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 4×4 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.