Peddlers On Wheels – By Kofi Yankey
High temperature in the afternoon, chilled Fanyogo in hand, sweat dripping down my brow. Out of nowhere, someone utters: “Anuanom ne Adofo…!” Passengers are startled. All inquire surprisingly as to what is to follow the utterance. Reposing ones come out of their daydreams, contemplating what jolted them from their slumber.
No, it is not an emergency brake applied by the driver, for the bus is just half full and is still parked at the bus terminal. Passengers, now alert, try to decipher what is going on. Is someone selling a balm that can cure all bodily pains? Is it the old man who sells the Chinese dewormer? Or is it that young man marketing his Basic Computer Knowledge book and Picture book for children?
All aforesaid begin their sales with the Twi catch-phrase, loosely translated in English as “Brothers, Sisters and Loved Ones.” Then comes a prayer for journey mercies for the driver, passengers and the vehicle itself. After the brief stopover on the transcendental plane, they return to the mundane plane, to make some monetary gain. Well, there are yet some others who stay on the transcendental plane for quite a while longer.
You cannot feign ignorance, unless you do not travel on public transport in Ghana. Board a Neoplan bus from Takoradi to Accra, a 207 bus from Mankessim to Kumasi, a Nissan Urvan minivan from Cape Coast to Twifo Praso, or a “Space bus” from Circle to Odorkor. On all those routes, believe me, you will encounter many more than you can commit to memory.
These usually come wielding the Holy Scripture of Christians, the Bible. Now you’ve figured them? Yes, the preachers. The zeal and emotion with which they carry out their commission is highly commendable. After all, did not their master and fore-runner Jesus, the Christ, preach at the seashore and on boats? How apt of them to replicate his act by preaching on buses!
But wait a minute. Let’s be real and put things in perspective. Perhaps this experience will contribute to this discussion: I boarded a Lapaz-bound 207 bus at the close of day, sometime back. All in the bus were tired after a busy day in the central business district of Accra. While waiting for the bus to be full, here came a preacher with his not so good-looking Bible, apparently undergoing wear and tear due to his trade.
To say that he delivered his sermon at the top of his voice is an understatement and the fact that I sat just before him made matters worse, for he really bathed me with his saliva. When I spoke up, I was labelled too knowing, even arrogant. Questioning his justification for preaching on the bus got me the title of an Infidel. To end it all, I plugged my earphones into my ears, to cut out the noise and listen to some good music.
It was then that he uttered some words in Twi, which can be rendered in English as “God is about to destroy you and you have no idea.” Can you imagine what I went through?
In this nation of ours, it is so easy for us to accept certain things to be the status quo, so that challenging them makes the challenger an enemy. We have all been witnesses to street hawking, begging on pedestrian walkways and the good old corruption. Sadly, these have been accepted to be the norm and no one succeeds in kicking against them.
The holier than thou attitude of most Ghanaians make them blind to how improper and how a nuisance it is for one to preach on a bus- public transport for that matter. What most people tend to forget is that Ghana is NOT a Christian nation. Ghana is a secular nation. That is how come Buddhists practice freely, Eckists have their freewill to HU all they want, Hindus have monasteries all over the country and Muslims have the uncountable mosques dotted across the country and our ever faithful jujumen now have billboards all over, from Gambaga to Accra and from Wiawso to Keta. That is what secularisation means.
Ask yourself, would you be comfortable if a juju man boards a bus on which you are to travel, pours libation to his Gods and recites some incantations? I bet you will freak out. Why then do we not freak out when preachers mount buses to preach, only to end by soliciting money from passengers? Let’s end this discussion by taking a cursory look at how various bible translations render the scripture at 1 Corinthians 2:17:
1 Corinthians 2:17: “Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit… (NIV, 1984)
1 Corinthians 2:17: “You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit… (NLV, 2007)
1 Corinthians 2:17: “At least we are not commercializing God’s word…” (ISV, 2008)
2 Corinthians 2:17: “For we do not…make a trade of the word of God… (Darby Bible Translation)