Monday, May 30, 2011

Kwaku Doe - At Work & Up Close

So, Kwaku Doe has been consistently showing up for work every single morning for the past couple of weeks regardless of the time I get to his spot. I am proud to say that for like 2 weeks, I too have arrived at work very early (about 7:30am) every single day. Doubt if my boss notices though. I'm sure the one day I show up late he'll so notice.

I managed to get a shot of Kwaku Doe in action (I wonder if this whole picture taking thing without permission is illegal).
Some pennies please...
If you ask me I'd say he should stay off the air conditioned cars with their windows all rolled up (they are not very giving) and stick to cars like mine with broken air conditioners or none at all.

I managed to get one of him while he was heading towards me. Again I told him I have no coins and I'd make it up to him tomorrow (huge lie). I'm just putting together my sack of coins and then we'll see what I'm able to get him to cough up.
Yeah, I see you. The generous lady with plenty questions. Why's your phone up though?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Kwaku Doe - Not Far Gone

The main reason I didn't exactly think Kwaku Doe was mentally challenged was because he doesn't act it plus he doesn't speak like he is. Well, since he says he has mental issues and I've seen him exhibit some not so there characteristics but at the same time acts quite sane then I'd say he's not far gone or he was or is getting treatment for his condition.

Just look at him with his jeans all rolled up trying to prevent it from getting wet and muddy after the rain fell.

this rain "kwraa", it's gon mess up my jeans but I got to work too

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Kwaku Doe - Album and Revelations

On a usual day just minding my business where all the cars at?... coins on my mind
I should probably create an album for Kwaku Doe to put all the snap shots I get of him. Took this picture a while ago. It's still not very clear but I'll just keep taking them and putting them up until I get a good one.

Just getting back from the bathroom. What you looking at?
This one I took sometime last week. I got to the traffic light and just about the same time Kwaku Doe dashes across the road to the other side to use the bathroom. Yeah, the bathroom he's created for himself amongst the shrubs just at the wall of the M√∂venpick Hotel. Same shrubs I saw him eat leaves from a couple of weeks ago.

A friend of mine on Facebook recognised Kwaku Doe from the first picture I put up. Apparently she'd also 
noticed him and was curious about him (seems I'm not the only curious woman with time on her hands in 
Accra). This is what she had to say

"Efua are you talking about the guy who pretends to be mad and plies his trade around the traffic light at the National Theatre? Is he Kwaku Doe? Then I guess my name is Mrs. Monalisa Doe. Fill me in pleeeease."
"Efua, you should see the guy after his " working" hours. He dresses well and normally boards trotro at Tema station. Try conversing with him and he is very intelligent. I used to believe he was mentally ill until I saw him at T.S one evening (about 4 yrs ago) on his way home. Before then, he never responded to my queries, but when I confronted him at TS, he became my friend and anytime I drive past his "office" we managed to catch a chat before the traffic turned green. If he knows you will not expose him, he will relax and talk."

This Kwaku Doe situation is getting more complicated. So he's sane? Why'd he tell me he had mental issues? I really never thought he did but since he said he did, I just took his word for it. I should probably just take my friend's advice, get to know him better establish some kind of a rapport and probably, that will get him talking. So far I feel he's just told me a bunch of lies. But then why was he eating the leaves? That's something sane people just don't do. I obviously need a sack of coins.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Kwaku Doe - Say Cheese? Not Ready...

I tried real hard and I managed to get a picture but it isn't that good. Took it while driving (very dangerous. My car isn't even automatic) because the light was green and I've got all these spots from the rain that fell last night on my windshield.

I will get a better one though. Hopefully soon.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Kwaku Doe - Make Over!

Did I say the case was closed? How can the case be closed when I still see him every morning and there seems to be something to say about him? Kwaku Doe's had a make-over!

This morning, I saw Kwaku Doe with a fresh hair cut and he was clean shaven as well. He's always sported this afro-like hair but it's always been neatly combed (no dreads) and his beard has always been bushy as well. I'm starting to think he's trying to impress me because he rushed over to my car (to show off his new look) by-passing three other cars in the process and asked for some coins with his usual smile. Told him I didn't have any and will probably make it up to him tomorrow.

Except for the bad teeth, he did look good. I got a picture but it's not good enough because he had his back to me. I'll do better next time.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Kwaku Doe - Case Closed

I'm almost at Kwaku Doe's spot and I'm very irritated for a number of reasons. It's almost 9am and I'm not in the office yet. The sun is out and the air conditioning in my car is not working. There's a smart a** taxi driver behind me who's been following me and honking (it's been a couple of hours but I'm still hearing that honking in my ear) all the way from Graphic road because the traffic light was green and I wasn't moving. Why wasn't I moving? Well, the police officers think it's more fun to make us move when the light is red and stop when it's green (they were directing traffic at a very functioning traffic light. Sometimes it does help and eases traffic but other times it just causes more traffic. Today, it eased traffic at one end and caused a helluva traffic at the other end which happened to be where I was).

So, where was I? Yes, I'm irritated and not even thinking about my favourite guinea pig (sorry Kwaku but fact is you were just a part of some experiment going on in my mind). I'm at the light. About the third or forth car and I see Kwaku Doe and for the first time since all this started, I'm actually hoping he doesn't make his way to my car because I really wasn't in the mood. Unfortunately he does and I guess my curiosity plus my desire to see this whole thing through over rode my irritation. This is what followed in English and Twi but mostly Twi...

Kwaku Doe: "Please some coins" (smile on face)
Me: "Today too you are here again? Why are you always here begging for money" (sounds harsh but I was still in a bad mood)
Kwaku Doe: "To get money to buy food"
Me: "Why don't you work like the rest of us?" (that irritation was seriously working on my mood)
Kwaku Doe: "I will very soon"
Me: "Why not now? What's stopping you?"
Kwaku Doe: "I am not really of sound mind"
Me: (stunned into silence and thinking "at least accepting your situation is the first step to getting help")
Kwaku Doe: (smile continues)
Me: (thinking of asking him what exactly his problem is, how he knows he's not all there)

At that moment the light changes and I'm scrambling in my car looking for something to give him (I was totally unprepared for him that morning). I finally find a Gp50 coin and hand it over to him (thankfully before the honking resumes behind me).

So there it is. Kwabena Bonnah aka Kwaku Doe is not all there aka he's mentally challenged according to him (I did see him exhibit some not there attributes yesterday morning but I was really in a hurry to get to work so I didn't really pay that much attention plus he was exhibiting away from the road somewhere near the wall of the new hotel next to cedi house). Let me just say what he was doing. He was chewing leaves off of a tree inside the compound of the hotel. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me but a second look showed I wasn't wrong.

Again I ask. Who's responsibility is it to take care of the mentally challenged people on our streets? Feed them? Clothe them? so that they don't end up begging in traffic or chewing leaves from a tree when their begging yields no results. Or worse yet, walk around in their birthday suits!

I haven't forgotten about the picture. I will get it just in case someone recognises him or something.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Kwaku Doe is...

Yes, I found out Kwaku Doe's name.

Let me give you the prelude to this. I'm approaching his usual spot and I got my incentive (Gp50) ready just in case. As I approach the traffic light, I realise I'm the only car on the road at the time. All the lanes were empty. My heart sinks thinking he didn't come to work and then I spot him standing close to the light.

I make a very conscious effort to stop right next to him leaving some space in front of me. I look back and there's no car behind me. Good, at least I'd be spared the unnecessary honking. I look at him and he bends down but before he could say a word, I initiate a conversation. This is the conversation that ensued (all in Twi).

Me: "how are you doing?"
Kwaku Doe: "I'm fine" (puzzled expression on face)
Me: "I see you here everyday"
Kwaku Doe: "yes please"
Me: "what is your name?"
Kwaku Doe: "please my name is Kwabena Bonnah"
Me: "ok"

Throughout the conversation, I had the incentive in sight and at this point I hand it over to him. He thanks me and just about the same time, the light changes so I move on. Yes Kwaku Doe is Kwabena Bonnah but I have grown so used to and fond of Kwaku Doe that I will probably maintain it when referring to him.

The picture will come soon. He had a smile on his face the whole time I was talking to him. I'm going to take that as a positive sign and hopefully he'll keep that smile on when I'm taking his picture.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Kwaku Does?

Apparently, there are so many more Kwaku Does in Accra than I thought. Yesterday, on my way home from work, I saw one just at the TUC traffic light. Again, he had no visible disability, he looked and acted sane and was moving from car to car begging for money to buy food.

Now if not for the motorcycles weaving in and out of traffic, I could have sworn this guy was ready to go down on his knees and beg especially since no one seemed to pay him no mind. Me, I still had only GHc10 notes on me so I just looked at him and shook my head (I doubt if I’d have given him anything though if I had coins. He's not the subject of my experiment).

Naturally as humans, our survival instincts tell us to do any and everything in order to survive including hawking in the middle of traffic (very dangerous), begging (very demeaning) and even stealing (extremely dangerous). Some have come up with interesting ways to make money though. They beg but they try to provide a service so it doesn’t seem so obvious. There’s this gentleman (actually, now there are two of them) who has taken it upon himself to direct traffic somewhere near the Odorna Clinic heading towards the Graphic road. I see him every evening doing his thing. Unfortunately these days there isn’t much traffic but he still stands there (he’s probably just about the only one who prays for traffic. Well, him and the hawkers. For us motorists, we pray the opposite prayer). There’s another gentleman who also directs traffic near the entrance to ICGC (Christ Temple) on the road leading from Agbobloshie market to Abossey Okai. 

Then there’s also the young women with twins who sit by the roadside to beg (I guess they weren’t exactly expecting twins when they got pregnant). There’s also these kids and their parents (I don’t know what country they are from. Some say Chad some say Niger. Well, they are from one African country or another) that also beg on the streets (some of those kids are so cute but boy are they persistent).

Whose responsibility really is it to ensure the citizenry (and of course visitors as the situation is now in Ghana) of a country have jobs, can fend for themselves or at least can get food to eat to survive? Again I say driving them off the streets will not solve the problem. They will either come back or find other (maybe disturbing) ways to make money. Hey, they do got to survive too.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Kwaku Doe - Breakthrough? Not Quite...

I had a very horrible morning today. I was late as usual and then I have car trouble. My car over heats and there's all this vapour coming out of the bonnet somewhere close to the Graphic road. Some guys help me out, I get my car back on the road after a long break and I head for work.

I get to the TUC traffic light and the blind woman with the little kid I saw a while ago is there begging for money (this time no AMA guys in sight). Now, I had put out some coins (Gp30) to give Kwaku Doe but gave it out to this woman because I figured that would be putting it to better use and besides, I would probably not even see him. Well, I was wrong. I got to his usual spot and there he was. This time I was the 3rd car from the light. He approached my car from the passenger side and I could have kicked myself for giving the coins I had on me out (I did have GHc10 but hell no was I giving that to him. I'm not at that point yet). So he gets to my car and this time speaks Twi. He asks for some coins and I'm like "I'm so sorry but I don't have coins on me today maybe tomorrow". He stays at my window for while I guess thinking I'd change my mind. He then goes like "please just to buy some kenkey" (still in twi). I said "so sorry" and then he walks away.

I don't know but he doesn't sound mentally challenged at all. I wanted to ask him some questions but I didn't feel right wasting his time especially since I didn't give him any incentive.

Kwaku Doe - Celeb?

I got a call yesterday morning from a friend and he tells me he's spotted someone he thinks is Kwaku Doe at the spot I've been describing (he's been following my Kwaku Doe series on Facebook). I tell him what Kwaku Doe was wearing when I saw him earlier in the morning and he says it's him.

Turns out my paranoia yesterday was not unfounded. He actually said he was going to talk to him so they come up with a plan to rip me off lol. Well, since he told me and since he offered to get me a picture of Kwaku Doe, I guess he was kidding. Unfortunately, the traffic light turned green before he could get the picture. Nice try though. And great to know people are starting to look out for and notice Kwaku Doe when they get to that traffic light.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Kwaku Doe - Cat and Mouse

On this cold rainy morning, I'm extremely late for work and driving as fast as I can. I'm almost at Kwaku Doe's spot and the traffic light is amber. This time I step on it because I'd concluded the AMA  had got to him so there was no way he'd come do his usual thing. And then I spot him. I come to an abrupt stop, ignore the honking directed at me and reach for my purse (I wasn't prepared for him today so I didn't have my money ready).

I'm getting all excited and thinking up questions to ask him when I look through my rear view mirror and see that he's started his rounds from the car behind me. Again! This is the second time he's done that. What's going on? I'm sure I'm just about the only person that has ever given him money there so what's his problem? I'm beginning to suspect he's either been reading my blog or someone reading my blog has told him about the plans I have for him and he doesn't particularly like them or I'm just being paranoid. Whatever it is, my resolve is to keep my future plans to myself until I execute them and then I will report the outcome.

Looks like I've got to restrategise and come up with a new plan which of course I'll keep to myself. Y'all get to read about it after I've carried it out.

Kwaku Doe - The Comeback

It's been a little over 7 years since I started writing about Kwaku Doe. From first talking about him in my  Plight of a Hungry Man  ser...