Interview at Legon Staff Village: Observations on Life in Accra
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Interview with a Farefari woman (R), aged 47, living in Legon Staff Village, on the afternoon of Sunday 22 May 2005. Interviewer: Ellen Mma Atanga (E), assisted by Arwen Kimmell. EMA's transcription, with spellings slightly normalized. E: What are the problems here? What troubles have you experienced staying here in Accra? Like if you had been back at home it wouldn't have been so? R: Accra, you know that this place is not our home. Our homeland is our homeland. Our homeland is better than this. How there are troubles in Accra! Staying in Accra is so difficult. E: Well, so how is it difficult? The money aspect? R: Yes, the money and the food aspects. As I stand here now, if I don't work I won't eat. Have you seen? You have to get up and struggle a lot before [you] get to eat. E:But as you are staying here, have your husband's relations ever come to stay with you? R: Yes, my husband's relatives have stayed. E: And how was it among you? R: We were always fighting among ourselves and we were fighting and living together. E: And did someone [among them] do [sthng] and it particularly disturbed you? R: Yes they did, yes as for trouble, there was trouble. E: In what form? R: Ah, they can (perhaps) say that them man gives to you and then you don't want to give (anything) to them. Yes but (they) don't know that you are also struggling with your husband so that the two of you eat. They don't know that. They always think that maybe the man always gives to you but you do not want to give them E: Was there anyone amongst them that stole meat from the soup? R: Yes there used to be one (child) when I cook soup he removed all the meat from it and I came home from sales to meet the soup without meat. When you ask him, he will deny and it turns to be that he is not the one but you known very will that he is The very person who does that. Have you seen? It is like that. My husband’s elder brother’s child used to stay here, he used to go out from morning till night, he never came home early. When he came and you wanted to talk it turned to be a fight. It turns into a fight in this house, and you will be quarrelling, he wouldn’t get up to work for you, he wouldn’t sweep rubbish for you. To fetch water for you to, it is a case. And he was there for a long time doing his own thing and it came to a time, and they should beg for him. Look, my fowl is brooding, beats it to death, and collected the eggs and threw them away. (He) took my basket and broom and ran out and we chased him in vain.. Some said that they saw him there, some that they saw him another place. And, we followed to the place, upon reaching there he wasn’t there, he had run out of the place. And we searched for him and didn’t see him. We then sent for him to be arrested, and sent him to Pantang (mental hospital). From Pantang, we then returned to the house. E: Was it madness that disturbed him or it disturbed his head? R: I think so. That I can tell. E: Was he smoking marijuana? R: Sometimes he might have been smoking without our knowing it. E: Mhmm R: Ah, and then it came that, they should beg my husband for him, they beg my husband for him that he was wrong. They should beg him and that he has gone wrong. And we asked him “what happened to you?” That they should beg him and his is wrong,he didn’t know it would be so. It was wrong. It was there that we sent him to hospital That maybe the child may be sick. They admitted him there. E: How many months did it take ? R: It did not take a month. E: Or a week? R: Yes, and we sent a message home and they came to send him home to our land. It was at our home town that they said after a long time, a tomato lorry came and they were loading (it), and after they loaded the lorry, the lorry started,and he (boy) climbed on. The lorry took off with him on top; fell to the ground. E: Fell to the ground? R: Lu tiŋa na, nyaa dikɛ a zuo wa… E: hit the ground. R: He did not wake up again. E: Oh, so he died? R: Mhmm E: Mm …. So sorry. Is that the only child who ever came to stay and gave trouble or, did some other child ever stay with you and it turned into problems in this house. R My own brother’s child. My own brother’s child child also stayed here and it was the same problems. He too, when I returned from selling. We usually return from selling and arrive here at 10 o’clock. I arrived to see… E: 10 o’clock in the night or? R: Night. I arrived to see a crowd gathered here and they were at each other. And he was strangling this child, squeezed his neck and when they were separating (them) he refused. And I could only put my basket down and shouted at him. I said, Baba, why are you doing that? Stop, and he wouldn’t stop. Stop, what happened? Oh, I put the basket down and with others struggling and struggling. And we all struggled to release his hand from my child’s neck. What happened? Yes, he went out. They went Where she was standing with someone conversing. That she collected the person’s shirt and wore it. E: Hm R: What is the person to her, that she should collect his shirt and wear. That was all that brought about the beating. E: The child who… R: My own bosom brother’s child? E: He himself was how old? Your brother’s child, how old was he? R: I think he would be about… E: He was how old? R: He was a grown-up. E: Grown-up, like how many years? R: But I have forgotten his age, but I think he would be about 20 years. E: And your child that he was strangling is also how old? R: She is the one sitting here. E: This grown-up? R: Yes E: Oh, that she collected someone’s dress and wore it standing with him. R: That why did she collect someone’s dress? Who is he to her that she should collect his dress to wear? E: e…e R: Yes, that is all of it. After he finished doing that, my husband was angry. That he could not live with him. He should pack his things out. E: Mhm. R: Mm, and he would bring trouble to him in the house. And then he packed his things and went to stay at Achimota. Now I heard he is at our home town. E: OK, did you know that what he did could bring troubles between you and your husband ? R: Yes, he has already brought it. E: If it were to be a different woman she would have said he is my relation’s child, I would not allow him to go. R: It is trouble he has brought between us. It means, that there are problems he has he has brought among us. E: Like, if you were someone who likes fighting, it would not have been good. OK, it is nice that you too understand and left them to send the child away. You said, he himself even went away. R: Yes, he himself left. E: OK, we want to look at how Frafra women staying here are faring. How do you see Frafra women who live here.. are they rich? What is their stay here in Accra like? Is it difficult staying here? What do you think? You just consider Frafra women here,How is it? Just cast your mind on something, like compare their stay here in Accra to how they would be in our homeland there, and how they are here. Do you think everybody is living well in Accra? R: Oh no, not all of them. Some of them, even at home, you will be better at home, there is more there. You can meet someone, a person from home can have more respect than you. Be better than you, have more money. Yes, and you would say you live in Accra but someone from home comes and is better than you. You see now? You can see a woman from home that she comes and is fine compared to you even. You would even think she rather is living in this town (Accra). You see now? And you rather are disorganized in this place. It is all the same problem. You see? You can’t get your heart’s desire. You see? E: Is it that there is no work? R: Some, it is partly due to no work. Partly it is usually from the men. Someone too is always waiting for the man to bring for her. E: That she eat. R: For her to eat. You see ? That is how it is. It is not like we are struggling here. Some people are not like that. Some of them want to sit down for the man to provide. If the man does not bring for them, they don’t get. You see. Can you imagine all these? E: And what does that mean ? Like maybe many of them have not been to school, or is that not it ? R: Yes, many many have not gone to school. And as I stand here, I have not gone to school. But, you try hard and see that you do well. That is how it is. E: So are there some who haven’t gone to school but want their children to go? R: They should go to school. You see? That is how it is. Because as I am suffering I don’t want my child to suffer like I do. You see? E: What do you sell? R: I sell bananas and groundnuts and coke and small things. Ah well, you even see the things yourself. And ice-water, all kinds of things. E: To Legon school children ? And the students, when they go on holidays what do you usually do ? R: That is the problem. We go, but it does not amount to anything. They even no longer buy anything. It is always only problems. Immediately they go, like this, we suffer, until they return. If you go they would not buy anything. And you put it down and go home. Next day, you arrive and pour it away. If you stay in the house, you consider, let me go out and try again if they will buy a little. Wait in vain. Night comes, still not finished. And you can only pour it away and come back home. When they come back and you try to get money to buy things again to sell, you can’t. E: Ah, is your husband also working? R: Yes, and the man also helps a little until they come back. E: He also works at Legon ? R: Legon, yes. In Legon. That is how it is. E: Mm, it is fine. Then would you like to return to our home, or have you decided like you will some day return to our homeland? R: Yes, home, we want to return to our homeland. E: But not now? R: Not now. E: But what about the children? Would they like to return? R: As for the children, we, you know if you are there and the children grow up and get their own lives and they all are working, you can go home and stay, and they stay here. E: Hmm. It is fine. R: That is how it is.
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Courtesy of Mary Esther Kropp Dakubu
Creator: Atanga, Ellen Mma
Woman, name withheld
Woman, name withheld
Contributing Institutions: Mary Esther Kropp Dakubu; Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana; MATRIX: The Center for Humane Arts, Letters, and Social Sciences Online at Michigan State University
Biography: The woman interviewed had been born in the Bolgatanga District and was living at Legon Staff Village, a very ethnically mixed section built for university workers, opposite the University of Ghana campus. Interviews were conducted by Ellen Mma, graduate student at the University of Ghana. Atanga was accompanied by Arwen Kimmell, a graduate student in anthropology at Indiana University.
Description: The interviewee was asked to discuss problems associated with living in Accra. She mentioned in particular difficulties with relatives of her husband. She thought on the whole it was better back home, but with hard work one could manage.
Date: May 22, 2005
Location: Legon, Greater Accra, Ghana
Rights Management: Education use only, no other permissions given.