It was already well past mid-day when i and old man Mohammed arrived the village. It was my twelfth time coming here but it never seemed less beautiful with each visit. The sun was almost setting as the smell of rain hung thick in the air. The village was surrounded by a thick forest that a road was bore through. It was on an altitude slightly higher than most places i had visited in this country. This meant that rainfall was almost a normal affair here. On arriving our destination, we noticed there was a lot of activity going on. On entering the palace gates, the sight we were met with couldn’t be described by words. The entire compound had been beautified to welcome us. The fan-fare, the pomp, the pageantry was nothing like i had ever seen. It was too African even for an African man i must say. Colours everywhere. The whole community had come out to say hello to the one that had the resources that was supposed to alleviate the “less-than-humane” existence they had endured.We arrived to Old women in their mid- 70’s who could barely stand unaided were part of the welcoming party. A little girl not more than 13 years entertained alongside a short-statured man as more people arrived. The excitement was heart-wrenching. My eye’s stung. How on earth could this King Nana arrange such a welcoming parade. He was indeed a king of the people.. The songs began and shortly afterwards, King Nana as he was introduced to us stepped out in his full regalia. His subjects went wild as he raised his hands in a manner that regained silence. He spent the next Ten minutes introducing me and Mohammed to the people and informing them of what we were there for. We were then asked to speak and this took another twenty minutes. After our speech, the music began again for another 2 hours with different performers displaying their skills. It was otherworldly.
“Brother Temple, everybody who is welcomed must dance for the people”, It was Emmanuel my man-Friday telling me what had to be done with his unmistakably Ghanaian accent. Snapping back to my immediate reality,”Why” i blurted out..”It’s the culture” he retorted. i could see the stares and half-toothed smiles aimed with laser-like precision towards me. It was time to dance. I stepped out A hybrid dance that smoothly merged Michael jackson’s “Smooth Criminal and “K’NAAN’s” Waving Flag… I jumped down from the mini throne i had been forced to sit on and the first step was the last cos it did the deed. Everyone was on their feet and the drummers went wild, with sweat falling off their backs like the Victoria falls. This was just like one of those Robinson Crusoe meets the native type situations but with a little twist. I wasn’t Crusoe, i was the Native of all natives. My white shirt was drenched, the next 4 hours passed like a time within time that almost didn’t exist. As i met with the chiefs, spoke to cluster after cluster of community members explaining what it was i and my partners were bringing to them, development, small-scale fish farms, plantain processing machinery to help them tap into the already booming plantain business in central Accra, a water processing plant in partnership with a big beverage brand and lastly a 10-room health centre to assist with drugs, education that will curb the the sky-rocketing cases of teenage pregnancies, STD’s he privately complained a bout (one of the major issues noticed in mining towns,sea-ports, major bus-routes etc.). This met with thunderous applause after which a feast was insisted upon by the king which i politely declined owing to my sensitive bowel make-up. It was all so beautiful. All a beautiful SCAM!
The community members, the drummers, the seated ruling class, the prince, the king ..and sadly.. the old women. Yes, the mid-seventies old women i was swooning over. They were all props on the set of a movie.I will back up a little. Exactly seven days after the entire fanfare and communicating to the mothership, i got a funding of over a quarter of a million as payment for our first trial run buying commodity. I was to pay to King Nana Otafirija Agyeman in two installments. I had a two hour call with my partners informing them that i felt it might be better to go slow and see how this goes. After another week of back and forth, we decided to go with Sixty thousand dollars which were sent to King Nana. The agreements had been signed and the paper work for exporting the gold was going to be ready in a week, meaning we would head out to Dubai with his son, Prince Ohene Agyeman, whom we had already prepared his dubai visa. Then the stories began, the man preparing the documents were wasting time, the gold was being washed, work at the mine halted because one of the miners lost his lives (yes lives because he died twice as the dear king forgot this angle had been explored and gave me the story twice). With every chat and phone conversation documented for transparency purposes, My partners and i began to see the pattern.
Two months into the back and forth, i decided to come up with my own version of an anti-scam which finally got back 1Kg of gold with a lot of effort. After this had been achieved, i went back to the village a few weeks later and lodged in a local motel barely 8 miles from Nana’s village for three days with a rented cabbie and driver who knew the area. That was when i saw the real community for what it was. The suffering had gotten to a climax, the community had no love for the chief Nana, yes he was no king but just an ambitious local chief who kept every single gain to himself and his family without taking care of anyone else in his community and his close cohorts of criminals who played the role of ruling class whenever it was time to scam a next victim. On the second day in the village, i had run out of water and the fact that the half-star motel insisted on selling water at the same price it went for in the bigger hotels in the major cities annoyed me to no end so i decided that the market it was for me. I and the driver left for the market to buy two large bottles of bottled water. The sun was at it’s height and i wished i could get something cooler than the usual warm bottled water available here. We were in luck as one shop was the only one that sold cold water. After a full 5 minutes of driving through the market we got to a shop that was built with bricks and painted in a lovely beige color instead of the rafia stalls. My cabbie went in and came out with two bottles of large bottled water. That was what i needed for the moment. He also informed me that they had a lot of soft drinks just incase i was in the mood for any. I asked that he get me a cold bottle of coke and he was off in a jiffy. He re-appeared two minutes later clutching a bottle of coke but didn’t start the car. Let’s go Victor” i half-whispered from the back-seat as if trying to inquire on what victor was up to. “Sorry oga, she go find change” which simply meant the lady who sold the coke to him went in search of our change as she didn’t have any. Barely had he finished the words, the lady was back with the change and her playful flirty chatter with Victor made me look up from my phone for a minute and saw a woman in her late forties, she had a tight skirt on which honestly didn’t fit nicely. Something about her looked vaguely familiar but i couldn’t place it. We went back to my hotel but my mind kept on going back.
The next day after packing up our stuff, i decided to go back and to the same stall for water so Victor took me back. On getting back there i had my cap on and decided to go in myself. On getting to the shop, i sat down and ordered for water loudly in my lousiest Ghanaian accent. A woman’s voice answered saying she was coming and hortly afterwards, a little girl barely 13 years old appeared with my chilled bottle of water. The coin dropped! IT WAS LITTLE FIRE DANCER FROM THE EVENT! and the lady was her mom who was dressed shabbily and made herself look old for effect. WOW! the scam was a syndicate ring and it had all come together. The lady came out beaming with smiles and i was half worried that she would remember me but she didn’t . This scam must have been a weekly affair and one face would be as good as another. We got talking and i flirted a little, she responded, i even asked her to come see me in the capital and she agreed. I remembered Victor who would maybe come inside and then maybe say something out of term. I quickly excused myself and went outside to send Victor on an errand to buy plantains i would take back to Accra. I darted back inside worked on the lady and then collected her phone number. That was the beginning of many mysteries uncovered. Unfortunately, i’m still waiting for a highly placed law enforcement official who would uphold justice in the way it was supposed to be who will take this case forward and place it before the the very places it ought to be heard without taking petty bribes and all since the same criminal had been offered a petty position with the Ghanaian Small Scale Miners Society. I documented my findings and sent it back to my partner who couldn’t help but laugh his soul out as we prepared for yet another destination while placing this experience in our mental back-burners (, The diamond fields of Western Liberia.