They stood in a cluster along the sidewalk. All huddled around the one with a kite. The kite was made of plastic, like a lot of things in Africa. Amongst my travels through this continent, I have seen children make soccer balls, hats, and now, kites.
All of plastic, plastic bags.
They were lost, and only steps from their homes. Just lost in the moment in front of them on a Saturday afternoon in Ga Mashie, outside Jamestown, Ghana.
It was like they forgot they were on a traffic-filled road for hours.
Honk. Honk. Honk.
Some might read this and think: “Wow, kids in Ghana have ‘nothing’ to be playing with such things.”
But while I watched these children play, they showed me something different. I saw what they do have.
They have a good time with a homemade kite. As all kids should, no matter where they grow up.
No Call of Duty on their PlayStations to virtually shoot each other, or, satellite TV to see a Western life juxtapose their own. No sense of high-end fashion or even simple trends to separate the “cool” kids from the…not so cool kids.
Meaning, they have immense amounts of creativity. Psychedelic cartoons or video games don’t expand their imaginations. They have to think outside of the box, all on their own.
Or for this kid, inside the box…
Some live in homes made of no more than four boards and a tin roof. As the sun sets and the day is nearly done, the kids bathe in the streets. I saw it for myself on Saturday. Some might not have washrooms in their houses, so they strip right down outside with buckets of soapy water. Better to be outside than to make a mess of where they will sleep at night. But, from what a friend told me, it is also because youth cannot share washrooms with the elderly until they are a certain age.
Butt naked, in the streets, just to bathe. No shame.
Yes, having less allows them to harness their innocence and inner-child. But in a completely paradoxical way, it makes them that much more grown up.
Some of their parents aren’t really around. So they travel as packs and look out for each other.
And if they’re not playing, they’re working. Selling bagged water on top of their heads to people sitting in traffic in their vehicles. Or, fish, juice, gum, the list goes on.
But, they’re some of the coolest people, little people, I have ever hung out with. They’re like little Big people. Adults in children’s bodies with creative minds that never shed their innocence, never stop being free. Not caring what people think of them, and yet, so sure of who they are.
They just are, and they just be.
They don’t ask Santa Claus at Christmas for a brand-new kite. Instead, they just get it for themselves. At the ripe old ages of…well…it doesn’t really seem to matter.
Photos by Jessica Campbell