The mini-bus passenger                          

As the mini-bus we had boardered skittered along on the outskirts of Accra’s dusty roads, I realized I was the youngest and the darkest passenger. My shabby appearance and exceptionally dark complexion drew sniggers from the passengers. Some of them actually felt uncomfortable sharing the same jam-packed vehicle with me. Others wished I had disembarked. I felt sorry for my self. Cleaning her teeth with a little stick and studying me out of the corner of her eyes, a woman sitting on my right side asked:

“Why are you so dark?”

Quivering with rage, I tried to ignore her by looking outside of the window.

“I’m still in Africa.” I said to myself.

“What would then be my plight should I happen to land on the White man’s land?” Looking outside through the window, it was evident that Ghana’s thriving street economy was in full swing. A traditional healer selling garish potions in greasy bottles; ragged charcoal traders with sickly yellowish faces and carrying children at their backs, lounging against their charcoal sacks, teenage children risking their lives in the traffic jam in a city drooping in steamy heat.

It was nearly dark by the time we got to Ghana’s border with Togo at Aflao. Before crossing into Togo, I turned back for one last look at a country that has an umbilical pull for me, being the place I spent the happiest years of my childhood. Despite all these, I considered myself to be among the lucky few who had left, or were leaving.

After all, somewhere, in some village, a child is walking more than five kilometers to study under a mango tree or a tent.

Somewhere, in some village, an elderly person has to trek for several kilometers to get to an under-staffed clinic, if at all there is any.

Somewhere, in some village; a foot is swollen with guinea-worm; a belly is swollen of kwashiorkor due the lack of clean drinking water.

To be continued…