Today, we have a second guest commuter, as I promised there would be in this anniversary month. She happens to be Sharlon, my friend who spends her days in her bank job. Sharlon loves the theatre and has decided to try her hand at blogging, first on The Daily Commute. She’s a regular on the Haatso-Accra route, never mind that it’s usually in the front seat of an air-conditioned lift. Comment as usual and share it. Enjoy.
One way or the other we all make it home at the end of the day. Whether via public transport, personal cars or on occasion, a heaven-sent “Lifthansa”, as I once heard my brother call a lift. From my office at the heart of Accra, I, like most commuters, have to struggle to get back home at night. In my case, more often than not, it’s via “Lifthansa”.
One evening, as I slipped in and out of sleep in the slow march of the Tetteh Quarshie Interchange, a Daewoo Tico crawled by with the inscription, “Nyame yε obolo”. Hold on. Why would a matchbox of a car want to guess God as fat? The good Lord is indeed Alpha and Omega, but surely, He maintains a sturdy diet somewhere in between that.
It’s always struck me as peculiar the philosophies at the backs of most public transport vehicles, a popular practice in Accra. I can imagine a car owner somewhere cringing every time he sees his vehicle pass him by, reading something like, “You think you know’. God alone knows what he does not know about the daily (mis)deeds of his vehicle.
The names, as I have come to observe, may be written according to the state of the car, “Fresh boy” or “Kae me brε” (Remember my suffering); the nature or behaviour of the drivers “Saddam” (why not just go for the big gun himself, Osama?); or some past experience one must have had, “Suro nipa na gyae saman” (Fear man, and not ghosts). God help the car that is owned or driven by a scorned lover.
My mum once told me a ‘toli’ of a Benz 207 (why is it always a 207?) that had had a fatal accident on one of its long journeys. The front part which suffered the impact was mashed in, but the back coincidentally had the inscription, “Hwε deε Awurade ayε” (See what God has done). The Old Man above must be scratching his head wondering exactly which part he played in all that. Dear Lord, forgive them for they know not what they write.
A colleague at work told us of a trotro that nearly run him over on the Gbawe road, driving with all the furies of hell after it. He looked all but ready to beat the culprit to pulp had he been there as he told his story (I still wonder what stopped him the night before). The poor man’s face nearly blew up like a firecracker when we all burst out laughing at the inscription he said was behind the hell-bound trotro, “Kaa fei gidigidi”. Even with my terrible Ga I know that to mean something like ‘Do not rush’. Classic. One undisciplined driver I saw had the audacity to point fingers, having written, “And they say they are Christians!”
I suspect it makes some of these drivers feel good about themselves when people call out to them by the names written on their cars or even when it earns them some popularity among the station drivers. Perhaps we are quick to judge, never knowing truly what brilliant light bulbs go up in their brains when drivers think their ideas are the next best thing since chocolate (I always wanted to say that). I would give a toe or two (gulp!!) to be a fly on the wall when these decisions are taken. I imagine a re-enacting of the naming of Simba from The Lion King. All the other drivers and mates eagerly await the sage amongst them who walks out in his best Rafiki impersonation and proudly announces, “This car shall be called, “Boga boga εna εyεε dεn?” (Do I hear the Hallelujah chorus?).
They certainly do not anticipate certain situations to nullify the effect of those names, like that driver who after pushing his car for about five minutes unsuccessfully, shrugged his shoulders and walked away with his scruffy mate in tow. Behind the car were the words, “Never give up”.
I was rudely awakened from my reverie when my ‘Lifthansa’ had to quickly swerve one of those huge cargo trucks bullying its way down the already traffic-congested road, like Don Quixote charging at the wind mills. My benevolent friend asked in bewilderment where on earth that car was headed. As if in answer to his question, inscribed behind the vehicle was, “I wonder”. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I rest my case.
I’ve been reading Asomasi’s blog for as long as it’s been going and though I admit that my daily commute is less riddled with the drama his is, the view is equally interesting from my usual ‘Lifthansa’ ride home. Have you seen any inscriptions that got you amused? Angry? I’d love to hear from you.