Man who died directing Accra traffic

Man who died directing Accra traffic

Man who died directing Accra traffic
Man who died directing Accra traffic

Awudu’s passion was stronger than his poverty. And so, even though he had little, he gave much more.

When the sun rose, forcing everyone into making daily choices, the 48-year old man says his passion and not his pocket made those decisions.

It was to stand on busy streets in Accra, directing a deluge of cars as a volunteering traffic warden.

For 20 years. Yes.

Born Abdul Rahman Haruna, the boy had a dreamy start to life. He fantasized about joining the police or a career that regaled in berets, black shiny boots, and an authoritative uniform.

“I really love it. The way they dress and how they walk”, he told the film crew led by Shakiru Akinyemi in a documentary done in June 2019.

But formal education appeared not to be a family value and when his father died, it ended his apprenticeship training in tailoring.

Without skill or support, Awudu braced for the full force of poverty. And oh, it came. It boxed out a row of his teeth, punched his body into a lankiness of an unlucky man who lacks.

His eyes retreat into its socket, almost disinterested in seeing no more that life had to offer his broke boss.

And at night, Awudu would sleep at Awudome cemetery where he says he had countless nightmares and dreams in which he struggled with spiritual beings.

There are no proud East Legon cocks to crow in the morning, only ugly Awudome ducks to quack him out of his sleep.

He sold Apples and ‘NkatieBurger’ at Abelemkpe streets until one day, the traffic lights malfunctioned at the Kaneshie to Circle stretch of the road.

The Motor Traffic and Transport Unit (MTTU) dispatched a police officer to manage the traffic and Awudu would now get to see closely the men of uniforms he had long admired.

“He was directing traffic while we sold our items. He started work in the morning and had a fixed closing time. The policeman and I struck a friendship”

“He liked me…so when leaving he said ‘oh boy I am leaving”, a cue to the hawker to take over.

And he did.

“I stopped selling apples and Nketia burger to direct traffic only,” he said with a sense of satisfaction.

Awudu would not get a beret but he made it up with a blue cap. And he would not get a uniform, a philanthropist impressed with his industry and selflessness compensated him with reflectors.

He got no boot. Only a worn-out sandal. He would glow in his cramped white shirt and held in his left hand a small round and red board with a white inscription, STOP.

For the first time in his life he began to feel his place in society and in his poverty, he gave more to society from his rich reservoir of selflessness and passion.

There was a feeling of rare power inside him when in lifting up his hand, a fleet of vehicles would stop on his left while he beckons another tired fleet on his right to drive off.

People began to pay attention to him.

“Now they have made National Service Personnel become part of the traffic directing situation. You see what his work has done?” a journalist with the Ghanaian Times Lawrence Markwei praised him.

“He is an unsung hero”.

“Those who are supposed to do the job are not doing it….most of the MTTU police know this guy because he has been doing the job after more than 15 years” Enoch Kelvin Ofosu, an ‘Okada’ rider testified.

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