October 14, 2022
Tutu-Akuapem & Mampong-Akuapem, Eastern Region, Ghana
MY FRIEND ASIAKWEN had come around earlier in the morning, to an apartment in the house adjoining mine. She was cleaning out the place—it belongs to an elder who was travelling back into the country the next day. I lit an incense and took it to her. We started to make plans for breakfast, and I suggested a place in the next town, Mampong. I walked back to my apartment and showered.
For the third time in three days, I called the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) helpline to inquire about a purchase that was still not showing on my meter. An Abraham picked up—the first male voice in all of my time calling this line. He was as mannerly as the women. Their engineers, he apologized, were still at work on the bug that was making it impossible to make purchases through their app. In the meantime, though: Could I please, please, please go and make my purchase from a physical vendor? Ah, ECG. Excellent customer service; not-exactly-impressive service.
I watched a skit on Twitter—rich, older man repossesses a struggling young man’s girlfriend with 10 million Naira—and was sorely disappointed by the trite narrative. One of the quote tweets gave me a good laugh, however. It read, Hustle o!, Even [in the] Bible, Job come before Romans(ce).
I went back to Asiakwen to check on the progress of her cleaning. She was on it, but her stomach was getting emptier, and Yaw, her boyfriend and my good friend, actually needed to buy electrical credit, too; why not call him, then, so we could both go together to Mampong and buy power and food to bring back home?
In the apartment, I looked through the elder’s books. There was one on the Adinkra. I went to the entry on a symbol whose import I’ve recently fallen in fondness with. Ɔdɔ nyera fie kwan. Love does not get lost on its way home. The author had added a related meaning, love lights its own path, which made me think of Kwesi Brew’s rather sublime The Mesh, and wonder if this Adinkra had had any part in the writing of the poem.
As I waited for Yaw to pick me up, I listened to Kizz Daniel’s Maye on repeat.
At the electricity vendor’s counter, an A4 sheet of paper affixed to the glass displayed their work hours: 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. I suspected it would be just one person working all those hours, and for miserly pay to boot, and momentarily I mourned this probability. But I did not ask the young woman working behind the counter about this.
After not finding preferred food at one or two favorite spots, Yaw drove into the premises of the Centre for Plant Medicine Research. At their canteen, we were lucky—they had a little rice left, and we bought all of it. A woman selling juice right outside the canteen called out to us, “Rasta, come and buy natural juice.” Target marketing. We bought some natural juice.
Back in Tutu, where we live, we heard Asiakwen seated outside on the elder’s porch, laughing with another friend, Nana Kwame. Three of us four wanted their hair washed. I was the exception, because it hadn’t yet been a week since my last hair washing. We drove back to Mampong after the meal, but our favorite salon was closed. Fortunately we found another with ease. I sat outside and people-watched as my friends took turns getting their hair washed.
School let out at around 3 p.m., and a stream of children emerged, the colours of their uniforms swelling in variety. A good number of them gradually converged on a concrete platform right across the street. They were swinging on a tree, talking, waiting around, snacking, in a kaleidoscope of colour.
On our drive back to Tutu, Nana Kwame made an utterance that brought Bob Marley’s Jah Live to my mind. I began to sing it; Yaw noticed, and switched the music to Jah Live. It got infectious—our singing voices ballooned, burst out of the car, and spilled onto the very narrow streets of Mampong, drawing attention and several kinds of stares from the townsfolk and pedestrians. It was a glory.
Eveningtime, back in Tutu, Twitter gave me another great guffaw: I saw a photograph of the just-sacked U.K. Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, with a checkered plastic bag photoshopped into his right hand. My laughter was borne from an instantaneous connection of the man’s Ghanaian origin, what had just happened to him, and the history of the bag on his hand—a history embedded in its colloquial name, Ghana Must Go.
I tried and failed to nap. For hours. Then it got dark. I decided to get out of bed and go for a walk, but thought to check Twitter first. To my delighted surprise, the first tweet I came upon was a Spotify link from a rapper named Ka, whom I adore. The link was to one of his new albums, which had previously been available exclusively on his website, where I didn’t have the means to make a purchase. All day, I’d been contemplating what album to walk with; and serendipity had come through for me with a good answer: Languish Arts, Ka.
Descending the hill to my junction, I met two young men coming up. I put my palms together, drew the combined hands to my chest and nodded gently in their direction. They did a slight variation of the same, in response. I was so pleased with our wordless exchange of greetings. Seconds after, I saw two small dogs, also ascending, walking on the same side of the road as the young men, side by side, just like them. The symmetry, I thought.
I walked with Ka to Mampong. Across the street from the Presbyterian Senior High School lies a path that leads to a magnificent tree; I found it some months ago, in my earlier days of moving here. A majestic tree, standing on a path of penetrating loneliness. I stood for a while, beholding Her Majesty in awe and contemplation. The vibe was ethereal. Then I left the path and continued further into Mampong.
Past the power vending outlet, I found a spot with a rewarding valley view, just to chill and relisten to the profound Languish Arts. I wanted to do the walk back sans music. It was all so gratifying—the combination of chill rap music, crisp mountain air, and really cool view of innumerable pods of light shimmering in the valley.
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