September 2010


Even today many villages in West Africa are not served by passable roads, making it difficult to get farm produce to market. In the early 70’s, transport to the village of Newtown, west of Half Assini and located on a narrow spit of land that extends into the Tano River lagoon was only possible on the beach at low tide. Lorry drivers had to have a fisherman’s knowledge of tides in order to safely make their trips in and out of that area.


Lorry owners choose their slogans and sayings for good reasons, although those reasons may not always be clear to everyone. This allows us our to create stories and scenarios in our own imaginations. This old Bedford was so heavily loaded and leaning to one side that any animals that it may have encountered in the forest would have been well advised to stay clear. This load was likely destined in 1972 to be off-loaded at Jewi Wharf onto canoes and transported across the Tano lagoon to neigbouring Cote d’Ivoire. And if you wanted to let your imagination wander just a bit, you might find yourself wondering what kind of goods were being transported, and whether or not they might have been smuggled…


I “snapped” this lorry one day in 1972 when passing through the coastal town of Elmina. I expect that this slogan could be a favorite of tourists visiting from temporate climes as well as politicians who may find themselves in the hot seat for any number of reasons!


“Sika Asem” is a common expression in Ghana. Money matters. In other parts of the world people might claim that “money is the root of all evil” but in the Ghanaian marketplace, SIKA (money) is what makes the world go round.

In this scene outside the Half Assini Market in 1973, we see women negotiating prices for their commodities (smoked fish and yams) and a mammy lorry waiting to carry them home with their wares.

The Poor Shall Rise

This lorry sat on the side of the street for the entire time that I lived in Half Assini in the Western Region of Ghana, from 1971 to 1973. I was told that it was waiting for repairs which was not surprising since that was a time when vehicle parts were very much in short supply in the country. The roadside fitters were (and still are) very adept at finding ways of keeping vehicles on the road, often fabricating replacements from a variety of unlikely sources. At times, even their ingenuity encountered situations which were impossible to remedy without original parts. The effect was to leave drivers and their mates without jobs; the lorry owner unable to earn anything for his investment; and villagers with one less means to get to market.

I have been particularly fond of the slogan on this lorry because it speaks to the indefatigable faith that so many people exhibit when faced with hardships. In spite of continuing challenges, the village people of Ghana continue to demonstrate that faith, and in that I find a great deal of inspiration.

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