With poverty appearing to be as permanent as her tribal marks, it would be okay for the 20-year old to roll over and remain a yearly statistic for Ghana Statistical Service’s poverty survey.
But with two hands and a granite skull, Memunatu Bakuri is pulling together her own great escape from penury by pounding fufu and carrying load until 2018.
By that time, her second shot at the WASSCE would have arrived. And this time she better have the money to sit her papers after she missed the first boat – all for the want of GH₵50.
The Brifo Senior High School student was therefore repeated. And she watched on as her mates sat this year’s exams, boarding an academic boat to tertiary safety – all for the want of GHC50.
And so the unassuming young woman from Ducie in the Wa East district of the Upper West region made a silent resolve – ‘Never again’.
Father deceased more than 8 years ago, a weak fire-wood selling mother and a set of hungry siblings, hope for bloodline support does not exist.
When the vacation is short like 3 weeks, Memunatu Bakuri works as a chop bar attendant for 7cedis daily wage. And when the vacation is a much longer three months, she carries load for what best placed persons would call a penitence.
She made GH₵1,300 last year when she travelled down to Accra to work as a head porter.
That was the same year, a middle-class social media argument about whether the head is used for carrying a load or for thinking raged on. Bakuri would have stood in the middle and said both – for that is her life practically every day.
That money was used to pay her fees for her final year – only she was GH₵50 short. If she had carried just a little more. If she had charged just a little higher if she had stayed just a little longer – just a little longer may be, just maybe – she could have made that extra.
Could have, should have, would have – what’s the use of splitting hairs over spilled milk?
She had asked a teacher to lend her the money so she works to pay back during the vacation but….
So back to the drawing board or more accurately – the pounding floor, the young woman thumps away, beating cassava and plantain with much the same fury with which life is giving her a beating.
Her madam Saforo Seidu recognises the young woman’s determination.
“Memuna has been coming here for the past six years…I always reserve a job spot for her anytime she comes looking for money,” she said.
Joy News Upper West regional correspondent Rafiq Salam found her at work once again this holiday.
Thump! thump! thump! the familiar sound of pestles is the rhythm of work. Memuna develops her biceps daily, she develops a continual resolve – never again should I miss my 2018 because of GH₵50.