Today I had my craziest African experience EVER.
To start, my coworker and I went to Yendi today, which is the municipality about 2 hours south of Tamale. It started like a normal traveling day in Africa. I met my colleague at the Tro-Tro (minibus) yard in Tamale at 8am. We got a Tro-Tro. It left around 9am. The ride was a bit slow because it’s rained the past couple days and the roads are bad, so we arrived in Yendi at around 11:15am. We got a taxi to the Yendi Assembly and arrived around 11:30am.
We went to meet the Public Relations Officer, who is my point person for All Voices Matter. He had told my colleague he’d be at the Assembly by 11am, but he didn’t arrive until noon. We chatted a couple minutes, then he took me around to introduce me to a few other people that I might work with. By 12:30, my coworker and I were walking back to the “bus station” (covered area with a six rows of wooden benches).
We waited for a while. I bought some deep-friend yams (more similar to potatoes, so basically some giant French fries) for lunch for 1 cedi [$0.33 CDN] and read the super nerdy transportation connectivity thesis that I’d brought. At around 2pm, people started getting agitated. I don’t know what spurred it, but I guess the ticket guy sat down at the end of my bench and I didn’t notice. My coworker and I were on the first bench.
All of sudden, people were trying to squish into our bench! Not sitting on people, but if there was an inch between anyone, they tried to stuff themselves in. And there weren’t any inches. But then we all started sliding down to the end where the ticket guy was. If you were too slow in sliding, someone would sit between you and your neighbor.
It was pandemonium! People were yelling and trying to pay people so they could get onto the bench. The insane was that if someone managed to sit down, no one told them to get up. Once you were on the bench, you were safe. My colleague and I got to the end and he bought our tickets from the ticket man (#49 and #50), then we jumped up and let other slide down to buy their tickets.
Then we waited another hour for our bus.
I told my coworker that I’d never seen anything like that before. If he wasn’t here with me, I might actually never be able to leave Yendi!