Postcards from Ghana

Watchmen and the London tribe 21/09/97

I employee a few staff. Well, three actually. A cook, who is bloody good. A gardener who treats my garden as an extension of his farm and a night-watchman. My night-watchman is from the north of the country. And people from Northern tribes have the reputation of being good watchman. The local Ashanti's are apparently not good watchmen, they always fall asleep. Which is what happened when my last flat was burgled. The night watchman was an Ashanti and he slept through the whole affair.

It is striking how much is placed on where you are from and what your tribe is. For a middle classed Englander, the thought of belonging to anything beyond the nuclear family is unknown.

When I met some fellow from South London and invited him back for a beer, my maid at the time demanded to know who this man was. She was horrified that I had just met a stranger on the street and here he was in my house. I told her he was from London and seemed all right, but she became cross and demanded to know what tribe in London he was from. She couldn't understand that in Britain people don't belong to tribes.