When I arrived to Ghana, the first thing we did was take a bus from the airport to the guest house we were staying at for the night. Immediately, the flow of traffic stuck out to me. The minute we left the airport, the streets were already lined with narrow lanes packed with cars during the afternoon traffic jam. Cars seemed to be coming from every direction and would squeeze into small spaces that I didn’t think cars could physically fit through. Traffic stressed me out at first and it definitely took an adjustment period to figure out that every car that comes close to the next one will not result in a car accident. I think the movement of cars is comparable to the movement of people in Ghana: the same way personal space is not valued as much for humans in Ghana, cars are always equally close together.
On our third day in Ghana, I took my first tro tro ride. The mates would always pass by yelling the tro tro’s final destination while the driver honked heavily to grab our attention. While they were intimidating at first and can seem overwhelming after a long day, tro tros have grown to be one of my favorite parts of Ghana. Just like in other social settings, it is clear that Ghanaians don’t mind being close to each other as 15 people get crammed into a small van for the duration of the trip. I have grown to like travelling in them as it shows how strong the sense of community in Kumasi in. I can always see people helping each other, whether it is by explaining how to get somewhere on the tro tro or reminding you to get off before you miss your stop. I love meeting new people during my rides and learning about them in such a small period of time. It amazes me how quickly Ghanaians are to forge friendships as they often declare our friendship after a short conversation during the trip. They are always eager to explain Ghanaian norms to us and encourage us to speak Twi despite how broken our words may sound.
While it may be quicker and easier to get around on taxis, a big part of the culture of Kumasi, and Ghana as a whole, would be missed if we didn’t take tro tros. I feel like I am more integrated into the community, joining the thousands of residents as we all take our daily commutes on these buses. A variety of people can always be found on them, ranging from young school children going home to street vendors to business professionals. Despite how different everyone’s lives may be, they always come together on their commutes on tro tros.
For more information on how to travel on tro tros click here.