Jennifer Hart’s Ghana on the Go:, African Mobility in the Age of Motor Transport explores the culture of mobility that developed in response to motorized vehicles in Ghana, as well as the political, economic, and social outcomes of mass transit in the country. By doing so, Hart draws attention to an often overlooked topic within African history, while also discussing the ways in which Ghanaians were able to circumvent institutions of oppression through careers in transportation service.
Although the book is extremely thoughtful, and thought provoking, it left a lot of subjects merely hinted at, but never discussed. Having the luxury to discuss some of these topics with Dr. Hart, I discovered that most of the items I felt were missing, were a reaction to her position as a Western female researcher. The book hints at the dangers of working in the transit service, but never delves deeper, which was a result of informants simply choosing not to disclose those details to woman. On the other hand, it begs the question what information was likely gained in Dr. Hart’s research that might not have been afforded to a man?
Another subject that didn’t seemed to be discussed, but must play into deeper cultural variables at play, is the absence of road names in many post colonial countries. On Montserrat, where the roads apparently do sometimes have names, but being there for a month I hadn’t learned a single one, people only refer to “the main road”, and specific landmarks that everyone knows. Ina system of navigation so reliant on cultural symbols, it would be interesting to investigate whether or not these locations have varying identities cross generationally, or if they vary in names based on cultural or regional affiliations.
All in all, Ghana on the Go was my favorite of the books assigned (and no, this is not me being a kiss ass). My second would have been Becoming Nigerian at Sea, which could have been my favorite, had it not been for its awkward reaganesque ending.