Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The tragic tale of my talented tailor

I’m done! I’m totally done! You ask why?

Well, let me tell you why. My family has known this tailor for about 10 years now. He honed his skills in the early 90’s in Lome, Togo when it had an “economy” and its French-West African styl and strong currency was the envy of some Ghanaians. After Togo, he worked for famed Ghanaian designer MKOGH in Accra before setting up his own shop. Somewhere along the line he met my mom and he’s been our tailor ever since. His sewing is better than most.

The problem with our family tailor is that over the last 10 years he has proven himself over and over to be a first class “deceiver”. Tales of his deceptive ways run like Ananse stories in my family. There was the time when he promised to finish my dad clothes and bring them to the airport before his flight. Of course he never showed up. Then there’s the story of how he has kept my grandma’s sister’s materials for over 3 years and never finished clothes until she passed away (may her soul rest in peace). Then there are the several uncles and aunties who gave him material many years ago and haven’t seen the material or their shirts at all. One of my uncles has threatened to call the police to get his material back from this tailor. When you think about it, it’s borderline fraud. He takes peoples’ material with the promise of providing them a service and basically never provides the service or returns the material. That is fraud! It’s the moral equivalent of taking your car to the dealership for servicing and they don’t service it but they won’t give the car back to you – with promises of comeback tomorrow, don’t worry; I’ll finish it for you!

Given all this history I figured I could use economic incentives to get this tailor to sew my African outfit in the time agreed. First of all, I paid him fully for all his services when I gave him the material. Then we agreed that he’ll have my stuff ready in 4 days. Basically, it took 5 days (record time) and several threats of violence to get the tailor to bring my hurriedly (and haphazardly) completed outfits.

Now, here’s the moral of the story. Being a tailor in Ghana is such an integral part of Ghanaian culture, considering the several outdoorings, funerals, and parties we attended in new clothes. That a tailor with such talent is so careless with his job is a reflection of how a lot of people live and work in Ghana.

In a normal world, this tailor will send samples of new styles to me ahead of my arrival in Accra. In his distorted world even after paying him fully before he starts work he doesn’t complete his assignment in the time agreed.

Like many in Ghana, he is very talented in his field of work but he wants something for nothing. He doesn’t want to put the structures in place to build a successful organization that lives up to his potential. This is why I’m official done! I’m in the market for a new tailor.


  1. It seems your tailor is my Ugandan tailor too!

    So many people conduct their businesses like that. Growth and success are not quite part of the equation or maybe it is because they cannot envision anything bigger.

    Who knows?

  2. It's hard to understand. But I hate that our people are always waiting for "something". Something they believe wrongly is bigger than what they are gifted to do.

  3. And that something is usually to do with having the life of some crazy celebrity!