I’ve always wondered what could be the best time to write. When I’m involved in academic writing, it eventually boils down to the dreaded “deadlines” – so time could be noon or midnight, Friday afternoon or Monday morning – until I am at the point when I start worrying about the deadline, I don’t write, and when that dreaded deadline approaches, time or day doesn’t matter, I just write, I HAVE TO WRITE! Whether I WANT to write, or am in a MOOD to write is a different matter altogether.
Now writing (or rather musing) like this don’t have deadlines, and I don’t HAVE to write if I don’t want to. This “option” instead of “deadlines” to write means I rarely write – write proper I mean. Its always easy to find excuses not to write it seems, and I wouldn’t choose but the easier option. But then once in a while you are in a “mood” to write, you want to write, and you just sit down and start writing. This mood-to-write is a rarity these days, but there are days and times it occurs and I have to write even when I don’t have to. Its 0400 hrs as I type these lines, and I “want” to write. Doesn’t matter what I write, as long as I write something, I’ll feel good about “writing” (the process counts and not the outcome!).
I was thinking about Habiba yesterday, after I saw her packing her utensils after the day’s business last night when I was returning home from office. I call her “business woman” jokingly nowadays, but the hardworking Habiba has really turned into one, be it a small street vendor selling “koshe” (don’t know how to describe this, but its bean flour made into batter and fried as small balls, or close to balls anyway), and cold drinking water in sachet , and all kinds of sweets and biscuits targeted, I guess, towards school kids passing by her place (reminds me of my own primary school days using “tiffin” money to buy sweets instead!). She wasn’t happy getting the sack from her regular work, but she didn’t complain much I don’t think. Instead she started planning and preparing for her “business” so when she was finally let go, she didn’t have to idle around. Besides her “job” wasn’t paying her much – may be just over a dollar a day – hardly enough to feed yourself! And she has taken a little girl who she takes care of. So even when she had the job, she was always trying to find some extra source of income, be it buying fresh groundnut (peanut) and selling them roasted or preparing sachets of sweetened and spiced water and selling them cold. When she came for cleaning the other day, she was showing me the school dress she had to buy for that little girl, who started her school from this week – primary school. She wants the girl to do well at school, and seemed excited as if she was starting the school herself! And I know Habiba will work hard to make sure that little girl has all the things necessary for her schooling – books, dresses, slate, chalks and so on. I just hope that little girl does well at school and keeps Habiba happy, and doesn’t let her hard work go in vain. As for Habiba, she seems to be happy in others happiness…no matter how hard she herself has to work to make sure those she cares for are well cared for and happy!
Ok, now some of my recent observations while I prepare to leave the country that has been my home for most part of these two years.
- I saw some school children (ranging anywhere between 10-15 years in age I would guess) each carrying a heavy (looked to me anyway) bench on the head walking towards their school a couple of days ago, as I was walking towards the office. I saw them coming out of a carpentry workshop and the distance to their school was a kilometre or so, and some of them were clearly struggling to continue but still continuing, while some of them were resting on the bench they were carrying on the side of the road not even half way through. First thing I wondered was whether that constituted (forced) child labour (western influence to my thought I guess). But that thought didn’t last long. Then I wondered how dedicated these students must be to come to school on the first day of the new academic session and to agree to carry the benches on which they will seat to take their classes for the coming year, that too not a few yards but a whole kilometre (or more)!?! I was fairly dedicated to my studies at school (rarely missed a class) but definitely not that much, and don’t think would have agreed to carry a bench like that for that distance!
- Just across the office there is a man who sits under a tree (don’t know what species of tree) weaving fabric for smocks. I see him there all day, probably only gets up to relieve himself or to eat (and if he’s a devout Muslim – I haven’t found out yet – then he probably doesn’t even eat in this month of ramadan!), and he’s there till dark. I have always wondered how many yards of fabric he weaves in a day with his hand-loom but have always hesitated to go and ask him that. Will certainly do before I leave this place, else it’ll bug me for a long time!
- There is a huge billboard on the main road advertising canned Mackerel (in tomato sauce), and the brand is “Teacher”, with a lady (must be a teacher) modelling for it. I have always wondered if they branded it “Teacher” to target it primarily to that profession or those who would like to be one one day! They could probably do a tagline like “Teacher Mackerel – vital nutrient for all those hard-working teachers and those who want to become one” 🙂 🙂
- Most times, in fact almost always, I have found people here very friendly and hospitable, and if they were indifferent, it wasn’t in any cold calculated or threatening way. This morning however, on way to office, I noticed a man looking at me, a young man, and the look on his face made me shudder. It was the look of deep resentment, you could sense some kind of hatred in his eyes, I have no idea why or what for, but it just made me a bit nervous. I was pillion riding on my friend’s motorbike so I wasn’t much worried but still when we passed him and arrived at the office I breathed a sigh of relief.
- A visual observation, one of many I must say. “God” features very prominently in almost everything here, especially on the name of the enterprises, especially small businesses and this is no exception!
One more observation I wanted to share and forgot earlier – about NGOs. I saw a brand new toyota 4×4 that had some “coalition of NGOs” printed on the side. I have written previously about Tamale being the NGO-capital in Ghana, and it didn’t surprise me to see a NGO created just to bring together other NGOs in “coalition”!