Just a few days ago, Shola Adenekan, a member of this forum, narrated his own ugly experience dealing with the same extortionist border agents while traveling from Nigeria to Accra.
Below I reproduce my response to his Facebook update. When the above video was posted by African travel vlogger, Wode Maya, today Shola posted it on my timeline and reminded me of the conversation we had on the same issue from a few days ago.
One of my worst travel experiences ever. It was so bad that I've honestly not been able to summon enough emotional energy to write about it. You know when something is so disappointing that it traumatizes you into silence? The other reason for my silence is the fact that, the travel nightmares (note the plural) aside, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Benin and Togo. I initially planned to go all the way to Accra, but decided to stop in Lome, partly because I already had a trip scheduled by air from the States to Accra for later that summer. Brother to brother, one of the reasons I've not written about that horrendous experience is that I don't want to give ammo to detractors of Africa and African unity/integration--the usual suspects of Afropessimists and racists. There's no way I can write about that experience without inadvertently bolstering Afropessimism and the case for non-integration unless I don't want to be faithful to what I and my travel companions experienced on that journey. We need to do way better. As you say, the common passport means nothing on the ground. It makes a bit of a difference traveling by air, but not on land. And should I even mention the hellish experience of traveling on the road leading to the Seme border in Nigeria?
The situation will not change soon, I am afraid. It is the conversion of low-level power to toll collectors. You even bribe your boss to get that posting! Unfortunately, as the prices of air tickets have been increasing since December (I was in Ghana last November, and my wife was there in December), many more are now travelling by road.
One point of disagreement: as terrible as it may be, this does not rise to the level of not promoting integration. That road has made Nigeria the second/third trading partner of Ghana. The Mansa Musa/Mali routes to Oyo have been revived across that belt.
And there is the coastal waterway path in the South Atlantic, now being connected to the North Atlantic as far as the Gambia.
You and I have formal-level jobs, which shapes our reality—millions of traders have no other means of survival. Yams from Benue State must travel on that road for people to survive, with a huge regional market to distribute gbangba, the best yam in the region.
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