CODE 233: Drugs on Wheels


Today, I serve another story drawn from my trotro diaries that throws the spotlight on a category of people who divide attention as few others do in this country: peddlers of ‘wonder drugs’.

Now, while the world’s biggest pharmaceutical firms strive daily in the race to conjure efficient medication that tackle the many illnesses plaguing mankind, there are some Ghanaians who would have you believe they’ve already reached the finish line.

It is not out of place to meet these drug peddlers in most public spaces, but their favorite haunt usually is at the trotro station — or in the trotro itself — and the experience is so unique that it was the subject of a hit song in the early 2000s.


Back to the present, though: an interesting drama is unfolding in the trotro I am currently occupying as I type this — one I have never seen before.

As it happens, our trotro today hosted two ‘broadcasters’, the first being of the religious kind (trust me, I have many a tale to tell another day about these ones) whose sermon didn’t quite end until he had been handed a few cedis in the name of ‘offering’, after which he mercifully alighted.

Our sighs of relief, though, were short-lived as, before anyone could say ‘eventuarry’, the next speaker — one of ’em silver-tongued peddlers mentioned at the outset — stood and recited the famous Twi words that usually precede a trotro broadcast: “anuanom ne adofonom,” which translates into English as “brethren and beloved.”

Needless to say, we weren’t exactly feeling beloved here, but that general vibe of unease didn’t faze our tormentor-to-be — after all, they are used to such icy initial reactions. And, true to form, he reverted to a chief defense/offense mechanism for those in his trade: well-placed jabs targeted at sections of his audience.

First, he extols the virtues of his products (a collection of mustard seeds, cinnamon, and some so-called ‘dark seed’) and how they were all one needed to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. Typically, again, he starts explaining how different combinations and doses of the aforementioned products served as antidotes to an endless list of ailments — 🙄 — but my attention was truly caught on realizing he was actually now handing out samples of black mustard seed and daring passengers to have a taste.

All who refused received a short, stern lecture on their ‘poor’ health-seeking behavior, with some men even having their manhood questioned in the most spectacular manner. The latter reason is why I am wrapping up now because the fellow is almost at my seat and, while I don’t really care for some mustard, I am not ready to have my self-esteem crushed by whatever it is that he is about to unleash on me. Having been on my phone all this while — coupled with how he has been sizing me up for the last few seconds — I sense a very painful blow to my ego coming if I don’t fall in line. Here we go, folks… 😏


Joshua Ansah – Daily Mail GH

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