Back in 2014, I was in a trotro (a commercial passenger van in Ghana) to Atonsu, when an elderly woman with a little girl presumed to be her granddaughter stopped the car. The mate (conductor) opened the trotro gate for them to board (please we call it a gate for a reason peculiar to Ghanaians). The woman pleaded with the mate that she was ‘short’ of GH₵1. The mate retorted in a quick chuckle, reentered the van, and attempted to shut the gate had the driver not interrupted.
Driver: Hey! Why! Where are they going?
Mate: Agogo, but she said their money no reach
Driver: Jon, foolish, so that’s why you almost slammed the gate against your mother and daughter…
(the mate admitted the woman and the girl, then the driver sped up, murmuring and getting ready in his throat to rebuke the mate again in the presence of the woman.)
Driver: You think that trotro driving is just about making money erh!
A woman passenger behind me shouted ‘It is about God’s blessing too’.
Driver: (to the woman) Oh! Forget the blessings because not every one of us believes in your God God things. Not every one of us does good in the hope of some blessings. There is yet a good number of us who believe in doing good to feel good. Always helping people, serving humanity for humanitarian reasons.
(That is when I unplugged the earpieces in my ears and all attention took my face.)
Driver: if we had not taken the woman, some of you the passengers who witnessed the conduct of the mate would have had bad feelings about him, some of you would go to the deeps with him to get your 10pesewas change or a passenger of an angrier reaction could even insult and fight him before we reach Agogo, all because he didn’t show love when he had the chance to do so.
(We were all quiet through the journey. Something very unusual of a typical Kumasi trotro experience.
As if he addressed the mate only but mindful of the fact that he has the attention of the wind too, solemnize his voice and intermittently measuring his audience from the rearview mirror, the driver continued his rather sermonized rebuke).
Driver: Jack, all that man desires most in this world is not money but life. And to live is not in any God’s hands but yourself. To live long means to feel good every day. And to feel good you must do good. That man who says I am stressed and feel bad is the man whose actions and inactions attract bad feelings from others. If you had willingly allowed the woman and even assisted her entry into the car, you could probably have enjoyed a tip, a smile, a tap, some of them will say God bless you.
(Little little pieces of laughter scattered in the trotro. satisfaction could be felt in the atmosphere.)
Fast forward to today, I had a puncture in one of my tires on the Esereso road. I stopped a taxi and it passed. Then the white Range Rover that followed the taxi stopped a few meters ahead of me. The driver got down and approached me. Immediately I saw him, I recognized him as the trotro driver. A sudden smile opened in my cheeks. Not only did he help me change my tire, but he also spoke again about being happy and communicating happiness. He loved to talk about life to people. Anyway, I was used to these conversations from taxi and trotro drivers in Kumasi. They always have a story for every passenger they carry.
When he was about to leave, in a broad smile, I said ‘I know you very well. You drove a trotro, right?
Driver: yeah yeah…hahahahahaha…oh…my brother how far?
Me in admiration: right now you drive Range and I am not surprised. I remembered you because you first admitted me to what has now become my religion and what was Abraham Lincoln’s mantra ‘if I do good I feel good, and that’s my religion.’
The driver said he has been reminded of that particular day in 2014 by so many people, especially by a woman who sold thrift clothes at Kejetia.
‘The woman who responded that trotro driving was not all about money-making but also about God’s blessing?’, I helped his attempt to remind me.
‘Yeeeaahhhh, that woman, yeah’ he retorted.
He narrated his story about how he lost his trotro and going back to being mate for another trotro driver. He told me a man he helped one day proposed him as a driver to Chairman Wontumi, the Ashanti Regional New Patriotic Party (NPP; of of the two largest political parties in Ghana) chairman. So he is one of the drivers for Chairman Wontumi. Pointing to Wontumi’s NPP sticker at the back of his car.
I said ‘wow…my brother the favor bank finally paid you.’ He didn’t understand me. I tapped his shoulder and explained ‘when you taught me to do good to feel good, I also later realized whenever you do someone a favor or even yourself without expecting any reward from the person, nature records it in what I have come to call the favor bank. And later when you desperately need a favor to survive, nature pays back with huge returns.’
The driver was shocked, he kept nodding. Suddenly, he lowered his head to face the earth. When he lifted his eyes to meet mine, he was crying while trying to find his voice amidst tears.
He said he lost his job as a mate too because the driver felt he was lenient with his passengers. He stayed home for several months until he became a weed seller. The police arrested him on a bad day. And he knew that would be the end for him because he had no one to contact, he was a hustler with no hope. But when they got to the Asokwa Police Station, Chairman Wontumi was there with many party faithful. From the crowd emanated a man whose face brought a faint memory to consciousness. The man approached him and the policeman and asked if the driver could remember him. He then revealed his identity and said he was a bodyguard to Wontumi. The man paid the fine for bail and later that night introduced him as a driver to Wontumi. So yeah, he agreed with me that he got paid by the favor bank.
Heaven can wait, for now, we are only interested in doing good to feel good.
Source: Oppong Clifford Benjamin wrote this fictional piece to teach a simple lesson in life