The West African Hustle

I may not have witnessed Ghana’s manufacturing and exportation sectors of digital technology, automotive and ship construction but what I did see was the industrial hustle of the individual. From the vibrancy of Accra, through the villages on our way to Lome, Togo, true work a day people were ‘hawking’ their ‘everything you can imagine,’ to sell on the streets.

The word ‘shopping’ that us Westerners have come to know has to do with going into a mall or a big box store or shopping on-line at home in our pajamas on amazon.com for what we want and need. But these outlets don’t do business on the country roads of Ghana…it’s the people that do the business.

And, when you come to a red light, especially in Accra because there were not many red lights along the country road to Togo, men and women balancing to perfection baskets and bowls on top of their heads walk between cars, vans and motorcycles with fruits, drinks, candies, men’s ties, laundry washing detergent, gum, men’s belts, dish towels and yes drinks to keep you cool during the hot, hazy day…are for sale. On your motorcycle and need a new tie…no problem because someone has a variety of ties draped across his or her arms to sell you.

It took us close to six hours with a couple of stops in between along the pretty descent roads through a variety of villages to get to the boarder of Togo but the roadside visual feast of people selling a cornucopia of items, big and small, edible and drinkable and professional to sporty attire was something I had never seen before and frankly, I was mesmerized. These are not big businesses, these are men, women and children ‘hawking’ whatever they can to make a dollar, or in this case, a Ghanaian Cedi. There wasn’t a village we drove through that didn’t have a stand of something for sale be it tomatoes, coconuts, loaves of homemade bread, sandals and even men’s dress suits.

I am just so taken by the ingenuity to make a buck, I mean cedi. And, they are doing this in hot, not warm, weather. I don’t know how prosperous these street vendors are in their endeavors but I applaud their desire to get out there and do what they can to make money. As a recipient of the pushing, it can be annoying at times. But I let that go because these street vendors/hawkers/entrepreneurs are doing what I think any of us would do if we needed to feed our families and ourselves.

This post is dedicated to the hard working Ghanaians who transport, set-up and sell a plethora of life’s wants and needs on the streets of Ghana.

The busy traffic streets of Accra, Ghana, during a hot and hazy day as street vendors are walking on the sidewalks, medians, and between vehicles to sell their wares. (Jan. 8, 2019)
A young woman on the streets of Accra, Ghana, carrying a bowl on her head with what looks like bread rolls for sale. (Jan. 8, 2019)
Two young women Having a conversation while balancing bowls on their heads filled with all kinds of drinks to cool down with during a hot and hazy Accra, Ghana, day. (Jan. 8, 2019)
This woman with a bucket full of pastries is ready to sell her baked edibles on the streets of Accra, Ghana. (Jan. 8, 2019)
Walking between cars, this young woman is selling some milky-looking drinks on the streets of Accra, Ghana. (Jan. 8, 2019)
It may be warm but you never know if you will need a towel, a cloth or a cover-up and this young man is selling just that between vehicles on the streets of Accra, Ghana. (Jan. 8, 2019)
Walking with such majesty with a bowl balancing on her head ready to sell pastries on the streets and roads of Accra, Ghana. (Jan. 8, 2019)
A van full of customers passed up an opportunity to buy bags of chips from this vendor balancing her purple bucket between vehicles in Accra, Ghana. (Jan. 8, 2019)
These are the stands, with a variety of fruits and vegetables, set up alongside the country roads. Stands like this with a variety of offerings were on hand as we drove the 130 miles or so stretch of roads from Accra, Ghana to Lome Togo. The people on the stretch of country roads are mostly farmers selling their produce. (Jan. 8, 2019)
These are the stands, with a variety of fruits and vegetables, set up alongside the country roads. Stands like this with a variety of offerings were on hand as we drove the 130 miles or so stretch of roads from Accra, Ghana to Lome Togo. The people on the stretch of country roads are mostly farmers selling their produce. (Jan. 8, 2019)
The cars driving down the country road streets from Accra, Ghana to Lome, Togo, may not be plentiful but the people selling everything from water to fruits and snacks most definitely are plentiful. (Jan. 8, 2019)
And, just when you thought you couldn’t find that bed frame you were looking for or a quick coffin, this carpenter is selling his wares along the country roads from Accra, Ghana to Benin, Togo. (Jan. 8, 2019)
These young men are the taxi motorbike brigade. If you’re in a hurry or just need to transport yourself and some goods from one place to another, this taxi service, along the country roads from Accra, Ghana to Lome, Togo, is for you. (Jan. 8, 2019)
Although photographs are strictly forbidden at border crossing sites, it was difficult for me not to get this photo of the Ghana street vendors crossing the border back home to Ghana as the sun was setting. (Jan. 8, 2019)