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| culture kayaYo |

But if the Kayayo story is of hardship and poverty, their actions often display their enthusiasm for a chance at independence and opportunity calculating how much money they could earn by carrying them. Most of the passengers take their luggage and go, without any assistance. Still, the girls are playful as they return to their seats, skipping and pushing each other along as they walk.

‘I like this place,’ claims one, Alietu, who is no more than 13 years old. She is from Wa, capital of the Upper West Region. Uneducated, she was raised with five brothers and sisters by her mother alone after her father died. About a year ago, her older sister, a hairdresser who teaches Alietu the trade on weekends, led her to Kumasi.

Like others who plan to stay in the cities, rather than return to their villages, she cites a new-found freedom as the reason for her decision. ‘I miss my mother, but I won’t go back,’ she says.

B U R K I N A

Bawku

Tumu Bolgatanga

GHANA A F R I C A

I R E

I V O

D

T E

Ô

C

Wa

M o u h o u n(BlackV

olta)

WhiteVolta

Tamale

Yendi ndidii

G H A N A

Kintampo

Yeji

Oti

Sunyani Ejura

Tano

Kumasi

Pra

Koforidua

L a k e V o l t a

Ho

Volta

T O G O

ACCRA

Sekondi

Cape Coast

G u l f o f G u i n e a nor t h

100 km

A T L A N T I C O C E A N

100 miles

Previous spread: Amariya returned to her village in the Northern Region to marry after working as a Kayayo in Accra. As a recently married woman, she performs the majority of the chores in her husband’s family household. ‘It is my work,’ she says. ‘I don’t mind’; OPPOSITE, from top: Kayayo girls follow a bus into Doctor Mensah Market in Kumasi, in the hope that a passenger will pay them to carry some luggage; young Alietu carries pineapples from one market to another in Kumasi for the equivalent of a few pence; Fatima leaps on the backs of other girls at a beach in Accra. A Muslim from Ghana’s north, she had never seen the ocean before coming here. ‘I like swimming,’ she says, ‘but I don’t like how boys and girls swim together here’; above: 25-year-old Lamisi lifts a load of yams onto her head in Agbogbloshie Market in Accra. ‘At the end of the day, your whole body will be paining you,’ she says of the work january 2011 www.geographical.co.uk 53

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