The walk home

23 10 2007

It takes about an hour to walk home from work. It’s a pleasant alternative to the shared taxi ride, so maybe once or twice a week I travel home by foot.  The walk is almost completely straight and flat, and the exercise is good for me.  I walk along the main road between Tamale and Bolgatanga, which is about a hundred miles away due north, the road continues on into Burkina Faso and perhaps beyond. 

I live in one of the outer suburbs, and between where I live and work is a mixture of low density housing, short stretches of scrubland and what I guess could best be described as townships; collections of makeshift housing, wooden shacks and converted shipping containers, with the occasional traditional thatched mud hut.  In the twilight the cooking fires glow orange beneath cauldrons of maize porridge or boiling oil frying plantains or bean paste cakes. The cooking smoke joins the acrid smoke from rubbish fires creating a haze.  Groups of people sit around the fires, or collect in front of the small stalls selling bread or fruit.  Small children call out “hello” and giggle with glee when I respond.

The Bolga road (as it’s known) seems to be where a lot of the NGOs are based, so lots of large white 4x4s with logos familiar and not so familiar pass me as I walk.  As do a surprising number of young white women on bicycles who, unlike the Ghanaians, studiously ignore me.  The Ghanaians greet me with “You are welcome” or “How are you?” or just look at me nonplussed to see a white man walking.  Those on bicycles silently rocket past millimetres from me; I’m sure I’ll be hit by one soon. Most of the bikes have a passenger and many carry bulky stuff.  Huge lorries thunder past, some with people perched on the top.  Mopeds whiz by with parents clutching, sometimes tiny, children in front of them.  And the taxis give a polite toot as they drive past, this isn’t because I’m white – they toot every walker in the hope of getting a fare.

The sun sets very quickly here, going from day to night in about half an hour.  As a result the last stretch of my walk is in darkness, my way lit by the passing traffic and the occasional street light, until I hear my local spot (bar) blasting out the radio station, and indeed see the radio station because “North Star FM’s” transmitter and studio are on the corner of my road, and I arrive home bathed in sweat and nicely tired.




One response

24 10 2007
abdul hayi moomen

i enjoyed reading your article, i come from tamale but i live in the uk. i flt very homesick after reading your article.i feel like going back home

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