‘Trotro mate dey count with vim, he could have been a mathematician’ – M.anifest
Remember the dreaded days of mental arithmetic back in school? As you approach the classroom, your heart starts pounding, your mouth dries up and blood pressure rises. Even the healthiest person in the class would fall sick on that day. Some of us would pray silently for the teacher to fall sick and when he showed up, safe to say there would be weeping and gnashing of teeth. All of this and the class hadn’t even started. It’s truly, and most sincerely, a distinctly distressing time in the life of a young student. The problem wasn’t with the questions. No, it was the prospect of punishment. No one wanted to get a question wrong because that meant one thing and one thing only. The kerosene-soaked cane. Wrong answers meant a few raps across tender skin that would make any 9 to 11-year-old cry.
So, imagine having to go through that anxiety every day. This time though, you’re sitting (sometimes standing) precariously in a speeding vehicle for hours on end with a variety of passengers streaming in and out. A few of them screaming bloody murder if you short change them. There’s no cane, only insults. A trotro mate has to make sure every passenger is served with speed and respect. They can’t afford to make a mistake with the change though! They say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned but 20-something angry trotro passengers comes pretty close.
Most mates though, take it all in their stride. Effortlessly presenting each passenger with their correct change, calling out the bus stops, scanning the streets at high speed for more commuters… They do it all with a certain energy that can diffuse (almost) any tension in the bus.
That’s one of the things about the Ghanaian lifestyle that’s just beautiful: our innate ability to multitask. Watching a good mate deal with all the different characters on the bus is a great example.
God bless our nation and think happy, chale