Thursday, August 26, 2010

They finally got it

My blackberry pearl was stolen off of my desk today. I am pissed! I was in my office and an older gentleman walked in, unannounced. I should have been immediately tipped off because people are generally guided into my office by the receptionist or office manager. The man quickly walked over to my desk and started showing me papers. He actually placed a few on my desk while pointing to them and mouthing words. It became clear to me that he was not able to speak. I didn’t know why he was in my office but his behavior was making me nervous so I told him to leave my office and go to the reception area. He quickly snatched up his papers and walked out of my office. I stood up after he left intending to go ask reception about him and noticed that one of my phones, the blackberry pearl, was missing. I then got up and went to the reception area and asked the office maintenance worker if he had just seen a man exit the office. He said yes but didn’t know where he had gone. I said, “That man just stole my phone.” We exited the office, told the security guard in the lobby and attempted to look for him but were unable to locate him. I am livid!

I am also wondering why that phone is such a hot ticket item. I had a similar incident happen with that same phone when I worked in NYC as a prosecutor. I was interviewing a child who was the victim of a crime when I stepped out of the office to speak with a supervisor. I left my phone on the desk as I did so but upon returning to the office did not see the phone on the desk. I looked around the desk and moved some files but still couldn’t find the phone. At that point I called the cell phone and heard it ringing, in the victim’s mother’s coat pocket! I kid you not. I stared at her as she removed the phone from her pocket, placed it on the desk and said, “Oh, this isn’t my phone.” Of course it wasn’t her phone!! Her phone was a big red phone that looked like the first cell phone ever made. I allowed her and her child to leave my office but in hindsight I should have had her arrested. Who comes to a prosecutor’s office and steals? I guess the same kind of person who pretends to be mute, walks into a firm and steals a cell phone.

Monday, August 23, 2010

how NOT to commit a crime

Ways to guarantee your arrest after committing a crime:

(1) go by the name Shaka Zulu

(2) be a muscle bound man who wears your hair styled in a Mohawk bun

(3) appear in a Ghana television ad prior to committing the crime

(4) appear in a major Ghanaian group’s music video prior to committing the crime

(5) be a bouncer at one of the most popular night clubs in the city where the crime was committed

(6) after ensuring that numbers 1-5 are in place, commit the crime sans disguise!

I’ve been in Ghana for only six months but even I know Skaka Zulu. He is a bouncer at the club “The Office” now known as Reggie Rockstone’s Office, has appeared in the popular Ghanaian group 4x4’s music video for “Fresh Onez” and has appeared in a Tigo commercial. Tigo is one of the major cellular phone networks in Ghana. You can’t miss the dude. If you’ve seen him once you will remember him. First off, he’s a big, muscular man, secondly his hair is styled in a way I HAVE NEVER SEEN BEFORE. I mean NEVER. It is like a Mohawk, sort of kind of, but there is also a bun in the middle of his head (see picture for visual assistance). And thirdly, he is always dressed in all black and wears an assortment of traditional beaded necklaces. Basically, what I am saying is that the man stands out. And not only does he stand out, he works at one of the popular night clubs in Accra, has been in a popular music video and appears in a television commercial that runs ALL THE TIME. Could he be any more conspicuous? So why, with all of this going on, would he chose to commit a crime? Is there anyone in Accra who wouldn’t recognize him? Did he really think the victims would forget his face? Did he think they would confuse him with someone else? I mean how many diesel, Mohawk/bun wearing men named Shaka Zulu are there in Ghana?

Here is the official story

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Romance Scams

I just came across this article and honestly I am stunned. I feel so very sorry for the deceased and his family if it is indeed true that he committed suicide due to this internet scam but I am also shocked that he was involved in such a thing. I mean in this day and age who still falls for these wire/send/transfer money to West Africa scams? They are so common place and so obvious that they’ve become comedic material. Seriously, I’ve heard comedians making fun of these scams. Who hasn’t received an email from someone claiming to be a Nigerian business man with a business idea requiring $10,000 wired to an account? Shoot, even on eBay I’ve seen sellers state “WILL NOT SHIP TO WEST AFRICA” on their eBay auctions. Not to mention that the embassy websites warn their citizens about romantic relationship and business ventures when traveling to foreign countries. Here it seems that the deceased never even traveled to Ghana and was instead just sending money to some woman that he had never met. I can’t imagine how lonely and desperate he must have been to fall for this.

What’s really sad is that had he just used the money for a plane ticket to Ghana he could have easily met a female here. Come on, who here in Ghana hasn’t seen an older foreign man with a young, pretty Ghanaian girl???

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

There is a door in the road

I was jamming this morning to Notorious Big’s greatest hits supplied by my dear friend Aaron. I wasn’t just jamming, I was snapping my fingers and rapping along with the CD. I had been driving for more than an hour and was only 15 minutes from my house so the music was really helping my spirits. Accra traffic is normally pretty bad but it is downright unbearable after a rainstorm and it rained pretty hard yesterday. I was in the middle of my verse saying:

You was a Reebok vandal, now you wear Chanel sandals
I made you, why would I play you?
Think about it while in the streets you roam
It's Dom P's and Chris'ties in the fridge when you get home

when I heard a loud bang to my left. I looked and saw a car door in the street. Yes, that’s right, a car door. Luckily no car was following closely behind the car that LOST IT’S DOOR. I mean really, wth is going on here??? Doors are falling off of vehicles???

When I looked again I realized the door belonged to a trotro. I should have known!

I know the story sounds incredulous so I’ve provided photographic evidence.

Picture 1 shows the trotro mate removing the door from the road and picture 2 shows the trotro mate standing near the trotro while holding the door. See, I told you!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Kufuor plus two more?

John Kufuor is the former president of the Republic of Ghana. He served two four year terms just before the current President. I thought Kufuor did great things for Ghana, there was quite a bit of economical growth and infrastructure development during his terms in office. I became particularly endeared to him when he appeared on KSM’s “Thank God It’s Friday” a local television show. The show aired while I was in Ghana last year and during the program Kufuor spoke lovingly of his wife Theresa Kufuor. He explained that they had been together for over fifty years and met as teenagers. They also have five children together. He painted the picture of a loving, happy marriage so imagine my shock and dismay when I heard the allegations that he fathered twins with a woman named GizeleYajzi. Apparently these allegations first surfaced in 2005, however they resurfaced again this week. Ms. Gizele Yajzi claims that Ex-President Kufuor fathered her seven year old male twins and also went on to say she had the children out of love and not any attempt to blackmail the president. DNA testing has not been performed and Ex-President Kufuor has never even seen the children.

After hearing the story I came home to discuss it with my family members. One said, “And so what?” When I asked, “What do you mean” she said, “So what if he fathered twins with another woman, is it our business? It is between him and his wife.”

While I understand that Ex-President Kufuor is married to his wife and not to the public doesn’t it matter when a political leader steps outside of their marriage? Or is that a private matter between him and his partner? Especially here in Ghana where polygamy was once the norm and is still very much accepted. Or does a political figure’s extramarital affair only become an issue when that political figure lies about the affair to the public (*cough* *cough* Bill Clinton) Thoughts?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Gate 1, My Car 0

I am driving but I drive in absolute fear of trotro drivers who are biggest bullies on the roads of Accra. I have attempted to gather courage and continue on my path as they pretend to careen into my vehicle in order to cut me off but I back down each time and allow them to jump in front of me. Why? Because I fear they will hit my car. And I know that if they were to hit my car I would be left with the expense, so I drive as if I’m driving Ms. Daisy and just hope I arrive at my destination unscathed.

My morning routine consists of me calling the house help to open the massive iron gate so that I can leave the house and go to work. Well, our house help was not available to open the gate the other day and I told my cousins not to worry because surely I could open the gate and drive the car out of the driveway myself. Ummm, no. I managed to get the gate open and secure each side of the gate, (or so I thought) and then went to drive my car out of the driveway. I thought I had made it past the gate when I heard a bang and then a screeching sound. I looked and realized that the gate had been not properly secured and instead had hit my car. And as I drove the car past the gate the gate scratched my bumper leaving a trail of brown paint. I’ve officially had my first accident in Accra and no it wasn’t with my arch rival, the trotro driver, it was with an iron gate.

I’ve been so busy worrying about trotro drivers that I failed to realize the real danger lies with the gate at my home!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

To give or not to give

There is a little kiosk by my office building that sells assorted sodas and snacks. The kiosk is run by two very friendly women. One woman is especially nice and always compliments my outfits. Some weeks ago she approached me and said, “I’ve started a charity and would like you to donate clothing. Can you bring some clothes to me tomorrow?” I said, “Sure, I will look through what I have.”

I walked away and thought to myself, “Charity! She’s the charity.” I didn’t at all believe that she was starting a charity and needed clothing donations. Instead it seemed that she wanted a clothing donation from me for her own personal use, either to wear or to sell. But then I felt badly. What if she really was having some sort of clothing drive? Or what if she just wanted the clothes for herself? So what? I have a ton of clothes, why would parting with a few items be such a big deal?

I saw her again this morning and she again complimented me on my outfit and then said, “Oh, have you been able to find something to give me?” I told her I haven’t looked but I think I will go home tonight to look for something to “donate.”

Monday, August 2, 2010

I'm driving!

I've started driving!!! It is both liberating and terrifying. I am happy to no longer depend on people for rides, fight with taxi drivers about the fares and deal with the insanity of tro tro but driving in Accra isn't easy. First, though running late is expected and culturally accepted most drivers in Ghana exercise very little patience behind the wheel. It is not surprising to have someone honk their horn at you just seconds after the light has changed from red to green. Secondly, rules of the road? Hmm, not really sure they exist here. Cars make abrupt turns without indicating, cars are operated sometimes without any lights, drivers often speed unnecessarily and to top it off many of the roads here are in bad condition. Therefore, as someone new to driving I take my time and probably piss off many drivers who find themselves in the unfortunate position of driving behind my vehicle.

In addition to all that I have said above you kind of need a mental GPS system to drive in Ghana. I'm sure it comes with time and experience but for now I am suffering. I try to stick only to main roads because I am sure to lose my way when I attempt short cuts. Very few streets have obvious street signs and there isn't a real address system in Ghana. Directions to one's house often go something like this:

"Take Spintex road to the coca cola round about, then go straight until you reach Mr. Bigg's. Upon reaching Mr. Bigg's take a left, drive straight until you see the sign board for ER internet cafe, then make left and drive until you see the kiosk where they repair shoes, then take a left and go over the speed bumps. My house is the white house just after the third speed bump. There is a woman who sells roasted plantain and ground nuts at the end of the road, if you see her, you've gone too far."

So imagine trying to get accustomed to driving and having to deal with directions such as this. It isn't easy!