Last night I ‘sold’ my first pair of “I got pregnant and now my feet have gone from a size 9 – 10 and can’t fit these shoes anymore so come and buy these shoes at a steeeep discount” (http://mindofmalaka.wordpress.com/2011/01/20/big-feet/) shoes to my friend and senior from high school, Pearl K. (Please: When reading the word “senior”, pronounce it in a very Ghanaian way, with fear and reverence afforded to those who have earned the right to wear a blue/white shirt, while you a junior student are still in your junior school uniform material.) It’s always good to see someone from your past – particularly if you have fond memories of them. Pearl was a good senior, very kind and affable…not one of those who made it a point to ‘show’ you they were seniors.
She came over with her two very lovely children, Kiki and Josh who ate pizza and played outside with all my 8 of my kids. She and I caught up on our future plans and past events. Apparently, she was in Ghana this past December and had a very different experience from mine. She was in the very lap of luxury (which you should be if you’re shelling out thousands of dollars for airline fees and sitting in airports for hours with your luggage and your kids) and confessed that the allure was so deceptive that one could easily abandon their life abroad to return home, under the impression that life in Ghana would thereafter always be luxurious.
“Life in Ghana can be very good if you’re set,” she said.
As we know from my experience, life in Ghana can be very bad if you’re NOT.
Pearl asked about South Africa, and I told her about my hollering monologue at God and that I’m just waiting to see what He has planned next. I casually mentioned my shoe sale. She, having just as many children as I do, with the same frequency as I have, excitedly admitted that she had encountered the same problem with her feet: they had jumped sizes.
“Bring down your shoes and let me see them!” she said.
Oh what music to my ears. I love shoes, and I love showing off shoes to other people who love shoes! I almost tripped over my feet, clutching several pairs in my arms.
She rejected the purple pointed toe Rampage pumps, couldn’t get her right foot into the Kenneth Cole suede wedges, didn’t care for the Jessica Simpson sling backs with stiletto heels, and ultimately fell in love with the black and cork Bandolino’s with a peep toe and a buckle (which incidentally had a ¼ inch layer of dust that had gathered on them, a result of being hidden safe from view and use in my closet for years. I don’t even recall buying them…).
Her face lit up when she tried them on and her perfect teeth lit up the room in a girlish grin.
“I don’t have any money on me,” she said. “Can I give you the money later?”
“Sure! No problem,” I replied. It was a very Ghanaian thing to do.
As if reading my thoughts, she laughed and said “Hmmm…these Ghana-styles. I’ll buy your thing and give you the money later.”
“Yes oh!” I laughed. “I go pay you morrow!”
She said she would make her payment on 34degrees.org and left with her new shoes tucked into her diaper bag shortly afterward.
‘I go pay you morrow’ is just that: a promise to pay the person selling a particular item tomorrow, or at worst, some time later in the week. Like susu, it’s something that has been done in Ghana for centuries. The premise is based on a mutual trust relationship with the belief that the person doing the buying on credit has enough integrity to pay what is owed and will pay on a promised date (morrow), and in return, the person selling the item will patiently wait for that payment. Unfortunately, ‘I go pay you morrow’ has been abused by many unscrupulous people and like susu has become a cultural anomaly.
This is why many kiosks in Ghana have the phrase “NO CREDIT” chalked across their buttresses.
Whether Pearl makes her payment/donation to our cause remains to be seen. Even if she doesn’t, it’s still alright. She brought my family with pizza and good cheer, and left with a new pair of–albeit dusty – shoes. Exchange is certainly no robbery.