“Kaya” is a pejorative word (not sure which local language is the source, Hausa?) used to describe the carriers of goods in our open air markets in Ghana.
It used to be exclusively work by males, mainly from the three northern regions, who earned their living carrying loads on their heads and backs, in southern urban markets.
With an influx of their female friends and relatives to the “sector”, the men have “graduated” to the use of carts. The feminisation of carrying goods on the head led to the Ga word for them “kaya yoo”, (plural kaya yei) literally, female carrier(s).
They are a band of relatively young girls and women, these days from many parts of Ghana, though predominantly northern, who literally keep the wheels turning in the logistics and supply chains that support our access to food and other resources in urban areas.
Kaya yei stagger under loads, often in battered zinc trays, which they carry from A to B, with very little bargaining power on what they will be paid.
Sometimes, the owner does not accompany the kaya yoo, but gives directions to where the goods are to be deposited. There are so many kaya yei that another will step in to carry it for less.
These exploited young women, human versions of donkeys, are daily reminders of the failure of government to provide education that leads to and generates viable jobs.
An indictment of the spectacular kleptocracy that led to the failure of SADA, GYEEDA and several other initiatives designed to help young people out of poverty into meaningful jobs.
That is how Rose Gakpo ended up in prison. She carried a load for a customer, on the southern border with Togo. She was stopped by Ghanaian Customs & Excise staff, who exposed the load she was carrying as marijuana. Her client was nowhere to be seen by then, and her pleas that she did not know the contents of the load she was carrying fell on deaf ears.
She had no legal representation, and was sentenced to 10 years in jail. How many Rose Gakpo are languishing in our Victorian era prisons? It is no use shaking our heads, wringing our hands over such travesties of justice. Ziblim Armiyaw has set up this petition on her behalf. Kindly sign it. It is the least we can do for her.