Our Near Death Experience with Papa Doc

What makes one stick with a person though keeping their company can potentially bring distasteful consequences? This had been the third time that such an event had happened in the company of our bubbly papa doc. Papa doc had a car that was in the winter of its life. The car made a loud wheezing sound as it sped along the road. Of course, the car turned heads and I need not tell you about how many more heads it turned!  Growing up, I had learnt what an onomatopoeia was and had been taught also to associate the sound ‘vvroooom’ with cars. I only came to fully appreciate the meaning of this ‘vvroooom’ when I met papa doc, and his car..

‘Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down’ – Oprah Winfrey

I guess this quote explained the relationship we had with papa doc and his car; not to mention the fact that on one occasion we nearly got into an accident because unfortunately the prank papa doc tried to play on us turned into a bad joke. That afternoon, we took the Road not taken (Robert Frost) and decided to journey downtown with papa doc. Before we begun the journey, papa doc asked one of us to pray, this was quite unusual very unusual to say the least, yet as religious and unquestioning as we were, one of us prayed. After the prayer, Papa doc literally stepped on the accelerator and made a crazy zig zagging and criss crossing pattern with the frail car! Young, Ghanaian and frantic, all we did was shout ‘Jesus’, Jesus’ amidst pleading with papa doc to stop whatever prank he was playing.

Disgruntled and shocked, we questioned what the  intention of the stunt was. We had only a few more minutes to chastise him for playing with our lives when we realized that the car had begun to move rather slower and with less fluidity. We rolled to a stop in front of a small house only to realize that our suspicions were indeed right! We had a flat tyre! Sometimes, a ride on the bus is worth more than a million papa doc rides! Never again! We shall keep our loyalty for another occasion when it is under less fatal conditions.

 

The Ghanaian Snipper

The light flickered on unwillingly after its usual 12hour demise. These were hard times where everything was out of line. Things had fallen apart and mere anarchy had replaced order and sanity. Streets and street corners were filled with ebony black darkness through which the feeble light of a torch could not even cut.

Dumsor – Dumsor (or more appropriately dum sɔ) (off&on) is a popular Ghanaian term used to describe persistent, irregular and unpredictable electric power outages.

He’d been up scheming all night. His blood shot eyes revealed inadequate sleep and determination. Through the heat and rampant mosquito swatting he’d sat and planned out exactly how he was going to carry out that action.
With giant steps he made his way to the bus station. One look at the man’s face told everyone not to mess with him. The bus conductor had only begun calling for the fares of those headed in the church’s direction when the man blurted out the need to turn down the volume of the damned bus radio! The menacing tone of his voice alone coupled with the Crimson red of his eyes told the driver to not argue but do exactly as told.
‘Yes, church stop, a cedi and  seventy pesewas’ ….
This was the third time the conductor had signaled to the man to pay up his bus fare. The hint of irritation in the conductor’s voice surfaced more than ever before. This forced the silent man to respond.
‘ I will give you the money when I get to the Church stop’
‘No, you need to hand it here and now before you get to the Church stop’
…Silence…
‘Did you not hear what I said? YOU CAN NOT HAND THE MONEY WHEN WE GET TO CHURCH STOP, IT SHOULD BE HERE AND NOW’
The previously servile and willing driver had suddenly morphed into an angry ogre. He stopped the vehicle and was in the man’s corner within a split second. Together with the conductor, they made to aggress the man. Onlookers gathered and in what seemed like a flash, the aggressors had now taken to their heels, shrieking dangerously, arms flying, ‘HE HAS A GUUUUUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNN’
The man did have a gun, a thick ak47, practically the most popular type in Ghana, and was headed for the Church. His plan of action was carefully planned and was indeed simple; to give the president three shots in the head; one for the DUMSOR, two for the resultant crippling of the economy and three for his son who had passed away after having received blood that was congealed and contaminated in the hospital refrigerator also due to the same DUMSOR!
***
‘My son is mentally deranged! He dares not assassinate the president, he’s lost it, pardon him, a mad person can not go to jail just like that, mercy! Reduce his sentence, he deserves to be treated at some far off asylum, or maybe at home, in the loving and caring hands of relatives who can help him get back on his feet, this is a mistake!, NO!’
These were the melange of protests , pleading and counter arguments the mother of the gun  man presented. The man’s mother had every reason to cry, her son had just received a ten year jail sentence, one of the fastest rulings ever passed in the Ghanaian courts and all for attempting to assassinate the President. How we wish other matters of national interest that needed legal attention would be handled as fast as this one.