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Faculty Sponsor

Isidore Lobnibe

Abstract

This paper explores the experiences of female porters known as Kayayei in Agbogboloshie, Ghana. The Kayayei (singl. kayayoo) is a Ga term that describes these young women who carry goods and wares for a fee. A majority of them have migrated from the northern and rural parts of Ghana to earn a sure income in the southern cities. First, the topic is introduced with a case study based on a personal interview with a kayayoo. Next, the characteristics of the slum, Agbogbloshie, are explored. The cultural and socio-economic difficulties facing these women are discussed. This essay posits that the cultural and socio-economic challenges that a kayayoo faces seem to be largely based on cultural traditions and socio-economic factors that constitute the burden of the kayayei. The paper concludes with some suggestions of how the kayayei can break the bonds of the informal sector.

Ahlvin_Figure_1.JPG (2775 kB)
Figure 1: Korle Lagoon, at one time, was a pristine resource for the Ga of Greater Accra. It has since become defiled with refuse and e-waste. Notice the smoke from nearby electronic scrap fires drifting over the settlement. Photo taken by Stanley Thompson, March 22, 2011.

Ahlvin_Figure_2.JPG (2415 kB)
Figure 2: Agbogbloshie. Note the hazardous electrical wiring above the dense housing and narrow streets. Electrical fires are a frequent hazard in this community; due to the overcrowded structures, the fires spread quickly. The unplanned streets make it difficult for emergency services to access the inner parts of the slum. Photo taken by Stanley Thompson, March 22, 2011.

Ahlvin_Figure_3.JPG (3471 kB)
Figure 3: A local artist’s rendition of a kayayoo. She carries loads on her head for shoppers and traders in and around commercial centers for a petty fee. If the kayayoo is a mother, she will carry her child on her back as she goes about her daily tasks.

Ahlvin_Map_1.JPG (68 kB)
Map 1: Agbogbloshie is located in the heart of Accra, to the northwest of the Central Business District (Google Maps, 2011).

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