If laughter is the best medicine then this driver’s mate I encountered recently would have no problem with nagging ailments. In fact, he would save a lot of money on health insurance premiums.
I often see them as one of the most care-free individuals around. They may not be proud vehicle owners, neither are they qualified enough to be entrusted with sitting behind the driving wheel commanding all the respect on the road. Yet, some driver’s mates could be jewels, a shine in this life full of doom and gloom. Their demeanour and their sense of humour are just awesome, creating great fun out of everything that comes their way in the course of their jobs.
I had a rare privilege the other weekend on board a commuter bus with a young driver’s mate whose name I later got to know as Akwasi. His sense of humour brought a commuter bus popularly known as ‘trotro’ full of passengers cracking with laughter. As a passenger, I got so much infected with his jokes, I learnt that day that it is not how much wealth, possessions or status that would make one happy but rather what one makes out of one’s situation, and that includes attitude.
I was in Kumasi that weekend and decided to re-live something I enjoyed doing occasionally as a young girl in a boarding school in Kumasi- the opportunity to travel on a ‘trotro’ bus from Kumasi to Bekwai back in the early sixties. And so I boarded a ‘trotro’ from Kumasi Kejetia to Bekwai during my visit recently. This time, the journey of 40 minutes took me an hour and a half but I was not too bothered. I was at the right place at the right time enjoying funny running commentaries with spontaneous laughter all for free.
As we journeyed on with mate Akwasi’s doses of comic reliefs, he would quickly refresh us with something new whenever the vehicle dropped off or picked up a passenger along the 24-mile route. We had so many stops from the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) junction to Opoku Ware Senior High School, all the way through Ahenema Kokobin through to Dominase, Anhwia Nkwanta to Bekwai. It was amazing how this young driver’s mate crafted jokes from everything that endeared him to almost every passenger, young and old.
As I sat quietly listening and observing, smiling and sometimes with bursts of laughter, many things run through my mind. This young man did not decide to jump into a bus to Accra with his back sack to look for a non-existing greener pasture. He did not sit at home moaning with pressure on his parents, blaming them for his drop-out from school.
He did not allow peer pressure to drag him into undesirable lifestyles. He had taken his destiny into his own hands, making a living with some delight and making others smile in the process. He was indirectly re-echoing the song that gained popularity during the early days of Ghana’s independence, “Work and happiness……… all must give their best for beautiful Ghana.”
At that moment, the young man was giving his best for beautiful Ghana. He was giving us a valuable message that winning and perhaps getting rich quick need not be the object of this life. His rare inspiration to me was that if you cannot win, be content and brave in whatever mercies that come your way, a smile on and make others also smile. One has nothing to lose.
I noticed as we moved on that for every stop, a passenger got off with a smile and wishing the driver’s mate well. He had helped to take tensions away from the lives of those he encountered in the short journey and got pronouncements of blessings in return. Politics was not on anybody’s mind, he ensured that we each had a jolly ride. I definitely had a fun ride and I made sure I commended him as I got off the bus. He thanked me in return with a broader smile.
I have learnt that sometimes, it is good to discard our comfort zone and venture into other spaces to see what exists there too. I got sanitised with bouts of laughter to release my tensions and three weeks on, whenever I think about the driver’s mate I encountered, my heart fills with smiles. He is a rare kind, developing traits of a successful stand-up comedian.