This seemingly harmless sentence is a significant factor fueling the blatant disregard for motor traffic and road safety regulations by some drivers in Ghana and across many African countries.
Drivers who ply our roads at night are most likely to have come across uniformed men saluting them and then adding this worrying statement; “Something small for your boys, sir”. Another way of saying it is “your boys are here sir”.
It is a euphemism for requesting for monetary gifts from motorists and then letting them drive through checkpoints without the requisite search of their vehicles.
This is one of the many truths, the Ghanaian society shies away from, perhaps due to a collective guilt or perhaps the absence of will power to resolve the anomaly.
It would not be wrong to conclude that in reality, one can safely drive all over Ghana without ever owning a driver’s license, even if it is an expired or fake one.
The reliable unofficial solution to not having a license to drive is to have some crispy cash at hand and be willing to fold a few notes into the waiting palms of the uniformed men who have been detailed to enforce compliance to road and traffic regulations.
It is not uncommon to come across motorists who know very well that the insurance or road worthy stickers of their vehicles have long expired. Yet they have all the confidence in the world to drive on our roads and their immunity is simple: “oh as for the police people, we would sort them out”.
This same attitude pertains among cargo drivers who overload their trucks beyond acceptable limits, commercial night drivers whose vehicle lights are faulty, motorcyclists who have no helmets, tipsy drivers driving at break neck speed or other motorists flouting one road traffic regulation or another. They simple do not fear arrest or prosecution. They have become emboldened by the fact that they can easily sort their ways out.
This is the sad depth to which “Something Small For Your Boys, Sir”
has degenerated and the consequences have become devastating for us all.
Meanwhile there seem to be an unwritten general mutual agreement that there is nothing wrong with motorists giving money to policemen on our roads.
We pretend such monies do not influence their professional conduct. We pretend it does not corrupt them to show any form of bias. We pretend it is very normal and just a gift to boost their morale, even if such gifts come from wrong doers and lawbreakers caught red-handed in the act.
It is this collective insincerity and subtle endorsement from the general public that has emboldened some reckless drivers to partake in all sorts of choreographed macabre dance on our roads; a perilous dance of death that has left many victims without limps, deprived innocent children of their parents, deprived pregnant mothers of their husbands and poor families of their sole bread winners.
Yet we continue to watch unconcerned under the silly pretense it is not happening; forgetting that a motorist who can pay his way through and get away with breaking traffic regulations, becomes emboldened to further misbehave behind the wheel and endanger the lives of other road users.
It is clear we are our own enemies, creating avoidable problems for ourselves. Anyway….