For Kofi Awoonor: Two Poems.

…I believe in light and day
beyond the tomb far from the solitude
of the womb, and the mystical might,
in the coming of fruits…

– Kofi Awoonor: from A Death Foretold, a poem.


awoonor 3

Kofi Awoonor: poet, essayist, lecturer, novelist, storyteller – Image may be subject to copyright.


…for Onukpa Kofi Nyidevu Awoonor…


No Praise


Grand-e-mother said someone’s one can be more
than another’s ten. Child.
So here, take corn, salt, take
Pepper. Take that which sates and has character.

Where I come from, they say one can be the killer
of cow for feeding the whole town. (Wo)Man.
Oh smile. laugh. even in death (read SLEEP).
Shine. live and sing. now and on. and again.

Where I come from, they say the Leopard does
not age (together) with its claws. Old.
So here, take dew, wine, take
Water. Take that which fills and extends…



fate got it
Wrong. And it’s not fate’s first time. It bit. It
chewed. And it will forever be left
With the swallowing, the eating proper.

fate forgot
One time too many that even in death (read SLEEP), some
Leopards, with one stone of a leap, kill that two-bird of
a death, of a cow, with one leap of
A life, of a life that shames both age and grave.



praise is
ugly in mouths still munching the pay to praise. praise is
sickly when the one it is poured on needs to look askance,
to look behind to see if it is not for another the praise is…

will not be forced, will not be poured, not be willed. Praise is
comely on Its own self. So here, take no praise. Be. Take. You. Are…


Awoonor 7

Kofi Awoonor: poet, essayist, lecturer, novelist, storyteller – Image may be subject to copyright.


For the Want of Tears

the fruit did shatter. baring red
flesh, scattering brown seeds. even
if it was stray birds the mangled lump fed,
it added to life – or some kind, form of life. the fruit.
it extended some other life. the fruit. what the birds leave,
the ants will eat. what the ants left, the earth will not forget to save,

to save, to keep. forever. Let the sun bear witness…

We need not go salvaging –
We need not get too careful seeking with tears –
what is gone, but really is. here
what never rotted, in the first place
what can just not be marred by the dirt it was mashed in
We will let the realms be. while

the moon and sea tides roll and roar on,
we will perch on this pointed, upright pole. We will

take – and continue to – take
the insult of the ones who were called fools for
waiting. The ones who, in the season of
eking tears out of delicious memories,
took home the last basket of far too
much laughter. for Seed-s do shoot. shoots

grow. trees too grow to gain ground.
see! fruit always remains. And it is
the dead who gets mourned…


awoonor 6

Kofi Awoonor: poet, essayist, lecturer, novelist, storyteller – Image may be subject to copyright.





Monday 20th August, 2018;
Kalpohine Estates, Tamale, Ghana.


These two poems were originally written circa April 2015.



Yesterday. Today. One Day.


I am done with them – at least, enough to last for anything between one day and two weeks. Them. The chores that life hands one before they can even begin to live it. Chores and some. Generally called Cleaning.

I am reading, thinking through Philip Larkin’s ‘Born Yesterday‘, a poem, I recently discovered while being Teacher.

My eyes are fixed on books and pamphlets and the like, all waiting to be read: poems and short stories, bits and chunks of such and more, all waiting to be completed, waiting to be revised, edited or simply, to be read. By me. Somewhere in the pile are real book marks and others improvised from leaflets with messages long dead, strips of ribbons which have long served their initial purposes, paper labels from products long consumed or used and gone for good.

A little above the books and the rest and on a soft blue painted wall, there are a few tabs of random reminders – to do-s; a sketch of a long, flowing colourful dress jointly doodled and coloured by  ** my nephew and littlest sister. Somewhere on the same wall, a timetable, a teaching schedule, is pasted. Beside this and on a bigger paper, I have written, in lead and ink and pink colour pencil, a quotation attributed to one of the Wesley brothers

“If God bids me fly,
I will trust Him
for the wings…”

I briefly remember how I had loved and thought hard and deep about the quotation for so many times that, I came to make it personal or perhaps, intensify the faith, the spirit of it all, by telling myself that:

“If God bids me fly,
I will fly already,
trusting that He already
has given me the wings, and all there is
left for – Him and – me to do is
for me to take that first
step into faith,
into flight…”

Beside the sketch is a fancy wooden crucifix hanging on a sheer lace ribbon. The wooden crucifix has a flowery dial at its centre. The dial, on it is inscribed both the verse and quotation. Joshua chapter 1, verse 9.  Wood, lace, dial and all, was one of a year-or-so old gift from my students – a class.

Meanwhile, a fridge hums away in the nearest room and from the backyard, a nest of birds take turns scattering crisp dry fallen leaves and chirping all the life out of their little frail lungs .

Some background this is!

From outside, a distant grooving of Kwesi Pee‘s Menko aa – not that I would have minded or even realised it if it was rather his Mehia Ͻdɔ– riddles its way into my ears and being. From the same outside but much closer by, Grand-e-Mother’s incessant pet talks weave in and out of fragments of thoughts and smiles and memories and reflections and dreams. Introspection.

Some moment to be alive this is!


Picture mine: My nephew, Kofi Poku, and my youngest sister, Naa Borley. Circa 2015.



– the Mary’s Villa, Palladium, the St. Mary’s Anglican Church: Ga Mashi, Accra.

I saw Gratitude today.
I saw Gratitude
in person: 
the face of the grandchild of one of my Grand-e-Mother’s paternal nieces. This niece was as old as my mother’s oldest sister. This niece, this woman, used to cook and sell the sweetest rice and fish or beef or chicken stew.

And she believed I carried luck, that I was the only and closest lucky one she knew. So everyday, early in the mornings before I went to school, she called me, placed her own money and a plate in my hand, then she would dish some rice and stew into the plate after I hand plate and money to her. I have forgotten what happened to the food – whether she took it back or she let me take and eat it. And I do not remember eating rice – her rice – every morning, everyday.

But I remember, with the vividness of that day Grand-e-Mother first took me to school, how this niece, this woman waxed confident that her food will sell and sell fast. Because she tricked Luck. Because the first person to buy from her is full of luck, is Luck-on-legs, Luck-in-person.

This was more than a decade ago, when I was in primary school.

Today, this woman’s granddaughter, who should be my younger sister’s age, is all grown up and a woman and a mother. I tried, but I saw only bits and smudges of my old knowledge of her looks. This granddaughter. She sits behind another, her sister, who stands behind basins and trays of steamed-and-fried pork, selling to a teeming crowd…

I asked myself when and how time slipped past before anyone could stop it and ask it how one can retain the juice of things and places and peoples long gone, ask it to wake sweet sleeping and dead memories, stay time and ask it what one must do to get the best and most of its milk, ask time to play back the big wonders and petty cares of being a child and just that.


in a place:

the royal palm tree which stands in the middle of pavement blocks large and flat, and of a make ancient and fond than any I see around nowadays. This tree, it towers  above the story building in front of which it stands. It must be more than twice the height of the story building. And under the tree’s shade and in the the aura of both building and tree, we children play and play our fill until we fall tired or asleep or wounded.

Yes, wounded.

But never because of a branch or pod or any such thing falling from the crown and  yawning height of that royal palm tree, to hit anyone – not a toddler or an adult, nor the revered catechist married to the priestess at the Nai shrine, not the famous thief and not the notorious womanizer, nor the fool who everyone has come to know and pity and tolerate. Not a soul. Not a ghost, even.

For whether in the violence of harmattan or in the heat of a storm or in the modesty of everyday-ness, that royal palm tree is always compassionate and careful.

Just like a mother.

People say it is a mother. Actually. So that every time anything dry and hard and heavy fell from it, it touched and scratched ground and ground alone.

In fact, no one ever saw anything fall from the tree. We wake up the morning after or we return from school or cinema, from market or work, or from dance or travel to see the fallen debris. And no one, not even the elders and seers among us know or remember or can guess who planted it, when it was planted. And truly, this is no normal, usual way for a tree to behave, no way for a mere tree to have such a history.

This was more than a decade ago, when I was a child.

Today, a wall has been erected around the tree. That royal palm tree’s wall has the signatures of a shrine: the words written on it, the small door cut into the concrete wall, a white calico curtain flapping in the dusk and breeze.

Today, that royal palm tree is deemed deity…

And that is how I  saw Gratitude today.

I saw Gratitude today and now I know I will

dream and write and think and teach.

And of course, give thanks.


My eldest sister, my uncle and myself, in front of the John Wesley Methodist Church, near Palladium, Accra Central, shortly before Grand-e-Mother’s funeral service. Circa 2014.


I just finished watching a movie I never knew I had on my notebook, a movie I know will be one of very few eternal favourites. Mine.
The movie is an adaptation of a novel – of the same title – by David Nicholls, who is also the writer of the its screenplay. One Day.

What I gleaned from it?

That Love need not wait until it is (almost) too late. It need not be stifled and suffocated until it (necessarily) ends up short-lived.

‘Life is short,’ they say.
I say, ‘The same need not be said of Love.’

And that the really, truly beauty-full, wonder-full, meaning-full and FULL-filling things about and in this life cost NOTHING at all. Nothing but a free spirit, big heart, open arms, mad hope, purposeful work, and oh madder passion – plenty of the passion bit.

Simply, live. Be. Thrive, grow.

Don’t cheat yourself out of life on this side of eternity by just going through the motions, by just surviving, just existing.

Don’t forget, don’t be too busy to


dance in the rain;
lick the soup that strayed, dripped from hand to elbow;
smile because of nothing;
get the best of what good and free things laughter offers;
gape at the smudge of orange – or some other odd – hue on the horizon, at dusk;
take the picture of a picture;

let the child in you run wide and free, seeing the petty and good,
the fun and sad, the new-s and down-s of this thing called life;
watch the ant bite at the water which it can as well get drowned in;
join the children play in the sun, the mud, inside their world;
chat with and be real friends with the elderly and young, with the grand-e and little alike;
love and embrace company and soul-itude like there’s no difference, like
there’s only one of them at a time, at every and each moment;

pour your heart out in hymns and songs, stories and hums, like you never had a care
in this world, like you actually don’t care;
know the solid soft of corn, the touch and truth of salt, the character of pepper, the
integrity that is only fish’s, the easy sooth of that which is nature and sweet;
be content to read while you wait for the bus, while the
bucket, the bathtub fills and gets full;
serve others, especially those who may not be able to afford the chance
and time to sing you their gratitude;

take time to laugh hard at your own self…

Surely, there must be more to being alive than the beating of heart, the running up and down of blood and the coming in and going out of Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide…

And while you are at the living, get busy loving…

L.        O.        V.       E.-ing

A and B

Myself and my youngest sister, Naa Borley. Circa 2013. Picture mine.




– Kumasi, 23-July-2017 ; North Kaneshie, 4-Jan-2018.

*    *    *
**Featured image: my nephew, Kofi Poku and my youngest sister, Naa Borley. Circa 2015. Picture mine.
The original versions of the three pieces first appeared on my Facebook account on 24 July 2014 12 March 2017 and 20 October 2014 respectively. 


Grand-E Mother: She Wouldn’t Wait.

phenomnal woman

wouldn’t wait for me to return from work and to worry her:

pull her legs, sit on her laps,
sing with her; dance for her,
tell her how sexy, she is – person, clothes and all
re-arrange already combed hair; re-prop pillows and postures – quite unnecessarily
re-tell her stories she already knew; stories she (probably) told me in the first place
ask her silly questions; fake sadness or surprise at her ever razor-sharp, short answers

repeat all these and more, once and over again
anything to just get her worried: talking and laughing
and finally, pray…

wouldn’t wait for that day when I will write
about her. Properly…

I’m on my way home,
I had heard wrong yet,

wouldn’t be waiting with her
everyday ‘Miwula, ayekoo’
for my merely having returned from work.

She wouldn’t be waiting for
the one ‘Minaa, ayekoo. Mbo!’
for having led a life well, fully and more…

Dusk: Tuesday, 27th January, 2015

* * *


I’ve always called her Imaa (can loosely be translated as ‘my mother’) and she has always called me Asha – she always seemed to be too much in a hurry to say A*I*SHA). (Maybe, just maybe, that is why I have never liked the idea that Nokia once named a brand of its mobile devices – a phone, to be specific – Asha.) Later, I still called her Imaa and she called me ‘Imaa Aisha’, meaning, ‘my mother Aisha’ and much later, ‘Miwula’, ‘my lady’…

Only last month, I wrote somewhere to properly write about her. Some day. One day.
But she wouldn’t wait.

Much earlier, she has been part of many a piece I have written. Much more than just for my writing, Imaa has been a pillar and a great influence to all that I have grown to be, today and certainly, to become.

…my mother was to later do much of the school fees paying but if not for Imaa, I in particular, would never have even started school – and the school has always been across the street from where we used to stay, in Accra proper.

The kindergarten. It was an extension of a primary school which ran morning and afternoon shifts: Bishop Boys’ Primary School and St. Mary’s Anglican Mixed Primary School. The latter was where I was to later have the rest of my primary (school) education.

The kindergarten. Together with the primary school, was very attached – in more ways than just locale – to the church. The kindergarten. That was where it all began for me.

Much later, I was to realise that parts of both Imaa’s official name and that of the school have MARY in common. (ANSABA and BOTCHWAY are Imaa’s other names. Imaa is well known as ‘Aku nyɛ’, Aku’s mother.)

Just like every first time, mine (at school) has always been fresh and raw. I woke up one morning to find that it had rained the night before. One moment, on that morning, I was playing. I had had neither breakfast nor bath. Not yet, at least. The next moment, I was sitting in a classroom, sporting spanking new camisole, pant, sewn-to-fit (Imaa has never believed in sewn-and-bought outfits) blue and white checked uniform, socks and shoes.

And I already had more than the set of stationery I could need.

It was too obvious Imaa had long planned and made every necessary preparation for the day: the admission had already been gained, the school fees had long been paid…the bathing water et al and quick breakfast were waiting, and a ball of note (money, which I was to later find that it was meant for snack break) had already been pushed into one of the two blue patch pockets in front of my uniform.

An oh! My uniform, it was beautiful beyond words.

My Grand-E Mother. She just dropped me in the class, briefly spoke to the woman who was supposed to be my teacher and then pakopako, she was gone…

Just like she’s gone now.

My Grand-E Mother. Hers was tough, all-out, I-can’t-wait love.

Just like she wouldn’t wait…

Dawn: Wednesday, 28th January, 2015

* * *

Imaa, yaawɔ jogbaŋŋ, yɛ hejɔlɛ krɔŋŋ mli.
Nuŋtsɔ lɛ diɛŋtsɛ kɛ bo ato Efijiaŋ’shi, kɛyashi benɔ ni wɔ ‘aakpe ekoŋŋ…IMG_20150313_084048