8:00 am GMT
We were told that Accra is a beautiful place, of luxuries and sheer bliss. So we traveled all the way from north, some from east and west, and we finally arrived in Accra at the south to have our share of the cake. My sister, it was a lie—yes Accra is a beautiful place, but a place of luxuries and sheer bliss? That’s a joke. Only the few rich live in luxury and sheer bliss. But the rest of us, we HUSTLE. We hustle big time.
The Cargo truck driver asked us to get off his truck full of charcoal. He told us there, at Makola, was the farthest he could bring us. We descended from the truck one after the other and in no time, everyone dissipated to different directions. I was the only one left. I began to wander around, I saw a few of my brothers and sisters among the traders and a familiar face. “Hawa!” I screamed, but she only smiled at me and signaled me to wait while she kept running after a retailer with a pan clutched under her arm. I stood waiting for her for about thirty minutes. Although it was only 8:00 in the morning, the sun was burning crazy. Then she finally returned, sweating and breathing heavily. She took me to her house; no, her home—a small wooden cage which she paid monthly for. My brick house back in Nyankpala was far better. Then immediately, I knew that Accra was a place of hustle, way before she explained everything to me. “I would talk to the boss for you so that he offers you that cleaning job I asked him about.” She told me, in our local dialect.
So a few days later, Hawa enquired about the job and I started working with the foreign company as a cleaner.
* * *
“Salifu, the boss asked me to call you for him.” The security man said politely and left.
He was Lebanese. He spoke English alright but it sounded different. His accent oscillated between the English spoken by a native French man and an Indian.
“You’ve been with us for a week now.”
“And I hope you want to continue with us?”
“But you never come on time.”
“Whattt! What time are you supposed to report?”
“8:00 am GMT, Suh!”
“So what time did you report today?”
“8:00 am GMT, Suh.”
“Hey! What the heck are you saying? You didn’t report at 8:00 today, I saw you. Call me the security man! What time did Salifu report to work today?”
“At 9:00 am please, that was about twenty minutes ago.”
“Exactly! You reported at 9…”
“No, Suh. 8:00 am Ghana Man Time.”
“What is he saying? Ghana Man Time? GMT?”
“Oh, I think it’s a bad attitude the indigens have adopted towards time where they report quite later than the stipulated time. Pardon him Sir.
“But that is bad. Salifu, when I say GMT, I mean Greenwich Mean Time. If you come late tomorrow, at your Ghana Man Time, you lose the job.”
The next day, Salifu woke up very early and prepared for work. Interestingly, his boss was right at the entrance, with the security man. When he saw him from afar, he looked at his watch and began to smile. Salifu walked straight to him and greeted.
“My good friend, today, you’re here on time. Now what says the time?” He turned his wrist for Salifu to have a look.
“8:00 am GMT, Suh.”