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Ghanaian Workers Challenge

Rosemary Mroba Gaisie/ Radio Ghana/ Twenty Ten

Location: Johannesburg, South Africa

AUDIO: The challenges for Ghanaians living in South Africa.

Associated features on Ghana: Daily living to a fan (Photo feature), Soccerscapes (Photo feature), Ghana's Black Queens (Photo feature), Second hand goods (Photo feature), Ghana's future stars (Photo feature), A female football fan (Photo feature) and Sports commentators (Photo feature)

In order to stay and work in a foreign country, visitors need a permit. Foreign nationals in South Africa, for instance, are expected to meet certain requirements of the government. Tens of thousands of foreign African nationals including Ghanaians can be found in Johannesburg, the largest and wealthiest city in South Africa. Radio Ghana’s Rosemary Gaisie was in Johannesburg to find out the legal status and challenges of Ghanaian workers there.

FX: JOBURG STREET:

Johannesburg prides itself as the commercial city of South Africa. It is the fulcrum of Gauteng, the province that has the largest economy of any metropolitan region in Sub-Saharan Africa. The city is host to thousands of Ghanaian immigrants – both legal and illegal. They live mostly in the run-down communities of Hillbrow, Troyeville, Yeoville and Berea. Apart from a few professional workers, like teachers, most Ghanaians here are into small scale businesses.

Tuesday Kwabena Awuah, is a 48-year-old professional Ghanaian teacher, now a business man in Troyeville. The smallish looking dark man deals in handicraft, hardware, electrical, stationery and cosmetics from his large premises, where he employs several workers. Awuah is in his tenth year in South Africa, and he tells me business is OK, but not without financial and other challenges.

CLIP: AWUAH WORK CHALLENGE:

Awuah sounds very determined to make it, in the face of these challenges. But does he have the permission to stay and work legally in South Africa? I tried to find out.

CLIP: PERMIT THROUGH EDUCATION:

Another economic immigrant is the tall and flamboyant Frederick Aboagye who runs a transport business. He tells me business in South Africa is far better than in his home country, Ghana.

CLIP: FREDERICK ON BUSINESS:

Throughout his 14-year stay in South Africa, Aboagye says he has never encountered any problem in acquiring a work permit. He, however, admits it takes quite some time; one only needs to be patient and law abiding.

CLIP: ABOAGYE ADVICE:

A different story is told of 38-year-old Ghanaian Gordon Parker, a mechanic who is now in the football business. Parker manages Abaka football club, based in Midrand in the North of Johannesburg. The stout gentleman tells me he chose to marry a native in order to be granted residence and work permits.

CLIP: PARKER EXPERIENCE:

You heard the stories of some Ghanaian business men here in Johannesburg. How about the professional worker? Anthony Nyamekye practices his teaching profession in Yeoville. Though he has a South African wife and children, Nyamekye says, it has not been easy securing a residence permit. He shares his experience.

CLIP: NYAMEKYE EXPERIENCE:

In the face of the many challenges as reported by some Ghanaian workers in South Africa, how has the Ghanaian community related to the Ghana mission here in South Africa? This is the question I posed to Anthony Nyamekye, the teacher, who is one of the community leaders.

CLIP: RELATION WITH GHANA MISSION:

The seemingly weak relationship between the Ghanaian community and the Ghana mission in South Africa, has not, however, deterred these Ghanaian workers from helping each other. Nyamekye confirms this.

CLIP: HELP FELLOW GHANAIANS:

The decision to live and work in a foreign country comes with both opportunities and challenges. This, however, depends on the will power of the individual. Where there is a will, there is always a way. Rosemary Gaisie, reporting from Johannesburg South Africa, for Twenty Ten.


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