Archive for the 'rant' Category

Creeping in the dark hours

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

Oh troubled times! In an effort to obtain my iPod or its equivalent value, I made an appointment with the boy’s mother (whom I lent it to, and who now “can’t find it.”) The boy didn’t show. I had expected to receive the money from her and be finished with the issue, but instead I was met with fresh questions. During our conversation, the mother asked how Ben has been behaving lately, and she described how Ben has been asking her for money every day, as he is with his brother also. I described how he leaves the guesthouse in the morning, and doesn’t return until late at night. I said that when I needed help, I turned to my family, and so I had hoped that she might pay for the iPod that Ben has “lost.” She said the didn’t have enough money to pay for it, which was unlikely true, but she made it clear that she disapproved of his actions, and that she was finished accepting responsibility for him. He is 30 years old, after all. Apparently, this isn’t the first time he’s been in a lot of trouble. I told the mother that if I can’t get the money from her, then I’ll just go to the police, because I can’t just sit around and waste my time waiting for the thing to show up. She reluctantly agreed that that was the best way forward.

The next stop was the police station. I filled out a police report, and they asked me if I knew where he would be at any time so they could come and “pick” him. Since he usually slept at the guesthouse, I thought the middle of the night would be fine.

Later that night, Ben returned to the guesthouse around 11:00 PM, and I was alerted to this fact by a friend who was studying outside. Since he had come home, I decided to set my alarm for 3:45 and wait until then.

The alarm rang. I hadn’t really slept. I got dressed and crept out of the guesthouse, past the sleeping security guard. I walked down the road a little, and then jogged 5 minutes to the police station. I woke two officers who had been informed of the plan tonight, and they prepared promptly. We caught a taxi back to the guesthouse. One of the officers woke the security guard to inform him of what was happening. I showed the other officer where Ben’s room was.

The officer knocked on the door slowly, deliberately, forcefully. Ben opened the door in about 30 seconds. The officer told him “I want to see you.” He entered the room with Ben and closed the door, allowing Ben to put on some trousers and a shirt. When he was finished, they came out of the room, and we got back in the taxi.

The way back to the police station was marked by many rhetorical questions asked by the police, and one good point: why hadn’t Ben misplaced one of his things?

In the station, Ben looked at me and asked me if I had met his mother that day. I told him I did, and she told me to bring him here.

The police took his belt, and put him in the cell with several others. It was dark in there, and it looked pretty dirty. I’m glad I’m not there. I ran home and went back to bed.

Ownership of Personal Property in Ghana, 101

Monday, February 12th, 2007

Personal property and ownership in Ghana have very
different meanings than they do in the West. A western person can easily understand Ghanaian “ownership” with these three easy steps:

1. I see it.
2. Now it’s mine too.
3. You must share.

This is applicable to anything Westerners might consider personal property. For example, if you are eating something, it would be rude in Ghana if you don’t offer your friends to “join” you, meaning, to eat your food along with you until it’s finished. This obviously causes the food on the plate to disappear faster than it would have if you were eating it by yourself. The rule commonly causes mouth-stuffing races as people struggle to fill up. If you made the mistake of buying just enough food for yourself, you’ll be going hungry tonight, or you’ll be making another trip to the food stand.