“It’s hard to find that level of care from a complete stranger.”
The sun’s rays lightly kisses the surface of your skin, slightly piercing your connective tissue and brushing against hair follicles. Beads of sweat congregate just above your upper lip discussing ways to integrate with less seasoned fluid. They build a strong army and march down to the opening of your mouth. By reflex, you stick your tongue out simultaneously detaining the army of sweat and small particles of red clay. Your taste buds dance to the beat of salt and clay presenting their hottest track, exhaustion. Your eyes… they quickly shift from left to right as if you were experiencing a REM cycle, connecting with familiar faces in search of guidance. The pace at which they are moving makes you forget that you at least have control of where they land. You have control. You have control. “I have contr—”
“Where are you going?”
Your frantic thoughts are interrupted by a man in BBQ cookout sandals and a handful of cedis. He repeats himself a couple of times to ensure that you received his message.
“Bek-way? Bek-wah roundabout, I think. I am trying to get to KFC.” You say with uncertainty.
“Bekwai roundabout? Oh, you need to take a taxi.” He says while pointing towards the swarm of taxis parked in front of the stairs. He takes it a step further and walks over to one of the taxi drivers and they exchange a few words in Twi. Now, not only do you have a way to get to KFC, the trotro mate also negotiated a fair price… for nothing in return.
During my seven weeks in Ghana, I have noticed that many Ghanaians will go out of their way to make sure that a complete stranger is safe. The situation I mentioned above was not an isolated incident, instead it happens daily. Trotro mates are always helping civilians find the right trotro or taxi in order for them to make it to their destination. Women defend one another and strangers against unfair prices and treatment.
It is productive to critique the concept of a close community and list its disadvantages. However, it is more productive to highlight how beneficial a supportive community can be for a community and how we can learn from the value it upholds. The idea that someone you have never spoken to will look out for your best interest is comforting and almost revolutionary. In a country such as the United States where it is difficult to establish trust, it is refreshing to know that communities solidified in Ghana exists. There are communities in this world that are not only focused on getting a one-up on you or aimed at taking advantage of someone when they are most vulnerable. There are communities in the world that would sacrifice their time to make sure another human has it. There are communities that care.