How I got my iPhone back and Other Stories. (Part 1)

Good stuff.

Please Read it while it lasts

kuukuwa

January 31st, 2014.

Madina, Accra.

I lay in bed with a cold compress on my head to battle my old friends the migraine demons, and a hot water bottle on my abdomen to ease the cramps. It wasn’t a good day. I was reading a novel on my new iPhone 5S, a gift/prize from Nana Aba Anamoah for being her Twitter person of the year 2013, but from time to time, I would refresh my twitter feed on my trusty Sony Xperia S.

I was still coming to terms with the fact that I had an iPhone, so all I did with it at that point was to read on iBooks. Both phones were below 40% on battery power, and I was too comfortable in my dealing-with-the-pain position to go through the laborious process of looking for my chargers and plugging them in. Occasionally, I would drift off to sleep…

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TROTRO, THE PUBLIC SPHERE

The public sphere as defined by Jürgen Habermas, is said to be a place between private individuals and government authorities in which people could meet and have critical debates about public matters. Such discussions served as a counterweight to political authority and happened physically in face-to-face meetings in coffee houses and cafes and public squares as well as in the media in letters, books, drama, and art.

Jürgen Haber-mas, a German scholar and Marxist theorist, stated  in his book “The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere”(1962), placed emphasis on the fact that “The public sphere is . . . It’s the virtual space where the citizens of a country exchange ideas and discuss issues, in order to reach agreement about ‘matters of general interest’ ([Jurgen] Habermas, 1997: 105). In the same vein, the local as well as urban transport provides the comfortable platform for commuters to express their personal views and opinion regardless of thier cultural, educational, and high or low social status.

So, the local means of transport; “trotro” in Accra-Ghana, can be comfortably identified as a “public sphere” that urban Ghanaian citizens in Accra and other city centers, comfortably discuss social issues and events that are of general interest.
These issues most often than not, concern governmental policies (good or bad), fuel price hikes, high costs of leaving, a cheeky remark of any influential personality and the whole lot that concern the citizens of a country.

REFERENCING
The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere Jurgen Habermas (1962)

MY TROTRO, MY NAME.

Drivers of local public transport sometimes choose to give names and nicknames as well as phrases, rhetorics, Bible quotations, and other suitable and preferred titles to their buses or office of work. These name tags, are sometimes the choices of the original car owners, and sometimes the drivers as well.

Camera 360 An unusual example of a incorrectly spelt “trotro” name

And some of these names are most often than not, improperly spelt. And this can sometimes be a very intriguing and funny site to behold if you are in a better position to read and understand.

SAM_0807 Typical Ghanaian style ‘trotro’ names; Mpaebo Tiefo (prayer answering God) and Papa Anago (nigerian man) respectively

Interesting names like “MAN FOR HUSTLE, MY LORD IS ABLE, FEAR WOMAN, GOD IS GOOD, still ABRANTIE and JESUS IS LORD”  are but a select few of the countless names emborsed infront or behind most trotro’s in and out of Accra-Ghana.

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As i took the liberty to ask a trotro-driver for his reason for choosing “NO FEARS”, he stated, “.. i am not a fear- filled person. And to top it up, he love and respect every individual but only fears God…”

So, anywhere, anyday, anytime, you stop to take alook at any “trotro”, take a little time to absorb and create a reasonable meaning for such humourous but sincere names, because it just worth your effort.

"Nyame Adom" (God's grace)
“Nyame Adom” (God’s grace)

“TROTRO; NOT FOR COMFORT”

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An inside view of a worn out urban transport in at Accra

The need for comfortablity and luxury, on a trotro is a mirage in itself. This has been and continued to be the order of the day in the local private transport business in Accra-Ghana.
This issue stems in the fact that most urban transport vehicles suffer alot of daily wear and tear as a result of constant and consistent use by passengers of all shapes, gender, color and sizes.

But, in retrospect, these buses upon arrival from their countries of origin into Ghanaian auto-shops, are remolded from being cargo vehicles into commercially used passenger vehicles.
This conversion process is what most often creates the problems of improper spacing of seats, ineffective window positions and poor aeration to mention a few.

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An experienced worn out and torn “trotro” seat

So, in the long term, the average Ghanaian “trotro consumer” tends to experience the discomforting state of a remodeled cargo/vehicle van. If there be any luxury, any peace, and even, any freedom, then, it is of the luxury of affrodability by virtue of lower pricing for fares charged on travel distances.

“TROTRO CONSUMERS” {DAILY PASSENGERS}

As daily routine commuters stay on the lookout for the next available bus ride to work, school, church or any other social gathering of interest, my curiosity was once satisfied whilst aboard the generally acclaimed Ghanaian “Troski”. As worried looking mothers, neatly dressed school pupils, executive and casual workers who have been, and still are, and will always be “Trotro consumers” daily passengers of urban transportation; the “trotro” will always serve as a common social denominator.

 General views and opinions of passengers about local urban transport is that, their daily cost of transportation is reduced significantly, as compared to taxis. Passengers can actually be segmented into three groupings, namely;-the early risers {5:00am-6:30am}, midday movers {11:00am-1:00pm}, and evening rushers {4:30pm-7:00pm}-.

This simple demarcation is not a fixed estimation, but as a result of the difference in time schedule and travel itinerary of workers, students, teachers and others who need to be at work early as early risers, commuters who do not have any pressing agendas or obligations to fulfill {midday movers}, and the time of the day whereby most commuters return from either work school, a visit and any other activity of interest {evening rushers}

 

On a typical day for a commuter, brief verbal and non verbal interactions between bus conductors and passengers, do aid the transportation process effectively.  “Where to?” asks a passenger standing by, “Osu”, answers the mate. “I will go”, replies the passenger-to-be. Away! Exclaimed the bus conductor to the driver after we {passenger and I} were both aboard the vehicle. Simple and brief conversations as these move people to places in and around urban centers.

Choosy passengers who can afford the luxury of time, do stand aloof when approaching vehicles do not have a pleasing aesthetic appeal. Such passengers cheekily ignore the questions of such bus conductors {mates} with regards to where they are heading. But, for the masses who can’t afford the luxury of time, they do not hesitate to hop on any and every available vehicle that passes by.

 

With no prescribed nor predefined order for being a “trotro” {urban bus} passenger, one {passenger} is simply qualified to board any urban bus for as long as he/she is of sound mind, is heading in the travelling direction of the bus and can also afford the transport fee;-you are good to go-. In essence, the typical “trotro consumer” is the any and everybody who has the deciding power of choice and will to move from one point to the other through affordable means.

An view into the everyday lives of passengers in Accra the capital of Ghana

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Passengers on board a vehicleImage

“TROSKI”

Transportation, in simple terms can be said to be the process or means of moving people or goods from one point to another. In Ghana, there are some considerable means of transport that enable the movement of people and goods from one point to the other. Examples of these are; airplanes, trains, buses, minibuses and taxis which are all functional means of transport in the country. This blog as above titled, “Agenda-4-Trotro development” hopes to assess, creatively address and explore the various aspects of public transportation; particularly, mini-buses locally known as ‘trotro’.

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“Troski”, a popular term amongst the young and young at heart urban citizens of Ghana is the modernized local name for “Trotro”. Originally, “trotro” became a Ghanaian term because the word “tro” in “twi” (widely used local Ghanaian language) means the least and lowest amount of money a person may possess and can be equivalent to a penny’s worth. This directly implies affordability as a feature of local means of transport.

 

As an urban means of transport, “trotro’s” are widely considered to be intra/inter-city transports that help commuters to move across shorter as well as longer distances within and without most urban areas like Accra, Tema, Kumasi, Takoradi, and Tamale. In Accra for example, a vast percentage of citizens depend on these “trotro’s” to move from home to work, school, and to any destination of choice. The absence of this affordable and somewhat reliable means of transport could even negatively affect the economy of the country Ghana.

 

A PICTURE OF A “TROSKI”Image

As “trotro” drivers and their mates (conductors) begin their daily business routine from their various stations/ bus terminals, awaiting passengers, either at bus stops or in waiting queues, are most often than not found to be at the mercies of the “troski”;  especially during the early hours of 6-7am. As the driver drives swiftly through traffic, the mate also scouts for additional passengers who also might be in eager wait for a bus to work, school, a medical appointment or even to church; – as the activities of the day demands-.

 

For those who can duly afford to charter the services of a taxi, it is a good feather in their cap which comes with sometimes ridiculous charges. But for the student, mother, trader, father, business man and woman, august men and women of the society who do not have a choice than to employ the services of the “troski” on a regular basis, making use of the “troski” at “the luxury of your pocket is a true blessing that comes in handy