Masquerade Adowa Dancers – by Agnes Gyening-Asiedu. (Part 2)

This is the second in a three-part series of this story. Read the first part. 

*

The master drummer beat the drums with frenzy, and as she danced, she became a wild cat.

“Where did this wild thing come from?” he wondered, as she wriggled her waist in front of him. This stirred up the hunter in him. This was even more exciting than he had thought, and he was more resolved now, more than before, to conquer this one–damn the consequences!

“Oh God!” she thought to herself. “How good it feels to be wanted. Once again”.

In these past three years, she had felt aged, unloved and unattractive. Looking after two young sons–a four year old and a two year old–with no help could sap every energy out of any woman, anyone. Coupled with this was the old mother-in-law who lived with them, who never appreciated anything she did, who never said thank you. God! How difficult it was to please that woman! Over the years she had felt as dry as a branch stick long fallen off its mother tree in harmattan.

So this new feeling of being wanted was good. It felt very very good…but wait…she must not give in too easily. Besides, she would not be crazy to do anything to hurt her marriage–but a little flirting was not going to harm anyone. Was it?

So she pretended she was no longer interested in the dance, and she began to slacken her dance steps.

The male dancer was surprised. It looked like the woman had lost interest in the dance. He spun towards her until he was within hearing distance. Then he shouted out to her,

“Don’t you like me?”

She had no response.

“Do you want me to stop dancing with you?” he asked, disappointment seeping into his voice.

His voice was so deliciously familiar, like the sound of the wind. This was a voice she has heard before, a voice she has loved before. It was a voice from many years back. Where had she first heard it?

“I don’t force women,” he said, and with that, he began to dance away from her, towards the exit of the dance arena.

“Oh no!” she thought. “I can’t lose him now!”

She took a quick step forward with her right foot and danced towards the exit, until she by passed him and was soon dancing in front of him. She began to twirl around him in a wondrous pattern–a wondrous adowa pattern.

He stopped dancing and smiled. She stopped in front of him and squatted before him. The spectators were euphoric, as they shouted:

Dance!

Dance! Dance!

Dance! Dance! Dance! 

The drummers got the cue–they began to beat a faster and sweeter rhythm. And the two dancers resumed their battle, the battle to see who was the better dancer.

“Whew!” he thought. “That was close!”

Now that he has won her over–or so he thought–he began to feel overconfident. He began to dance as if the whole world belonged to him.

adowa-dance-at-the-AAI-25th-Annual-Awards-Gala

Image not mine. Image may be protected by copyright.

You know that thing that men do when they have wooed a woman, and won her, and married her? Then they think that there is no need to fight for her again, and the excitement of hunting leaves them, so they go out seeking after more exciting things like wealth or power or fame, and even for new love adventures? She did not like that. Was that not what she now has at home? Was that not what she had come here to escape from, albeit temporarily?

His new dance steps put her off, so when she saw some other male adowa dancers around the edge of the dancing ring, she danced fluidly towards them. She took her competition to them, teasing them, taunting them, urging them. The male dancers tried to match her with the best of their dance steps, but they were no match for her. For she twisted and twirled and bent and hopped, and they looked like puppets before her.

Eventually, she got tired of them and rejected them, one after the other. And they all left the ring, until it was left with the male masquerade dancer, the one she has been dancing with.

“Did she not see red? How dare her do that to him? Just when he thought that she had fallen for his charms? How could she have dared go to dance with other male dancers?” he fumed, even though to himself, inwardly.

He was a jealous man. Everyone knew that. And even though the spark had gone out of his marriage, although he wanted some adventure, although he was out here dancing with this nymph, his wife would never leave him to go dancing with any other man, or even dare take a second look at another man. Why would she do that? What guts would she have to do that?

Seeing this woman dare to do this to him not only annoyed him, but also excited him exceedingly, made the blood pump right into his brain. He was not the kind of man to let go of his woman so easily, so he focused on his dance with new energy, and his steps became more complex. He was going to dance out his anger. He would dance off his jealousy. He would win back this wild woman with the best of his adowa steps.

Then suddenly, he did a surprising whirl to the delight and cheering uproar of the crowd.

He danced towards the female masquerade dancer and spun around her, seductively. He stood in front of her, lifted both hands, clenched his fists, crossed his arms at the elbows, then in that same pose, he hit his chest powerfully, as if to say “I own the whole world,” but she was not impressed.

She stood her ground and then she spun and wove like the great Ananse the Spider, swaying her head proudly to the right and to the left and back and again and again…

The master drummer drummed:

Obaa yi

Obaa yi

Obaa yi bε ku wo, wai!

Obaa yi bε ku wo, wai!

This woman

This woman

This woman will kill you, you will see!

This woman will kill you, you will see!

The male dancer nodded at the drummer, softened his stance, bent at his knees and squatted before the woman in surrender.

The crowd went berserk.

“Good!” she whispered to herself. “Now he is behaving properly. She would have showed him where power truly lies.” she thought.

She was going to give him some more delicate steps to show him who truly held the power, but he danced closer, close enough to hear him whisper, “Are you married?”

The question made her hot, suddenly.

“Was that thing she was in even a marriage?” she wondered.

She could not remember the last time she really saw Kwabena. As a woman. It was as if he was always away at work, and they spent the few times he was home quarrelling, quarrelling over everything, over the kids, over chop money, over household chores, over his mother–especially over his mother. His mother did not appreciate her and it hurt so much. Take for instance, today. His mother had complained to him.

The woman had said to her son, “That your Ajua has not fed me today. She has kept me hungry for several days now.” She was surprised to hear that because she had fed the woman, and with her own hand, taken half spoonfull-s of εtɔ from the plate to the woman’s mouth, about twelve half spoonfull-s, until the woman had refused to eat again, she herself had said she was full.

But at ninety-two, the woman was senile, so she did not understand why Kwabena had been so angry at her. She had not understood why he had taken his mother’s side. She did not understand why he had so brazenly called her a liar, when she had tried to explain that his mother had forgotten that she had already eaten. Was it because she had no mother of her own? Had she not taken his mother as her own?

In her anger, she had rushed into the bedroom, pulled her two rings–the engagement ring with the big diamond stone in the middle, and the round wedding ring–from her finger and threw them on the bed she shared with Kwabena. Then with tears in her eyes, she had gone into the children’s room, dressed them up and taken them to her sister’s. Then she had gone to her best friend Sena’s to have a good cry.

Sena had said to her, “Ajua Akyeampomaa Akyeampon, put all your troubles aside and let us go to the festival. Let us lose ourselves in some fun today. Later, we can decide what to do about all this.”

So here she was, having the best time of her life and it felt wonderful…so-o-o-o wonderful.

Now what response was she going to give to this man who has asked if she was married? If she said she was married, the fun stopped here, but she was not unmarried.

So to be fair to herself and to be fair to Kwabena, she replied “Separated. I am separated from my husband.”

And as she spoke, he thought her sultry voice very familiar, but it was a voice from long ago. He tried all he could to remember but he could not. Meanwhile, she twirled, turned her wrists sensuously in front of her waist and he thought he would die, for was she not the most beautiful woman he has ever seen? Just look at that waist, as she swung it from side to side. And those hips. What could he say? And those legs. Why were they so shapely? What a woman?

Oh! She could kill him!

Richard-Dwomoh-and-Gloria-Nyame-2-1-375x500

Image not mine. Image may be protected by copyright.

She did remind him of someone from long ago, but he could not place where he knew this someone from. If he did not stop dancing now, he knew that he would never let her go, could never let her go.

As if she could read his mind, she took the most remarkable dance step he has ever seen. She spun until she was facing him, directly. She stood so close to him that the cloth with which she had tied her breast grazed half his bare chest and half his kente cloth. Then her eyes met his, wet and eager.

She looked into his eyes. Something about about her look, something about her eyes, something he could not find words to describe, threw him a little off balance. He lost focus on the dance, on his thoughts–even his life. How she managed to do that through the holes in her mask, he would never know, but it was the kind of look that could break a person’s defences, a man’s defences–any man’s defences.

Before he could recover, she shook herself like a tree and heaved her breasts up and down. And even though her breasts were tightly tied with a cloth, they were so full and so round that he could see the firm roundness of their base as they moved up and down, for the weight of her breasts almost defied the tightly tied cloth. And now that she had him hooked, she caught his gaze, again, and gave him a look of pure seduction, before turning her back to him while still holding his eyes with hers.

Then she began to dance away. He followed her, mesmerized, hypnotized, like a lost and dazed sheep. She began to wriggle her waist gently, gracefully. This was her trump card, it seemed. And poor male masquerade dancer–he was a willing captive.

The crowd went wilder than before, and they danced with their voices. Did you ever hear of such a thing as dancing with one’s voice?

The master drummer went at it again:

Dance!

Dance! Dance!

Dance! Dance! Dance!

Dance, female masquerade dancer!

Wriggle your waist downward when you dance!

For Odomankoma has given you a shapely waist!

Shake and heave your breast when you dance!

For Odomankoma has given you beautiful breasts!

Twist and spin when you dance!

Dance! Dance! Dance!

Dance! Dance!

Dance! 

(To be continued)

*

IMG_20200608_014635_489

Agnes Gyening-Asiedu, the writer of Masquerade Adowa Dancers.

Agnes Gyening-Asiedu loves to write.

Her story for children, Aku and Her Ice Cream, was published by African Storybook and facilitated by the British Council in Abuja, Nigeria.

Her first storybook for young adults, My Nightmare, won the 2017 CODE’s Burt Award for Ghanaian Young Adult Literature.

Agnes also loves traveling, cooking, sewing and reading.

She currently runs her own business, and lives in Accra, Ghana with her husband.

 

 

*

Love,

AishaIs.

– North Kaneshie; Early hours of Saturday, 8th June 2020.

*

Disclaimer:

Featured Image and all other images in this blog post are not mine; images may be protected by copyright.

Masquerade Adowa Dancers – by Agnes Gyening-Asiedu. (Part 1)

The two atumpan drums were hungry for the competition to start. They had to start drumming or else their tight skins would burst from all the excitement.

The master drummer called for the dawuru, “Dawuru Kofi, ma wo ho mbre so”. The man holding the two bells began the adowa beat:

Ke nke ke nke

Ke nke ke nke

The talking drums began in earnest:

Kudum Kudum

Kudum Kudum

Ku dan dan kudu

Ku dan dan kudu

Kudu

Kudu

Ku dan dan kudum

Ku dan dan kudum

The apetemma, the petia, the brenko and the donno, all of which formed part of the adowa instrument ensemble joined in the thrill. As soon as the full ensemble began to play, and the singers began to clap and sing, two masked adowa dancers stepped into the arena. One of them, male; the other, a female.

The female masquerade dancer moved her right foot forward, her left foot following on the next beat, each step corresponding with the rhythm from the dawuru. Wriggling her waist downwards, gently, like a true daughter of the Asante Kingdom (for which true female Adowa dancer did not wriggle their waist downwards when they danced?) and with her legs slightly bent, she shuffled elegantly, moved her hips gracefully, first to the right, then to the left, then up and then down.

With a flick of her forefinger, she beckoned seductively to the male masquerade dancer  to come and compete with her if he dared, after which she moved her shoulder smoothly, turned her hands beautifully in front of her body, twisted her neck like a doe and swung around. Then she did the most complex of dance moves – indescribable moves – with her legs, her hands and her head, and finally ended the first lap of the dance on her right foot.

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Image not mine. Image may be protected by copyright.

As the male dancer swayed gently to the rhythm of the drums, he could not help but admire this charming adowa dancer who was as supple as a branch of neem tree. What exotic steps! How well she carried herself! She looked as vulnerable as a kitten and yet as arrogant as a peacock. And that appealed to him. A lot! Her wrists, which were adorned with gold ornaments were fleshy but not plump. Her skin colour was as golden as ripe pawpaw, exactly like his wife’s.

He looked at her ring finger and he was relieved to see that she did not wear one. He thanked his destiny that he had removed his own ring before setting off from home. He was going to win this one! After all, that thing he was in at the moment could no longer be called a marriage.

He had not intended to enter the competition but when he got to the dance grounds, his friends, who knew that he was an excellent dancer, had encouraged him to enter the contest. The moves of the female adowa dancer excited him, tickled his senses. He had to talk with her.

He shuffled smoothly towards her, then strutted like a cock, pulled out some brilliant adowa steps – solid, intricate and powerful legwork. Then he strode to the middle of the dance arena, swaggered briskly towards the crowd, turned his head, twisting his wrists one above the other, in the same direction as his head.

He spread his arms wide apart, proudly, and made as if he was pulling the entire kingdom to himself. Then he opened up his kente cloth to show off his broad hairy chest. He threw a corner of the kente on his left shoulder, leaving the other muscular, lean shoulder deliciously bare. He rushed towards the spectators, who broke into a sudden frenzied cheer. The male adowa dancer turned in his stride, sharply, and squatted in front of his dance partner. The the crowd went wild:

Dance! Dance! Dance!

The female dancer was awed at the show of strength by the male dancer. He was as agile as a deer and as regal as a monarch. She has never seen a man who carried himself this gracefully. Where was he six years ago when she was at her prime? She admired him silently from behind her mask, wishing that what she had at home was a man like this.

He danced towards her as soon as the drummers lowered the tempo of the drums, and he whispered in her ears, “You are beautiful. Are you from around here?”

What was she to say? She was in a mask anyway, and who would know that she was the one? It has been so long since she had such fun. She has forgotten what it felt like to be wooed, to be wanted. She was exhilarated.

She began to spin around him dreamily, sweetly, and did she spin so delightfully. She hopped rhythmically around him, first to the left and then to the right and then rocked her waist, softly. She spun around him again, closed her eyes and began her beautiful but complicated adowa pattern.

At first, she was as gentle as a baby breeze. Then she began to dance feverishly, as the drums heated up, daring the male dancer to compete with her.

adowa-2013

Image not mine. Image may be protected by copyright.

And then just when he began to spin back, to match her step for step, to jump into the air, she stopped dancing, looked straight at his mask as soon as his feet touched the ground again, and taking advantage of the lowered drum beats, she whispered:

“Dompease. I come from Dompease.”

“Nobody told me there was such a lovely dancer here in Dompease,” he whispered back.

The master drummer had noticed the chemistry between the two dancers, and so he began to communicate love messages through the drums:

Onua bεεma, wo pε obaa no anaa?

Brother, do you like the woman?

Kudum Kudum

The male dancer lifted his hand towards the drummer and hit his fist in his palms, to show that he was enjoying the drumming. The dancers began a more powerful pattern and the crowd went hysteric, for they have never seen such dance steps before, and they thought the dancers were spectacular, so they shouted:

Sa! Sa! Sa!

Dance! Dance! Dance!

Then the drummers beat their drums gently, once more, and she asked him where he was from. Was he from anywhere around? He wondered whether he should say yes but he knew he must be careful.

“No,” he replied, huskily. “I am from Kuntunase.”

“Oh, that far? You mean you have come all the way from Kuntunase just to partake in this dance?”

“I was invited by my friends. To watch the festival.”

Kudum Kudum

Kudum Kudum

Ku dan dan kudu

Ku dan dan kudu

Kudu

Kudu

Ku dan dan kudum

Ku dan dan kudum

(To be continued)

*

IMG_20200608_014635_489

Agnes Gyening-Asiedu, the writer of Masquerade Adowa Dancers.

Agnes Gyening-Asiedu loves to write.

Her story for children, Aku and Her Ice Cream, was published by African Storybook and facilitated by the British Council in Abuja, Nigeria.

Her first storybook for young adults, My Nightmare, won the 2017 CODE’s Burt Award for Ghanaian Young Adult Literature.

Agnes also loves traveling, cooking, sewing and reading.

She currently runs her own business, and lives in Accra, Ghana with her husband.

 

 

*

Love,

AishaIs.

– North Kaneshie; Early hours of Saturday, 8th June 2020.

*

Disclaimer:

Featured Image and all other images in this blog post are not mine; images may be protected by copyright.

Ghost Town – Student Writing (Part 5)

This is the fourth and final composition piece in the Student Writing Series.

See the Introduction to the series, and the first, second and third composition pieces.

*

It was nearing midnight in the town of Afien.

Mr Firsch, my guardian had just finished shaving his bristle moustache and was happily under his bed covers, drifting into Lalaland. Everyone else was asleep.

Except Me.

I was not going to sleep tonight.

I was high up on the local hill, taking more than just a peep at the legendary Ghost Town.

Ghost Town was, till now, a myth told us by our grandparents and those before them. The story went that every night, hours after we were all coiled and asleep in our beds, our ancestors rose from death and grave and relived moments full of life and zest underneath the hill, in the bottomless abyss of nothingness. I thought of all this as fickle – that our grandparents took too many swigs of beer before they came to fib to us. I thought…

Until Now.

From the top of the hill I could see Ghost Town. It had this light blue colour and everything there was an eerie shade of this light blue.

The buildings were different, each from the other – from mighty skyscrapers to meek thatched serf huts made of light blue mud and straw. Then there were a gigantic marble church, a magnificent gothic museum, a soccer pitch which almost looked perfect for me to flaunt my supreme sports skills, and no, not a school in sight.

Ghost Town looked everything like the dream place everyone wanted to be but did not know. Yet.

I could see all those who had gone before me: the millionaire who died in an aircraft crash, perched at the top of his mansion; my grandparents walking on the pavement, bobbing their heads to the jazz band playing in a massive amphitheatre close by; my lively dead dog, Fifi, running furiously from street to street and back; Mrs Firsch, the lovely lady who used to treat us kids to baked goodies; and Clifton, the madman who used to ramble on and forever about the existence of this place when he was alive and was part of the day and earthly side of Afien.

He looked quite sane now. Clifton.

Ghost Town really had it all.

CloudYOU! Dusk.

Photo mine. Circa 2014. Dusk. Somewhere not far from Lapaz, in Accra, Ghana.

I was so enthralled by the city’s awesomeness that I nearly did not hear the bell chime for 5 o’clock.

Soon, the sun began its steady climb up the sky and Ghost Town began to disappear, in bits and splits. All the ghosts rose into the air and flew towards the nearby cemetery. The blue buildings – virtually everything – sublimed into the clay chasm.

Everyone, everything was soon gone.

Except Me.

Pondering.

“Was it necessary to go back to Afien, really necessary to go through constant troubles, to be confused and consumed by all the evils of the world, to be soured and pained by men – humankind, in general?

Were all these pains and troubles necessary when paradise was just a mere death away?”

Anyway.

…so the next time you see me – probably with a crooked neck, or a broken back, or wobbly legs or whatever I sacrificed to get here – I will probably be sprinting laps with Fifi, or swimming in the town pool or lying on the ghost blue grass wearing a big smile and looking at you, telling you I am in a better place…

*

Bio:

Keli

Photo mine. A picture of Keli.

Keli Dey loves what many of his peers loathe: Jazz, Football, Comic Strips. The list never ends.

He loves to read too, and to seek and come to love new book genres.

He is an undying, unapologetic fan of 8’o clock business shows and premier league interviews – he thoroughly enjoys crushing his amateurish classmates on any FIFA game.

Like your typical gawky 14 year old, Keli doesn’t often express his thoughts in the open, unless he is coerced, many times, for far too long…

But give him a piece of paper. And a decent pen.

*

Love,

AishaTeaches.

AishaWrites. Too.

— Dansoman, Accra, Ghana; Friday, 29th March, 2019.

Waiting – Student Writing (Part 4)

This is the third composition piece in the Student Writing Series. See the Introduction to the series, and the first and second composition pieces.

*

Have you ever felt your heart beat so loud that you thought there was a little green elf – shaped like an alphabet and with tiny green shoes – clanging onto a huge Taipei gong in your heart? Well, that was me yesterday.

It was 5 hours to Christmas.

And there I was. A cute seven year old boy from Greenland, a boy so tiny a sesame seed could be a thousand and three times bigger. There I was. With straight-blonde hair snipped to the level of my bent over shoulders, with eyes as bright and glamorous as an Asian model’s make up set. Altogether so glittery!

Again, there I was. With short, pointed nose and flaccid eyebrows and a little pink mouth. A tiny boy I was indeed, but I could swear my heart was way bigger than Jupiter. So naive and innocent I was – and perhaps, still is – and filled with so much anguish and too much curiosity.

I was waiting for Santa to come down my old, brick-red, dusty chimney. To the fireplace.

I was anxious and some.

An hour went by. Then 2. Three. And then 4.

I struggled all night to fight the sleep that came to tame my eyes and undo all the wake I had been keeping. Thankfully, victory was mine and it was just 30 minutes before midnight.

I could feel my heart pumping and pounding at least six times per second. I kept glaring at the Old Bulgarian plastic clock that sat comfortably on top of the seven-foot polished, Brazilian wooden shelf, the shelf that I have always believed has been in this house long before my dad was in diapers.

15 minutes to midnight, and it almost felt as if a group of 100 meter track runners were sprinting up and down my belly. I had butterflies and even more butterflies and maybe birds too…

I could not believe I was actually going to see him. The mysterious man sporting that long, white, fluffy, cotton-candy-like beard. And I was prepared for all of it!

I was in my newest pyjamas, the one mum had bought for me a few days ago. My pyjamas boasted of a neon green colour, had Christmas trees on them, and its soft cotton-material made my skin feel warm, made me feel calm. Well, at least, it was meant to, but the curiosity and anxiety of my wait will not let me be truly still. Goosebumps dotted and marched all over my body, leaving my arms looking like the skin of an uncooked chicken wing.

The minutes slithered past with painful leisure. But soon, it was left with very few more minutes before…

LoveCokctail 8

Picture mine: At a beach to reflect, write and such – around Labadi, Accra.Ghana; Sunday, December 2, 2018.

It was time! One minute to midnight. And I could not really really keep calm.

I began to dream and imagine what Santa would look like – how he would react when he saw me, how I would react when I too saw him. All these ideas and expectations made my head a tad hot, and my stomach, sick from all the butterflies and birds flapping…

But I was not going to be stopped. Nor was I going to be robbed of this so-soon-to-come crown of my victory. Not today!

30 seconds to midnight and that was when my little, prickly and sticky fingers began to jiggle and tingle like a naughty fish now out of water. My toes went numb and my feet, cold.

15 seconds to midnight and my petite thighs began to tremble like no known volcano, and my blood felt like a quadrillion volts of electricity was being pumped into it.

11 seconds.

Ten, 9, eight, 7, six, 5, four…

3 seconds left to see the man of my many many dreams, and I went “Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!”

I slept.

How?!

Just How?!!

*

Bio:

Papa - pcture

A picture of Papa Ekow.

Papa Ekow Archine is a bubbly and lovable 15 year old boy with an awesome, magnetic personality.

He is currently a student at Alpha Beta Christian College, Accra.

Ekow loves British accents but definitely not as much as he loves and lives for basketball – he devotes much of his time to playing and learning about the sport.

Once in a long while, when he allows melancholia to swallow him, he waxes all creative and beautifully so.

Ekow is all these and more but also, always, simply Ekow!

*

Love,

AishaTeaches.

AishaWrites. Too.

— Dansoman, Accra, Ghana; Thursday, 28th March, 2019.

Makola and Her Market – Student Writing (Part 3)

This is the second composition piece in the Student Writing Series. See the Introduction to the series and the first piece.

*

Today, I was at Makola Market.

There were people shouting whispers.

A small, sharp-eyed kayayo girl held my things. She wore an all-black ensemble. No, ‘ensemble’ suggests it was a choice. She was dressed toe to head and back in black – maybe to mourn her life. She seemed new to it all. The work and jerk of city life. The rowdiness and shabbiness of the people. The pain and disdain it all assured.

I stepped in dog dung.

A man yelled an insult at a woman. It was deadly. But it was lovingly so. The insult.

The people were an orchestra of madness, sanity shining through their eyes. Almost escaping.

I saw a young boy. He was sweating a desperation. Flicking his fingers in some despair. Yelling a cry.

I moved a step. I walked over to the little boy.

I asked him “Little boy, what’s wrong?”

Nothing. The boy said. Nothing.

**

Yesterday, I was at Makola Market. I was agitated.

The place was noisy like my life. Everyone bargained. It all sounded like a song that adored its own cacophony, enthralled by it. I smelled a bulimia-inducing aroma of rotten fish.

A little dark-eyed kayayo girl was carrying my basket. She clutched it like it was her very life. She looked depressed. But it should be no crime to be depressed. Or?

My heart was beating really fast because I knew something significant was going to happen. I thought, maybe, I was going to have a heart attack.

So when a man tried to bully me into purchasing a tomato, I said something crude about his mother. It was funny. The insult.

The man yelled a different insult at me. Something lethal. Yet affectionately so. (I took it like a man but, wait… I am a woman.)

Accra London Market

Photo mine. A scene at the London Market, around the Korle Lagoon, Bukom and James Town, all of Ga Mashi or British Accra.                            Circa May 2017.

Everyone, everything at the market at Makola was the masterpiece of a morbidly deranged soul. I could see calm in everyone’s eyes. The calm shone in the derange-, was trapped in something sinister. Not by it.

Then I saw a little boy. In a fit of urgency. Wagging his hands, like he had touched something hot, like something was going to hurt him. Screaming with a pitch, some bright pitch.

So I moved, my left foot going in front of the right, then the right in front of the left, and again. And again.

I ran into a little boy.

I asked him, “Little boy, what’s the matter?”

The boy said, “Woman, you’ve already asked me this”.

I returned, “Me? When?”

“You asked me this tomorrow,” said the little boy.

Soon, it was dark.

**

Tomorrow, I will be at Makola Market.

I will be frustrated because I will not be able to find some proper woman to sell me the right fabric for that wedding I will be going.

All the homo-sapiens will have become monkeys. Back to origins. All of them will be behaving in a manner that terrifies.

I will beg my headache to run. Threaten it with my words and words alone, even. But there will be nothing to show for my feisty begging.

The eclectic slow-fast of the market will haunt me, will continue to.

There will be a petite, intense-eyed kayayo girl struggling with my endless baggage. A baggage filled with useless things that have hauntingly beckoned me. The girl will not be happy whatsoever.

My heart will leave my chest.

A man will use very much force to get me to buy his temptingly juicy tomato but, I will say something vulgar to him. Something about me will excuse my arrogance. Barely.

This man will yell something else offensive at me. Something fatal. But romantically so.

The whole of Makola’s market will be soaked in the ripened instability that a devilish kind of disorder will adore.

At this point, I will look across where I stand and I will see a child-boy.

This boy will be crossing that intricate line that mediates madness and sanity. This same boy will be doing something sorrowful with his fingers.

So I will walk, get close to him, ask him, “Little boy, are you okay?”

With what seems a sour lump in his throat, the boy will reply:

“No, I am not!”

The boy will not wait for me to ask him why with my eyes, my whole face, before he will declare:

“There’s this woman who keeps asking me questions. Everyday.”

“For how long?” I will get the chance to ask.

“I-”

“How long?!”

“You already know. You are that woman.”

Calm will come.

Everything blue will turn red – from the sky to the tulips that may never afford the space and peace to live and be. Here.

The clouds will be like scars and I will weep softly on that loud street – the one in the middle of Makola, a street in the middle of a market at Makola.

 

*

Bio:

IMG_5707

A picture of Kojo.

Kojo Obeng-Andoh lives in Accra, Ghana. Currently.

He likes to think he is more of a creative than your typical teenager. He lives on Art, Literature and Lorde’s music. In no particular order, and not to say this list is exhaustive.He likes to also live in the worlds of his writing, drawing, painting and music.

He likes to think about the most absurd of ideas and let them put on reality. He likes to take his time – something most people will rather call laziness.

He likes his work to be described as “dark and sweetly dizzying”.

And this is only one of several ICONIC reasons he likes to thinkinsists on believing, actually – that he is Miss Nelson’s favourite student.

And he likes to think you will see more from him soon…

*

Glossary:

Kayayoo – a head porter, usually females, at open markets.

Makola (Market) – the vast open market and central business district Accra, Ghana’s capital city.

 

*

Love,

AishaTeaches.

AishaWrites. Too.

— Dansoman, Accra, Ghana; Wednesday, 27th March 2019.

Coolest Kid in Africa – Student Writing (Part 2)

This is the first composition piece in the Student Writing Series. See the Introduction to the series. 

* * *

My worst nightmare as a journalist was waiting for Nasty C at the airport, waiting to interview him. Celebrities are difficult to get interviews with and getting to interview one of the biggest singers in Africa was my best and scariest experience yet.

His scheduled arrival time was nine thirty-seven pm and I got there at nine. I had to wait for thirty-seven long minutes. In those thirty and seven long minutes, I experienced more things than my introverted self could contain in years.

I carried all sorts of snacks – Doritos, Lays, Sour Patches, Haribos, Tree Top, Hot Cheetos, Onion Rings and Sprite – in my bag. Because I know myself. When I have to meet someone for the first time, I eat a lot, I need to eat a lot – a whole lot.

I opened a bag of Cheetos and Sour Patches and munched loudly, so loud that about five people too waiting for whoever they came to fetch glared at me with the deadliest of looks. I couldn’t blame them. I chew loudly – and not at all pretty loudly at at that.

I put the Cheetos and Sour Patches away and started a conversation with a girl of about seven standing next to me. I asked her the normal questions, in the beginning – like her name and why she was alone at a crowded place like this.

Conversation was going well and smooth.

nasty c 2.jpg

Image may be protected by copyright. A painting-picture of Nasty C, a popular South African rapper, song writer and music producer.

Then I switched to asking questions I didn’t mean to ask – like does she know how her parents made her and if her parents have sexual intercourse in her presence. The little girl just walked away from me and I got eyed by the incredibly tall woman behind me. She seemed to have heard my questions. She did not look happy.

After my encounter with the little girl, I decided not to talk anymore to anyone, and to just look around. And that was how I saw couples kissing, as they had been away from each other for so long. Then there were the people on their phones, busily texting away, not paying attention to their young ones.

The second best thing I saw that night was a boy who looked between seventeen and twenty running towards a girl of about the same age range. This boy. He carried the girl and lip locked the girl. My eyes got watery. And oh no, I was not, I am not a bad person – only misunderstood. Very misunderstood.

I got tired of looking around and opened a bag of Lays Original. I munched less aggressively – or loudly, perhaps – this time, and no one gave me any death stares.

From the corner of my left eye, I saw someone come stand next to me and I glanced at the person. This person looked friendly, so I started a conversation with him. I started off nice with him, nice things like the news. I was determined not to let my recent experience with the little girl get repeated.

But.

Soon, the spirit of wild talk stirred within me, again, and I asked him if he had ever eaten a huge fly garnished with crushed worms and termites. He gave me the Sorry-but-are-you-okay-in-the-head-? look and did something I never expected: he yelled –

“Sorry, I have a girlfriend so I can’t date you!”

E.v.e.r.y.o.n.e. looked at me, some with disgust, others with sympathy and the rest with the oh-she’s-a-whore look. I was so embarrassed I looked down at my shoes, my cheeks, my whole face flushed of life.

Even my shoes. They looked like they were judging me.

 

feet and heart shape twig

Picture mineA heart-tied stick I chanced on, while on a trip to selected locations in the Eastern Region of Ghana. The specific location here is a footpath to one newly discovered waterfall – Akaa Falls – which is still being developed as a tourist site. –– Thursday, 14th June, 2018.

When the megaphone announced the arrival of the nine-thirty-seven plane, I couldn’t stand still, I got all fidgety. I played with my hair and my many bracelets. I twitched my lips and let my tongue dance around my teeth. I pretended I didn’t want to make eye contact with anyone, because I was so scared of the looks they would give me. While I was playing and sorts, my head hung down.

Then I heard whispers, muffled noises around me.

I raised my head, only to see Nasty C coming out…

I blurred everyone out as the best feeling ever rushed through me. The presence of Nasty C blessed my nightmare of an evening. I forgot all about what had happened while I was waiting for him. I remembered I should have pulled out the little placard with his name on, so that he could notice me and when I raised the card, he started walking towards me.

I pictured myself running away with a speed greater than light’s because of all the worries I had. What if he is rude? What if he doesn’t like me? Is my hair fine?

Before I could finish thinking through all my worries, I was tapped by someone, and suddenly wrapped in same person’s arms. I looked up. I saw Coolest Kid in Africa written all over the person who had tapped and trapped me, the person who had me all wrapped up. Nasty C.

*

 

FullSizeRender

Picture hers. A picture of Akosua. 

Bio:

Akosua Kumbol is also Ri.

She is the role model of your typical crazy girl.

She knows the rules to break them.

She is her own girl and person and boss.

She loves to read, and she hates to write but when she does, magic happens.

 

*

Love,

AishaTeaches.

AishaWrites. Too.

— Dansoman, Accra, Ghana; Saturday, 23rd March 2019. 

Of Cool Kids, Makola Market, Christmas Waits and Culled Worlds – Introduction: Student Writing (Part 1)

I have written briefly once and quite long and  several about Teacher me and the students who make that self of mine a living truth and reality.

I have mentioned and implied more time than many about how Writer me is never left behind in the life of Teacher me.

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Image may be protected by copyright.

But I may never be able to fully write or talk about the vast-s and weights of these two parts of me – the places where they smudge and pour into each other to soon become purely the other, the times they swell and swirl alongside each other and yet remain resolute in their uniqueness-es and their intersections and their molten mixed forms.

These I many never be able to find the words to write or talk about.

Teacher and Writer me, that is.

But I can talk about what happened while I was grading a quiz which I recently conducted for my current Grade 10 IGCSE First Language English students.

I can say how I had to fight and free myself from an abiding personal ethic of not sharing any extract or chunk from, and full written work of any of my students, of not sharing such things with a community other than the class in question and outside of the (college end of  the) school where I teach.

And I can never say enough how sadly glad and glad again and far more so I am right now to come sharing…

At the moment, and because I am not able to imagine myself quitting teaching – or education, altogether, in the near future, in any future, my future – I cannot promise that this will be the first and only time I will be sharing only and fully student work, especially work I en-JOY!-ed being a part of its making and or was happy being a sudden spectator at the time of its making.

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Image may be protected by copyright.

I cannot even pretend to make such a promise.

But I do know that I am proud of my students and I am happy and proud and again and more, to share four of the responses from said quiz with you, Reader Dear.

And in in order for you, Reader Dear, to read and see these work for the raw truth and story and unpretentious beauty and personality they each are, I thought to not:

  • make known the question or prompt which these work were responses to.
  • give any summary and description – no label whatsoever – of any of these work.

I must mention that I have spoken long and wide – including helping them write what will be their first author bios! – with the four students whose work I have selected for this series, and I have their consent and better, their very giddy gladness-es, to publish their work.

Also, very little changes and edits have been made to the first and original versions of each work, work produced under strict exam-like conditions. And these changes or edits. They were largely based on the marking annotations and feedback I gave, and always give (to) these students – and every other – on graded written work.

Yes, I just implied my students are such huge writers! Already.

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Image may be protected by copyright.

I must mention too, that, Composition, the component (of the said examination) that required responses of this nature and length, is meant to test more than English language proficiency.

A careful look at the component’s mark scheme – as at the time I write this – should prove this: a total of 25 marks, consisting of:

  • up to 13 marks for a criterion called Content and Structure.
  • no more than 12 marks for another criterion called Style and Accuracy.

This component of said subject of said examination. Composition.

The mark scheme criteria for same component. Same Composition.

What these three of four things mean to me?

 

Words. Creativity. Writing. Words again.

Creating. With words. Creating worlds. Weaving worlds. With words.

Or simply, Creative Writing!

And it is for the loves and heart-skips, the joys and mind-tickles of these that I, many a time, approach the mountain and chore that grading students’ work can be for many many a Teacher – not excluding me.

And it is with all immense mind-tickles and joys, such surreal heart-skips and loves for writing and creative writing, for words and the wonders of their creations that I bring you, Reader Dear, the four selected writing from a recent quiz that Teacher me conducted for my Grade 10 IGCSE First Language English students:

Coolest Kid in Africa  by Akosua Kumbol.

Makola and her Market by Kojo Obeng Andoh.

Waiting by Papa Ekow Archine.

Ghost Town by Keli Dey.

can use me plus students 2

(Feature) Picture mine: Some of my current Grade 10 students and me – fourth from right, in white loose blouse, three-quarter jeans and orange-brown wedge shoes – during a retro dress up school day–Wednesday, 17th October, 2018.

Love,

AishaTeaches.

AishaWrites. Too.

— Dansoman, Accra, Ghana; Tuesday, 19th March 2019.

CloudYOU! – #TheHarvest (Part 9:End)

This poem is the eighth and last in my CloudYOU! series. Learn more about the series in the Introduction. Read the firstsecondthirdfourth , fifthsixth and seventh poems. 

***

 …and for *Ehanom…

the
day before
today, I watched One
Day, perhaps, another
time too many. I don’t
remember much of
today’s corn and fish but I
still have the taste of the
millet and milk in my mouth,
perhaps, again, because
it’s the last…They say

cloudyou ehanom canoe and gh flag

Photo mine. For the First and Best in the Detail; For this Love and Place, called Ghana – and Beyond…: fishing nets on a sea bridge at the beach somewhere around the Lighthouse, Sempe , and the Brazil House of the Tabom People, all of Ga Mashi, (British) Accra. Circa September 2017.

the
day after today
is the last of one bundle of a
time and season – a Year, they
call it. I can’t tell
much of what that should
mean because I’ve survived, thrived
many times – much seasons,
much years; thrived many times of
many famines – such fates,
such lots – of You in many of

the
days of this dying year, this yet
another ending of a season…The list of
famines – the lots and fates – of You: the
generous and folds of your smile, the
beauty-s and butts of our jokes and oh!
the hues and blues of

cloudyou ehanom fishing nets and canoes on coast line

Photo mine. Harvest (and) After Harvest: fishing nets on a sea bridge at the beach somewhere around the Lighthouse, Sempe , and the Brazil House of the Tabom People, all of Ga Mashi, (British) Accra. Circa September 2017.

the
Cloud that you are
coming to mind,
coming to me, in
times and faces, in
thoughts and twirls, in
turns and shapes, in
things and places I never
could have gone asking for,
could have been prepared for. and see!

the
calculated madness, the
intelligent folly, the
uncomplicated Truth that
I am still at *this place, at
this time of harvest, and still
not sure, not knowing
anything at all about wanting
to be cured
of You
of You
of You
of You
of You

***

Love,

AishaLovesToo.

– Wednesday, 4th July 2018; North Kaneshie, Accra.

*Ehanom means ‘this place’ in Akan, Twi.

**An earlier version of this poem first appeared on Facebook page.

CloudYOU! – #TheFruition (Part 8)

This poem is the seventh in my CloudYOU! series. Learn more about the series in the Introduction. Read the firstsecondthirdfourth , fifth and sixth poems. 

You
know I did
not, could not
have forgotten to write
the day before today.

You
know that too well, I
know.

Life – corn and fish
and, and well, and
You – happened.

feet and heart shape twig

Picture mine: A heart-tied stick I chanced on, while on a trip to selected locations in the Eastern Region of Ghana. The specific location here is a footpath to one newly discovered waterfall – Akaa Falls – which is still being developed as a tourist site. –– Thursday, 14th June, 2018.

Yes, Life happened again
with the character that salt is
with the personality that is pepper’s
with the quiet confidence of sun
with the simple immensity of water

and

with You
with You
with You
with You
with You…

*

Love,

AishaLovesToo.

– Tuesday, 3rd July 2018; North Kaneshie, Accra.

*An earlier version of this poem first appeared on my Facebook page.

CloudYOU! – #TheBlossom (Part 7)

This poem is the sixth in my CloudYOU! series. Learn more about the series in the Introduction. Read the first, second, third, fourth and fifth poems from the previous posts.

 

The day before today, the day

I made
talk of the cream and soft crack of corn
with old okra and fine fish,
talk of the grit of grain in the thick of milk,

I slipped
in and out of sleep,
with thoughts of You,
with reads of Lahiri – but mostly
with of thoughts and loves of You –
wafting in and around my head.

I don’t
know why I write today but

I do
know You should know
nothing much has changed,

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Picture mine: The sky with a coconut tree close by, a roof and a mango tree behind it, a telecommunication ‘plant’ standing farther and too tall and straight, and iron rods jutting out of a building-in-progress.  –– Wednesday, 11th April, 2018.

nothing that
You or a Cloud
with the scent of water, if not
a cup pouring over with same

nothing that
You or a Cloud
with the break of sun, if not
the shine and gold of same

nothing that
You or a Cloud
with a hue that is blue and
true and just You

nothing that
these three or two
cannot easily solve,
cannot freely give.

 

*

Love,

AishaLovesToo.

– Tuesday, 29 May 2018; North Kaneshie, Accra.

*An earlier version of this poem first appeared on Facebook page.