Even though as a country we like free things- like being in the Tigo Tribe and things like that- many of us do know that nothing is really free. We are used to paying for everything. The payment comes in various forms but money certainly has to do the talking when you want something done and done well. A great incentive.
I was at the mall on Thursday- yes, the same mall which made my life better in some ways. After a productive meeting and rescheduling of another, I decided to head out. But first, a bathroom break. Trotros and our roads in general are not very kind to full bladders. So off I went and then walking out, a boy of about 10 approached me – I’m not very good at guessing ages, but he was quite young. After a bold “good afternoon” he asked me whether people had to pay before using the toilets. “No”, I said with a straight face. And off he ran towards the sign showing where men could do their thing.
Amazing, huh? No, not for me, but for the boy. Amazing that he could just walk into this flashy place with the polished floors and use their clean bathrooms for FREE. Amazing because relieving yourself in a clean place is considered a luxury in many places in Ghana. You would be surprised at what many people make do with every single day when they need “to go”. When the VIP Bus stops at Linda Dor Rest Stop, we pay to use the “Executive” toilets, which just means clean toilets… like what I use at home every day. If you need “to go” at a Petrol Station, and it is well organized, there will be someone sitting behind a rickety table with coins and suspicious looking tissue paper before the toilet entrance. And it is the same thing in Accra Central. The only way the city maintains the toilets is to let people pay for them. And yeah, some of them are considerably clean, but then whose standards are we using? This is an icky subject to write about so I’m trying to keep it as clean as possible. Because the things I have seen. So I’ve decided that if I have to avoid water for a whole day just to avoid using some suspect place, then so be it. Better that than the nightmare of the alternative.
You see, there is a reason we are a Third World country. Yes, I know that phrase isn’t meant to be used in development discussions but I still use it. I say we are even lucky that we are Third World considering all the crap (pun intended) that goes on as we try to develop.
I’m thinking about the boy, about what he would tell his friends when he goes back home. Whether they would believe him and perhaps come and see for themselves. The mall toilets showed him a world which is better and where things could be possible. You see, I thought I saw that same boy with two other friends ran past me giggling on my way in. I wondered what the fuss was all about. So perhaps he picked the short end of the straw or he himself volunteered to come back and be the one to ask the big question: Was it free to use the toilets?
Oh Ghana. When will we rise up and be better than 50 pesewas for a piss?
The last month or so I have not been consistent in posting every Friday as I said I would (though I have sometimes posted on other days like today). My sincere apologies especially to those who look out for my posts. I have been writing but lately my words have been “too much” for the public domain. We need to think before we speak, yeah? However, you can safely expect some level of consistency up to the end of 2016, which is actually the duration of this personal blogging project. Keep well, folks!