From Village Junction to Parakuo Link Road is a straight two-mile stretch. On this seemingly neverending length of potholed tarmac, the walk home to Parakuo Estate could take up to forty-five minutes under a scorching sun. It is a seven-minute ride by the fastest route available in these parts, but that is often a private car or taxi on a listless Sunday morning. The roads are completely deserted today. Even the bus drivers are in church on this Sunday morning, yet the scorching sun won’t stop its ferocious pounding even for Jesus.
I’m seated in the passenger seat of a taxi heading home when I spot a woman standing under the burning sun with a baby on her back and trying to hail a ride from my cab. “Stop the car, stop the car,” I yell to the driver, but he has no intentions of slowing down.
“Do you know her?” he asks, nonchalantly, as the mother and child disappear behind us in the rearview mirror.
“No, I don’t. But she obviously needs a ride. And she is standing in the heat with a child on her back.”
“You want to stop for her?”
“Well, it’s a bit too late now, isn’t it? But it wasn’t going to cost me anything more. We could have dropped her at the end of this long stretch of road at least.”
“Another man’s wife?” he enquires with a touch of scorn breaking through his voice. “Why? She even has a child.”
“Exactly! Even more reason to give her a helping hand, if I can, since she’s nurturing the future of our great nation – don’t you think?”
He glares at me with a quizzical look on his face and both hands firmly fixed to the steering wheel as if mentally trying to get a grip.
“It is Sunday morning, aren’t you supposed to be a Christian like everybody else?”
My question was impertinent, and he rolls his eyes in an elaborate arc and turns his attention back toward the road. In the uncomfortable silence that follows, he switches on the radio in the middle of a debate about whether the age of chivalry is dead. How apt, I thought.
You’re walking home with your woman when hoodlums attack, the presenter announces. Do you stand and protect her, or do you flee?
Pretty much all the men who ring in say they’d run for help. Run to save their life. One guy cracks a joke about Ghana women being too fat to run. He says, he would just run and leave her. The radio host cracks up in laughter. Hard to believe that this is Sunday morning programming when most of Ghana is in a church somewhere. What happened to compassion? But perhaps this is a recorded session, and we are listening to a repeat.
Still, I had been wondering for some time why too many women in Accra are so grossly overweight and dare to ask my not-so-friendly taxi driver. “Oh, Ga people,” he spits back, curling his lips into a scowl. “They are fat, and they are lazy. They own nearly all of Accra here. It is their land. They will rent you their room and sleep under the clouds. Some even call them the Jews of Ghana. They don’t like to work, but just sit down counting rent.”
“Yes,” he says emphatically. “The women, too, are very, very ugly. They will never exercise, but just sit and chew meat all night and day.”
“I see. Now I know.”
Parakuo Estate in Dome is just a sprawling mass of walled, low-cost bungalows masquerading as a gated community. We pull up to the second of two guarded entrances, but in reality, we could have entered the compound through any one of various unmanned backroads.
“Morning, Rasti,” says the sleepy guard, grinning as he peers through the taxi’s tinted glass windows half expecting to see signs of some loose woman sitting in the back seat. Sneaking home on a Sunday morning had me looking like an all-night dirty stop out. What would Jesus say?
The taxi driver steers through the open barrier, then rolls on ahead for about one hundred metres before turning left and first right toward the rented house I call home. When the walled compound pulls into full view, I can hear my dog Kojo barking behind the wrought iron gate as I yawn and pay the taxi driver, just about ready now for my bed.
“As-Salaam-Alaikum,” the driver says.