Most Ghanaians have aspirations of traveling abroad, if not to stay then to raise their pedigree. In Ghana being a returnee is synonymous with being wealthy. “There is nothing more satisfying than working as a fat person’s pubic hair waxer and coming back home to live like a king. They praise you without knowing what you did.” Before all these materialise though, you need a passport. Herein lies the problem.
Getting a passport in Ghana is much more difficult than applying for a Visa. It’s probably much more difficult than finding a virgin in a brothel. The system has been set up to frustrate you. A visit to any of the passport offices will bear me out. The excuses the workers are ready to give are mind-boggling. On a recent quest to buy passport forms, I had the audacity, yes audacity to ask when it would be due. The look on the woman’s face screamed that at me. Apparently she couldn’t understand why I thought I would get it anytime this decade. I hadn’t paid any other money besides the price of the forms. No “processing fee” had been forthcoming. She finished by giving me the excuse that the equipment used to produce the passports had all broken down. The one being used now had been purchased solely for the use of government workers. It’s surprising but the puffed up poppin jays have their own machines. For them to be able to use that machine for mine, I had to pay a “processing fee”.
I didn’t give up though, the following week, I went there at dawn to submit my forms. I thought to beat the mad rush come morning, I had been told only 200 forms could be processed in a day. That wasn’t to be though, there was quite the crowd when I got there, easily a hundred people. I wasn’t perturbed, I said a quick prayer and joined the queue. The 200 people mark hadn’t been reached yet.
This was sometime in February, the weather was as cold as could be. Strangers were hugging each other for warmth. Those who had thought to bring blankets were bundled up in it. A man with a blanket that morning was like Dangote to the women present. There were no washrooms available, the blankets could act as screens if need be.
We endured till morning. There had been no quitters, all who made it this far knew what they wanted. With the appearance of the sun, all who had been laying about resumed their positions in the queue. No sooner had we done this than a scuffle broke up front. The man in the front of the queue wanted to stand right behind the entrance door. A worker who had come not too long ago was asking him to stand behind this rock that was lying there. The rock represented someone he said. Frontman was having none of that.
He accosted rockman over invaded territory. The other denied being an invader. Frontman, who by the way is just an inch short of being a midget, grabs hold of Rockman’s rock and throws it into the street. Rockman gets pissed and grabs hold of Frontman by the collar and raises him. Frontman kicks out. Kick catches Rockman in the groin. He let’s go of Frontman. Instead of running, Frontman decides to tackle Rockman who had doubled over because of the kick to the groin. Rockman catches the movement and quickly dashes to the side. He evades Frontman in the process and uses Frontman’s own momentum to throw him into the street.
All this had taken place within a short spate of time. Onlookers rushed to separate them both. Frontman, instead of being thankful, screamed to be released so he could teach Rockman a lesson. He might be small, but anger lent him strength. It took quite a number of us to hold him back.
Wanting peace to prevail, I ventured up front and tried to calm frontman. I told him one more person ahead of him wouldn’t make any difference. He would still get in, we would all get in I said. It took a while but he eventually calmed down and accepted my logic.
Soon, it was just a half hour to time for them to start operations. We all perked up considerably. It was within our reach, what we had been waiting for.
A couple of minutes to the start of business and a bus pulled up. Rockman came to the bus. He looked at us and explained that the stone represented the bus in the queue. We didn’t understand at first, not until the people started filing out of the bus. They all went to stand at the front. There were over fifty of them. Frontman just turned and smiled at me. A more patronizing smile you will never see.
Let’s just say I still don’t have a passport.