Tuesday night, I had my camera and my phone (Ghana phone though, not iPhone) stolen at the concert I went to. This seems like the start to a familiar story, that I know all too well.
However, I should go back a bit and explain the concert. Ghana was scheduled to have a widely popular concert, probably the biggest of the year, on Tuesday called 020 that the phone company Vodofone was sponsoring. The lead act was Trey Songz (!!!), the host was Amber Rose, and there were a ton of other popular Ghanaian acts such as Five5, R2Bees, , D. Cryme, and more. Plus it featured a really popular Nigerian artists, D’Banj, who came in second only to Trey Songz in terms of the effect on women in the audience. So, when I saw the commercials for it, and a girl from Harvard I was supposed to meet up with for the first time asked me if I wanted to go, I jumped at the chance. There’s no way I’d get tickets so cheap to be so close to popular artists. Then Renee decided she would go as well. However, Renee did not get her tickets in advance and so the day of, we had to go all the way to the mall (there is one big mall in Ghana that also host the one big movie theater) to see about getting a ticket for her and another for her friend Joan. That’s where our adventure began.
When we got to the mall, the Vodafone workers said they were sold out but a man had just bought the last tickets and were now selling them. However, this man was selling them for 20 cedis more than the original price. Renee only had 100 cedis on her, but we needed 140 cedis to purchase two from him. I started in telling him that his supply and demand was off because people would not buy the higher price from him, go elsewhere, and even if they found out the original price was nowhere to be found, they still would not come back to the mall for him—and then he would not have sold any tickets. When that line of logic did not work, we started long conversations with the Vodafone people, trying anyway to get the tickets for 50 cedis apiece. Mette, the girl I was meeting had arrived at this point and did offer monetary assistance, but it was the principle of the matter that Renee and I were trying to fight. At some point, a group of young gentlemen were trying to buy tickets from the man too. One of them made a comment about buying a ticket for us. Of course my ears picked up on that, and I put on my most winning American smile and charm and went over to them. After a few rounds of seeing if they were serious, I decided to just ask for 40 cedis, which was the extra amount we needed for the tickets. They made a huddle about it and one of them, named Dee, decided we needed a trade. I asked him what he wanted, and he said “I want the white one.” After realizing he was talking about Mette, I decided to strike the deal: for 40 cedis, you can talk to her. He repeated, “For 40 cedis I take the white one.” I told him that he could not physically take her anywhere, but would be free to approach her and try his luck. Now, I had just met Mette, but I went over and proposed the plan to her and like a good sport she laughed. And to our surprise, Dee handed me 40 cedis (not a small gesture for complete strangers) and then took all our phone numbers down. Renee could not believe that I could actually get them to agree to that. And the best part was that they never called or texted us. Maybe there are some nice guys left in this town after all? From that point we haggled taxi prices, got lost in Kaneshie, and got a ride to the concert venue from a guy in love with Renee’s friend. We didn’t have VIP tickets, but once the concert started, we pushed our way to the second row, which was only about 10 feet from the stage. We got to touch Trey Songz and some of the other artists, and Renee caught the shirt from one of the guys from VIP.
It was a great concert, filled with great music and friends. Unfortunately it did not end well, since during the confusion and madness of Trey Songz throwing his shirt into the audience, my phone and camera were stolen out of my closed purse. I cried about my camera, because of the thought of all those hundreds of memories lost because they had not been uploaded. Photos of weddings, godsons, the concert, my life here, some pictures of life from home, and more. I at first thought that maybe I was being punished for something, but then I realized I could not think like that. Man let’s us down. There are good people, but there are many bad people as well. I just happened to be the victim of one of the bad ones Tuesday night.
However, it makes me feel a bit like life is out of control when I don’t have that type of memory filter to hold me down. I couldn’t, however, help feeling a bit lost like when my passport was gone, and I could not understand why people take other people’s precious memories. There is so much of ourselves that we put inside those “memory keepers.” It’s almost as if life is happening all around me, and I have no way of slowing it down or capturing the beauty of an instant of it for safe keepings. Without a way to have images to jog my memory into the joy of the moment a photograph holds, my time here will feel fleeting. There are some forms of technology it’s too hard to live without, and for me, I think a camera is one of them. I’m putting it high on my list of things to buy as soon as possible.