So….the driver doesn’t allow women in the front seat of the trotro.
….?…. owh yeah….I am a woman….I easily forget that.
Well…at least the driver is straightforward and doesn’t discriminates me positively compared to other women here, just because I am ‘white’.
The name Talent Beyond Limits reflects me. Woman Beyond Limits. Talent or Woman. No difference for me there. I just move limits and grow far beyond them.
In this situation, I choose to ‘obey’ and take a seat in the back of the trotro. I end up packed in-between men. I notice they are curious. But they don’t speak or understand English and I don’t speak or understand the local language. A solution is there with the help of a young man who is skilled in both.
So the men start a conversation with me. Whilst the trotro is getting filled with more women, I answer the usual questions that I get from the people who dare to ask: where I come from, what I am doing in Ghana, why I like it so much in Ghana, where my husband and children are…
There is a good atmosphere, so that last question is a perfect bridge to ‘being a woman’. I bring in that I don’t understand very well that I am not allowed to sit in the front of the trotro, because I am a woman.
I make some assumptions and ask:
Is that because the driver is too much distracted by my beautiful appearance and legs (which are decently covered beyond the knee)
Am I just supposed to take a position behind a man…..?
A short moment of silence…..
And then the whole trotro is into reacting on this. Men and women. Almost all of them are talking at the same time. I cannot understand any of it, because it is in the local language. But that doesn’t matter. I just observe and enjoy the fire of passionate and heated discussions like this.
Before I thought: ‘this type of discussion doesn’t lead to anything concrete for no one’. But I learned that in Ghana, it is not that common that people really dare to express themselves. That it is most relevant that there IS a conversation going on.
Personally, I believe this is an extremely important topic about ‘different basic rights that PEOPLE have in life’. In my silence, I wish that maybe, just maybe, one woman is encouraged to move herself beyond limits through this event. Gradually. A bit more day-by-day. Step-by-step.
Anyways, I still don’t have the answer on the why I am not allowed to sit in front, because I had to get out before the people calmed down.
Two days later, I have to take a trotro again. I am standing at the road side. This time there is no doubt about it. I am directed to sit in front….. because I have long legs. I thank, sit down and smile. Once you are used to go beyond limits, everything is possible ;-).
A little while later, I get company from a young man. He asks me if it is okay to sit next to me, because “I am tall and have long legs”. Of course I agree. We chat a bit, but mostly we enjoy the ride and the comfortable seat.
During the ride, I reflect on this trotro-experience. We can emphasize and focus on differences or we can emphasize and focus on our common ground.
As people, it is a fact that we are different. Simply because we all have our individual, unique talents, personalities, preferences and backgrounds.
Sometimes it is important to highlight differences to be able to reach equal basic rights. Sometimes highlighting differences only divides us more and prevents us from finding what we have in common.
He might be a Ghanaian, I might be a European. He might be black, I might be white. He might be a man, I might be a woman. But there is one crucial thing that binds us. And that is the fact that we are both tall and have long legs…..
Do I have the right to sit in front of the car because I have long legs? No.
But I appreciate the fact that no distinction is made between me and a man. And I would have not reached these insights, which I can share with others on social media, if I was not allowed to sit in the front of this great TRUST ME trotro.
A day later, a lady friend tells me that women are not allowed to sit in the front seat (in Northern-Ghana), because they have too much fear and are not brave enough. They would panic too much when something, like an accident, happens.
I leave it up to you if that is a legitimate reason…..;-)