I thought I’d left out much too early this morning to catch a luxury coach to Kumasi. It was barely 6 AM when I left the house, and already it felt as if I’d been out in the burning sun all day. I’m sweating like a roasting hog, even though I’m dressed in light cotton clothes, and am now seated on the so-called luxury coach to Kumasi.
Everyone else is sitting around me with not a bead of sweat on their brow. Ghanaians don’t seem to sweat that much unless doing really arduous work out in the blistering heat. I just need to look at the sun, and I’m immediately dripping wet. Thank heavens it rained last night. The ground is a lot muddier because of it, but last night’s downpour has taken some glare from the sun this morning. It was bound to be a scorcher later today. The sun always came back with a vengeance after the rain.
It’s not enough that I’ve just had to endure a three-hour loading period at the bus station. The one where the obviously mentally ill Christian preacher has been telling us all that he was once pregnant but has now been saved by the whiteness of the light of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also help you become very, very rich if you just buy some holy water before our coach reaches Kumasi. He is on board with us now preaching and talking gibberish nonstop.
The man beside me in the front seat is dialling a number for the driver to talk by mobile phone while carrying a coach load of us speeding down the motorway. And they wonder why Ghana has some of the highest rates of road deaths in West Africa. There are no seatbelts upfront either, except for the driver, and low and behold, he actually has it on.
He’s got some local TV ‘drama’ playing on DVD but without the visuals. Only the audio. It’s so loud that I can hear every sound through my earpiece with the iPhone’s volume turned up full blast. All they seem to do in these homemade dramas is shout. No lulls or highs or dramatic material to mention. Just constant screaming, fighting, adultery and witchcraft for ‘don’t-know-any-better poor people’ to laugh at while talking back at the TV set. And if the picture were working, they’d be watching some of the poorest TV production values you’re likely to see anywhere in the world, unless of course you never left this continent.
I do wonder sometimes what all those out of work black film folks are doing sitting around in the west when their skills, services and ideas are very much in demand in the Motherland. And not just them. I guess they must want a life in a world that’s already developed but where there’s hardly any place for them to be somebody.
Anyway, I’ve taken to putting my foot over the speaker through which most of this dross is thumping out right in front of me, but the driver only turns up the volume. I’ve asked him politely to turn it down, twice, but he gave me a sour look the second time and carried on speeding. I guess I’m just not Ghanaian enough or foreign enough for him to be concerned about. Instead of music, an international language we can all enjoy, he’s killing us with this madness pumped at full volume. Can’t even concentrate enough to read. All I can do is one-finger type this note of frustration, and the journey to Kumasi takes five more hours.
I’m wondering if these coach providers have any concept of customer service at all. Now the bloke squashed up beside me keeps coughing into his handkerchief and stretching across my face with his wobbly sweaty arm. Not a word of “excuse me” nor a sign of self-awareness does he express. He’s bought two apples, eaten them both and dropped the cores on the floor beside his feet and mine. And this is supposed to be the luxury coach to Kumasi?
You’d be surprised the number of people you find in Africa who will shit in their own backyard. I think I’ll fly next time for 90 cedis, even if I would prefer to sit contemplating the rolling landscape by road. Just four more hours to the cultural-capital that is Kumasi.
- You may also like Jamaica’s Bodles Banana Research Centre Revisited