On Jamestown, Filth & Why Cholera Happened Again

When news about the Cholera outbreak in Accra broke, many people on twitter asked how this could happen in 2014 in Ghana. Some people thought it was a huge embarrassment and that government and local authorities should be ashamed. I agree, but how about us?

And then I went to Jamestown for the Chalewote street art festival. Just two days in Jamestown and I understood how this cholera outbreak could be happening in 2014 in Accra.

My friends and I had a stand at the festival- we sold drinks at the food court with a number of other food and drink vendors and I saw things…

I don’t know just how poor or hungry kids in Jamestown are, but I wasn’t expecting that much begging, and I certainly was not expecting to see kids eating from trash bins! I started giving out free drinks to kids, and then about 50 of them came around, crowded around our stand and wouldn’t even form a queue to get the drinks in an orderly fashion. They were violent, and it was so sad. I know JayNii Streetwise is doing as much as they can with kids in the area, but more should be done.

I got to Mantse Agbona on Saturday morning and found a pile of human excreta right in front one of the entrances. I couldn’t believe that someone walked up there and took a crap! The public toilets are not far from the spot – they’re right there, opposite Mantse Agbona! Then there’s the beach, which is littered with poop as well.

Now, I got one of the kids to cover it with sand, before someone could come & collect it for disposal, but I don’t know how many flies had gotten to it before I got there, and I don’t know where those flies went, but there was a lot of food around.

The cholera bacteria are transmitted between humans through the fecal-oral route. Simply put, from shit to food/ drink. Do you see where I’m going with this?

All the accredited food vendors I saw at #chalewote2014 did a good job of keeping away flies. There was disinfectant, some had mosquito coils and smoke …etc. but how about the unaccredited ones? We had one local walk up to us, and ask us how much our drinks were going for. She snorted at our 4 Cedis a cup, brought out her own palmwine with calabashes, set up opposite us and start selling at 2 Cedis or something with flies buzzing around her stuff. There were kenkey sellers too around, and festival goers were buying this ‘authentic’, ‘local’ food because … Chalewote of course!

Perhaps they were unaware of the cholera problem… Perhaps they had forgotten… Perhaps they didn’t care.

Whatever it was, after two days in Jamestown, I understood how there could be a cholera outbreak in 2014 in Accra.

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Raised by an overweight woman who mixes up her r’s and l’s
Raised by a prematurely bent man who irons people’s clothes for a living
Raised by a primary school teacher who says she and his when she ought to say he and hers
Raised by a Madina to Kaneshie trotro driver who started out as a trotro mate
Raised by a tired old market woman who dropped out of school in Primary 2 to work in a farm

Educated in the best public school she could afford
Extra studies teacher for Mathematics because you didn’t understand ratios and proportions
English textbooks and all the storybooks you wanted though he couldn’t read or write very well

Just so you could have a better life than they have

And all your working moments are spent trying to make enough to make him happy too
Sometimes, in the quiet of the night, you sit and pray… that she doesn’t die before you can afford to send her on a trip around the world
Because though he says all he really wants is to see you happy with your own family, you want to give him more
Because she deserves it

And when that moment comes, you savour it

That look of pride and gratitude on a parents face when you do good is worth every sleepless night
Worth all that extra work

Above all, you see that they see that you were worth it too.

I love hearing Michael Bublé sing…

I’m not one of those musical people…
You know, those people that listen to a song, and hear all the instruments in the background and don’t really care about the lyrics.
All I hear is the voices… and the words… and the words the voices make me hear.

I love hearing Michael Bublé sing.

Whether it’s a flirty, bubbly song…
Or a simple deep, sorrowful one.
He lifts me up up up, brings me down down down… Makes me smile, sometimes I want to cry.
He makes me remember the entirety of old relationships- you know, not just the sad, depressing moments – but the happy and awkward and funny times too.
And though I get sad, I get happy too.
He makes me feel like I can sing, though I know I can’t…

I love hearing Michael Bublé sing.

Whether it’s an old song that I’m familiar with…
An old song I don’t know…
Or a new song that he makes sound old and timeless in that way he makes songs sound old and timeless.
I feel him sing.
Sometimes for a fleeting moment, I close my eyes and see him singing to me, singing with me…

I love hearing Michael Bublé sing.