July 30, 2007
After coming home from work on Thursday, all I wanted was to escape into a Hollywood movie. I went looking for my headphones so that I could watch the Farrelly brothers’ slap stick, gross out comedy classic Stuck On You on my laptop. It’s the story of conjoined twins who lead adventurous and productive lives, a sort of Odd Couple for our post-modern millennium.
Searching for my headphones, I realized that they were not where I left them. They, and the iPod they were attached to, are gone. I check, double check, pack and unpack, and no iPod or headphones are to be found. Nothing else I could think of is missing. My digital camera is in plain view. Just the iPod that had been on my bed, left cocooned inside mosquito netting. Left behind a locked front door.
Fearing that my new home had a serious security breach, not a break-in, but a crime of opportunity, I inform my landlord Doug. We talk and share concern. Who had keys? Who had opportunity? Who was willing to take the chance of stealing when it is a crime that is severely punished in Ghana?
Gloria, the daughter of the owner of the house, who stays rent-free in exchange for some cleaning and cooking, becomes a prime suspect. Friends of Kweku, a Skyy reporter who lives in the building and had passed out his keys freely, are in a close second.
The next day we talk as a group, no blame being thrown about, and resolve to make sure it would not happen again. Door locks, padlocks and hasps, would be implemented. Breaches of trust would not be tolerated. Thievery would not occur again.
That night shouting disturbed a phone call from home. Gloria was outside, surrounded by a group of young men. Shouting at another group of young men. They disperse without issue, and I go to bed.
The next morning was Saturday, Doug and I went to market circle and did some apartment-warming shopping. Gloria, who was doing our laundry, said a terse goodbye. All seemed to be fine.
In the market, about an hour later, we bump into Kweku. He says it’s divine intervention. He’s received a called from Gloria, who had just been picked up by the police. She’s been brought to the central processing station. We grab a taxi and go see what’s happening.
At the station we learn that Gloria has been charged with hiring someone to beat up an enemy. The beaten man is in hospital. She’s been asked to pay his medical bills as part of her punishment. We leave her as she gives her statement to the Criminal Investigation Unit.
The enemy turns out to be our next-door neighbor, in a conflict over a plantain tree and property lines. Or so we’re told.
It occurs to me that my missing iPod might have become an accessory to assault. The payment required for the hired thug.
With locks firmly in place, a man recovering from a beating and legal proceedings against my flat-mate in full swing, my first week in Takoradi comes to an end.