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Guest Contributor Esi W Cleland: Two things you learn about Ghanaian men by walking the streets

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In Ghana, when a man approaches a woman and tries to get to know her better for a relationship (leading to marriage, as we like to say here), he is said to be conning her. Yep. Conning. As in the verb to con: “To trick or defraud, usually for personal gain”. It may sound depressing but it’s not as bad as all that. It just means that a man sees a woman, likes her, and takes the steps that he thinks will encourage her to develop an interest in him. The Ghanaian men I hang out with don’t really con women anymore or I don’t see them doing it so I thought the art of conning was dying. I guess I thought wrong. Maybe I was just not spending enough time with the many men on the streets. You hear me out.

So I’ve gained at least 10 lbs in the last year. And I’m fighting the weight so I decided to walk. And boy have I walked the streets of Accra ! I’ve walked from Ashale-Botwe to Abelenkpe, From Ako Adjei interchange to Accra Mall, From Accra Mall to Ritz Junction, close to Adenta, From Atomic Junction to Dzorwulu. Yep. It’s been mostly fun. I know I’ve lost some of the weight because my clothes no longer hug my body, but I’m yet to check how much of it I’ve walked off. I guess I’ve saved some money too, made some roadside carver friends, and entered shops I’d never noticed previously when I passed the same areas in cars. So i’ve liked it. But the most interesting part of the whole deal has been the men! Yes, Ghanaian men. Whoever said men are hard to come by has surely not looked on the streets of Accra.

I swear that on any day, if a young woman walks from Ashale-Botwe to Abelenkpe, not less than 10 men would try to “talk” to her on the way. Typical conversation would go like so:

Guy: My sister, how are you?
Girl: Fine, thanks.
Guy: What’s your name?
Girl: Esi
Guy: Esi…are you a Voltarian? Meaning, do you come from the Volta Region?
Girl: No.
Guy: Are you sure? Where are you from?
Girl: Mowure. It’s in the central region.
Guy: Ah. Fanti. I want you to be my wife
Girl: I’m married. See my ring.
Guy: But am I not also a man?
Girl: I’m in a hurry, I have to go.
Guy: Okay give me your number
Girl: I don’t have a phone
Guy: Okay, then take mine. Will you call me? I like you, you’re a beautiful girl.
Girl: I have to go
Guy: Have patience. Beautiful girl like you have to be patient.
Girl: Bye bye
Guy: Call me okay?

Some are respectful and understanding:
Older Guy, a watchman: Wo ho Ye me few (I find you attractive)
Girl: Me da ase (Thanks)
Guy: Where are you from?
Girl: Mowure
Guy: Oh really? I’m also a fanti. I’m from Abakrampa. Have you ever heard of it?
Guy: Yes, my mother mentions it.
Guy: Do you live around here?
Girl: No, I work
Guy: Are you a house girl?
Guy: No, I work in advertising
Guy: Oh okay. Well, it spoils nothing. I like you.
Girl: I’m married
Guy: Oh, that’s too bad.
Girl: Yeah
Guy: Well, you can still stop by to say hi whenever you pass here again. I’m the day watchman here.
Girl: Okay, goodbye.

Some of the men are more aggressive. Picture a man standing in front of a beer bar on a Saturday morning, already a little drunk. They’ll start like so:
Guy: Rasta lady. Rasta. I like your hair.
Girl: Thanks, walking hurriedly on.
Guy: Please come, I like you. I want to talk to you.
Girl (Thinking, even if I liked you, i would never say yes to a guy who goes to a bar this early in the morning): I’m in a hurry. I’m walking all the way to Abelenkpe
Guy: You can even be walking to Teshie.
Girl (annoyed): Look, I don’t have time for this, and walks on
Guy: Ei, Ghana mbaa mo beku yen (Ghanaian women will kill us)
And some even insult you.
Guy: Ssss ssss
Girl: no reaction. Keeps walking..
Guy: Rasta girl, enti me frE wo no, won tee Ye? (Have you not heard me calling you?)
Girl: no reaction. Keeps walking..
Guy: Enye wo biibiaa na EyE me fE o, wo rasta no a, nti na meni gye ho (I don’t even find you that attractive…it’s just your rasta that I like)
Girl: no reaction. Keeps walking..

But the worst of it all is when the guys call you from a good 50 meters away and expect that because they called, you should turn around and walk to them.
Guy: Sssss….Rasta, Black beauty
Girl: turn around, see how far the guy is and keeps walking
Guy: Herr, I’m calling you
Girl: keeps walking
Guy aggressively, almost abusively says: can’t you hear I’m calling you?
Girl: why? Is it by force?
Guy: Come, I’m calling you.
Girl: walks off.

Seriously, these guys can make walking at once amusing, interesting, and stressful. Two things I now know:
1) Ghanaian men like or at least will consider dating a woman with locs.
2) Single men (I assume they’re single since they’re looking) abound…if you look in the right places like on the streets.

Do you ladies have roadside “conning” experiences with tro-tro drivers, mates and artisans, area boys, second hand clothing sellers, shoe shine boys? Come on now. Everyone has one of those. Would love to hear!

And for the men, are you a “conner”? And if so, how do you begin?

Love and Light,
Esi

Esi blogs at www.maameous.blogspot.com

22 COMMENTS

  1. @Esi – This post made me laugh! I started out thinking “Mmm, maybe I should walk more” but at the end of the post I decided to stick to my Tata! Roadside conning experience? No recent events come to mind but I do have a selective memory so have probably blanked out all “unsuitable” cons

  2. LOL!
    They sound just like Nigerian men! There are the ones that would try to grab your arm when you try to walk away. The really mischievous ones might grab your ass!

  3. i second Lady X. with me most times, i’m not walking but in a taxi when the driver asks for my number. the worst situation was once where the driver said he would not stop where i asked him to unless i gave him my number. i ended up taking his number and promptly forgot about it. sometimes it can be annoying though.

  4. hehehe…I could not stop laughing at this.

    I had a Canadian friend spend a couple of months here for a final year travel requirement of her uni degree and the stories she would tell about all the propositions she would get walking the streets or riding in a troski…

    One all important thing you neglected to mention Esi is the never failing secret weapon, should all their advances fail. The endlessly annoying…wait for it…

    “But…I love you, oh” Ah!…please do not get me started!

    I always find myself debating whether to stare down the unsavoury character until he gets an inkling of how completely incensed I am or take off my handbag and bash in his head repeatedly to make sure the message gets through.

    Looking back, it’s a lot more humourous than anything else and you have to hand it to our Ghanaian and Nigerian brothers, perseverance is obviously not lacking in their vocabulary.

  5. I can really relate to this post. The last encounter I had was when I went to the beach. Now, I think maybe its gotta do with the natural hair thing but all the men that approached me start with some FAKE accent and proceeded to talk about how my bottom was “nice” and how they wanted to be friends! Huh?

  6. lol… Oh Esi “Enye wo biibiaa na EyE me fE o, wo rasta no a, nti na meni gye ho”… that is hilarious! Are you for real? So they like the Rasta eh? that’s very interesting. I was watching TV with my grandma and a lady with locs was on she asked me if that was fetish preistess! I couldn’t stop laughing!

    Wish I was in Ghana to walk with you. As for taxi drivers, they are the worst bunch. Constantly hitting on you and if you don’t give them your number, you’re a snob! abaa…

  7. My girlfriend (she is Dutch) tells me these and other interesting conning stories of men who wants to marry her the first time they see her. Sometimes I find it so intriguing. How can you love someone the first time? Spare me love at first sight. It might as well be LUST at first sight!

  8. What I find strange is that women who normally “tell it like it is” will refrain from doing so when bothered by men.

    Why say “I dont have a phone” when you mean “I dont give my number to strangers and I will not take yours since I have no intention of calling you” ?

    Lets make it very clear when we women are not playing any games, but just talking a walk. Cause some conning men might have their minds clouded by alcohol even very early in the morning….

  9. Hilarious post. I love it! I think I will try to be straight with a guy for once and see. I usually play the “I don’t have a phone” card, but I am sure I will be immediately branded “too known” if I said what I really thought (when has that stopped me?).

    I’ve had a lot of these experiences and it always starts with, “sss. Sister, sister” and then becomes “heh, small girl” (I’m a small woman). Both titles very unattractive and slightly creepy in the context of “love advances.”

  10. @Kajsa, you ask a good question. Why didn’t I just tell him I didn’t want to give him my number? I guess I didn’t because I didn’t want to be rude. Or because I know he would have asked me why? One time when a guy called me and I didn’t go, he said it was very rude and proceeded to ask me…wo nyE Obaa? Na Obaa deE, EnyE bEEma a, na ObEfrE wo (tr: are you not a woman? and as a woman, is it not men who will make advances at you?). Maybe it’s just easier to lie and get on with life…or maybe i’m not as confrontational as i like to think.

    Judging from the Preacher’s wife’s response…maybe we really want to be seen to be nice girls. Afterall we are. lol. No one wants to be the “too known” girl or the “rude girl” …but i wonder why. It’s not like just because some man by the roadside thinks you’re rude means you are, right?

  11. @Maxine, my grandma said the same thing about my hair. She said i look like obi a, eduro akye no. hehe.

    And yeah it looks like i lost 3 kg from the walking. Not too safe here though…and after a while, the sss ssss from the men get old 🙂

  12. Esi asaa ye biom..[tr:Esi has done it again] I find this post so hilarious and ribs-breaking, especially, “Guy: You can even be walking to Teshie.”. He doesn’t seems to care where you walking to, all he want to do is; have a word with you. I mean, freeing his mind to you.. Nice post.. !!!

  13. God this was hilarious! I see nothing has changed since 1988 when I walked the streets as a pre-pubescent teen! House boys, garden boys, taxi drivers…it didn’t matter. All they saw a 12 year old with a big booty. I used to HATE being sent!

  14. Oh my goodness, this had my sides splitting. I’m not in Ghana often, but sometime ago, the line seemed to be “can I take you as a friend?” And when I would reply that I already had enough friends, or that I won’t give them my number, or that I won’t call them if they gave me theirs, it was always met with a look of surprise and maybe some hurt.

    I guess I haven’t met the Ghanaian men yet who would hurt me for turning them down so blatantly.

    Esi, I agree with you on the men who call you from afar and expect you to walk to them. When I was 11-12 I actually went to one of these who had summoned me. In my defense, I thought maybe he knew me or my parents or something (because why else would he call me). “how are you?” “fine”. It wasn’t until he asked where did I live that I became confused…then realized he was hitting on 11 yo me. It made me feel this small. Never again. Now in adulthood, my experience with that is walking past guys sitting at a bar, or walking on a street and a guy in a car passing by in the opposite direction stops, then calls out, politely though “please, sister, come here, I want to ask you something etc”, I just say “no” and continue on my merry way – I can hear them say “oooh, but why …?. I figure the “please” merits a verbal response. But as to those who call out “sssssss”, hmm, for them I’m completely deaf.

  15. I find the best response to can I have your phone number is – I don’t have a phone but I can give you my husband’s number and he can take a message.

    Funny, no one ever wants his number…

  16. Really fantastic and brilliant post. Girls in Gh can never complain that we are short of ‘conners’. I was at the beach recenty with a girlfriend having a whale of a time in the water. Out of no where a young man told me that there was a man calling me from the beach. He was seriously beckoning me. I decided to ignore him but my friend thought it could be something important as he woldn’t budge. We are talking about 5 mins here. She swam ashore and then he goes ‘ I like your friend, I want her now go and tell her to come. I’m waiting’. My poor friend, she all but spat in his face. It was hillarous and infruriating at the same time.

  17. Hilarious factual and ironic..Give the Ghanaian men credit – they may be annoying but frankly honest .. they like you or find you attractive and want your number to to chat with you. Isn’t that refreshing that at least in a small corner of the world there are men who have no need to ‘con’.
    Where

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