Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Ouga is the first city I've been in since I arrived in Africa that actually feels like a city. There are digital billboards flashing the virtues of 150 years of Coca-Cola. There are on-ramps and overpasses. Granted, most of these run onto roads that dwindle to 2 lanes outside of the city, but still.

Lome is a city of 2.5 million or so. It has big buildings and nice stuff, but its still fairly poor. Ouga on the other hand has an actual downtown and a lot more money. I walked around a new Jaguar S-type this morning on the way to this cafe. There is a lot more wealth in Ouga, but that makes the poverty that much more obvious.

There are billboards here that advertise desktop and Toshiba laptop computers. One can buy all kinds of ornamental paving stones along the roads. At night, there are lines of sidewalk vendors grilling piles of chicken over charcoal. There are stop lights that people obey-- big ones for cars and small ones for motos. The bigger roads even have separate moto lanes for the hordes of scooters in the city.

This morning I was standing on the balcony of our budget hotel that's in the city center. I watched a gang of 5-6 homeless boys huff glue out of empty water sachets. When not high to the point of oblivion, these boys beg with empty tomato tins. Yesterday D and I watched a 3-way fight between a cord wielding corner vendor and 2 gangs kids from our balcony. The kids were arguing over something and the vendor was whipping the lot of them to run them off the corner. Its a sight we hadn't seen in Togo.

Being white here brings a different type of notoriety than in Togo. There, I am more of an oddity first and a source of money second. Here, I am someone who might buy whatever it is you are selling if you push it in my face and follow me long enough. And there are a Lot more people here selling stuff.

This only happens in the city center though. Out in the "suburbs" where Kadar's family lives the streets are dirt and rocks and people are more interested in staring at white people rather than hassling them.

No comments:

Post a Comment