Sunday, April 13, 2008

THE DEER HUNT (Aboakyre Festival in Winneba, Ghana)


The night before the deer hunt,
There was excitement in the house,
We stood upstairs looking down onto the courtyard,
While men and women went in and out
Sweat pouring off their brows.

This was my family house,
The meeting place where all the hunters came to prepare,
Fixing their hunting gear and choosing what to wear,
Where women came to cook,
and where the elders assembled to perform their ancient rituals
Not written down in any book.

Sleep would elude us that night,
We sat up eating plantain and groundnuts,
Steamed white corn flour, hot pepper and shrimps
Slices of sugar cane pulled between our teeth,
Drinking cold minerals while the men had their beers and
Something that made them spit.

Dawn was creeping in when the hunters assembled,
They gathered around in their hunting clothes
With sticks, guns, cutlasses, bows and arrows
Looking fierce and frightening to a young child like me.
The noise and drumming, the shouts and scraping of metal cutlasses and
knives on the cement floor sent shivers up my spine.then suddenly they
left, marching and shouting out of the yard , with all the women standing
behind waving their brightly coloured cloths and banging pots with their
wooden spoons.
Then silence!

A different kind of noise arose,
Women laughing, cooking, sweeping,
Children running around playing, shouting,
Trying to get pieces of food out of the pots when mothers were not
looking
Throughout their work they waited to hear
Did our men catch the elusive deer!
For us the children it was now one big party,
The smells going out into the yard made us lick our lips and act like
Scattered chicks,
Our mothers lashed out when we went near the food with
Their sticks shaped like little whips
But we had no fear the men were not here,
What could our mothers do when their hands were full
With pots and pans, and other things too?
Time was getting on and all were anxious,
The silence became like the calm before the storm.

A distant shout, the trampling of feet,
The drumming and shouting swept us off our feet.
The men came jogging with branches so green
The deer held high, looked frightened, with big eyes so brown.
Our colours raised high,
Our men danced full of life
The women gave shouts in the yard,
We were first, we caught it first,
Good luck will be with us the next year,
We all rushed out and followed the crowd
To the chief’s palace to claim our reward
Now the festival gun was fired,
The hunt was over, the men looked tired,
But this was the beginning for us,
Our Company had won the annual prize
Throughout the day we were full of cheer,
Going in and out of each others houses,
While the men sat around and drank beer,
Late in the night we started to doze
As the night brought things to a final close and all around,
the cooking fires, embers gradually flickered out and died.

©2003

Superiority


Down the forest path,
The man swung his cutlass with his right hand to the left and to the right.
His look was intense,
The pipe in his mouth, unlit, was clenched between his teeth.
Occasionally he stood still, looking ahead or listening for sounds,
from his left shoulder hung his gun.
He acted strong and brave, and walked like a man
muttering under his breath and glancing behind at something.
Sweat gleamed off his bare chest,
dropping off him like beads of crystal clear glass.
What was causing his distraction?
What was the problem?
Why the muttering and kissing of teeth?
The grass in front of him parted as he swung the cutlass,
and closed together as he passed through.
Suddenly a clearing, edged by palm trees appeared.
The man entered this sandy area and stood staring at the disturbed grass.
A woman appeared shortly after him.
She was muscular but pain showed in her face.
On her head was a three feet high pile of wood.
On her back was a baby fast asleep.
Besides her was a toddler holding a banana leaf and in her right hand
a small jerry can of water.
"Woman!" He shouted, "do you think I’ve got all day?"
"Stupid useless woman!!"
Who really was the superior?

THE WARRIOR



How can I ever forget the softness of your skin?
The rippling muscles glistening in the rain,
The darkness of the skin, like pure African chocolate.
Powerful and strong you stood on the hill challenging the warriors of your clan,
the ones who dared face the strength of the lion.
Your eyes sparkled with anticipation,
Your lips turned upward in a happy smile.
This was no war or fight,
Just the dance of courtship, that went long into the night.
The drums beat and the sound pulsated through my feet as I watched
The dance of the warrior,
The warrior who stole my heart.
© MTD2003


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

IF I COULD FLY

If I could fly
Oh what would life be like if I could fly.
Not be a fly but be able to fly.
I would soar over the hills and watch life below me
Moving about like ants viewed from above.

If I could fly I wouldn’t need to stop at check points or
Face the men with big bellies asking “papers please”
Sometimes forgetting the please and rubbing their
Greedy hands in glee because they know that no matter what
You have to get to the other side, so they get ready for their bribes.

If I could fly I would visit places I had read about in books,
Seen on the news and watched in films,
Money would be no object
I would just go until I dropped
If only I could fly.

If I could fly I wouldn’t be stuck in traffic jams
Wouldn’t have to pay ridiculous fares to get from A to B
I would just put on my protective clothes and away I would go
Arriving on time.

If I could fly, I wonder how I would feel
after going through the fog or,
After being burnt by the suns rays going through the depleted ozone layer,
After breathing the fumes of the industrial cities,
How would I really feel?
I might just leave the flying to the birds who have no choice but to fly,
Think of what we non fliers have created for them
Pollution, fumes,
Think of what would happen to them if they could not fly,
They would live and we who could fly would die.
copyright MTD

Behind Closed Doors


Behind the red door
The family sat silently watching TV,
No words passed between them
This was the family all the neighbours admired,
They seemed organized, rich, happy and full of smiles,
But the silence, anger and unconcern just stayed hidden behind the red door.

Behind the blue door sat Mrs. Y,
Alone with her dogs, and some bottles of wine.
Known to her neighbours as the successful lawyer
Her family were gone and were not coming back
She spent more time climbing up the corporate ladder
No kind word for another,
And now alone in her house she sat
Waiting for something, I don’t know what,
Her loneliness stayed behind the blue door.

Behind the white door a poor family sat,
Not much money but rich in love,
The happiness filled the house like a light.
The other neighbours felt sorry for them.
The only ones without a car,
So many children dressed in rags
But theirs was a joy to behold
The love they shared was beyond compare
Behind the white door.

Behind the yellow door a lady sat crying
Her husband just came and gave her a beating,
The first of the day but not the last,
He was a man of great standing
Loved by his followers and supporters, always ready to help
His wife always looked smart,
A perfect wife in all respect
But no one knew what happened behind the yellow door.

Behind the purple door a young man sat,
With a gun and a bottle of pills,
His parents had nagged him to carry on the tradition
To be a doctor or a lawyer but it was not in him
Nothing he said would make them understand that his love was to be a musician
After a family fight at home last night he decided to take his life
This is the one thing they can’t control
Now I will decide what to do with my life
The gunshot rung out!
Behind the purple door.

Behind the brown door
Two old people sat
They had been together over fifty years
Their children all grown and grandchildren too
They loved life and were full of joy
Every moment the phone rang it was a child
Asking how they were and showing love
You get what you give and it shows
From the happy family that sat behind the brown door.

Never look at people with envy,
You don’t know what burdens they carry,
And even if you judge them harshly.
Your problems may be more than theirs
But if you look with envy and hate
You attract the same to you
Your life may not seem good to you
But someone outside is envying you
Behind every door the story will unfold
And one day it will all be told
© MTDFebruary 2005

OVERSEAS


From an early age we hear the phrase,
"When you grow up you should do well
and then you could go overseas."
What is this overseas that we hear so much about?
Those who come from there seem to have so much money to spend,
they buy cars and build houses,
but, in the end, do they tell the truth about this overseas?
From morning to night, if you are lucky,
you get to work like a stupid monkey,
you are at their beck and call,
afraid of losing that bad job at all,
because the next one would be harder to get
because your skin is not the right shade, or your
words don't sound right or you just don't fit.
No time to rest, no time to play,
no time to see your children,
no time
no money to send, but you do it anyway,
after all what would your friends and family say?
You are lucky, You have a permit,
hell is for those who don't,
dodging police, and sleeping on friend's floors,
when there are guests around you are sent outdoors.
Finding all means to marry a woman to stay,
a woman who will make hell a better place to be.
After many years when you finally get settled,
someone dear to you dies over the seas from where you came,
you take a bank loan; make the trip, and come back home,
and the cycle starts again.
They think you are rich, you pay the bills,
you smile and laugh but you know the
hell you will go back to when the plane lands
overseas.
The bills are waiting for you,
the debt collector is on your door,
a delayed plane means no job.
You owe more than when you came
and yet people here look with envy.
When you fly away on a plane,
to the place of their dreams…..
overseas.
©MTD

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