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I Drive a Taxi, But I’m Also

The surprising double lives of New York hacks.


Ghanaian Nobility
Isaac and Elizabeth Osei

You both became cabdrivers here. How does one become a chief and chieftess in Ghana?
ISAAC: My mom was in the royal family. I inherited the position from my big brother when he passed.

What exactly do you do when you’re in Ghana, Isaac?
ELIZABETH: Oh my God. If you called him Isaac in Ghana, you would be in jail.

What should I call him?
ISAAC: That’s the title for chief.

Elizabeth, do you call him Barima?
ELIZABETH: Oh, yes. There are people here who know who he is, so I have to be nice. [Laughs.] No, really, I love him, I respect him with all my heart. It’s just that here in New York, I’m the boss.

But Barima, you’re the boss in Ghana?
ISAAC: Yes. If people have problems, they come to the palace and make a complaint to me. I help them.
ELIZABETH: It’s too much work. We have no life.

People usually think of royalty as kicking back and living the good life.
ISAAC: No, no, no. We don’t relax because we are from a Third World country, and my people are poor.
ELIZABETH: Yes, I have over fifteen women’s groups that I run. I go from town to town to educate them.

Which is tougher, being royalty in Africa or taxi drivers here?
ISAAC: Both are very hard, but I’d say Ghana.
ELIZABETH: Yes, the work there is 24/7.

Ever wear your crowns in the taxi?
ELIZABETH: No way. You think anyone would hail us like that?

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