Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ghana: In Pursuit Of Joshua

We were walking in Accra when a young man walked up alongside of Joshua and struck up a conversation.

"What's your name?"


"Where are you from?"


We had heard this dozens of times, so it didn't really strike us as unusual.

Just as we were approaching the store we were heading into, he tried to sell Joshua a handmade bracelet, which Joshua politely turned down.  There wasn't much else in the way of conversation, since we were walking into a shop at the time.

The young man walked away.

As we emerged from the shop nearly half an hour later, the young man approached Joshua again with a handmade bracelet bearing Joshua's name and the colors of Canada.

Joshua was stunned, wondering how the vendor made it that fast, and then the shock turned to feeling bad... Joshua didn't want to commit to paying for it, but being that it was personalized, he would feel bad if he didn't purchase it.  

That was exactly the vendor's tactics, and it was working... sort of.

I had set aside a small amount of funds for Joshua to spend on himself (aka:  the Ghana Coca Cola fund), and I had no objections to him buying the bracelet or any souvenir, but he was being very, very cautious with his funds, and did not wish to spend ten cedis on the bracelet, especially given how the vendor had made him feel.

The vendor tried his best to sell the bracelet to Joshua, even offering it to him for free, only to have someone else jump in and contradict the free offer and attempt to make Joshua pay.  Joshua firmly told the vendor he didn't want anything to do with the bracelet, he simply wanted the entire experience over with, not appreciation the pressure that was put upon him by the vendor.

As we ducked into a restaurant, the sales tactics came to an end, only to come about again when we exited the restaurant an hour later.

As the taxi pulled away, we thought that would be the end of the Joshua Bracelet Dude.

Ten days later, we're standing at an ATM in the bustling city of Accra, having returned from our time in Kete Krachi, when we hear someone yell "JOSHUA!!!"

Unable to ignore someone calling his name, Joshua looked up to find...  you guessed it:

The One And Only Joshua Bracelet Dude.  

OK, so I'll give him this -- it's easy to spot Joshua, a 5'9" pale while teenager, no matter where we are in Ghana.... in the middle of the busiest street in Ghana, or in the middle of Kete Krachi.  He just kind of stands out in crowds of Ghanaians, you know?

But seriously?

Giving me a desperate look, Joshua begged for me to give him ten cedis in order to "get this over with".  I had to smile... such a soft heart, he didn't want to make anyone feel bad, including this vendor.

The guy no longer had a Joshua bracelet, so Joshua got to pick whatever he wanted for his new bracelet.  He decided on the nickname his brother calls him all the time, "Gutenburg".

Curious to see how he made the bracelets so quickly, we were amazed as we watched him expertly make Joshua's new bracelet, this time with the Ghanaian colors.

I wonder if business and marketing university classes in North America offer field trips to Ghana?  If not, it should definitely be given as an option.