The sun reached its peak, the heat was unbearable. Princess greeted people passing by knowing her and answered their nosy questions. Young boys and girls were looking after them, man was asking themselves questions about a couple so different in age and colour. They stood still, looked at both and were not certain what they should think. Was that White Man potentially a rapist, a man looking for children to misuse, a Social Worker, a simple friend of a girl they had known for long time since her birth. While both were passing them, they were left behind with an uneasy feeling. Young girls got jealous wanting to be in Princess shoes. They got closer to Mr. Karl along the roadside cracking jokes and smiling at I’m with their brightest teeth. Princess did all she could to push them away and leave Mr. Karl and herself walking in peace. They past the small Pharmacy next to the Liquor shop at the curve just outside Sakumono Village and turned behind a green huge house and before a pink painted small shopping center into Church Road home to Pentecost Church, Assemblies of God and Methodist Church, an impressive new building that had taken years of completion.
“At the end of this road, just behind the houses there, between the white one and the structure that people still work on,” pointed Princess down the road while passing the impressive parking lot of the Assemblies of God church covered with white small stones and three generator stored away under a low structure to lower the noise they would make during church service, “you see the railway track from Accra to Tema. during the week up to five trains are passing, over the weekend no train comes here. While under the British we had around one thousand kilometers of tracks today not mor than seventeen”. Opposite the medium sized private Kindergarten was decorated with funny figures well known to the local kids around. “Here anything that is from Government is no good for the future of our young citizen. We know it, our parents know it. Therefore you will be amazed how many people send their children to private schools and how many have to sacrifice themselves believing when their children are grown old, they leave the country to abroad and support their old parents back home. I mean, Sir, if you ask all people here everyone will tell you if they have the opportunity to leave for greener pastures, they will do that right away. Give a Ghanaian a foreign passport only people that can chop from our country would stay…that is the reality, Sir.”
“When all Germans would come down here and all Ghanaians would come to Germany, in around five or ten years this country would be a paradise and Germany would lay down in ruins. Is that what you want to tell me?” asked Mr. Karl smiling while standing with Princess before a brown metal gate with sharp wire on top. An old Mango tree stood right beside them giving shade in the heart of the day and hope for a great harvest later in the year.
“Yes, Sir…that is how it is, sad but true,” smiled Princess to keep her composure not wanting to let any feeling of depression take her over.
Mr. Karl asked her while waiting for someone behind the iron gate to open it: “How come, that you are so well informed and know all these about the train system, the schools, who people think and feel and so on!”
“But Mr. Karl,” laughed Princess hearing someone leaving the house behind the metal gate to come to them and open it, “I am not a stupid girl anymore. These days the internet gives us all the information that we need to know. Yes, it is true, most of us do not like to read books…Blacks and books…it’s like water and fire, I am telling you the simple truth…one of our many problems, Mr. Karl. Now I hear someone is about to open the gate and let us in.” They were led into the front garden covered with stones for cars easier to park before a garage that was built into the structure as many houses around had it. Often the garage was used not for cars in fact but mostly as a storage room as cellars were not common in Ghana. Along the wall of the house flowers with red and yellow blossoms were planted. Nothing seemed to be sculpted by a professional Gardener rather planted to test changing year in and year out. Before entering the house, Princess added: “So the internet shows us how you people live and videos make us understand what is going on in our own country, what is so wrong here and what you people in your countries do better. I know from these YouTube videos not everything in your countries is just great. You face so many challenges also, people sleeping rough on the streets, poverty here and there…so no paradise on earth. We monitor your lifestyle very well and compare it to ours. Our politicians think we do not know, want us to be stupid. But even in the last villages internet is available and us, the people, trust me on that, Sir, we the people of Ghana we know.”
“And what are you doing about your situation?” challenged Mr. Karl his best friend.
“We pray to God!”
“That is all?” was Mr. Karl astonished to here.
“Just turn around and see all the churches behind you and all the posters of Men of God calling us during the week and on Sunday to worship them…sorry, point of correction…to worship…God, of course not them even many of us do worship their Men of God…for a fact!” Princess guided Mr. Karl inside the house.
They walked through the kitchen that was also used by the youngest daughter for her own business, making all sorts of cake to order, creamy birthday cakes, wedding cakes or brownies for afternoon tea. Tina, the youngest daughter was a woman well shaped to African men`s taste so no temptation to Mr. Karl. She was very friendly, asking both to wait in the living room as it would not take long to bring her father, Joseph Vandepauye. While waiting and sitting on the grey couch covered with cloths and artificial bunch of roses in front of them on the low table with small tables aside of the couch for drinks to be placed on. Before heading off to pick her father she asked the house girl to serve their guest with chilled drinks and some nice biscuits. Above the flat-screen on the wall old photographs of time long past were on display among some of their wedding day, their children graduating from law school and the eldest son working in America in a Hospital to become a Medical Doctor soon.
There he came, blind as he was, eighty years of age, but still so fresh in his mind. Tina helped him to sit down in his comfortable chair, asked for his wishes what to drink an eat before leaving him alone with his guest. His face was able to tell stories of a man deeply engaged and troubled by Ghana`s history yet looking friendly to his guest as if life would be as life is. Indeed, Joseph Vandepauye was a living history book with a sharp mind always listening to the radio, and thinking and thinking, never stopping to think. He smiled at both guessing where they would sit in the room and how possibly they would look like. He excused himself that his eyesight was no longer allowing him to see what was going on around him, soon he would only see complete darkness. But he made them understand, he would not be depressed about his fate even wishing God would let him sit in a wheelchair rather having to lose his eyesight. He stressed clearly that life is as it is and what could be possible better do about it than accept it as it is. This would be the best for him, even possibly not the best for the nation Ghana.
“I once was the Editor of the Encyclopedia Africana, a project financed by UNICEF initiated by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah intended to be a ten volume work of which only three volumes eventually were completed,” mentioned Joseph Vandepauye after he had asked Tina to bring the last volume from the bookshelf in the dining room and pass it to Mr. Karl to read. “All African countries were supposed to contribute to the volumes their own story, history, culture, economy and so on. But when our first President was overthrown this work stopped automatically. And President Busia never had any interest in such a great work anyway.”
“Busia was the President that had asked al foreigner to leave Ghana. So, you would not be here today if that evil man would still be alive, Mr. Karl,” explained Princess o put Mr. Karl into perspective as she saw in his face the name Busia and its impact on the dark side of her county was not familiar to him.
“Yes, Sir, we have gone through very difficult times and people blame you, the White Man for all your misfortune. Let me tell you a simple truth, very simple truth,” started Joseph Vandepauye to lecture him being a lawyer that lectured after his work on the Volumes in Ghana`s law school. “While the British were our Masters, I am a witness to that, the Administration was working very well and reliable. When you went for your passport it was given to you with no questions asked at the day you were supposed by law to have it in your hands. In those day, no British Officer asked you anything small or big what we call bribe. When we the Blacks took over this country it has become very systematic that from the small officer in Tema Port or the ordinary Police Officer on the street checking on cars up to the Ministers and in Jubilee House the Blacks all ask for bribes. Corruption mentality seems to be in our blood…I do not know. In know from travelling outside to Europe and America that you White People have a much lower corruption rate than we have here in Africa and Ghana. Some claim that is normal as it is part of a developing country. For the past nearly sixty years already we are still a developing country…developing what for and when it is about to end? Now, this specific aspect of corruption…let me set examples against it that prove such claims to be false. Let´s look into Singapore. This Asian country has no natural resources, is much smaller in population and landmass yet the corruption rate is down not nothing and the people enjoy a great, stable and secure country far richer than Ghana…and other countries and business people trust Singapore more than us for which this country after all is that rich. In business and politics, you can only be great and strong when others have trust in you. That our currency is down on its knees is due to our massive import and… trust that you White People do not have in us. But not only you White People have no trust in us, we Blacks do not have trust in ourselves also. We do business with each other here in Ghana but in our hearts, we do not trust the people we work with. If I mention that cross borders in Africa business folks do not trust each other. Ask yourself why is it that we in Africa have everything we Africans need but cannot make good use of the blessings received? The bottom line is that Africans do not trust each other, so say it in a short form. When you look outside my house…just look around…and around the country…how often do all our various Governments tell and promise us Accra will be the cleanest city in Africa and Ghana will be clean and shiny. We the people hear Politicians after Politicians and when the words are spoken and gone the cities and places of Ghana still are dirty as before we hear this sweet, sweet words…that are fake and useless…I am telling you the simple truth. Under the British, and I am a witness to that, Ghana was clean; I can honestly say, Ghana was clean…so beautiful clean. But once we black took over the country is going down each and every day, no sun to be seen in our souls. Most certainly it was a big mistake by our first President that had great ideas for our nation to have kicked out all the White from the Administration. Nelson Mandela was wiser on that issue as he was creating a rainbow nation and welcomed all people, Blacks and White, to work together and form a better South Africa, everyone accordingly to its talents. So, when a White Man has a good heart and good intentions for Ghana and on top of it is better qualified for a position…let him have it…simply let him have it…that is what I have to say. Our first President wanted to form a one party government, I never forget that, knowing that he was convinced not to have all the numbers of qualified people in his own party to fill all the positions in his cabinet. So, you see, he wanted to go for quality and qualification in people and not by party membership. But we today we go for party membership, we have to worship our own two parties to make it in life, make lots of money and rule the waves of Ghana…I mean to be at the source of income…our natural recourses for which people have to bribe them to get them. We here in Ghana should not forget about twenty years ago Malaysia sent people to Ghana to learn the oil palm business being seen as the best teacher for that in the world at that time. Today, guess what, we buy Palm Oil from Malaysia; the teacher has become the student and servant…Oh, God have mercy on this country. I mean the stories go on and on and one.”
“Please Sir, with due respect, teach me more and more as I want to understand what is really going on in this country and not only know what we back in Germany think about you…I mean, I want to know the naked truth!” said Mr. Karl while accepting another glass of chilled fresh mineral water and another helping of whole-wheat biscuits.
Princess intervened being concerned: “Maybe, Mr Karl…we should discuss next time more as Lawyer Vandepauye is not running away and you will have so much time, the two of you, to sit here and discuss issues after issues.”
“Princess,” smiled Joseph Vandepauye with his voice and smiled at her assuming she would sit opposite him, and he was absolutely right, “I love to listen to Mr. Karl and share ideas with him. I love White People that do not come to our country with their own idea and force them onto us even thy do not understand, and possibly never will, the spirit that we feel in us daring us into corners that are filled with darkness. No, I love such people like him with the desire to see, hear, feel and understand what is going on in Ghana and after studying very carefully all the corners of our daily life to come up a solution that we might like, a solution above all other ideas we the good people of Ghana were hearing during the past sixty years year in and year out. No, let me have a good word with Mr. Karl right here and right now. If you feel bored, please Princess than tina would love to get a helping hand from you.” Princess did as she was advised.