Sitting at farmer group meeting for 2 hours with little translation, an older man (60+) stood up and was talking in the local language Kasem, I started to think about an old friend of mine who volunteered at an old folks home simply playing cards with them. How I admired my friend for building relationships and bringing some happiness to their lives before they die, while learning from their wealth of knowledge and experience. It made me reflect about how lucky I’ve been to still have my grandmother and grandfather in my life, and the times we’ve spent together.
Later that night I met this guy while waiting for my guinea fowl to be cooked. At first he seemed to just be someone that might have been tipsy who likes to meet and talk with whites (some of this not far off), and although he was Muslim by his name and he identified as one, I suspected he had been boozing because of his glossy looking eyes. He asked me to buy him a guinea fowl which lead to some joking back and forth, then he eventually said something like “you people there live in heaven” (referencing Canada) which I came back with saying not all people, some live and die in poverty which he argued wasn’t true and we jokingly argued about him never being to Canada so how could he know.
Anyways after all the joking his tone changed to a more serious one, and he told me that he laboured all day for 5GHc (about 3-4$). He said, “Look at me. Do I look like I have money?” By the looks of him he didn’t. He also said how he has to pay for his kids school feels, and how he’s paying for his daughter to attend a private school because the public schools aren’t very good – I agreed based on what most Ghanaians in the North say. Under the street light I could see the honesty in his eyes; he continued saying how he doesn’t want his kids to have to live like him, to go through what he went through (little education, a working class labouring job in construction since he mentioned digging with a pick axe). We had been joking the majority of the time and his face still had the remnants of a faded smile. But, by this time he wasn’t trying to get me to buy him anything and I could feel the sincerity in the face to face, no B.S., connection between two people from different worlds going different directions – I was buying a grilled 2 fowl that each cost double his hard earned daily wage, simply because I enjoy the luxurious taste and want to share it with the out of town visitors I’ve been with all day; he was heading home after a long day of work to eat and rest. We parted ways shaking hands and he said with a smile, “I hope we meet again” and also asked/said that god should bless us all. I agreed with him, returned the smile and wished him a good night. There are no strangers in Ghana, only people you haven’t met yet.