Ghanaians Actually Make Me LOL

What the title said. And this time, it’s not just about sanitary pads, although some of the things being said on the radio are pretty funny… but I digress. I’m not here to talk about M-Pad.

There are two instances over the past week that have caused me to laugh out loud as much out of humour as incredulity.

Episode I: The Airport

I came back from South Africa on Wednesday, and I’d travelled alone, so when I got to Kotoka airport, of course, it was I who had to drag my two suitcases out to the car park, where my mother awaited. So that’s the background information.

Now, are you familiar with the ramp? The one that leads out of the airport building. I was going down that ramp with my two suitcases in tow, when this middle-aged guy showed up. He was wearing one of those orange-and-yellow vests that people in this country don to look ‘official’. You should know that I wasn’t having the easiest time with my luggage, so I was, no doubt, grateful when he offered to assist me with it. I graciously accepted.

Two feet. That’s about almost half the length of my body. That is also how far this vest-wearing, middle-aged man carried my suitcases before he asked me, “Do you have anything for your father?”

See, now, as far as I knew, my father was lying on his bed in a little house in Labone, and whether or not I’d gotten him a gift from my travels was surely my affair, and not his?

“My father?” I asked, confused.

“Me,” he clarified, and in hindsight, I should not have been surprised in the least, since with Ghanaians, everyone you meet is your relative, regardless of whether you are related or not. “Do you have something (read: som-tin) small for me?”

Finally, I got his meaning. He wanted money. Oh, how I wished Grandpa Charles was here to give him a good telling-off (I’m referring to a story in a previous post, What Happened to Grandpa Last Saturday). But Grandpa, unfortunately, wasn’t here, so I replied, “I don’t have anything on me.” This was not entirely true, but I wasn’t about to take off my heavy backpack and begin to rummage around for my wallet. It was too deep in the middle of other things, and I’d have had to practically empty my whole bag. Simply put, ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat.

The vest-wearing man did not have the sense or the decency to disguise his money-seeking motives even a little bit. He said, forlorn, “Then I’m sorry, this is my last one…”

Last one what? I wanted to ask. But before I could get the words out of my moth, he had abandoned the suitcases and gone in search of wealthier luggage-draggers. Now, I suppose ‘last one’ mean t last tile, as in a single tile on the floor, because that’s how quickly he was gone.

Say it with me now: shameless.

AS you can see, it was my amazement that made me LOL this time. When I got outside, some random guy was hovering around my mum’s car as she created space for Aunty Gifty and I to put the luggage in the boot. Given my encounter a couple of minutes earlier, you must understand that I was not at all in the mood to accept the help of another gold-digger.

“It’s okay; we can do it,” I said to him, referring to the transferring of the luggage into the boot. They weren’t heavy enough to warrant a struggle, anyway.

This hard-headed idiot continued to hover around with the pretence of directing my mother as she tried to park. Ain’t foolin’ nobody. As soon as my mother turned off the engine, he was back, about to offer his unnecessary assistance.

Louder, and more angrily, I said, “I said we can do it ourselves!”

He was startled by my straightforward brashness. But I had bore. The guy backed away quicker than mom could open the car door. That’s right. Vana like a puma! Penniless (or shall I say pesewaless), he departed. Good riddance.

When I told my mum the story, she laughed at me all the way back home.

 

Episode II: On the road

On Saturday, I’d just gone to Dzorwulu and was on my way to East Legon to get something for my brother.

There we were, innocently cruising, myself and my mother’s driver, Mr. Wisdom (you don’t even have to bother asking if he’s Ewe), and all of a sudden, some rogue black car shot past us and promptly stopped. I began to wonder, which maniacal idiot has Ghana allowed to wield a licence this time?

Then the driver of the car stepped out. My imagined maniacal idiot was a policeman. I will not, however, take my previous conclusion back, because his next actions did nothing to change my opinion.

Mr Policeman started waving his arms about frantically like deranged person. He was just a bit short of jumping up and down; he was so excited. Then he began to rain insults on Mr Wisdom, while yelling, “Is for you? The road is for you? The whole road is for you? Aboa,” and other nonsensical, improperly-structured sentences and profanities.

Mr Wisdom was super cool. I’m sorry, sir,” he said, and saluted.

The question is, if this policeman had somewhere to be, that was undoubtedly more important than where we the normal civilians had to be, he could have at least given an INDICATION that he wanted to overtake us, perhaps blowing the horn, instead of almost killing us by collision.

Mr Wisdom did not, in fact, think the whole road belonged to him, but Mr Policeman obviously did – judging by how he had no qualms on stalling traffic for no reason. You may wonder, like me, that if he truly had somewhere to be, shouldn’t he be focusing on getting there, instead of stopping to yell at innocent drivers? Questions of the century…Anyway, when his mouth was satisfied that enough spit had flown out of it, he returned to his vehicle. As he drove away, Mr Wisdom and I had a good laugh over it.

This is our peace-keeping force, people. Quite peaceful, they are, huh? #GodBlessOurHomelandGhana.

-‘Vana

What Happened to Grandpa Last Saturday

Hello, beautiful people who waste your time reading what I write! I promised myself to begin an entire category dedicated to my Grandpa, called “Stories of Charles Seth Ofori.” A lot of people seemed to like the first story I wrote about him, involving a missing wallet and the lack of water. (If you haven’t read Pipes No Dey Flow, click here.)

So, here’s another one (or actually, three.)

What Happened to Grandpa Last Saturday

         Just so you know, I’ve saved the funniest story for last, so if you get bored, keep reading…Or you can just skip – but I don’t want you to, so please don’t.

Grandpa Charles went to the airport on Saturday to pick up my dad’s sister’s husband, Johnny. (John and Mary, I hope you’re reading this.) Three mentionable things happened. I’m going to write them out in story-form because it’s what I do best. Note: These are in the order Gramps narrated them to me, NOT the order they occurred. Also, the events are true but the direct speech is not. But which great writer doesn’t embellish the truth a little bit? Okay, here we go.

1. Johnny Hulede had just arrived from Maryland. Charles Seth Ofori was there, at least fifteen minutes before the plane was scheduled to land, because Charles was never late. Ever. After the mandatory greetings came the hustle of trying to find one’s luggage, through the sea of heavily-clad, noisy individuals, sweating in the heat they had forgotten after being on that freezing plane, the conveyor belts of Kotoka International Airport.

One suitcase of Johnny’s was much heavier than Charles had anticipated, and that old body couldn’t be expected to do so much labour. Johnny himself had to use a considerable amount of strength to hoist it up onto the trolley. Together, they wheeled it out with great effort, all the way to the car.

Unbeknownst to them, they were being watched by a crafty pair of eyes, which continued to watch them as they made their way from the airport’s exit to the car. Only then did the owner of these eyes deign to reveal himself.

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“Afternoon, sa,” he said, with a salute. Charles, who was popping the boot open, turned around to stare at him. If this spying man had been any wiser, he would have trembled under Charles’ unwavering scrutiny. He was not that wise, hence, he did not tremble.

“Make I help you wit de log-age, sa,” he continued. “I tink sey ibi heavy wey I see you pushing da trolley from da airport inside.”

Charles, of course, was having none of it. The result of his examination proved to be true: the man wanted money.

“Herh, herh, my friend,” said Charles coldly. “If you actually wanted to help us, why did you not help us from the exit?” The man had no answer. “What is the use of your help, now that we are already at the car?” Still no answer given. “You people, all you want is money. I don’t need your help. No, no, don’t even try to explain. You want money, isn’t that it? For doing no work at all.”

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Guys, my grandpa is not this ugly in real life. Forgive my crude art.

The man’s mouth opened and closed wordlessly. How to describe him? One word: flabbergasted.

Together, Johnny and Charles managed to lift the suitcases into the old car’s trunk.

“Good…g-good afternoon, sa,” stammered the man, and departed in shame.

 

2. There was a man who had a brother. This man lived in Ghana. His brother lived in the USA, which happened to be…exactly where Johnny had come from! Now, everyone knows that snail mail can’t be trusted to deliver money safely (especially if it is through or to Ghana), so this was the plan they had carried out: the man’s brother had given Johnny the money to give to the man upon arrival in Ghana.

Said man met Johnny at Charles’ car in the parking lot of Kotoka International Airport.

“You got the moola?” he said, after greeting both Charles and Johnny. (Okay, he didn’t actually say that. I just wanted to use the word ‘moola’ to make him look more gangster-y. Unfortunately, he was 120% un-gangster-y.)

So Johnny was all, “Oh yeah, yeah!” And after rummaging around a bit, found the cash. It was quite a lot, I tell you. But this man was untrusting, a trait he shared with many of his Ghanaian brethren, and so, of course, he had to count the money before he could leave. The trouble in this was that the back seat was full of all the extra luggage that Johnny had brought. Charles’ trunk just hadn’t been big enough. Johnny was sitting shotgun. So the only option left was for the man to sit in the driver’s seat as he counted the money – because everyone knows that in Ghana, you don’t count large sums of money where anyone can see you. Are you freaking ASKING to be mugged?!

Anyway, Charles graciously gave up hi seat for this young man to make sure his package was intact. When he was done, he said a polite “thank you” to Johnny and proceeded to leave.

False strike.

Charles was Appalled, with a capital A.

“Young man,” he called out. “How can you be so rude? So you have your money, and because of that, you don’t even bother to say goodbye to the octogenarian man who bothered to stand outside in this heat while you comfortably sat in my car counting your money?”

The man shame-facedly apologized profusely. But Charles wasn’t done. Once an Ofori gets started, who dareth interrupt? Charles began to lecture him for about five more minutes about: how he understood perfectly because Ghanaians were all the same; how people generally have lost respect for their elders entirely; how people can abandon rationality and manners in the midst of cash, etc, etc.

I can only speculate about how the man must have felt ten times more ashamed than he would have if Grandpa had just accepted the apology and moved on in life. But that is not the way of Charles Seth Ofori.

 

3. Backtrack to when Grandpa Charles was waiting for the plane to land – a result of being freakishly early, as usual. Two men stood beside him, obviously waiting for (a) passenger(s) as well. Now, you know these cordial Ghanaians – always unafraid of making small-talk with complete strangers when they’re bored.

These two men decided to strike up a conversation with Charles.

The first asked him, “So who is it that you’re here to pick up?”

Grandpa replied, “Oh, just my son-in-law.”

The man nodded understandingly, with such gravity that you’d think that waiting for one’s son-in-law was akin to sending a very important minister to a Parliament meeting. So much wisdom and intelligence was encompassed in this man’s nod, which was all consummately shattered by the next words that came out of his mouth: “Is it a man or a woman?”

No mercy. Charles couldn’t laugh. Had he just heard right? Had he actually just been asked the most moronic question he’d heard since the beginning of the decade? Apparently so! Because the second man had erupted into laughter.

“Don’t you know?” said the second man. “This man is speaking the Queen’s language!” He then explained how the “son” part of son-in-law referred to a male person that was married to your daughter…

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(Now I, myself, do not know the difference between “Queen’s language” and normal English, but I’m just quoting what Grandpa says he said.)

Grandpa wasn’t laughing (yet). How to describe his facial expression in one word: flabbergasted.

 -Akotowaa