the new colonialism in Africa

I am happy to report to any of you who have thoughts of resettling in a third world country that colonialism is alive and thriving. We have all dreamed of having chauffeurs,cooks,maids and nannys but most of us cannot afford such luxury. After researching many of the foreign owned resorts in Ghana and the lives of many ex-pats and foreign services workers,it has become possible for them to create the life that most people only dreamed of. Most laborers,maids,cooks and other unskilled workers can be hired for the minumum daily wage of !.9 Ghanian cd ($2). The government has suggested but doesnt regulate an eight hour working day but if no one complains and they wont because jobs are very scarce,it’s easy to keep your staff working for 12 hours a day, six days a week.
A recent visit to an expensive beach resort owned by a Belgian couple, revealed not only the Ghanian staff working twelve hour days but also having to bring their own food to eat.
After questioning the beach boys and waiters,they disclosed to me the salaries ranged between 40 to 60 Ghanian cds a month.(dollar equivalent) The owner Paul however,was charging guests $160 a night for a room. As our room was only $70,we had to share a toilet and shower with his two young children. We referred to ourselves as the poor relatives when the staff asked which room was ours. Paul,the owner also doesnt ask the guests to fill out any forms and payment is only in cash. We are assuming he is paying off a government official and doesnt pay any taxes to the Gha nian government and can easily get his money out of the country.
Credit cards are very rarely used here except in the big international hotels,so it is so easy for many business people to avoid paying taxes. As usual the struggling middle class are the ones who pay for everything.

On the subject of colonialism,the United States has outdone themselves with the new American embassy in Accra. A rough guess at the size is about 5 city blocks. This is very unpopular with the people of Ghana. It is against the law for anyone to stop in front of or near the embassy. My unfortunate taxi driver had not been alerted to the new American law and as he stopped to pick me up, he was arrested and taken to jail. I realized too late that i needed more pages in my passport before I could get anymore West African visas. So I was forced to deal with the American embassy. They never answer their phones and their voice mails are always full so I had no choice but to appear in person. When I arrived it was almost 12:30 pm and the section for American citizens had closed at noon. It was however,open until 3 for foreign citizens. Refusing to leave without getting extra pieces of paper in my passport,I finally convinced one of the Ghanian guards to hunt down someone in the passport section. So I sat until their two hour lunch was over and then was allowed into the embassy. I was yelled at by a middle-aged frumpy American,accusing me of being careless and not taking care of this problem before I left. Controlling my temper I said i was truly sorry and will you please add a few pages to my passport. This request will take 24 hours but they will do me a favor and have it ready by 8:30 the next morning. I did get my passport the next morning at 8:30. I went to the French embassy to get a Mauritanian visa
immediately after and they were gracious enough to get my visa ready in 1 hour because he knew I was living 3 hours away from Accra. So the ugly American is still alive and well..

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2 Responses to the new colonialism in Africa

  1. Rinda March 7, 2008 at 4:42 pm #

    Hi Lois,

    Always a pleasure to hear about your travels. I imagine it’s a temptation to go to a place like Ghana and live like royalty. Most people would have a hard time exploiting others for their own luxury, but obviously there are those in the world that could care less. It’s really sad.

    Portland is growing like crazy, so many people coming here to take advantage of the beauty and easy lifestyle. Life here gets more expensive every day. I guess it was only a matter of time. I have a show April 18-20, dancing and I also designed the wardrobe. Stay well and healthy.

  2. seth March 9, 2008 at 12:18 am #

    Hi Lois, Did you get the taxi driver out of jail?

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