Monday, October 18, 2010

When i went to Wa ...

On the Black Volta tributary at Lawra (Wa)
A pregnant woman, carrying her firewood find of the day


This has been a long time coming ... the report about what i saw, felt, went through when my not-for-profit took a tip to Wa.
Darn right, it's 3 weeks late! I'm not sorry about that ... i cherished the memories, and held on to it for as long as possible, unwilling to share it with y'all ... for fear the magic and potency will be watered down, then slowly vanish into nothingness.

Am i wacko? Sometimes. So what? I'm liberated. Hehe!!

I had been pining to go up there for a long time, but I was unsure where to start from ... i mean aren't they another country all together? Aren't they so neglected, their foreign aid so squandered and misused by their own political reps, their way of life so retro and impoverished, compared to the rest of the country?

They flock into town, and all we do is make sure the rift which left them hapless, abandoned, frustrated, stuck in a rut ... is still maintained ... so they resort to being porters and 'watchmen', stone-hearted criminals and walking time-bombs riding on motorbikes, with matchets in hand ... blood boiling red-hot in their hearts.

I went up there to see where they come from, and how they come ... where did i start?
From Wa.

Wa ... a green patch in a dustbowl.
Mehn, their shit is tight!

The place is gorgeous ... we went in September (16 - 18th) and it was in the wet season, so it was even more green and gorgeous. 
See the pictures here : http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=235017&id=561970996


It is more beautiful than Accra, it has vast swathes of land, has beautiful people, and some amazing tourist spots like the Hippo Sanctuary (a little out of Wa) and the Black Volta tributary at Lawra.
It is full of green places, vast parks and unused lands, good roads linking up everywhere, and trees.

I left town with an OA bus at 10pm from the Circle station, and we travelled through the night, stopping 4 times for passengers to see to their needs. We got to Wa at about 7 am next day, and the arrival spot was right around the Wa-Na's palace.

Unfortunately, that palace is also prey to a terrible chieftaincy dispute, so there are 2 factions fighting over it, and at the time we were in town, the palace had been shut down and declared off-limits, patrolled 24/7 by soldiers, and no photographs allowed to be taken. (we managed to take long-distance ones from the bus though ... what? It's our heritage too!)
We were surprised to hear that apart from the Yaa-Na's brutal murder and consequent chieftaincy dispute, the Wa-Na also had one raging, its public limelight stolen by the Yaa'Na's.
It's unfortunate, and i hope these both are resolved very soon, and very well.

We made our way by taxi to our host's office, Mr. T, and he sent us off promptly to our gest house, just 10 minutes away. We bathed, took a light meal, then hopped into the loaned 4-Wheeler our host lent us ... filled it with fuel, and headed off.

Uncle Dan was our older brother, guide and chauffeur through our 2 day assessment stay in Wa.
He made a few calls and told us he was sending us to see a friend near Yargpelle near WA, for us to talk to him about the real situation on the ground for fuel sources for the people in that district.

Mind you, we were there to assess and prepare for a firewood alternative programme for the people ... since this was one of the major problems they faced ... hiking several kilometres a day for firewood, having little or no electricity in some locations, living hard, impoverished lives, and having no jobs and sources of employment.

So off he cruises, and shortly slows to a halt.
"I have to call a police friend of mine," he says.
"Why?"
"Well, we need a police escort or two, because the route we are about to use is notorious for angry attacks by soime irate youth, and they can brutalize, vandalise, and kill us ...so let me just pass by the market and buy some yams for him, and he'll escort us to Yargpelle."
He says this calmly ... and we can only nod ... our mouths were too dry. With fear and excitement!
Here in Ghana, we're about to see a live movie? Idiot! This is dangerous, you know. Eeeek! But still .... wow!

Okay, adrenaline down ... Uncle Dan, isn't there a way their woes can be addressed?
He shrugs ... they stripped a policeman guarding a Metro Mass bus naked and ordered him to walk 15 kilometres to the nearest town as their nicest gesture ... you care to try it? I don't, he says.

Ooooo boy! Excited!
So we head on, and he makes a few more calls, and whaddayaknow? ... he says the friend we are going to see has just alerted him to another route to use which is safer, so ... whew! ... no more need for police escorts.
Aaaaaawww, shucks! Hehehe.

We got on the highway, and I wished we'd never stop driving ... small dams, little lakes, green stretch upon green stretch, a small airstrip, a large stadium, miles and miles of millet, wheat, corn, and groundnuts ... it was mind-boggling.

So. why.do.the.people.all.migrate.down.bloody.choked.South. to Accra and its hell?
I would stay here anyday ... scrreeech to a halt the swinging music in my head. ... aaaah, if I get a job that can cover my life's expenses.
So that was godammn it!
The only reason these people leave their homes (in Wa, I'm yet to travel to other districts in the Upper and Northern Regions which are more dry and un-green that Wa and find out their problems) and come and endure street life, rape, murder, hunger, teenage pregnancy, and all sorts of hell in Accra ... is because there are not hardly enough sources of employment and income for them.

All the foreign aid, the donors ... all that junk about the North and Upper regions being fed money to develop them ... and all the popular ministers in parliament ... and this ... THIS is still a problem?!

I was choking .... Uncle Dan, this is outrageous!
I was very quiet for the rest of our journey, mulling the senselessness of the whole thing in my Einstein head ... solutions? Solutions? Solutions?
"I wanna be a billionare, sooo freaking bad ... buy all of the things I never had" kept playing in my head ... only this time, I did not want to be on the cover of Forbes magazine, or be by Oprah or other gunk.
I wanted to be a billionare so freaking bad to help this people ... swoom into town and change things overnight for thebetter ... train the people, chage mindsets ... generate a new generation of people to run and propagate this change ... actualise the top-notch potentials glaringly residual in most of our people who are still romantics in a world of canker and gracelessness.

I wanna be a billionaire so freaking bad ... i sang as i watched the magnificent baobabs swing by through the car window, watched the fields of agric, saw several groups of women nd children shuffling along the ears of the road with precious finds of firewood, tattered clothes, lean faces, dead eyes, and ... crushed my heart.

We finally got to Uncle Dan's friend's place.
He was called Francis, one of the heads of Yargpelle, and sitting with him was his best friend, Prince Joshua of Tuori, another village close by ... soon they were joined by another friend, a lecturer at Univ of Development Studies in Wa.

Their story was memorable ... I shall share it in Part 2.
Stay tuned.

But the ruling generation, the one before them, and the generation about to come into power has a lot to pay for, to explain, to make right.
Someone's got to pay for this mess ... and someone's got to turn the tides.

Or we're toast.

4 comments:

  1. My friend, you ARE a billionaire!! You are wealthy in your desire to learn, to understand, to find SOLUTIONS. It is you and your generation that will "make right" if you insist on it, and if you encourage others in your generation to do as you have done - get out of your comfortable home town/city/village and learn about the rest of this rich country. That is how to "turn the tides". Blessings on you.

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  2. Thanks, Nana!
    Be blessed as well.

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  3. wow! what an account! I've always wondered about the North and how marginalized it is.Actually I think all of Ghana is except Accra but especially the North. It is quite unsettling. I saw the photos and I kept exclaiming"wow"! Glad we have a similar passion for the North but what can be done? How can they be supported without giving the resources needed to the people who squander it?

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  4. Interesting to hear, Miss Maxy, that you think all of Ghana except Accra is marginalized ... we oughta talk about that perspective. I mean, it is true, but I've never heard anyone make so bold as to say it like it is ... till now.

    They can be helped by going direct to people and groups who need it, and using it to train them in such a way that they will know how to 'fish' for themselves afterwards ... not depend on more 'training'.
    That often reduces the misappropriation of monies, divertion of funds, and problems of mistrust in the case of donations.

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