Africa is different in the mornings; I have always loved early mornings. The pre dawn hours spent on airfields loading C130 always held a romance for me that was lost on Corporal “Cold and tired” or Squadron Leader “I could be in the bar”. Whether half light of an rural dawn or the sodium lights of an airfield pan I have always loved early mornings. I am not talking of breathtaking sunrises or rich palettes of oranges, russets and ochres but of the cool quiet breeze of morning.
I chanced an 0530 loading for one of our clients and this afforded me the opportunity to clear Accra before the masses awoke and started to transit to their places of work. In just three junctions and five minutes we were on the highway headed for Tema Port. The air pregnant wit moisture blew briskly over the driver and I as we inhaled the dawn vapours a heady mixture of smoke and tropical dew.
Only the buffeting of the air through the wind disturbed the calm. There were no horns, calls, shouts bells or buzzers. Truckers pulled them selves from under damp blankets and hauled themselves from the relative safety of the area beneath their vehicles. Each rubbing cold limbs stretching and then casually sauntering to the hard shoulder to urinate in to the fronds of vegetation. Small groups gather around billy cans and portable brazier making tea or porridge or some other wholesome start. They seem blissfully unaware of our rapid progression toward Tema. The violent intensity of the Pan African truck driver is lost in the ease of the morning. Already a mother with two toddlers has set up a cooking pot and has hot coals simmering cocao.
As we near Tema the first school children start to appear, it is now 6am; older brothers and sisters escorting younger siblings across the normally busy high way. Men come from the bush hauling up ill fitting jeans having just taken care of their ablutions. Vigorous head rubbing the apparent cure for a night spent in the open. Until now the quite undisturbed and then the first truck rumbles past us, the creak and groan of an old chassis unwillingly lugging a 40ft container; but still no horns just a view of an Africa without guile; innocently risen from its slumber.