Six degrees of separation is a theory that any two people on the planet are connected by six steps or degrees or less. LinkedIn’s premise is based on this concept that you can gather information or find a job through the people you or your colleagues know.
Many people have commented that Ghana is a small place. As an obruni who knows a small number of Ghanaian returnees (those who studied or worked abroad and have returned to Ghana), I run into the same obruni and blacks at many of the restaurants that I frequent. Just now I realized that I’m separated from President John Mahama by a mere two degrees through three people! For instance, one of our customers is related to the president and of course this person knows his relation, the president. Hey, that means I am connected to Obama through three degrees because Mahama certainly knows Obama.
Having previously lived in New York City and attended a large public university, I’m accustomed to having my privacy. No one needs to know that I really enjoy Tobasco with everything. (Except you dear reader.) In Shanghai (population 14 million), some people will do errands in their pajamas because they know no one will recognize them.
I’m a recognizable person in Accra. Sometimes I will meet a stranger and he’ll say, “I’ve seen you before. Don’t you go to…?” Living in a “small town” can cramp your style. For instance, a friend of mine complains her dating life has been stalled because when other men discover who her ex-boyfriend was, they just want to stay clear of her.
A related problem is that people here like to gossip. Since the society is relatively small, people all seem to have an opinion on things that shouldn’t concern them. Recently, Victoria Hammah, Deputy Minister of Communication, resigned after she had been secretly taped by her driver. Recordings revealed that she was planning to rip off the State through her position. Not only were people scandalized that she would be so brazen as to say something like that, but they also were talking about how she won her position and who was trying to undermine her. People were talking about whether she should resign and whether she should be further penalized.
Personally, if someone says that they are going to rip off the US government, e.g. Rod Blagojevich, then I don’t think they should be in power. Fine. But I don’t really care about the backstory. He’s not someone I know personally.
Since Accra feels like such a small town, I find it imperative to be especially vigilant to protect your reputation.