Urban Migration And The “Kayaye”

Rama, 8, who migrated from walewale to Accra to work as “kayaye” for her daily bread. Rama, 8, who migrated from walewale to Accra to work as “kayaye” for her daily bread.

Throughout Ghana, most people are familiar with "kayaye", a Ghanaian term that refers to female head porters who work in the market places of urban cities of southern Ghana.

In the Ghanaian capital for instance, a number of girls from the age of six work as 'kayaye'. These girls wake up at dawn each day, trek from various unstructured buildings they spent their nights to carry bulky goods in their pans on their heads for shoppersand traders in the buzzing market'sand lorry stations of Accra. This is not to say you won't find them in other regions in the country but these girls are mostly on the streets of Accra. I'm forced to ask, can one walk down the streets of Accra without seeing them?

These girls face much of the worst that urban life can offer, with the urban dwellers using them for their cheap labour as though that's not enough, stigmatization is an apparel they wear due to these same dwellers biases against them.

Research has shown that, people in different parts of the world use donkeys to carry their loads, however, is that really the case in Ghana?

"kayaye's" are mostly young girls who migrate from the northern parts of the country to the country's capital for greener pastures. These girls are mostly poor and have less or otherwise, no option but to carry the loads of traders and shoppers at a fee which can't buy a balanced meal for the day.

The 1992 Constitution of Ghana reveals a child as anyone below the age of eighteen (18). Per the revelation of Ghana's 1992 constitution, These girls are mostly children who carry heavy loads on their heads to earn money for their daily survival. They sleep at market places and are prone to being harassed sexually by rapists.

Sumaya, 12, a pupil 4, who migrated from a village in the northern region to Accra told the Ghana News Agency that, she fled with her elder sister due to the closure of schools in March as a result of the covid-19 pandemic for greener pastures in the country's capital city. She stated that she earns very little as a "kayaye" stressing that people who need her service pay as low as 1cedi for the bulk stuff she carries for them and for this reason, she cannot afford the urban living.

She sobbed while narrating her story, "I've lost my dad and my mom is unemployed. Life is hard for us in walewale but it's harder here in Accra" The money I make is what I use to eat. I often earn too little. It is insufficient to save. I want to be a nurse so that I canhelp people" she added.

According to Sumaya, She lives with her fellow "kayaye's" both young and old at mallam Atta market but comes to work in the Nima market on wednesdays since it's a market day. Sumaiya, added that she and her elder sister are the only children of her parents.

Rama is an 8 year old pupil in a basic school in walewale. She spoke with the GNA saying, she has been in the "kayaye" business in Makola, a market in Accra since the closure of schools in March 2020. Rama is the eldest child of her parents. According to her, her mother left her little brother with her grandmother so they could come gather some money for the family when school resumes. Rama didn't come to Accra alone, she came with her mother in search of greener pastures. Whereas most "kayaye's" sleep at market centers, the case is quite different with Rama and her mother. "We pay 5cedis daily for a room to sleep in at makola but we share with other "kayaye's " who can afford to pay this amount" she said.

The plea of these children is alarming. Basic necessities such as food, clothing and shelter is hard to own because they cannot afford looking at the pittance they earn from carrying shoppers loads.

These development matters need to be taken seriously by all Political Parties, Civil Society Organizations, NGO's, Development Partners, Bilateral and Multilateral Organizations and particularly Women Advocacy Groups.

These young girls are future leaders and must not be left to suffer cheap labour.

Rama, 8, who migrated from walewale to Accra to work as "kayaye" for her daily bread.

Source: By Mary Abena Otoo