, sell them for a slightly lower than average price and Abrakadabra: Presto Magic!!!! Money in your pockets. Aside there are other are lot more opportunities if you have the eye for it.
Nine months in Wa is one heck of an experience. It has its perks, has it downsides but all in all these are the bits if Wa I have enjoyed. In my next piece, I will take you through “THE BAD.”
Written by: Mark Kwasi Ahumah Smith
Facebook: Kwasi Ahumah Smith