A day shy of his seventeenth birthday, Musa was a boy with the survival instincts of a grown man. Blood sprang from the stab wound in his back, but he did not die instantly. As his life drained, Musa had a running vision, like a video, of his short life. Living in his small hometown of Gurungu had been a depressing, losing battle as his family tried to grow millet in the unforgivable desert conditions of northern Ghana. It was what had pushed him to his seven-day trek to Ghana’s capital city of smooth motorways and impenetrable traffic jams.
Penniless and lonely, Musa hadn’t known a soul in Accra. With no education, no family connections, and no skills, there were only a few jobs for him. He could be a street vendor, a luggage porter at a lorry park, a shoeshine boy, or a truck-pusher – one of those guys who roam Accra with a cart picking up metal scraps to take to the junkyards. He earned much less than a cedi a day.
Up before dawn, Musa never rested until after nightfall, laying his head down on city pavements, at storefronts, and around marketplaces. He had only wanted his life to get better. He had sworn that after working in Accra for a year, he would go back to Gurungu with new clothes and some money for his mother.
As Musa’s eyelids fluttered closed, he must have wondered if this was what his father had meant when he had shaken a warning finger in Musa’s face. If you go to Accra, you will become nothing but a street child, and you will pay a terrible price.