Sitting at Accra Central one afternoon, I watched a young man trying to sell a t-shirt to another young man. And after series of bargains the seller finally accepted the young buyer’s bid with a downcast face of one who just lost an important battle as he kept asking the buyer to add something small to the amount which the buyer refused anyway. Only for him to turn towards the opposite direction and swagger off after the buyer (who was looking like a child who had just managed his first few steps unaided) also left. And I thought, if only he knew.
But how can you, when with these guys you can never tell when you are losing from when you are winning. You can never be sure; you’ll probably end up paranoid as hell because you’re trying to get a fair deal. Whereas all they have to do is hit what may appear as their normal profit, so with them there is never a bad sale because even their bad sale is their normal profit and that is a push to hit double on the next sale. Which they usually achieve.
And I asked myself, how anyone can not survive in Ghana, unless you don’t want to and as such make no effort to. These guys have always been inspiration to me because they start small but always end up big once they are focused.
They come to town every morning, impeccably dressed with great taste and a gun for a tongue. They can reduce a lesser man to mush and have ladies fall in love with them by the second. I have watched them haggle with customers most of my life and I’ve always watched with amusement and a sense of trepidation at how they conquer the people they sell to. I have come to rejoice in their success and hoot at their slips, but most importantly I have come to appreciate their art.
Which is why I get hurt when some people choose to call them con artist and others vile name such as thieves, but I call them businessmen. Because they don’t hold a gun to nobody’s head, it’s just a game and they are good at it. Every business in the world’s sole purpose is to make profit and enjoy abnormal profit if possible, that’s how come there’s monopoly and I don’t hear nobody calling such businesses thieves, so why these guys. It’s just about having the tongue, skill and the confidence to pull it off. So if you don’t and you get bested why hate.
Besides they actually deserve every penny they get. Why am I saying this?
Now any person would agree with me that the most difficult task on earth is convincing people, and these guys do more than that. They build relationships with their customers, and have them trusting them (even if it’s for the shortest while) within a short period and have them eating out of their hands. So if you ask me they deserve every penny they make, especially now when they are being hustled by the famous ‘’aaba ee” so that a whole day can be wasted playing hide and seek with this special task force whose job is to sack street hawkers. Yet still they marvelously manage to make sales even under these hectic conditions.
Sometimes they jump through so many hoops that a lesser man would faint. Aside the task force, they happen to go through series of ordeals. From fire outbreaks which destroy their stuff through to heavy taxes and poor conditions of work and they still fight for their livelihood. And one thing I can’t take away from them is their mode of de-stressing and motivation.
They create a jovial atmosphere as well as a healthy competitive environment while working. They have names and expressions for the various authorities; Names that are as much as they are funny. Sometimes they even whistle in a funny way to alert their colleagues.
They are supportive of each other irrespective of the competition. At the end of the day they realize it’s not about just the money but then living a fulfilled life itself, living in the well-known African Communal style.
Instead of hating I think we could all learn a thing or two from them, such as;
Tenacity, they have got it and nothing takes it away. Not government taxes and sure as hell not task forces. They approach life as a war which must be fought and fought properly, that there’s no point to fighting in a lackadaisical way. That’s how come you will see them chasing vehicles trying to sell to cars in motion and reacting swiftly to a warning callout from a colleague.
That confidence in one’s self is key to success, sans others can only have confidence in you when you do in yourself. Ha, it takes a strong will to resist them and yet a stronger one to put on a smile while wondering If you have been duped after buying from them.
Lastly that a bad deal doesn’t and shouldn’t define you, you learn from them, and laugh at some of your slips .That in fact there is nothing like a bad deal, because it’s just the foundation to a better deal, because you form a relationship with the person. We can’t always have it good but we can strive to make it better.