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A site for galamsey

A site for galamsey

Here on the top of my dining table, beside my window, do I sit, watching the heavens pour in litres.  My eyes are welled up too – they shed tears for the broken fence walls that caged up our home.  


As my abode reels under possible floods, my fleshy African lips are pouted in the direction of my neighbour’s house; the man who offered to supervise the dredging of our gutters in the area; the sand-filled gutters which could qualify for a galamsey operator’s exploration site.  In fact, if I hadn’t been told there existed gutters in those depths, I wouldn’t have known.  Hmm.


Each household was made to contribute Ghc90.00, for a clean combing of our brimming gutters early this year.   A few delays here and there did not enable a comprehensive collection of cash from all 14 households till the last week of March.  

I personally ensured that full payment was made.  As Secretary and signatory to the Area Association’s accounts, I handed over a cheque bearing the total amount of money to be incurred in getting the job done, to a neighbour, a pensioner, who has a lot of time on his hands, and who promised to supervise the workers to do a great job.  

In fact, he knew a group of willing gentlemen who had agreed to take up the project.  He gave us the overheads involved etc.  A very credible man, we all voted his taking on the contract.  

Unfortunately for this neighbour, the very week of receipt of the cheque, his sick mother in the village kicked the bucket.  He was the only person in his family who could hold the centre of affairs.  

A stay-at-home pensioner not earning extra income, how was his family expecting him to conjure cash to run the tall order that came with demands from his maternal clan?  

I gave him the cheque on a Tuesday, his mother passed on to glory the Friday of the same week.  He had to travel to his village on Saturday to transport the cadaver to Koforidua for safe keeping, return to Accra on Monday to commence with preparations … and oh, he looked exhausted when he came knocking on my trap door same Monday evening.  He had only one request:  for me to allow him to loan the amount of Ghc1,260, being the entire project funds. 

I didn’t so much like the idea.  I had witnessed a few occasions of hard times in this man’s home, and doubted if he would be able to pay back.  But he assured me of some upcoming payments by his wife’s debtors.  He would pay back by the first week of May.  With the consent of our Association’s President, I allowed this elderly man to make use of the “collection”, after categorically reminding him of the impending rains.    

When he exceeded the payment deadline, (and in fact, I had given him a grace period of five extra days) and with no word from him, I went to enquire of the status of the money.  Huh, I have seen a few men cry, but the tears this man shed that evening was very spectacular.  I couldn’t tell if they were for his mother or his debt. I ended up comforting him as he complained of how all of his siblings, one of who lived in Sunyani, and the two others who lived in Takoradi and Bekyem respectively, had left him to bear the burden alone. I felt so bad, I departed his home feeling very miserable. His wife had left for Women’s Fellowship at the time of my arrival in their home.

I confronted his wife for the payment the following day but the long and short of the long explanation to the delay in payment was that, her debtors had still not showed up.   She sells plastic wares at the market.  With the little money she had saved, she had a role to play in the funeral celebration, being an in-law.  So she begged for a bit of time.  

Payments have delayed, the rains have started with a vengeance; residents are calling for the head of this man who had willingly offered to supervise the job for us.  I just don’t know what to do.  From all indications, he won’t be able to pay the money.  How do I know?  I met his youngest daughter in the morning of yesterday, walking back home from school.  Her sullen look made me ask why although she, wearing her school uniform, wasn’t in school.  

Time was past nine.  Sobbing, she told me she’d been sacked for school fees.  There and then I knew our loan was almost turning into a bad debt.  How was a debtor, befallen by hard times going to pay his loan?  

I want to suggest to members during our meeting that we use the prospective funeral donation we were to make to him during his mother’s funeral to offset the loan.  But according to our Constitution, he is entitled to Gh¢500, not Gh¢1,260.  How do we get the retrieve of the Ghc760? Eh?  

The resulting delay in this payment was what broke down the fence walls of my abode during the rains of Saturday night.  In fact, the fence, as at Sunday morning, was tottering; cracks had bridled it.  It had become an edifice of danger.  Then the rains of Sunday totally collapsed everything.  Our landlord says he hasn’t budgeted for such an expense so we don’t even know when it will be fixed.  If only the gutters had been dug up! And the rains have just begun.  Mercy!!! Mercy!!! 


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