Friday, 8. February 2008

The 'Airport' myth

mini-06-08-08_07
The sharp bend at Potroase, one of the 'black spots' on the Accra-Kumasi road

When people talk about Potroase, many jokingly refer to the village as ‘Airport’. Initially, I thought that the nickname was given because of the names’ funny similarity. However, each time I mentioned ‘Airport’ myself or inquired about the nature of this nickname, I was told exactly the same story:
A stranger, some say it was a white man, once travelled from Accra to Kumasi in the night. Upon reaching Potroase, he realized that he had run out of fuel and decided to get some. That night, the village appeared to the traveller like a big city with lots of animation, many lights and even a filling station. Hence the name ‘Airport’, some narrators suggest. But the story goes on. After buying fuel, the man continued his journey only to realize later that he had forgotten to get his change. He decided to collect it on his way back. When he stopped in Potroase again, in another night, he was surprised that there was neither a filling station nor lights. The place had turned back to what it usually is, namely a little dull village somewhere in the middle of the main road.All my friends in Kyebi were persuaded that the ‘Airport’ story was just a myth disseminated by the older generations. Still, some confessed that they always feel a bit afraid when reaching the Potroase spot on a trip to or from Accra. [continue]
kwame - 2008-02-08 23:39

Because of the ‘Airport’ myth and other related stories that people tell, especially with regards to the frequent accidents on that sharp bend, they believe that at least some strange things must be going on there.
While I first took the ‘Airport’ myth as a simple anecdote as well, it later appeared to me that it actually epitomizes a whole series of fears, beliefs and rumours. As I encountered them mostly in the form of narratives and imageries, they pointed towards a ‘moral geography’ of the road (Masquelier 2002) which revealed just one way in which people were making sense of the road and the circumstances under which they lived with it. In the following sections, I show how people’s varied experiences with the road and its users is reflected in the ways they talk and speculate about its potentially hazardous, spiritual and political nature.

Experiencing the Accra-Kumasi Road (AKR):

An ethnographic project on roads, commercial driving and everyday travel in Ghana [more]

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