You know you are in Accra when clouds begin forming and winds start blowing with people running helter skelter, depicting signs of rainfall; unannounced rainfall mostly show up when everybody is busily going about their business. When last did you see the rains in Accra? It only happens consistently when the Wet season is due. The zone is a hot region and the heat on sunny days is harsh, I tell you. So when the rains finally come, it’s inhabitants are very glad and wish it lasted for long. The cold breeze from the wet ground alone is enough to tame wild minds in the region. I mean the mind is mostly at rest when it rains because every activity slows down. Accra is a no joke place of settlement. Living here comes with its own hustle and struggles. You have to face traffic, beat time and deadlines, work hard to the bone and endure the “kpakpakpa” tactics; if you must survive. In a way, rainfall is our coolant. It reliefs us from many burdens ranging from work load to relationship issues, not forgetting harsh weather conditions.
These are times when market women cover their wares with large polythene materials to prevent water from destroying them. You dare not walk to any trader to buy from them. The look you will receive is enough to send the message across; “It is raining, Shop closed till further notice!”. Drivers begin showing off. They refuse to pick anyone into their cars. Most of them carry the excuse that driving in the rains can cause them to visit the mechanic who may take an exorbitant amount of money for servicing their vehicles. Others (especially taxi drivers) complain about getting their seats wet from carrying rain-soaked passengers. However, it is the best time for some traders like the umbrella and rain coat sellers.
Also, hot kenkey sellers and “chop bar” operators become a point of reach for some hot meals in such a cold weather. Polythene bag or shower cap sellers also serve a lot of women with protection for their hair, while some business minded drivers also convey people to their various destinations. I forgot to mention “people carriers” who carry people in flooded areas to safe grounds and make as much as GHC1 per head.
It appears that tensions become a bit relaxed in the city anytime it rains. People find shelter. Cars park. Criminals like fraudsters and pick-pockets lay low. Businesses come to a halt. Marriages become sweet if there was a misunderstanding. Never underestimate the power of rainfall. It makes sleep enjoyable too. There is nothing more painful as when you are at work or school before it begins raining. You start to wish that you were in the comfort of your home. These are times that you will find yourself daydreaming about being at home, eating a hot meal accompanied by hot chocolate drink after which you will tune in to some cool music and coil yourself in bed.
Another wonderful trait of Accra people in relation to the rain is water storage. A lot of places in the region are faced with the challenge of acquiring portable water making rainfall a savior in that regard. When it rains, I love the sight of pans, buckets, barrels and bowls in front of most houses. You will also realize that there are channels on roof tops from which the water passes through into the storage materials. The rain water serves as a source of water for domestic households in most places in the urban centres. After any downpour, households are capable of retrieving about ten to fifteen big-sized buckets of water, and even more depending on the heaviness and time-length of the downpour. This water is used mainly for washing, bathing and cleaning purposes. On certain occasions it may also be used for cooking, after it has been treated.
Woe unto you if you get stuck in town while it is raining. You would have to give yourself an hour or more to be out of town. This is usually due to fewer vehicles on the streets to transport passengers. You are also not assured of any better shelter to hide under since most places are occupied by people. Your only lucky bet may be an umbrella which may serve you half purpose because you will eventually get wet. In some instances, the umbrella may even be destroyed by the heavy winds. What is even more saddening to imagine is that homeless people like, street children, head porters(kayayei), and some street hawkers become stranded because their places of sleep(mostly tables tops and in front of shops), and their sleeping materials are beaten by the rains.
At night, the city turns quite and dull on a typical rainy day as compared to a sunny day. When it rains, most people prefer staying indoors. On the contrary, sunny days make the ground dryer and the rooms warmer. This gives people the urge to go out to receive fresh air and to hang out with friends due to the conducive weather. On the other hand, after work you will see people rushing to their places of abode whenever it rains. Criminals sometimes use this periods to operate since there are less people in town and so it is advisable to stay out of town. There have often being reports of armed robbery and snatching of cars during such periods. Other people however choose to stay indoors for fear of catching a cold. Jackets and sweaters are pulled out from hideouts(especially for the sake of younger ones) due to the cold. Frankly, room temperature becomes cold by the night forcing one to cover himself with a sleeping cloth. Happy moments these are because sleep is more comfortable and cozy.
The flood situation in Accra can be likened to terrorism across the world. No one can really predict how it began and how it will end. Some folks even wish for more rains in order to have their drainage systems washed of its filth. Is it not funny how some people can think? They forget that the gutters will still be choked at another end which will in the end generate a bigger problem such as flood. Flooding is mostly as a result of the many filth we see in the region. There are too many people walking the grounds of Accra who make a lot of rubbish in a day yet a few of them keep to good sanitation conditions. Is it their fault? Is it the responsibility of a bigger organization or institution? A lot of information and reports have been circulated on the need to keep a clean environment to reduce flooding. The problem however is how this education will be implemented and inculcated among the masses. With less provision and subsequent collection of waste bins at vantage points for instance, things may remain the same when it comes to waste management with flooding as its related problem.
Personally I love when the rains come down. I only hate to think about the related problems that come with it. For instance, I do not understand why the lights are turned off by the Electricity Company of Ghana when it begins to rain. Spare me the excuse that it is for safety sake. Tomatoes and other farm products also come in short supply because of less rainfall. Market women will use any least chance to raise prices of commodities, and so may more rains come. You’ve got to love rainfall too. It is the only times that we learn to let our hair down in Accra. Who else agrees with me? And to the little children who cry out, “Rain, rain, go away…”, wait until old age catches up with you. Rainwater is life in Accra.