John Powell - Books on Ghana

Grassroots economic development in the Third World - How a university of science and technology can help.


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Kwame finds Suame Magazine

Posted by John Powell on January 15, 2011 at 9:30 AM Comments comments (0)

'Suame Magazine sprawled over several square kilometres between the road north to Mampong and the road north-west to Techiman. Not much visible from the Mampong road, the Magazine extended along both sides of the Techiman road with the main Magazine on the northern side and an extension known as New Suame on the southern side. Kwame got down from the trotro at Suame roundabout, the junction of the two roads, and walked along the Techiman road. It was jammed with vehicles of all types. About half of them were taxis with bright yellow-painted wings. There were many trotros and private cars of every make and type. Cocoa trucks with their high wooden bodies and brightly painted slogans inched forward in the melee and not a few huge articulated trucks blocked the road even more effectively. What Kwame was soon to realise was that Suame Magazine lived off the motor vehicle.'

The Colonial Gentleman's Son, Page 18

Suame Magazine: Ghana's Biggest Kokompe

Posted by John Powell on January 14, 2011 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (0)

'The fitters' community (the kokompe) is marked by the carcasses of vehicles that have finally come to the end of the road. These serve as a spare parts and raw material store that constitutes an important factor in the fitters' economy. Between the dead vehicles the living are tended, but one needs to be a resident to tell one from the other. Many of the living spend months in deep coma and the dead have been known to rise from the grave. In hard times the graveyard extends but at times when foreign credit allows the importation of spare parts, tyres and batteries, the resurrection of the last days is spectacularly accomplished.

The colours of the kokompe are red and black. The lateritic soil of the bare earth floor is reddened by iron oxides and the same compounds tint the car bodies as nature moves inexorably to recover its lost property. The black too, is the result of nature reclaiming its own, as oft-transfused mineral oil bleeds at last from tired taxi engines back into the earth. To complete this scene of natural harmony, mango, neem and walnut trees spread green canopies over the heads of the fitters to provide the more fortunate with shade in which to work. But one has to look up to see the green. Underfoot the bare earth is swept clear of vegetation. Grass roots are hidden and grass blades are seldom seen in this grassroots situation.'

The Survival of the Fitter, page 2



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