[Kwame Nkrumah Highway, 2006]
A few days later I’m on the N1, which is the former Kwame Nkrumah Highway (named for Ghana’s founding president), now renamed the George Walker Bush Highway (because he visited here in 2008), but no one calls it anything other than the N1, which makes since. If they called it the Bush Highway, in this culture it would mean something very different.
[The N1 Super Highway]
When we were here before, this road was a snarled mess of stalled road construction that was perpetually a traffic jam of stalled vehicles.
Today, it is almost a super highway, but traffic has stopped, and my window is down, and I’m chatting up the hawkers selling stuff. I buy two pure water, the baggies of purified water that are cold and refreshing and cost about 7 cents/bag. A few more hawkers come by, and a man selling a Milo set. Milo is a chocolate malt drink that is often served at breakfast, but his set has all sorts of other Nestle products. He is asking me to buy, and I tell him “Oh, I don’t take Milo.” He wants me to give him something small, and adds “they are not selling, the weather is too much.” It is hot. I’ve been outside standing in the sun all day, trying to complete the transfer of our new-to-us vehicle, and so I suggest (channeling Nana) that maybe he ought to find something else that would sell better. He looks at me, cocks his head, and says “Thank you, I will do that,” and he walks away.
[On our way back from the Methodist Church in the next village over]
As Suzanne wrote in a previous article, we now own a ministry vehicle, and have begun the process of registering it. It has not been an easy process, even with an agent who walks my paperwork through the bureaucracy: Transfer ownership, registration, complete the road worthiness inspection, renew my Ghanaian driver’s license, and secure car insurance. Mr. Godwin is my agent doing in a few days what would have taken me several weeks. I really don’t want to know how he does it, or what he has added to it to make it happen. I feel blessed because these kind of people always seem to find me, good people who know how to find a way forward in their culture. Mr. Godwin, happened to find me because the former owner’s son happens to do business with him, and so I received an introduction.
The former owner’s son. Nathan, is a young entrepreneur whose family moved to Ghana in 2003 from the UK. He went to high school here, University in the UK, and returned to, “the wild west,” as he calls it, to make his fortune. He owns three taxis and a few trotros, and has a lease-buy arrangement with the drivers. He makes more than his mum, he tells me. In two years, the drivers will own their own taxi, but only if they are hard working and ambitious. And if they are not, they do not work for Nathan for long. He says it takes the carrot and fire, and I wonder if he means stick, but I don’t ask. I instantly like Nathan for the way he naturally moves effortlessly through the culture here, and organizes his dealings for the mutual benefit of all involved. He has a network of people he knows, and they know how to find a way forward, to get things done. In this case it is Mr. Godwin, who will, in two days, provide me the completed dis-tings I will need to own and operate a vehicle in Ghana, properly.
[Exactly where are they?]
The next day I return to pick up the completed paperwork, and have my picture taken for my Ghanaian driver’s license. It seems like few things can be done in a day. Suzanne and I opened up a local bank account. It took two hours, nine different forms filled out with almost identical information, 15 signatures (each), and two passport pictures. Any paperwork we have to complete always needs two passport pictures. We think we are almost done, but like the car registration, driver’s license, local bank accounts, and immigration physicals, we have to return several times to complete their process. So far we have been able to combine trips, but I have noticed a two-out-of-three-rule, where if we have some success at two, the third will fail. When we lived in Accra, it was not such a big deal, but now that its 90 minutes of hard road or traffic, but thankfully not both, we notice. Sometimes it is difficult to find a way forward.
In three months they tell me I will receive a text saying I may come to Accra to pick my renewed driver’s license. Mr. Godwin says to be sure and let him know.