Does Personal Responsibility Exist In Ghana?

August 22, 2011 § Leave a comment


I do that when I’m exasperated, very annoyed, or when I’m watching Richard Kingston play for the Black Stars. I went on my first run yesterday morning. I’ve gone on many walks, but the weather’s been really nice lately, so I felt like taking advantage of it before the heat reared up again. There’s one trick about running if you’ve never been the kind to run or find the whole exercise intimidating. Walk a short course, something you know you can walk with complete ease. Make sure you do this several times, then jog it. It’s really that simple. Knowing where you’re going makes for an easy workout. Also, try breathing only out of your nose; I find it helps to regulate my pace. Try it, and let me know how it went. Then as you grow comfy with that short course, add a bit more to it, and before you know it, you’re running long distances.

Ok, back to my story. I barely made 100m from my house before I saw my neighbor’s 11-year-old doing #2, or “going to private” as they like to call it in these parts. Seriously?! This is 2011 and these people do this without shame. The other day, I watched a guy walk out of the shrub two plots from my house. As he approached me, he looked up and said “Morning, boss.” I didn’t bother to offer a reply as I knew I’d have nothing nice to say back to him.

I got on a bus ride from Accra to Madina, and I had this fat one glued to me the whole ride to zongo junction. I entered the tro-tro first and sat next to the window in the middle row. The van had been empty, but this woman had to sit next to me. I can’t tell you how much I hate when people do that!! As we made out of our station, she opened her bag for a plastic bag full of some funky smelling thing, which she began to eat. I’m not being mean. It just didn’t look edible. After finishing it off, she tossed the plastic trash on the floor. Then she bought pure water, and after drinking three quarters of the sachet, she placed that, too, on the floor. Next, she reached in the bag for two peeled oranges. And like the first two, she casually tossed her waste on the van’s floor.  As we neared the traffic at Legon, she started nodding in agreement to a radio convo about bad roads in Ghana and how government is failing to solve this and other problem. I was steamed at this point, but I didn’t say a word.

Ghanaians are lazy. Ghanaians never look inward or have much regard for personal responsibility, especially when we’re talking about social responsibility.  Yes, I said it. It needed to be said. Get over it! Matter of fact, I actually don’t give a you-know-what if you’re pissed. I watch people toss trash everywhere and I used to ignore it, but I’ve had it. Last night, a roadside vendor near my home emptied a wash basin full plastic baggies and who knows what into a gutter that was already clogged and clearly not built past that block to connect to any drainage system. Who cares, right? It’s not her responsibility. If the roads are flooded after rainfall and all this waste spills out onto the street like I’ve seen at the Madina market, guess who Ghanaians will hold responsible for the mess? Someone else! Have road signs? What road signs? Asked to form a queue to buy lpg or in any other normal commercial situation? That’s for suckers. If you’re a Ghanaian, you’ll rudely streak past everyone to the front of the line, and then pick fights with any who dare to say something to you.

A neighbor used to come over occasionally to watch my tv since I’ve had no interest in almost everything that’s offered on Ghanaian television. I can’t tell you how much I miss FX and HBO. This person would always leave food particles on my table, bed, floor… it’s amazing how one can leave that much of a trail behind them. It’s equally amazing the response I get when I complain about liking my room clean.
“you complain too much. So what’s a lil’ bread on the bed? Do all white people act this way?”

“Please don’t touch my laptop without my permission.”

“What? Take your laptop. You flex too much!”

Yes, that’s right. I flex too much. I still don’t know exactly what that means, btw. But, no, it doesn’t matter that your hands are greasy. Even my kids knew to wash their hands before they could play on my notebook. No, it doesn’t matter that you can’t even type, never used a laptop, or how to even power one on. No, it doesn’t matter that my last 2 years is on that thing, and I shouldn’t risk having someone who has no business being on it, nor can replace it if it’s broken. Nope. It’s none of those reasons. Since it’s there, it has to be used any way one wants. Someone else can deal with the problems from its misuse.

This weekend, I set up compost bins and a d-i-y natural gas contraption. I’ve tired of having our trash burned or buried and insisted on a few changes. My dad acknowledges in his own quiet agreement that he knows next to nothing about composting, but is following my rules about how we dispose of trash, which is kind of cool to watch. We haven’t sent away any trash bags in almost a month now. All our cans are waiting to be recycled (if only Ghana would find ways to recycle metal). Well, in walked a neighbor, who had much to say after having noticed my compost bins.

“what are you going to do with your “borler”?” “Is this what you learned in America?” “Did you read this from a book?” “Why can’t you burn it like the rest of us? What’s this “abrofos3m”? Now you want to make your own gas, too? You’re too known. If this is how Abrofo are, I never want to be like them.”

And then we wonder why they call us “third word.”


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