Kesewa peeped through the trap door again at the man lying on her bed, eyes closed in a cocktail of pain and exhaustion. After all these years and now Yaw Adjei is alive and 2 feet away from her touch. The ramblings of the thunder brought her back to the present as she made a mad dash for Aunty’s room. Her innate fear of thunder and lightning was as old as time and even in adulthood this fear plagued her.
“Our elders say a strong wind heralds a mighty event. l wonder what news they are bringing us this time.” Aunty murmured as the curtains flapped furiously. She looked absentmindedly at the TV. Her room had the air of comfort etched into its walls. The single chair positioned adjacent to the bed ensured whoever walked in and chose to sit down had to look right into her eyes. Perched on the edge of the bed, until a gust of wind startled her, Aunty walked gingerly to the window and closed it gently as the wind sprayed rain into the room.
This room, with its four rickety items- wardrobe, TV, bed and chair – was the unofficial seat of government in the household. Being summoned there could mean anything. It was always the meeting space for all feuds and celebrations alike. All announcements and decrees emanated from her here and in her usual style, long and winding-, but eventually the decree was passed. And if it was gossip, she repeated the now famous lines, “If the person who told me this was lying then l am also lying.”
“Kesewaa,” Aunty whispered, “How is your friend, when was the last you say you saw him again?” The gushing afternoon torrent made it almost impossible to hear. “About two years ago,” Kesewa retorted drearily, hoping that will deter Aunty from asking more questions she did not have the answers to.
Ama Akuamoah is a lover of words. She lives vicariously through the characters she reads and writes about. When she’s not hopscotching around continents, she’s people watching and sourcing personalities for her next story. Read more of her work on her website: www.amaakuamoah.com . She is on twitter and instagram as @amaakuamoah
We are back from a brief hiatus with more works from Gird Writing Camp 2017. This week, we present a poem from Mwamba Jagedo who was at the poetry workshop facilitated by Prof. Kofi Anyidoho and Nana Nyarko Boateng. And now:
Please Do Tell Them
By Mwamba Jagedo
Tell those who wished my downfall
that I have awoken from yesterday’s slumber
that their devilish thoughts
couldn’t consume my hunch flesh
I am still standing
Yes, tell them
Those who vilified me in long sleeps
And sold me cheaply in towns
When the day hasn’t dawned for a chicken crow
That they have done well
For out of Egypt, came Joseph
Though the path I walk on is shaky
And silently do I doubt greatness a bit
But I have found solace in the Lord
He whom I put my faith in
Ancient as Abraham
Warrior and fearless as the Zulu
He will be my comforter
And lead me through these destructive trials
They may be populous
my foes may be countess as sand
like an army wanting to claw my bones
and smear shame on my blackness
but do tell them
that their backbiting won’t keep me from fighting
Do tell them
their backlash won’t stop me from forging forward
They are not my God
and they simply cannot wipe me off.
Please do tell them.
About Mwamba Jagedo:
James Robert Myers writes under the penname Mwamba Jagedo which means “Builder’s Rock” in Swahili and Luo languages respectively. He is an Amazon author of two global anthologies, trained software engineer and founder of MwambaJagedo.com; which is a Tech StartUp. He believes in his nation that has failed to appreciate talents like him.
We bring you more featured work from participants of Gird Writing Camp 2016. Today, we have a short story from Nana Akosua Hanson. This work of fiction was written at the Fiction Workshop with Prof. Ama Ata Aidoo and Dr. Martin Egblewogbe.
We bathed in the sun, near the glistening pool. It was a sunny, dusty afternoon in Mole National Park spent with the baboons, hogs and the over-promised elephants, which were the main attraction.
A bottle of chilled Star beer was at my elbow, winking at the sun from time to time and shedding tears unto the red and white chequered tablecloth. The Love of my Life lay with his head on my laps, lazily daydreaming, his eyes half closed in a dream behind his sunglasses. We were the only Ghanaians, and black people for that matter. There was a medley of British, Swiss, Dutch, and French skins, the harmonious cacophony of their different tongues hinted at a Tower of Babel. As I watched three French girls and a guy jump into the pool, chattering away in accents my Togolese French teacher in high school could only dream to have, I felt like I was in a page of a very old French storybook about the wealthy French aristocracy and their summer revels.
I took a sip of my refreshingly chilled beer, rolling it around on my tongue for a bit to squeeze out all its sweet juices before swallowing, and wondered at my boredom.
We had paid an arm and a leg, and then some to experience ‘a historical animal reserve like never before’ just to find that it was only a club for the holiday-ing expats who wished to discover ‘Africa’. I wondered at my place. I wondered at my role in this discovery of ‘Africa’. Was I also an interesting, ‘exotic’ specie to be observed and scrutinized? Was my holidaying African self which was currently covered in dust and the kisses of recent lovemaking another interesting sideshow? From the poor naked African children, to the holidaying, dusty African. I heard somewhere that tours were running in a nearby village, ‘to give you a taste of how the locals live’. What role would I be playing, my Ghanaian self walking through a Ghanaian village square with a camera, taking a tour into people’s lives for an exorbitant price of $80? Am I the monkey in the cage observing being observed? Or am I the pet monkey out of the cage observing my observed caged brothers and sisters.
‘To give you a taste of how the locals live’.
A group of beautiful half-naked girls danced into the village square, as is routine with the visitation of so many white faces and strange tongues that spoke big pockets, and treated us with a vigorous shaking of arms and feet and waists and quite a lot of yodelling. For $80 dollars per person it had to be the perfect pitch and nothing less. The money was given to the development of the village that saw no development because, it had to remain a village to make more money out of these tourists. One of those dusty crooks, an inhabitant too, with crooked teeth, eager to sell his sister for the quick buck, grinned at me and said, ‘We can show you more things, madam, so many, many more things. The villagers life happy.’
What was my role in this stream of consciousness a mystery writer writes lazily in the sky? What was the spectacle? WasI the spectacle? Were they the spectacle? Two dark Ghanaians mottled the cream white background of ‘Africa discoverers’. Was I the dusty tourist looking to find a much more intriguing story than myself? Or was I the monkey who mistook herself for a tourist and then toured with tourists too benevolent to tell me my truth to my face? Or was I the monkey who was the sideshow and knew she was the sideshow?
I gulped down the contents of my glass and poured a refill. Droplets of water dripped onto the Love of my Life’s eyebrows but he made no move. He was asleep now. Lucky him.
A big baboon skulked by, his shiny red buttocks hanging in the air with a foolhardy pride. Did baboons feel the silliest of all the primates having their innards hung out for all to see? I think not. They had this conviction with their buttocks, as though telling you ‘that’s the way it should be. Hang that ass for all to see. How silly you are to hide it in clothes’. And silly I did feel sometimes. Maybe I should title my next blog piece ‘Baboon Blues’ and I would question what gave me the conviction that I was a higher class of animal than the baboon.
I watched the baboon intently as it walked towards a group of baboons on the outskirts of the pool area, who in turn watched us intently – the human baboons with their buttocks in swimming trunks. And I wondered again, what the true spectacle was, who the true spectacle was. The humans or the baboon? The Ghanaians or the holidaying expats? The villagers or the tourists?
By the way, where were those damned elephants they promised?
AKOSUA’S BIO: Nana Akosua Hanson is a writer, an actress and an activist who believes in the power of art and artistic expression in changing the world.
Today we’re featuring work from the Gird Writing Camp 2016. This Creative Non-fiction piece was written by Portia Opare, who attended the Creative Non-fiction workshop with Prof. Esi Sutherland-Addy and Mr. Kobby Graham.
On Thursday some women of the University of Ghana reported getting harassed by residents of the Commonwealth Hall. The Commonwealth Hall held its homecoming ceremony at the forecourt of the hall. The ceremony was massively attended by the old boys of the Hall, most of who were now politicians, business men and respectable professionals. During the ceremony, the passage through the forecourt of the Hall was blocked to women. Current members of the Hall stood at vantage points and directed women through an alternative entrance. Some women who entered through the blocked forecourt, which lacked a sign to show that there was a blockade, were heckled by some students of the Hall.
CREATIVE NON-FICTION PIECE
The Akan name for vagina is a hard thing to say. If I could say it out loud, I’d do it. That’s what the boys called me.
Boys younger than me; boys who could have been my brothers.
That’s the name they screamed at me when the tips of my feet touched the paved forecourt of the Commonwealth Hall. I had been reduced to a body part; all of me- my ambitions, my fears, my dreams, my hopes; my mind. I was a body part; a part unworthy of honour from the way they spat out the name. And my crime? I had trampled on their manly shrine, entered their holy ground with all of my femininity.
Normally, I’d pause and question; I’d be curious enough to want to question what gave them the authority to block off a piece of this communal earth with the virtual barricade of jeers and vulgarity. But that Thursday evening I had little energy left in me to be incensed. I wasn’t intimidated by them or their cat-calls. I blamed our society for their actions. Why blame those boys? They were only victims of a system that insisted on drawing sharp divisions between superior and inferior, between man and woman. I was especially not surprised that the dignified alumnus looked on as filthy name after filthy name was thrown at me. They were big men, these politicians, lawyers, educators; yet they needed the balm of my shame to stroke their manhood.
So I ignored them, and kept on walking. Call me names, reduces me to whatever suits you. I will just keep on walking, and keep on moving.
About: Portia Dede Opare is a part time student and a full time thinker of all things sane and insane. Sometimes she puts some of her thoughts on paper. When she writes, she makes sense of the world.
He announced with a gleaming trace of self-accomplishment in his eyes. It was in the way he said it. It was in the way he always said it. As though announcing a new personality. The one that always surfaced after 3 successful drags.
It was the way he knew that he knew. The way he was suddenly aware of the full extent his knowledge and his encompassing understanding of all things. He was aware that his god-like features were heightened. That he could understand all, know all and be all.
Even the pride in him was known. He could see its colors and he basked in it. It was the high pride. High pride was justified. He knew he was entitled to his self-worship; as long as he was on an elevated platform other humans, devoid of THC, couldn’t attain.
‘I am high’.
That statement would introduce new conversations and different worldviews mostly centered around his opinions. He would talk for minutes about himself, what he thought was wrong with the world, his solutions for mankind, what he really thought of his companions, et cetera. The list was endless. He was endless. He was an exploded version of his thorough self.
It would also boost his already voracious appetite for tasties and sex. And he had to have them in the moment. Delayed gratification would be senseless. Nature’s gift to mankind required him to indulge in what would only last for a few hours and they were infinite; too many things in the world to do before that time passed. His hormones and neurotransmitters were calling the shots on pleasure and satisfaction. And he had no reason to disobey.
The fact that he needed help from foliage to get to this state never crossed his mind. Nor did he explore that section of his thoughts. All his elevated knowledge was dependent on an overlooked classification of plant so cheap they could be bought for less than the price of his socks. That was what was so great about it anyway: the ability to buy pleasure for less. It always made him question why induced euphoria had to be illegal.
‘I am high’
A confirmation of his absolute dependence on himself to rule over the circumstances of his life. He was definite he was in charge. No external or internal forces could upset his balance. In this state of chemical intoxication, the only law of the universe was himself. No need to follow all the many rules of men who in themselves were just as flawed as he was, but were denying their weaknesses just so they could save the clay moulds they wore over their heads.
At least he was being real. Admitting that he was a broken shell of everything he had been told he could accomplish. The same society pretending to be perfect was making hard this easier path. So hard in fact, he needed to escape from them. And he needed help escaping without feeling any shame. Because beyond that shame was a state reached by a minority only he could relate with.
His only challenge now was keeping that state without needing to need. The more he needed to need, the less successful he was at staying uninhibited. A High he would know. He had tried too many ways to let the effects last. What if he was finally able to make that state last? What if he stayed in that state for so long he never to come back to earth to relate with the mortals? That was too risky. That was what those people called lunacy. And he wasn’t ready to be called a lunatic yet.
‘I am high’
He said it every time to confirm one of the few states he was sure of. There was no longer a need to know who he was in that state. What he was, who he was, was high and that was all that mattered. There was too much pressure from himself to be more significant than he already was. To be a better boyfriend, friend, co-worker, church member, son, brother, law-abiding citizen, intellectual, creative, life of the party, the list seemed to be endless and he always felt like he could never be enough.
At least when he was high, he was on top of the world. Above every description he had to check off the list to be a human being.
Ammishaddai Ofori is a tech entrepreneur,writer and spoken word artist. He is currently co-founder and content Manager of Flippy Campus, a social media app for Ghanaian tertiary schools. He is part of the Singers and Speakers Association SASA– a creative group that seeks to inspire the world through art, poetry and music. Ammishaddai’s Twitter handle is @Qubammish@Qubammish.
The first thing anyone noticed whenever he entered through that solid oak door was the scar that ran from right below the corner of his left eye, down across his cheek, ending right underneath that side of his jaw. It was like a tiny gutter specially made for his tears. But I heard he never cried. I’d stand transfixed among the tables I waited, looking at him settle down on his seat with his caramel classical guitar. Then he’d lift his eyes, and everyone forgot the scar. Those eyes…dark, deep, warm, carried smiles that told you he had to learn to carry on in spite of what life had dished out for him.
I had watched him for months…2 and a day, precisely; ever since he got that gig at the restaurant I worked at. Every weekday he was there. He’d settle, tune the stringed beauty, look up, pass his sharp gaze over everyone, and smile; a dimple interrupting the seamless scar – shockingly enrapturing. Then he’d strum, then hum, strum, then sing…and all night as he played one soothing piece after another, singing sometimes, or not, I’d be sailing round the tables, half there, partly elsewhere.
Everything about him seeped into me, leaving me drugged – dazed all the weeks he had been coming over. He’d finish and step into the kitchen, offer to help us clean but ended up playing us a few of his own songs; those he deemed not good enough for those bourgie diners he played for almost every night. He made us laugh – I laughed the hardest sometimes…other times the pain shot without warning through me, reminding me…and I’d wince, turn away to the dishes, and immerse myself in the suds.
The other guys were curious too. The girls especially. They’d ask him questions he answered freely, and piece after piece fell in place, adding to the pieces I had already gathered. His hands poised on the strings and how he worked them with fingers that had known the hard life; gently…reminded me of similar hands that handled a girl as tenderly as he did his classical guitar. His eyes, flitting open, then shut, then open; his lips, very much like mine, balancing teasing smiles all throughout his performances…he’d lift his head high, and work the strings with speed and ease sometimes, the crowd erupted in generous applause, and my heart bled with memories of such excellence carrying me, filling my head, merging with my child heart once upon a time.
His answers sent me back to 16, sent me back to crazy, sent me back to illicit engagements and gripping fear. Back to dark rooms and hushed voices; frenzied limbs and too little time. Back to oohs and aahs, and ‘oh please don’t leave me now, wait, wait till dawn’. To wet, sticky tissue paper left behind and sweet tingling in young thighs…
To disappearances, and guilty tears…
A bulging tummy and numerous lies…
A tiny bundle of golden brown and soft cries…
A child leaving a scar on a child because it was all she could think of to do…
A sorry basket and a long walk up that road, to that door….
A heart-wrenching delivery….
A back turned and feet running as fast as they could.
Back….back to all that pain and as I stared that night I knew it was time. He started the very tune that had captured me 23 too damn long years ago;
Me – – –
Ray – – –
Doe – – –
Tea – – –
La – – –
Sew – – –
La – – –
Tea – – –
And as I felt myself break down right there in the middle of the softly-lit restaurant, I weighed the words in my mouth;
She could hear voices. There were too many people in the house. Her grandmother poked her head through the door and smiled. She walked in, picked up a brush and sat by the bed. “Theodosia, you need to get up. We leave in less than two hours and we can’t afford to be late.” With her eyes closed, Thea sat up as her grandmother brushed her long hair. It was naturally made of three glorious colors. The roots were a dense color of black coal, the middle had a russet color and finished off with sunset tips. Thea’s hair was so beautiful; her immediate family would spend hours brushing it in turns.
Today, she cared less about her hair, or what her grandmother would turn it into. She impatiently waited for it to be braided and walked to the bathroom. Her chest was clogged but she dared not cry; at least not today. She shut the door and started to bathe. The water brought tears to her eyes and she quickly turned off the shower, grabbed her purple towel and walked into the room naked. Her grandmother was waiting. Thea was eighteen years and yet, she warmly let go as her grandmother took the towel to wipe her body. They both sat facing each other as Thea raised her feet up to be wiped. Her grandmother started with her little toe and stopped to say, “You know how much your father…” Thea quickly stood up and cut her off. “Grams, please! I’ll take it up from here. You should go!” The old woman slowly made her way to the door and left.
Within seconds, Thea had locked the door and put on her underwear. Tears filled her eyes as she managed to take her dress off the hanger. She had always wanted a little black dress but certainly not for this purpose. She slowly made her way into the dress. For the first time, she felt so girly and yet, everything felt terribly wrong. She started to cry as she looked into the full length mirror. She thought about him and how he would have impulsively complained about the dress being too tight. Her clothes were just the right fit and yet, the opposite was what he always said. She smiled as she imagined him walking around her, looking for a hemline that could be released. She could feel her chest clogging and she struggled to focus on the dress. It was her mother’s Vera Wang. Sleeveless and form-fitting, it ended just above her knees. The top half was made entirely of black lace that went down diagonally from her left shoulder to just above her right breast. The skirt was beautifully plaited with a belt that drastically reduced the girth of her waist.
Thea quickly crossed over to her dresser, as she heard her grandmother call for her to get ready. She brought out her make-up set, held her hair into a perfect bun and started on her tear-stained face. She moisturized her face with a foundation primer to plump up her skin and filled in the fine lines and large pores. She added a sweep of bronzer before adding a bit of powder to prevent her skin from appearing too shinny.
Theodosia never forgot the importance of her eyebrows in making her face pop. She brushed her brows with an old toothbrush and tweezed the strayed hairs. Thea went on to fill in sparse spots with a brow pencil and a soft eyeshadow that matched her brow color. Moving onto her eyes, she thought of mascara with a swipe of powder on her lids to keep the grease at bay and to even out her skin tone. Instead, she applied eyeliner, setting it over the shadow for a heavier look. She set the make-up powder to keep the shadow from melting into her eye crease. She finished up her eyes by curling her long lashes and applying thick black mascara.
He would have gone crazy! They would have argued until she had wiped off the make-up from most parts of her face. He had never really understood the concept of wearing make-up. She could literally hear him going on and on about how make-up was meant for people who were troubled or had something to hide and frankly, she was beyond troubled and had so much bottled up. She picked up her mahogany red lipstick and smeared three and two coats to her lower and upper lips.
Thea applied enough perfume, released her hair, stepped into her surprisingly comfortable black pumps and walked out of the door. Everyone was waiting downstairs. Everyone but him! Her brother held out his hand as she walked up to him. He kissed her cheeks and whispered, “He would have said you looked stunning. You were always his perfect little baby.” She sent everyone laughing as she chuckled and replied, “No Jeremy, he would have said the makeup was way too much and sent me right back to clean up.”
Her mother signalled for them to get going. It had been two weeks and she had already lost so much weight. In the days that followed after the news came, she had begged her mother to eat. She would begin with a small bite and burst out in tears. Thea had given up and was grateful when her grandmother moved in.
The church was a few minutes away and the moment Thea had been dreading came faster than she had hoped. There were family and friends already seated as she entered the church with her mother, brother, sisters and grandmother. They were almost at the front when her brother caught her mother in his arms. Her mother, seeing his body stretched out in an open coffin, lost the strength in her knees.
Thea stood there as her family passed to their seats. She gathered the courage to look at him. Her father, her entire world was stretched out in that coffin, right in front of her. He never drank, he smoked nothing his entire life and yet, he had battled with lung cancer. The doctors had said he had two and a half years but in six months, her father was no more.
She wanted him to get up and wipe her make-up off. She wanted him to get up and laugh so hard at her silly mannerisms. She wanted him to get up and be alive, and be the father he had always been. She felt her brother’s touch and followed him to her seat. Father Jacob approached the pulpit and started the service. There were tears from everyone but her. That was the whole point of making up. She couldn’t break down, not yet and definitely not here!
They sang for several minutes because that was all he had loved to do. He would sing to them when they were happy, excited, sad or troubled. He had bought her a musical set for her tenth birthday and they had become best friends ever since. She would stay up late waiting for him to walk through the door just so they could sing half the night away. She had loved him all her life. She loved him even more as she sang her heart out.
The Bible passages preceded the tributes and soon, it was her turn to read her tribute. As she walked past the box containing her father to the pulpit, it finally hit her that he was gone. Tears threatened to flow as she held the pulpit for support with one hand and struggled to open the piece of paper with the other hand. This was it! He was gone! They would have to get through! It was exactly what he would have wanted.
Slowly, Theodosia aligned the sheet and started, “Daddy Dearest…”
Shefi Nelson, an alumna of Ashesi University College, is a calm, goal-oriented individual who cognizes the power of words and their ability to shape people’s perceptions and outlooks on the world they find themselves in. Shefi made her literary debut in 2015 with the story “Tatale” – published on Flash Fiction Ghana website. Shefi seeks to make a special contribution to the world by breathing life into the simplest string of words to create a connection, and have a lasting impact on her readers. Her hobbies include reading, sewing, writing and managing people.
I am slow at swallowing any news whole. It gets even more complex when I face bad news; I think “oh my god no!” and then I think, “maybe there was a mistake, It can’t be, how can it be?” I stay in denial for as long as I can. And then, there is always a day that knows how to slap better than the rest of the days. I am waiting for that day, and maybe I will accept wholly that Prof. Awoonor is dead, gone, and his flesh means nothing at all anymore.
And if we tried to, we can only hear his laughter from our memory, see his smile in photographs, visit him in books held close to our chests. His flesh means nothing at all anymore.
“You ambushed me!” he saidpointing at me.
I smiled and he smiled back, seemingly impressed by my mischief. That wasn’t the day I begun to like Prof, I liked him a long long time before then. When he told me, ‘I ambushed him’ he was not some distant poet, whose piece I had to study to pass my finals in secondary school anymore, he was my teacher.
Prof sat in the middle of the front space in the creative writing class at the University of Ghana and asked us questions, told us stories, tickled our imaginations and laughed at and with us.
The day he said “I ambushed him” was really two days after the day “I had ambushed him.” He had given us an assignment; it was to be submitted at anytime before 2pm, two days before class. I was late, an hour long late.
“Please,” I said.
“No, I already sent away others who were earlier than you.”
“I’m sorry Prof.”
All this while, I had one foot in his office and the other outside the door.
“Come in or go out,” he said, “I will not take your work.”
I went out with my very first attempt at short story writing. I would find out later on, that it was a really horribly written short story but then, all I knew was that I had written a story and I wanted my teacher to read it.
I bought a brown envelope and put my script in it. Then with my black pen I wrote at the back on the envelope, boldly and largely: “Prof. Kofi Awoonor, English Department, University of Ghana, Legon.” I left the envelope in his pigeon hole at the department’s main office.
“You ambushed me!”
I thought he would throw me out of his class. I had disobeyed him and ‘ambushed’ him and yet, I had the nerve to only smile at him without words. And he just smiled back at me and went on with his class.
He told us that the problem with my generation is that we don’t know the names of things; we don’t bother to learn them. Every tree is just a tree to us and when we write we can’t be specific enough, detailed enough, because, we never bothered to notice the details.
Prof Awoonor was a warm and honest teacher; he threw a party for his students at the end of every semester, he did! He always brought one giant bottle of red wine. He knew how to laugh and make others laugh. From his students he demanded imagination, freshness and fearlessness.
You ambushed me Prof! I imagined, you would be there, when I finally gather courage to publish a book with my name on it. I wanted to see your smile again.
You ambushed me Prof!
Smile at me and let me smile back, where ever you may be.