Poverty: First Child of an Unfair World

“To be black was to be a beneficiary of a great inheritance, a special destiny, glorious burdens that only us were strong enough to bear” – Barack Obama.


The sun was smacking hot, emptying its bile down a tetchy underwhelmed atmosphere unwilling to even shield off just a corn of infrared from unscrupulous eco-degrading humans. From a sociological point of view, there I was observing a creature pacing droopingly against all the forces of the elements, a street hawker to be precise. The pigment of his demeanor approached loneliness within a crowded moment of annoying weekend traffic jam, local market shoppers competing for each square of pedestrian space blemished by filthy open gutters.

He was sober as the number of wasteful hours of trekking without selling a single souvenir within the awesome lot of batches that hanged dismayed on the anemic basin that stood on his ready-to-give-up right upper arm tendons. My probing eye balls inspected from head to toe. This guy was at the mercy of my vision, the sole of his left foot sandal dismembered along the base and clapping each other to make cheap music as he walked hopelessly.


But my gaze was only fixed on one person; I wasn’t interested in the dozens of others of similar phenotype streaking the attitude of the afternoon’s hustle and bustle. It would only depress me, it always does. At this stage, I wished to be conferred with the status of an Aladdin Genie just to snap this hawker out of his misery, albeit this daydream fairytale is an occasional nightmare. And how could I even buy a bunch of low-cost souvenirs to ease his pain when am broke like a guy driving a BMW on a Volkswagen budget. My only consolation was that I would see them everyday anyway and would help when I can. They are always on sight each blessed morning, their birthright is poverty.


The political honcho however doesn’t see this because they are preoccupied with teas and committees and don’t even do public transport to sets eyes into excursion. When they drive on the streets, motorcades with disrespectful sirens sweep the road like an angry bushfire devouring a deflowered forest in the harmattan, and with opaque side windows raised to kayo the realities of the street; they drive away from the plight of the masses.


My reality is definitely not their reality. Mine is such as the lactating mother frying doughnut in front of the dirty drain with sagging breasts intimated under the weight of unassuming gravity, whose only hope of affording diapers depend on a weekly sale of the fried malnourished paste; whiles the politician’s reality is the beginning and ending of a 4-year term in office with a Bugatti Veyron as ex gratia. And I dare not quibble, I would be pontificating my breakfast cereal.


How do I walk out of this frustration without a broken heart and how do I not succumb into the claws of depression when I feel hopeless myself like the situation itself? And should I not religiously accept the mantra that “the era of procrastination, of half measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, has come to a close, and in its place we have entered into a period of consequences”?. Unfortunately, we have inherited an era of mutated consequences, of matured cross-bred poverty; a first child of an unfair world passed on to us, yeah only passed on to us, which we must bring back to life before being judged by our children and grandchildren.


To say am not under pressure to see change is an understatement, and to make you believe am not afraid of failing would equal the Watergate Scandal. This is when I lose hope. Yes, I would justify my occasional hopelessness. Though Paul Gilding would say “hope is not a matter of personal psychology”, I would also chant that it is very human to lose hope sometimes, especially when nothing is working, since being hopeful or not doesn’t itself affect the outcome of an event.


Possibilities make things happen and hope keeps us going. To me, losing hope in this fight against poverty and inequality literally means I’ve chosen to rest for some time and continue the journey later. What about you?


Gideon Commey

I am a writer a Community Organizer and Activist based in Ghana