MY MORALLY CORRUPT NEIGHBORS.
My current neighborhood is interesting. It has been the neighborhood of my family home for the last 12 years. I have hated it since it's existence. 12 years ago, our house was only a concrete shack. The basement which holds 3 rooms, was the only part of the house that was livable. Barely.
We had no electricity. No running water and had to zigzag through bamboo pillars to get inside. There were 7 of us packed into what my siblings and i nicknamed the "coupè", a play on the word "hen coop". Life was a blur in those days.
Fast forward, 12 years. Basement level is done. Upper level is done but not entirely furnished. So our 5 bedroom family home is the light of the neighborhood. Sitting a plot over, is my family's basic school. 200 screaming kids and i can call them all out from my window. Fun, right?
Eh. No. Not so fast.
See this story is about my neighbors but i had to give you context. My Ga West neighborhood has the beachfront in it's horizon. The breeze too. As i write this, i am in my studio, which has a window directly in the way of the breeze so i am indoors but by the beach. Got it?
To the right of my house lies a small 80 by 100 plot. It is the standard measurement for all Accra lands. 80 feet by a hundred feet. The owner of the plot has passed. He bequeathed it to his sister who has left the plot idle for...you guessed it... 12 years. She has refused to sell, much to my annoyance but for a 70,000 cedis property, i get it.
On the plot stands a shack. It is so tiny, it reminds me of a standard studio in the Bronx. I imagine my neighbor has to stand outside the shack to think. Indoors must be really hot, unless he is lucky enough to be in the way of the breeze. People who are yet to develop their lands, usually build a small shack and have other people live in it as caretakers. This particular one has seen a few tenants.
My neighbor in this shack has the best gospel playlist, periodt! He used to play it day and night, while singing on top of his lungs. He would pray loudly and just have a fun time dancing to gospel. He annoyed me slightly with the noise but one day something happened.
I was driving by and i slowed down because someone was in my way. My old Maxima, funny enough has a really silent engine. Sometimes people walk right infront of me without knowing that a car is right behind them. I just usually pause and not startle them with my loud horn. Except this time, the unlucky person who was standing in my way, opened my car and sat right behind me. I was a minute from home. He said, "Oh, you don't remember me? I live next to you". I had no idea what my neighbor looked like. But i said, "i know who you are!".
We drove in silence and we parted ways once we got to my gate. He zigzagged his way through the thick forage growing on his plot, right into his shack. I made a mental note of his face and he was no more than 25 years old. Since then, we always wave when we see each other. I decided to not be so annoyed by his singing anymore. The playlist is fire, anyway. Esther Smith, Cindy Thompson, DSP Kofi Sarpong, Joe Beechum, etc. How can you be angry at old time Ghanaian gospel music??
These days, the music has stopped. No more gospel. I hardly see him pass by. I am nosy so i decided to squint and look much deeper into the mysterious case of the vanishing gospel playlist. It's exactly like being annoyed that your man snores so badly but when he is not around, you miss him snoring. See the romance i used to have. Kai kai!
I went behind our plots to burn our piled up garbage bags. Oh yeah, that too. We hardly have garbage trucks come by regularly. I looked over the wall to peep and i didn't even have to try hard. It is a woman. My neighbor has a woman. His moral bank is now.....empty?
She was clad in "ntoma", wrapped around her chest and another draped around her waist. She was sitting outside the shack, cooking. My neighbor was sitting in his makeshift livingroom, outside the shack. He was relaxed. She was cooking. I imagine they are making a different sort of music in the tiny shack but what did Esther Smith do to deserve this? Can you fornicate and still love Jesus?
Between my house and the road behind it, lies another empty plot. A fiercely battled for plot. Two owners have showed up to this plot. One to build, the other to break down what the former built. Both claim to own the land. That's the harsh reality of Accra lands. The landowners, usually a chief of a Ga traditional area, can sell the same plot to multiple people. If you build first, you own it. Unless your rival has access to bulldozers, then I wish you well.
This part is not about them. It is about the other neighbor infront of them. Their plots are separated by a path. This neighbor has what is popularly referred to as a "beer bar", pronounced "bee-ya bar". It is a spot for taking shots of akpeteshie, a locally brewed spirit. First cousins with vodka and an older brother of gin. I wouldn't know because like Jennifer Hudson i have never drank and i like to be vegan about it. (Vegan here stands for annoyingly announcing to people about your "better" life choices).
Every night and i mean every goddamn night, he hosts patrons who love to make noise. He has a variety of playlists. Nothing from the radio, ever. He has a perfect Sunday fufu playlist. A bit of Lumba, Nana Acheampong, Kojo Antwi, Dada KD, Kwaisey Pee. He also has a Friday night playlist featuring all the youngins. Kwame Eugene, King Promise. Adina, Stonebwoy, you name it. As i write this, he is currently playing "Atia Donko" by Nana Quame. A highlife hit from the early 2000s.
He poisons people's kidneys and livers everyday with no day off so his moral bank is nonexistent. I do respect his dedication to his job. He has string lights hang up now and he has a new jazz playlist to wind down the night. He starts playing that from 10pm. He recently tried a recording of a live band. I don't imagine him playing it again because i heard no patrons yelling or singing along.
When i do finally move out of this neighborhood at the end of this year, i will miss my morally corrupt neighbors and the constant supply of electricity.