Fiction: Lingerings by Ama Akuamoah

 

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Ama Akuamoah

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.

Author’s Bio

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

 

WORKS FROM GIRD WRITING CAMP 2016: “PLEASE DO TELL THEM” BY MWAMBA JAGEDO

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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.

James.jpgAbout 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.

Works From Gird Writing Camp 2016: “Secret Ceremonials” By Maame Adwoa Amoa Marfo

 

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This week’s featured piece from Gird Writing Camp 2016 is a short story by Maame Adwoa Amoa Marfo. Maame attended the Fiction Workshop with Prof. Ama Ata Aidoo and Dr. Martin Egblewogbe. And now, to Maame’s Secret Ceremonials.

 

Secret Ceremonials

By Maame Adwoa Amoa Marfo

Seffy, we did cartwheels in your honour.

We sat for a long, silent moment after the solemn service was over with our fingers intertwined, a chain of misty-eyed, sixteen-year-old girls, unable to look away from the pile of fresh dirt. We couldn’t leave you just yet. We couldn’t move. So we sat there in those ridiculously uncomfortable plastic chairs and tried to find some trace of you somewhere, some sign that you were somewhere better, somewhere other than 6 feet deep in the earth.
___ Linda stood up first. She slipped her feet out of her shoes, raised her hands to the dying sun and turned her first perfect circle. We didn’t need any more prompting than that. One by one, we left a cluster of discarded high heels underneath the lone canopy and followed suit. We turned and turned and turned, repeating the dizzying circles until the entire cemetery was covered by darkness and we could barely tell the difference between the sky above and the ground below.
___ We collapsed in an inelegant heap next to a crumbling headstone rows away from where we’d started and waited for the world around us to settle. We laughed then, and in the near-hysterical sound of it I heard the endless patter of our six-year-old feet against the ground of the hopscotch court, the shushed tones of our ten-year-old voices over phone lines during group conversations long past our bedtimes and the thick sounds we made as we tried to speak around the lumps in our throats moments ago, reading out our wholly inadequate words to a mourning crowd, trying to show them all that you were – all that you would always be – to us. We swore we could all hear you in the whistling of the wind and something about the hollowness of that sound dissolved our laughter into tears.
___ We’re a little bit older now, all of us somewhere around 22, and even though it feels like almost everything has changed. One thing hasn’t. Our form isn’t quite as perfect and we don’t do it for quite as long as we used to but we’ve never stopped. Every year ends in cartwheels and laughter and your spirit calling to us on the wind.

 

About Maame Adwoa Amoa Marfo:

maampictureCurrently a teaching assistant at the English Department of the University of Ghana, Maame Adwoa Amoa Marfo was born in London and raised in Accra. She is the last of seven children and a member of a remarkably large extended family. Her childhood was characterized by a love of the written word and a need to consume as much reading material as possible. Her work is informed by her lived experiences and the literary pieces that she herself has read and loved. She hopes to continue in her growth and development as a writer and an appreciator of literature.

10 Redundant Words to Avoid In Business Writing

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In business writing being concise is incredibly important. So, once you are done with your first draft, take another look and eliminate needless repetitions and redundancies. Check whether the expressions you’ve used add any value to your message. If you feel that you can take something out and your message will retain its meaning then do so. Most often redundant expressions only make writing longer, not better. Here are some of the common redundancies in business writing.

1. Group together. A thing that is grouped implies that it is together. So instead of saying, “let us group last year’s reports together” say, “let us group last year’s reports.”

2. Past experience. If it is an experience, it has already happened. Therefore, it is in the past. So, “In my past experience with the client, he has always been punctual” should be “In my experience with the client he has always been punctual.”

3. Future plans. If it is a plan, then it is yet to occur, therefore it is expected to happen in the future.

4. Repeat again. When you repeat something, you are doing or saying it again.

5. Sum total. The sum is the total. The total is the sum, get it? You only need one.

6. Might possibly. Might indicates possibility. So, instead of saying, “It might possibly rain,” say “It might rain” or “it possibly will rain.”

7. End results. Again, the end is the results, the results is the end. You only need one.

8. Postpone until later. To postpone something means to defer it for a later time. If you can be specific say for example, the meeting is postponed until Monday. If you can’t be specific simply say the meeting has been postponed.

9. Advance warning. To warn someone is to tell them something before it occurs. It cannot be a warning if it is not given in advance; therefore the word advance is redundant.

10. Unintentional mistake. For a thing to count as a mistake, it has to be unintentional. Unintentional, is therefore unnecessary.

12 Simpler and Effective Words to Use in Business Writing

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Creating a professional business image has nothing to do with big words. Many people get caught up in high-level vocabulary in an attempt to impress the reader in their business communication. Unfortunately, this shows that you don’t care much about your reader’s time and effort. At all times, if there is a simpler word, use that instead. Here is a list of simpler alternatives to some commonly used words in business writing:

Commonly used words:    Much simpler alternatives:  
1.     Optimum 1.     Best
2.     Formulate 2.     Make/Develop
3.     Adequate (number) 3.     Enough
4.     Fundamental 4.     Basic
5.     Terminate 5.     End
6.     Endeavour 6.     Try
7.     Disseminate 7.     Send Out/Distribute
8.     Customary 8.     Usual
9.     Implement 9.     Do/Carry Out
10.   Expedite 10.   Speed Up
11.    Obtain 11.    Get
12.   Ascertain 12.   Find Out/Check

Always remember this, good business communication, among other things, is concise and easy to understand.

 

Healing Through the Funeral Feast

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“Wherever pain abides, there’s the nobleness of the human soul” – Maya Angelou

Some people find the idea of funeral feasts completely odd. In pre-colonial days, most British anthropologists could not wrap their minds around the pomp and pageantry that accompanied African funerals. Cruickshank, one of the earliest observers of Akan funerals, noticed that it was “a point of honour to make a great show at their funeral customs, and they vie with each other in performing these expensive burials. Even the poorest will pawn and enslave themselves to obtain the means of burying a relation decently, according to the ideas of  the country.” The thought of those ‘natives’ throwing money away on some dead chap must have really gotten the collective blood pressures of  the European sky-rocketing.

In contemporary Ghana, funerals are still accompanied with pomp. There is feasting, dancing, and even road blocking, depending on which part of Ghana you are coming from.  There are people who do not see the need in eating at funerals; for them, there is no need at all for the bereaved family to serve food to funeral guests.  They believe that the feasting that accompanies funerals is misplaced, even irreverent.  Funerals are supposed to be sombre occasions. When people lose their loved ones, the least mourners could do is to actually mourn.  This argument makes sense, really. Surely, the presence of such merrymakers at funerals is not an indication of disrespect and thoughtlessness.

Aside the nuisance of the occasional freeloader, some people really see nothing wrong with funeral feasts. This is because they have come to an understanding that grief can sit closely by mirth. They understand that the twinning of mirth and grief need not be a grave contradiction. After the storm, birds do sing, and so should we. The dead are gone, and as much as they were loved while they dwelled amongst the living, life must go on without them. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that can be done about the loss we feel. If ever I am consulted on how I’d like my funeral to be, I’d tell my friends to dance; dance and feast all night. I’d tell them to dance on my grave even, in celebration of the beauty of the life we shared.

If ever I am consulted on how I’d like my funeral to be, I’d tell my friends to dance; dance and feast all night. I’d tell them to dance on my grave even, in celebration of the beauty of the life we shared.

Our ability to heal after pain is a blessing we should not take for granted.  Had we not been blessed with this capacity, we would be the most pitiable of creatures.  The rains of life beat us at every turn; there are times when grief constantly follows grief. Allowing ourselves an opportunity to smile, and to eat, while we mourn is our only respite from gloom.

Eating can be one of the first steps towards healing. Whose business is it anyway, if we feast our way to healing?  It is no one’s business but ours.

By Dede Williams

Photo Credit: funeralfund.blogspot.com

Sun-Searching ~By Nana Akosua Hanson

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One morning, Mr. Chagreen left and never came back.
 
He picked himself up from the corner of my room, skipped out the window into a freedom I had never had. I stare at the window and watch the wind blow my drab curtains. I wonder if freedom felt like the happy swing of the purple patterned fabric.
 
I didn’t understand why I was never to leave this room. They said I was mentally unstable, they said a  traumatic experience brought it on. They said I could put others in harm’s way. And then they said I was of no harm to anybody but myself. I don’t understand people. They say one thing all the time and mean another. They don’t make sense to me. But I guess that’s what makes me different. I guess it’s what makes me ‘mentally unstable’.
 
Mr. Chagreen was my invisible friend. He made me laugh when they made everything seem sad. Once, we went sun-searching. That is what Mr. Chagreen called chasing the sunset, trying to catch the shimmery orange rays of the sun as it fell away from earth to give way to the moon. We’d rush outside and sit on grass, stretch our palms out to the sky and try and catch as many rays as possible before the sun said goodbye. When he caught a ray, Mr. Chagreen always looked beautiful. The orange glow set his brown face in a shimmery halo, and a thought always flashed at that moment: God sent him to me.
 
But they say Mr. Chagreen is bad. They say he takes away my real friends and he is only a figment of my imagination. They say he scares people away from me and makes me talk to myself when real people want to talk to me.  So they drove him away. For days, I was lonely. I wanted to call him back but I dared not. Because they said it was part of my ‘treatment.’ And I hung alone in parks, played in the grass and went sun-searching all by myself. The real people didn’t know how to talk to me, they stared at me funny and whispered behind my back.
 
 All I could hear was screaming voices. It was the night pain began; that day was when Mr. Chagreen first came to me.  Mummy and Daddy were angry again. Mummy was crying and  screaming at the same time. Daddy looked like the evil purple monster in my bedtime story. I crawled to the corner of my room and closed my ears and hummed the song mummy taught me to hum. But they were shouting and I couldn’t hum loud enough. I started to cry. I wished they would stop. Then a thought flashed in my mind: Tell them to stop.
 
I run out of my room to the hallway, looking up the staircase at them and just when I filled my lungs to scream ‘stop,’ Daddy hit mummy hard. She fell and rolled down the stairs. I looked down at mummy lying next to my left big toe. She was no longer shouting. She was no longer crying. She was staring at a place between my legs and her red juice started to creep under my toes. It was warm. It was sticky. I called her but she didn’t respond. Then daddy swooped me into his arms.
 
Mr. Chagreen pinched my cheeks and kissed me awake. He told me he would be my best friend. He told me we would play lots of games together. And we would grow up together. He was with me when the men in blue came and took daddy away. He was with me when the fat ‘institootional’ lady came to take me away. He was with me when the doctor with thick glasses told me I’m ‘unstable’. He was with me when the nightmares came and mummy kept staring at somebody else with her red juice wetting my hands and feet and my favorite purple dress. I screamed her name but she simply looked away. Mr. Chagreen was with me when I woke to find the red juice had become urine all over my sheets and clothes. He cried with me when the fat ‘institootional’ lady gave me a ‘good spanking’ for wetting my bed.
 
 He was with me when the other children refused to play with me. He made my tongue form words when I was so scared to talk, I stuttered. He made me talk of the green leaves, orange sunlight, rainbows and unicorns when my mouth wanted to scream that mummy’s red juice was on my feet. Mr. Chagreen braided my hair and put flowers in it, though it made the other children shout, “She’s putting dead flowers in her hair again!” And when we went sun-searching and the magic orange rays fell on our faces, that hole in my chest that made it difficult for me to breathe vanished. That urge to scream ‘stop’ melted and mummy’s smile came back, daddy’s laughter caressed my cheeks again. And we were rolling around in my bed again, tickling each other and laughing and telling stories. Like the story of the handsome prince who looked like Daddy and had a dark horse that would take us to a far away land.
 
But the doctor with the thick glasses and moustache like a toothbrush said Mr. Chagreen was bad and had to go away. So I pushed him away. But he still held on to my hand.
 
Then one day, he went and never came back. And the nightmares came back. I began to cut myself and mummy’s red juice was with me, in my bed.

Self Discovery, the Education System and Owning one’s Feelings

You need to stop being what you think people need you to be. You learned this as a child.” ~Rita Nketiah

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This is an extract from a Skype chat (February 6th 2013) between Rita Nketiah and a friend (name withheld, but we shall call her Ama for the purposes of this post), Ama was deflated and was considering relocating from Ghana.

Rita responds: 

You are an African womon…anywhere you go will be a struggle…but go, definitely go for the experience”

Rita believes young people are disempowered when they are not taken seriously and considers having mentors helpful in the struggle for self discovery.

 “Do you have any mentor?  I think if I had had more mentors while I was there, (in Ghana) it would have made a huge difference in the outcome.” She writes.

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Implications of trying to fit in:

“Truth: You need to stop being what you think people need you to be. You learned this as a child. You wanted to make everyone happy. You thought that was your responsibility. And whenever you failed in this department (which was often), you felt completely dejected. When you were unable to perform at a maximum level, you threw up your hands. You quit. You spiraled downward. You have always hated disappointing people. You felt like your own worth, your intrinsic value had to come from other people. Other people had to tell you how and why to love you. And when they didn’t, you didn’t. Not truthfully. You may have said you did, but you weren’t actually affirming all of the good things about you. The quintessential Virgo that you are, you scrutinized everything you were not and could not be, because it just wasn’t you.”

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Classrooms and what you won’t get there:

“Man, I wish this self-discovery process counted for some damn marks in the classroom. School is such a constrictive experience. It is meant to discipline you. It is meant to value and validate you by very arbitrary measures. And that is a hard pill to swallow as someone who has always prided herself on “excelling” in school, has always loved learning, has always loved the comfort those structured walls gave her. School is where I first fell in love with words. It has nurtured me in particular ways that I will always be grateful for, and will encourage and pass down to my nieces and nephews, when given the chance. But school is also the site of a lot of trauma, abuse and oppression. School evaluations are great when you are getting consistent A’s. But when this becomes the primary way to assess a child’s capabilities, it becomes difficult when she enters adult life, and her grades are not there to validate her. And then, when grades turn into grants and bursaries awarded (which have a direct influence on your career) it’s even more difficult to see your self-worth outside of this. Capitalism makes us believe that we are only valuable when we are productive members of society. And when those grants and bursaries do not come (because, let’s face it, there are only so many awards that are given out, and how many of those goes to funding second-generation Ghanaian-Canadian identity and home-making?), it is difficult not to feel dejected, worthless, less intelligent, less interesting, whatever.”

Oprah Winfrey says, “Why are you trying so hard to fit in when you were born to stand out?” I guess the real question is, how do you set out to stand out without falling flat on your face without clean air to breath?

Rita Nketiah is an Anti-racist Feminist Scholar-Activist and PhD Candidate at Western University, where she is currently studying in the Women’s Studies and Feminist Research Department. Her research interests include Second-Generation African-Canadian identity, gender and sexuality, and Diaspora in (African) Development. When she is not bombarded with loads of reading and writing, she wastes copious amounts of time on the Internet, reading feminist and/or African blogs.

Ghana ~By Teddy Totimeh

Ghana is beautiful

If you pause long enough

To see the colour in the squalor

If you pause long enough to sample the order in the odours.

 

Ghana is beautiful

If you stand long enough

To feel the humor in the clamour

And are not too particular

About what is correct and what is not.

 

Ghana is beautiful

When you appreciate the patience

Of a suffering people

Waiting to progress.

 

 

What makes Ghana beautiful? Teddy advocates if we pause long enough, we could find out. Teddy Totimeh is a Ghanaian Writer and Poet.  He is also a Doctor specializing in neurosurgery. Teddy has won awards for both his poetry and short stories.