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Everybody is happy in Ghana, West Africa


It had been late afternoon when I rode into Yeji, a sprawling fishing village perched on the dry shores of the now receding waters of the lake - a good easy day's riding on a mainly smooth well-graded dirt road. I pulled up outside the old low set cement-block building - the Volta Lake Hotel, where a room with shower and toilet cost 3000 cedis (US$3).

After showering I bought dinner of fufu and goat meat stew with a hot spicy sauce from a nearby street vendor, and, with a beer, sat on the front step to eat.

I was soon joined by a soldier, a young sergeant. He and his men had just returned from the troubled area, where they were now acting as a peace-keeping force.

"We are here to give the people confidence so they will return to their land", he told me.

"I show you some photos", he continued, and began explaining each photo of mutilated bodies as he passed them on. "And this one. This is the leader of the Togo tribe. A bad man. He was a big trouble-maker", he explained as he pointed with obvious pride to the photo. It was of the sergeant standing over the body of the Togolese leader, whose sprawled bare legs appeared to have been cut with a machete. His head was being held back for the photo and his eyes were open and bulged. He had been dead for some time when the photo had been taken. His body was bloated and dried blood was caked to his matted hair and face. I did not ask how he was killed, but it looked like he had been beaten to death. At first I could not look at the photo, it had revolted me, but then I stared fascinated, studying every detail.

"I kill him", he told me smiling, and I got the distinct feeling he had misinterpreted my fascination and thought I was impressed by his fighting prowess.

"We sleep together tonight"?, he asked.

"No, I don't think so", I responded.

"I just ask, that is all", he replied.

"And here. These are my children and this is my wife", he said, handing me the last of the photos taken from the same envelope as the snapshots of the mutilated bodies.

"You have beautiful children and a beautiful wife", I told him.

"Yes, I am lucky man. Life has been good to me", he replied.

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