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Begging for development and freedom

Begging for development and freedom

Tue, 10/18/2011 - 23:20

Sometimes I wish could take a picture by just blinking my eyes, since doing so with a camera is just not possible or would generate the wrong type of attention.  Today I experienced such a moment, while being driven through the busy Accra traffic.  The eye-blink-camera is not yet working, and so I will have to make do with words.

I was sitting in the passenger seat of a nice 4x4 vehicle, being taken back to my hotel room after some meetings.  At the numerous stops and traffic lights, there was the usual economic activity: Street sellers trying to convince one that they have the keyrings, dust cloths, maps of Ghana, plastic toys, and everything else you could possibly want.

Once, I even saw a chap selling a book, titled “How to become President of Ghana”.

But I digress.  Today I also saw a few beggars, some missing limbs, hobbling between the cars on makeshift crutches.  Also a common sight here, even in the traffic.  Years ago, I even saw a chap using two crutches, but hobbling on two legs, wearing flipflops, directing traffic at a famous intersection usually serviced by military police.  On that day the smartly-dressed and white-gloved MP’s were not there, however, and this chap on crutches was directing traffic with one of these crutches, having stuck a piece of white paper to its end, to increase visibility.  I have never again seen that same level of public service under difficult conditions.

But now I have digressed yet again.

The beggar who I would like to describe today, was seated in a wheelchair, with his withered legs tucked under him.  Sadly, begging in the traffic on a wheelchair is not what made him so notable.  This particular chap, however, was decked out in the red-white-blue colours of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and even had an NPP flag strapped to the wheelchair, flapping in the exhaust smoke-laden wind.  Then I noticed that the NPP flag did not only have their name and symbol, an elephant, on it, but also a slogan: “Development in Freedom”...  Perhaps the image of a partial cripple, begging in a wheelchair within the Accra traffic, is not quite what a political party would have liked to portray.  No-one else saw the incongruity.

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