Monday, January 14, 2008

Out of Africa

"The Trials and Tribulations of the Women of Accra"

For almost two years I have been doing a study on the lives of the women of Accra, Ghana. What I encountered has undoubtedly altered my outlook on life forever. As much as I would like to believe the glass is half full, after these past twenty months of research I've found my cup a little emptier than before. Now I have always prided myself on not being naive, but I found myself truly appalled by some of the things I stumbled upon.Now I know life is difficult all over the world. And that many countries have resourceful and resilient women. But the women of Accra are definitely in the top ten when it comes to personal strength, and overall survival tactics.

Most of these women have little or no formal education. And usually find themselves working in the street markets selling food items. Their days may start at 4am ending at 9 or 10 pm. The reasons for such long days; are the amounts of food that need to be manually carted, because many bus operators will not allow these women on broad if their loads are too large. The ones lucky enough to get transportation may find themselves spending 40% of their earnings for this service.During this extremely difficult day, some may also find themselves attending to the needs of children, and guarding their merchandise from theft. Their day does not end at the market. When arriving home they are expected to perform domestic chores which include cooking; cleaning, and catering to the needs and desires of their husbands.

Because of the economy; many Ghanaians do not have the access to basic utilities such as gas; indoor plumbing, or electricity. So water for bathing and cooking has to be toted to their homes.In the cities jobs are very scarce. And what jobs they may find often come with a probationary period. Now this part is absolutely ludicrous. In most countries employment does come with a probationary period. Which after completion you are considered as an employee, and in most cases given a small raise for completion of training as an incentive to remain. In Accra many times there is a 30 day probationary period which by the way is without pay. So there are times on the 29Th day they are fired because their performance wasn't up to par; and some other person is hired, who most likely will also have inadequate growth potential for the position.

Being an attractive woman may help or hinder a woman's success for employment. I say it will help because it will probably get their foot in the door. But in order to keep their feet inside they may have to loose their shoes; along with everything else they are wearing, because the boss just might decide that sex is a part of the job description. So many women figure if they are required to have sex in order to make money; they might as well cut out the middle man, and seek prostitution as their means for a sufficient income. Tourist and married men prey on this desperation like vultures.

These women have what is called,"The Pretty Woman" complex. They believe that some rich tourist is going to come and marry them, rescuing them from their life of poverty. Many men know this, using this dream in order to receive sex for free, or next to nothing. So truthfully what they consider prostitution is pretty much what women are doing worldwide. Pimps are almost non-existent. They have what are called runners, which are just young boys that arrange these meetings, and receive compensation for their efforts. Money is rarely discussed during these dates. Customers decide what is adequate reimbursement for services provided. Similar to the tipping process provided after a meal in a restaurant. The better the service; the higher the tip, depending on customer generosity. I have read stories from English; and Dutch men bragging about their depraved escapades with women. If I could have found these men, I would be ringing their doorbells with bat in hand!

This choice of social studies all began with the rash of news reports about Ghanaian and Nigerian scam artist which made me curious as to why these acts were occurring so frequently. And also because of my natural belief of,"The Three Sides Theory". Which is one person's side; another ones side, and the truth. Well I did discover a third side. What the news media failed to mention was there are more dating scams coming out of the Ukraine than Accra or Nigeria. Mostly because of their access to personal computers. Most people in Accra only make about 4,298,400 cedi a year. That's about $450 . So they have to use Internet cafes for the price of about $1 or more an hour which limits there time on line.

But I must say... one good thing came from my research. I met my fiance who has become the love of my life; hero, and one of the strongest women I have ever known. She has taught me how to romantically love again in a way that I thought was no longer possible. Allowing me to be the man I always knew I could be.

So Benice when you read this...midowu(I love You). And I promise you our love will last, for forever and a day.

Just a few more words from,


1 comment:

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