For illustration purposes -- A child happily selling oranges

Friday night in Accra — Ghana’s Capital — and I’m on my way home from lectures after a long tedious week. 

Thought I had it bad but someone else had it worse. Am crying (figuratively) because I use public transport and the road network is in so deplorable a state — as if to say there’s been a time when it hasn’t – that I wish I could develop wings to fly. Traffic on the La Paz-McCarthy Hill road is at its peak, yes, even after 10pm. 

Am sitting in my chartered taxi, contemplating my fate and the choices I had made. Is being in Accra a good idea? Maybe not I kept thinking to myself. When will I get home? Sigh – I need a shower and some sleep, come on, move already! 

Sudden through the chaotic traffic a little voice: “Yeas peor, yeas peor wota”. I suddenly became present in the moment; it was as if someone had woken me from sleep. I hurriedly scanned around to locate the person behind that angelic voice. 

It was the voice of a child, couldn’t have been older that 10 years. My heart sunk. To say it went into a pit of sorrow will surely be an understatement. My eyes welled with tears, my head thumping – headache the size of the rock of Gibraltar — I could feel the veins on my forehead throbbing and pulsating under the skin. 

Why? Where is her mother? Has she a mother? Relative? Who would send a child she’d bore for nine months into these crazy streets to hawk and worst of all, at night? No! Oh my God! Huh? I couldn’t believe it. Flashback – what was I doing at 10pm when I was her age? I was screaming inside, I wished I could take her off the street and take her home with me. No responsible parent, no matter how poor would send such a precious little girl into the streets at night. 

What is our world coming to? I was angry. Was I angry because I was a woman with maternal instincts? Certainly not! I was angry because I was human and I have a heart. This little girl is our future. The future of my beloved country rests on the shoulders of children like this one. 

There certainly is nothing wrong with teaching our children how to be entrepreneurial but there is a time and a place. The days of birthing half a dozen children to serve as farm hands are over so also, the days of slavery and child labour. Children, as young as 8, have become wage earners for families, when it shouldn’t be so. 

We need to do something about this as a society and fast. Bring back the days when childhood was about fun, play and innocence. The sooner the better! 

I pledge to do my bit, however small. What are you doing? Always remember that every little helps. Be a voice for the voiceless. 



“Yeas peor, yeas peor wota” (English) Yes pure, yes pure water — A hawker’s call for attention to their wares.


21 Responses to “A STOLEN CHILDHOOD”

  1. root of the problem – her family doesn’t make enough. we have to put more money into families or support them to create wealth.


    • Ato, you have made a really good point but what is the way forward? Our politicians are being politicians as usual — no human touch.

      You and i can make a difference and there’s no better time than now.


  2. Heartbreaking yet beautifully written!


    • Like you said ‘Sometimes, it is those dark moments that birth the most inspring pieces’.

      Glory be to God, but the focus has to shift from the messanger to the message.

      Our generation needs to rally and help ease the pain.


  3. Very well articulated and constructed article….will keep tabs asap.


  4. Its YOU…..my own sis? what a small world. where in the heavens are you?


  5. This is so amazing girl! thumbs up for the way and manner in which you unearth your thoughts; it makes one feel present at the scene.We have to try and work something out as a Nation because these kids are our future Leaders.

    Its about time we stopped to think of a long lasting solution to the street hawking in Ghana. All we do is get out there ones in 10years to put the women into sowing or some kind of trade and the men put into shoe making, kente weaving and the like. There is no monitoring system put in place to ensure growth and changes in the life of these people therefore how will their children survive? They end up on the streets like orphans in the wild.

    Please lets join hands, minds and voices to make a difference. God help us all.


  6. Paule-Marie Says:

    The world is going through such immorality, inconsciouness and careless attitude that the new generation has become the victim of all these things, where Education for our children have been compromised in many many aspects: in their academic, standard of living and culture.

    Being a mother myself made me realised “HOW IMPORTANT” my kids are and HOW I should nurture them to their best potential.
    So please Mothers let’s do our best to “Raise “our children accordingly to the child’s age with love, affection, care but most of all “Discipline”.
    I know it’s hard but Let’s do our BEST Mothers just as Mariam said overall: “EVERY CHILD” matters.

    Mariam, could help myself to write this, but amazing narrator you are, great style, keep writting because you are inspiring .


  7. shauns phillips Says:

    Cool blog, I hadn’t noticed mntoure.wordpress.com previously during my searches!
    Keep up the fantastic work!


  8. Hi! We’d love to have you onboard at ghanablogging, only we need you to post more regularly for the aggregator to make sense for you. Please reapply when you post more often.

    Warm reagrds,


  9. Nice piece, but I seem to have grown with it and heard so many debates, suggested possible solutions and articles written on concerns like these, yet we see no reduction nor hope that it would ever stop. And hence it feels like just one of the “normal” human social issues humanity would never be able to solve. Nevertheless your narration gives it a new and stronger awareness that at least I feel it’s worth thinking about. For our leaders, I think we all would agree they are hopeless for now, until we are blessed with one of “such” like Nkrumah. So for now, I think for the “socially sensitive” ones, like you, we have to do the little we can in our “little” corners hoping some miraculous results come out of those little deeds.


  10. Atoliammah Says:

    Well said. Personally I’ve done a bit of street hawking (bowfruit – for those of you not in the know its a bit like a donut hole, but less sugar, less air, more fried dough. delicious) as a child. But thanks to the blessing of God I had my fortunes turned for the better. The experience both good and bad, has made me the person I am today! What gripes me about this article and many like it is the fact that everyone is an expert and seem to know what needs to be done but choose to do nothing. One commentator says educate them in a trade of some sort ie shoemaking or sewing etc…, but who will invest their time and MONEY to do this? Certainly not the govt. Even the well meaning govt cannot help all the hawkers out there nor those philanthropics with money to spare – Corruption in Ghana simply makes aid difficult. Anway I deviate, my point is simple. discussing issues such as this is good but those with stronger and more passionate views shoul not only offer solutions (on paper)about certain going-ons BUT should endeavour to do something about it to effect the change they want to see. What efforts have you made to help even ONE child hawking on the street?


  11. Amber Siddiqi Says:

    I was wondering if I may use the image of the little girl selling oranges for a poster that i am making.


  12. Kathleen Brill Says:

    Writing is recognizing the issue… but your friend is right, after some time it becomes difficult to simply write. I did for years, and then after witnessing some horrible things in that process, I began to be disillusioned with writing. It felt so useless, because I sought faster change. Then I started trying to do things… and I learned that it is never an easy process to truly *help* someone. Now I see how slow change can be, but I truly believe every bit matters. Even if you just choose one child to tutor, that will be helping someone to grow in ways that perhaps will not become evident for some time. But I know each person can think of what she or he has to offer the world, and use those talents to do so in ways that will help to change things for the better. Writing is a wonderful step. This has the effect of helping to re-inspire me– to give me encouragement that I am not the only one who sees these things. By telling us your personal view of human disaster, we are jolted awake, we are ready to try to help, from wherever we may be. Keep writing! Keep thinking! It goes without saying, but I will: I know you will also keep doing. I am sure your lecturing is a big part of that.


    • Passion is the first step in doing anything. Once that’s there, it serves as a propeller that keeps you going until you get there.
      Keep the passion alive.


    • Orlando landosan Brazil Says:

      I can notice how passionate about this matter you are. I was one of your English students and would like to keep in touch to discuss more about how to fix this our world, where it is so difficult to live and where we need very much of people like you


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