Scene: At Perfect Cut Barbering Saloon
First Client: Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, Minister of Local Government
Chief Barber: Yaw Obrefo-Abebrese, BA Hons, Sociology and Linguistics
Apprentice Barber: David Danso, Bsc, Oil and Gas Technology
Second Apprentice: Komla K. Akpabli, BA Hons, English and Spanish
ACT 1, SCENE 1
Chief Barber: How do you want me to cut this, Sir?
First Client: Just make it nice and clean. I donít want sharp edges though.
Chief Barber: Ok Chief. Sir, you look quite familiar. Looks like I have seen you somewhere before. Maybe on TV or somewhere I canít remember.
First Client: I am the Minister of Local Government. I am a simple man. You normally would expect me to call you to my house to do this, but I decided to come over myself, so you would know that we care about you.
Chief Barber: Sir, God will bless you. I have never seen a more humble man. We are most honoured to have you at Perfect Cut, Sir. We would do a good job. But Sir, next time, we would come home to do it for you.
First Client: Actually, I have an offer for you hardworking boys. We have lots of capacity development initiatives to assist you make a great career out of this. We know you are doing a great job and it is our duty as a caring and responsible government to encourage and inspire you.
Chief Barber: Capacity development? In what form Sir? We have lots of capacity here at Perfect Cut Saloon. We promise you we would give you a great finish. We have many important clients, just like you, who would testify about our work. Capacity is no problem at all.
First Client: You see, that is exactly what I have been talking about. I donít know what they teach you at school these days. You donít seem to understand capacity development. What is your level of education?
Chief Barber: Hmmm Sir. I know you will not believe it, because nobody believes me. Actually, I have a Bachelorís degree in Sociology and Linguistics from University of Ghana. I am doing this to make ends meet because there are no jobs anywhere in this country for some of us. My assistant here is also a university graduate. He finished just last monthÖand he finished very wellÖwith a second class upper. This is not our place.
First Client: Yes, you are exactly the people we are looking for. The government has financial incentives for graduates like you. You are not like the lazy ones who roam the streets of Accra with files in their armpits complaining of job scarcity in Ghana. You have taken the initiative to go into barbering. You are the real nation builders we are looking for. I will help you expand this business. Soon, you will be employing people.
Apprentice Barber: (He cuts in, almost impatiently) Sir, you mean to say that it is alright for university graduates trained in Sociology and oil and gas management to throw their knowledge away and build a career in barbering? Sir, I donít think you are being fair to us at all. We canít end with this. Not like this. We have brains for bigger challenges, better jobs.
First Client: Oh Africans! Africans, when will they learn? Instead of taking advantage of a good government sponsorship, you are here blaming the government. You are the same people who complain on radio that we are slow, and this and that. Go to the developed world and see. Havenít you heard of Herman Cain, the black man vying for the Republication nomination for the American presidency? He used to sell pizza. Common pizza. Today, he is contesting for president. You sit down and complain.
Apprentice Barber: But Sir, you cannot compare the two situations. You cannot compare the American Dream with our Ghanaian nightmares. There, the system helps you to grow and prosper. It is not like here at all.
First Client: Is that not exactly what we are trying to do for you? We are putting in place a system here in Ghana that would enable you to achieve your American Dream right here. You donít even need to travel to America to dream. We would make it work here, right here in Ghana. Act 1, Scene 2
Enter Second Apprentice: Good point, Sir. If you are sure we can achieve our American Dream here in Ghana through barbering and mobile phone repairs, why is your son studying in America? I also know that your daughter, who was my mate in secondary school, lives in London. Why are they not here to dream with us on ECGís constant supply of energy?
First Client: You think it is any better in that cold? You are better off here. I lived in the states for several years. There is nothing there. My son is schooling there because his mother is American. And I am not the one paying his fees; his mum is quite wealthy. The same applies to the girl.
Second Apprentice: Sir, so what exactly is the governmentís plan for the unemployed graduate? Is it the barbering and the mobile phone repairs I read about? That is no plan. Itís pain, actually. You canít build a future on that.
Chief Apprentice: In that case, what happens to my degree? That means I have wasted all those years for nothing. BA Hons for barbering? Jesus!
First Client: That is where you go wrong. Your own vice chancellors say university education is not a vocation. You must not necessarily practice what you studied. You have been trained to be practical and malleable. You can transfer your knowledge and skills to another area of employment. (Barber signals he is done). Okay, how much do I have to pay for this?
Chief Barber: Oh Sir. We canít charge you. Itís our contribution to the government. Donít ask what your country will do for you, do what you can.
First Client: Very well. This is my card. Come to my office tomorrow. I will work out something good for you. I will put you in charge of the pilot project. We need to identify hardworking people like you and assist them with what we can. My son, you think I donít know this will not go anywhere? But who am I to question anything. Letís sing to the tune.
Chief and Apprentice Barbers: Thank you so much Sir. We would be there tomorrow morning. You are very kind. God Bless you.
(Aside): Nonsense, in charge of a barbering project aimed at solving graduate employment. That is kidstuff. These people are jokers. And they call this democracy. Graduate barbers to build a developing economy?
Hai. Kwesi Tawiah-Benjamin lives in Ottawa, Canada, where he works in partner relations and outreach management in the NFP sector.
Source: [email protected]/ghanaweb
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