Travelling with “Tro-Tro” in Ghana

Ghana voices this week are from entries written about Ghana by non-Ghanaians. The first, by Leanne, writing in her blog An American in Africa, marvels at the “ever-evolving, always under repair, rarely striped or shouldered” roads that dot the country and the capital. She posts a few pictures of the roads in Accra, including some that are near her house, which was miraculously paved one day. She attributes this miracle to “road crews”:

Hundreds of them. As the rain eases, hordes of cheap Ghanaian road crews spread out all over town and start filling potholes. Sometimes with the asphalt-like stuff, sometimes with cement(!), sometimes with just more dirt, hard packed. Labor is cheap here and it's astonishing how much they can get done in a day

I'm Ghana go to Accra writes a thoughtful, descriptive, and realistic account of his experience with the tro-tro, which he describes as:

The generic name for anything larger than a taxi that carries passenger along a strictly adhered to route. I ride in a tro-tro about three times a day and have been in everything from small mini-vans to old school busses (no description could envelop the lot.

He claims he is beginning to enjoy the tro-tro, especially as “you could conceivably get anything you needed without ever leaving the tro-tro,” and he enumerates items that can be purchased whilst in a tro-tro in traffic. These include toilet rolls, hard-boiled eggs, fried fish, sandwiches, various cuts of meat, chilled cocoa, fresh fruits, meat pies, and plenty of other indiscernible items.

Apart from a few superficial generalities (there are no sidewalks anywhere in Ghana); and a belief that tro-tros “are the only affordable way to move about the city…”, Brian’s account is amusing enough to grab your attention on all the colourful details he provides of life in Ghana.

Finally, in the light of Jay-Z's visit to Ghana in early October, Emily, writing in her blog the (wish I was in) Ghana journal, expresses her disappointment at the announced ticket prices for the show at the Accra International Conference Centre, that were going for a prohibitive 600,000 Ghanaian cedis ($US65) for normal rate, and 1,000,000 cedis for VIP:

In Yankee bucks, that's $65 and $110. Jay-Z will reportedly be spending time promoting his UN work, too. Doesn't this seem a bit, well, I dunno, wildly inappropriate? I mean, you can be skeptical about those “people in Ghana live on less than $2 a day” statistics, but there is undeniable poverty. Sure, there are people who can afford this price in Ghana. There is a middle class there. But there's also impressions. The impressions about what it would say to your friends if you got a ticket to the Jay-Z concert. American rappers are big stars in Africa. Going to this concert will mean something to people. It'll be a status thing.

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