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Feature Article of Monday, 13 July 2009

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

The Obama Serenades

Cape Coast, Ghana



At Cape Coast,

we bowed our heads

in sorrow

and shame,

recalling the agonies

of our forebears…

the wicked complicity

of kinsmen

and sometimes

even parents…



At Cape Coast,

the ghoulish stench

of slavery

stared us

stiffly and

morbidly

in the face,

flaring up

our nostrils

to the wrenching

point of

hyperventilation…



At Cape Coast,

we were weighted down

with the bloody crimes

of yesteryear;

still,

almost senselessly

and capriciously,

we either flatly failed

or rawly refused

to grasp

this bleak season

of misery and

abject penury

was wrought

by ourselves

upon

our own kind…



At Cape Coast,

we could only

half-fathom

what was

and what might

have been

had there not

been…and then

staggered

by the stygian depths

of such epic

savagery,

we could not

hold back

our tears,

those tears

which were not

really our own,

but those of

our forebears

in eons past,

callously wrenched

from their moorings

and rendered

beasts-of-burden

by those pale-skinned

blue-eyed men

with frozen veins…



At Cape Coast,

we were shackled

and packed supine

as sardines

in urine and

human waste,

bound for

chain-gang labor

in the Carolinas

Georgia, Louisiana

and Mississippi,

shorn of our clothes

and tongues and

names and

dignity…



At Cape Coast,

a disoriented

mulatto class

was spawned

mimicking

every misdeed

of those blue-eyed

creatures of

yonderland,

while retaining

almost none

of whatever virtues

with which they trod

our shores…



At Cape Coast,

time and tide

came full circle

even as seller

and sold

stood

face-to-face

like total strangers

staring

at the horizon

with a young

orange-sun

beginning

to rise up

once more –



The Obama Serenades II



Christiansborg, Accra-Ghana



The stench

of past epic misdeeds

is rather too heavy

in the air,

the landmarks

of our hostage past

too striking and

palpable

to be forgotten

anytime soon –

the gaping scars

are there for all

to see,

wonder how

it came about

that we now seem

to have overcome

so much

in so short

a time;

and yet,

we also seem

to have so much

to overcome

in the years

and decades

ahead –



At Osu,

the old Danish

slave castle

still serves

as the seat

of the ship

of State,

as the stool-house

of our

chief-of-state…



the bloody tide

of slavery came

and washed out

the gray matter

beneath

our skulls;

and so,

these days,

we only carry

the empty skull-shells

of the defenseless

and war dead,

a horrible mound

of human

savagery –



our empty skulls

testify both against

our forebears

and the wickedness

of those blue-eyed men

who carved

a lucrative trade

selling

youthful

black flesh;

the very skies

in their bronze visage

swear against

our abject loss

of self-love

and dignity,

our frantic attempts

to role-play

our blue-eyed foes

of yesteryear…



which is why

these days

those who claim

to be leading us

into realms of peace

and prosperity

would not

bat an eye

ere

selling us

down

the creek –



At Osu,

our venerable

guest

and kinsman

and America’s

first African son

has sat down

for breakfast

with our three

most prominent

chiefs,

namely,

the red and

bloody one

whose drunken

Scotsman sire

dumped his mum

long before

Little Red

was even conceived

as the mutt who

fatuously fancies

his double

in our venerable

guest…



breakfast

is composed

of bacon,

whole-wheat bread

sandwich and

a handsome mug

of orange juice,

which makes

the Red One

a bit uneasy,

as he would rather

the bacon

were composed of

human flesh

and the blood of

those he tethered

to stakes,

at the Teshie

Military Range,

and summarily

dispatched

to hell

in the month

of June,

which is why

he is so dismayed

breakfast is almost

a full-moon

behind

schedule…



then,

there is our halting

mid-night dark

host with the English

name which makes him

curiously

mistake himself

for Little Red

sometimes,

which is why

he almost

invariably

treads the earth

in the very shadow

of Little Red;

a legal maven

of genius

on paper,

which is where

all similarities end

with our venerable

guest,

a veritable mutt

of proven genius

and ingenuity…



then,

there is

our soft-spoken

gentle-giant

with the bassoon voice;

no gentle-giant

at all,

save in this land

of a million elves,

a lecher

par-excellence

who ought to have been

the host

but whose selfish

and wayward ways

has effectively

doomed him to

wistfully playing

a grudgingly invited

guest at his own

feast…



nothing

really remarkable

about this breakfast-

for-four

in a dank

old slave castle

cynically named

after the Christ

of Nazareth,

a lurid

nose-thumbing

of blasphemous

proportions…



The Obama Serenades III



Kotoka International Airport



It is not that

Ghana has always had

the best and brightest

of the proverbial

cream of the leadership

crop;

not even that our leadership

has largely

or even mostly been

of the democratic stock;

just that some of us

have been brave

and courageous

enough

to be willing

to spill

our own blood

to ensure

the rest of our

kin and kith

live in peace

and freedom

with justice…



and so tonight

America’s first

African son

shall touch down

on Ghana’s earth,

the very sacred earth

selflessly soaked

with General Kotoka’s blood

callously spilled

as this patriotic giant

was felled

by minions

of a tyrant

who would only have

Ghanaians and our

land in perpetual thrall,

at his beck,

whim and

lunacy…



ours is

indeed

a land

and people

in peace and

at peace with

themselves,

a people

in whose culture

are embodied

the noble tenets

of love

friendship

and

hospitality;

a land in which

the commonality

of human

destiny and

fate are embraced

with fellow-feeling

and liberal sharing

of whatever our

commonwealth entails…



Ghana,

a veritable

motherland,

as only

a mother

knows best

the primal needs

and desires

of her child,

a motherland

as only

a mother

knows best

what mode

of guidance

and protection

to afford

her son…



Ghana is

a motherland,

which means

like a torch

or beacon

of Liberty,

she welcomes

and accepts all

who make the trip

into her home,

providing warmth

and provender

for the haggard hobo

and unreserved comfort

for the penitent wayward…



Land of

generous mosquito bites,

Ghana,

fabled Kingdom of Gold,

bejeweled maidens,

diamond tiaras

and silver stools…



Gateway to

big-hearted Africa,

welcome,

Sonny Obama,

whatever I own

is also yours!



The Obama Serenades IV



Our Kinsman Slept under Our Roof



Tonight

is a great night

for Ghana

and Africa

and America

and Asia

and Europe

and Australia

and South America

and all the world as well…



tonight

Africa’s first

American son

is at home

and at peace

with himself,

being also

among

his own…



a decade ago,

the Scottish one

declined

to spend

the night

with us,

a rapturous

adulating crowd,

surfeit affection

and all;

he would rather

spend the night

with his own

and among

his own…

one could hardly

blame him,

for he deeply knew

what we have known

all our lives:

blood is thicker

than water,

even as the palm

of one’s hand

is known to afford

greater comfort

than the back

of the same…



a decade ago,

the great Scotsman

flatly declined

the warmth

of the best bed

in our home;

we felt piqued

and even miffed

by such diplomatic

slight;

still,

we couldn’t blame him

for distrusting

our candid offer

of comfort

and love,

for one couldn’t

always be as certain

of friendship as

of kinship bonds…



and so tonight

is a cloud-nine night

for Ghana

and Africa;

tonight,

we shall camp

by the fireplace,

softly and

sweetly while

the cool,

starry night away

with wisdom-filled tales

callously severed

in the telling

when those blue-eyed men

weighed anchor

on our shores;

that was when

our familial links

fell apart,

that was when

our children lost

their innocence

and our parents

and grandparents

lost touch

with themselves

and their souls…



tonight,

we shall camp

by the fireplace

and catch up

with epic events

of the past,

even as we pledge

to never foul

our birth-waters

again…



Africa’s first

American son

came home tonight;

we always knew

this day would come to pass,

it was all

just a matter

of time

and tide,

a matter of the ant-butcher’s

deliberate care …

Africa’s first

American son

came home tonight,

and then

we felt

the very weight

of the world

in our sway;

Africa’s first

American son

returned home tonight,

and our entire village

went agog

with tears

of joy…



The Obama Serenades V



Folkloric Drum-Script



This is Ghana!

Listen to Ghana!!

This is Ghana!!!

Listen to Ghana!!!!

This is Ghana!!!!!

This is Ghana!!!!!!

This is Ghana!!!!!!!



Ghana

is the land

where men first began

to build in stone,

this is the land

of Adansi-Pipim,

master-builder,

unbested maker

of war

and

peace…



here also

the Akan art

of governance

and justice

was hatched…



this is the land

where the spider

taught us to weave

and clothe

ourselves;

we are the fabled weavers

of Kente and Adinkra bolts…



Ghana,

land of

the regal

Adowa dance,

Kpanlogo,

Agbadza and

Boboobo,

land of rhythmic

dance of

the soul…



we dance

when we are happy

and dance

when we are sad

and dance again

when we are neither

happy

nor

sad…



we are a

vibrant folk,

we are full

of song

and art…



Ghana,

land of

the fertility doll,

disk-headed

Akuaba;

we make love

around the clock

and settle scores

with measured

response;

we are not prone

to the total destruction

of our frenemies,

just deft

in our containment

of their wiles…



hallowed land

of Ansa-Sasraku Brempong,

conqueror-of-conquerors,

supreme coach

of Asante-Kotoko,

land of Osei-Tutu,

lord of the African prairie,

mighty one,

it is only Susubiribi,

the great sylvan cat,

that comfortably rubs shoulders

with the lynx…



we are spawned from

the ancient loins

of Mali and

Songhai,

yet we precede them both,

we are scions

of a self-begotten god…



Ghana,

land of

Obunumankoma,

Dapagyan and

Osono,

beyond the strength

of the pachyderm

is entombed

the very creator

of our world…



land of

Anokye

of Akuapem-Awukugua,

supreme servant

of Odomankoma,

Lord-Protector

of the deprived

and despondent…



we come from

far off yonder,

yet we never left

this land

of our birth;

we are of

Akan stock,

we are of

Dangme stock,

we are Dagomba

and Conja

and Dagarti

and Mamprusi

and Konkomba

and Nanumba

and Ewe

and Guan;

we are all

that any human

can be and

still more beyond

and besides…



Ghana,

primal kingdom

of gold

and

diamond

and

bauxite

and

manganese

and endless

petro-chemical

wrabgling…



we have traveled

from afar

and yet

we always

owned this land…



The Obama Serenades VI



For Michelle and the Spirit of Joy



I have just

been wondering

had you not

been wrested,

callously,

from us,

where in Ghana

you might

have been

born…



and also

what name

you would have been

given by your parents

to proudly wear,

a name whose

virtuous import

you would have had

to live by

day-in

and out…



but I guess

having happily

returned and

laid claim

to every part

of this land,

you are simply

content being

Ghanaian

And

African…



and now,

I know

your soul

is at peace

and restful

with itself,

now that your feet

have trod

and caressed

a land

as warm

and full-figured

and pretty

and black

like you…



no need

to pine

and sulk

and wonder

which god

fated you such

a raw deal;

for it was

no raw deal

at all,

just a routine test

of your mettle

and a fulfillment

of prophecy:

“That which

the builders rejected

has become

the head

of the corner…”



today,

you shall be

restored

to your place

among our ranks;

today,

you shall also

be named Queen

and be shorn

of our

collective

shame –

no slave names

anymore,

no slave past

anymore,

save that which

banana peels

must recall

for the sake

of memory

and our

collective

rinse –



today,

you shall be sat

on a stool

made of oak

and sworn in

as Queen

of our clan,

then you shall

be led into

the stool-house

to embrace

your sacred past…



still,

I wonder

exactly where

in Ghana

you could have

been born,

with such

lambent wit

on so broad

a pair

of shoulders;

I can think

of none other

save my own

Aduana clan,

which makes

quite a bit

of sense,

when you stop

to think about

your first family’s

love of dogs

and fiery

resolve

to fight

and win

and win bigger

than the souls

of your foes –



today,

you shall stitch

your own patch

to our collective

quilt, thrust deep

your moorings

to the very beginnings

of our race;

you shall be

delectably

overwhelmed

by what you

see and feel

deep down

your heart

and soul –



The Obama Serenades VII



Associated “Insults”



“While Michelle Obama’s great-great grandfather was a

slave in South Carolina, his African origins are not

known.” – Associated Press, 7/11/09





An insult to injury,

an injury to insult;

rubbing salt and pepper

into my running soul’s sore…



the say

wherever the sons

and daughters and

nephews and nieces

and fathers and

mothers and uncles

and aunties gather

to share

and exult

in God’s name,

to gratefully

appreciate their fortunes

and even misfortunes,

the Devil as

sure as Hell

is smack-dab

in the midst…



and so the Devil

went to Ghana

with Barack and

Michelle attempting

to derail or

dumb down

this glorious

homecoming

of Africa’s first

American son…



the Devil,

he went to Ghana

seeking to rain

on the harmlessly

healing parade

of kinsfolk and

in-laws;

luckily,

the Devil

did not

succeed in

dumbing down

their joy…



the Devil

who had woefully

underestimated

the stern stuff

of which

we are made,

he went to Ghana

to dumb down

our joy

and returned with

third-degree

burns…



we saw it coming

all right,

yet

we were not fazed,

having weathered

detraction and

distraction and

destruction and

sidelining and

side-stepping and

boot-crunching

in the Harlems

and Sowetos

of our forced exiles

and outright

deportations

and enslavement

in these United States

of cattle-rustlers

and robber-barons,

hunched on the gray

margins between

history and

oblivion;

still,

we are not

the least bit

fazed…



having been

shackled and

huddled

in the squalid

hold of

“The Jesus,”

we are now

also callously

being told

the raw and

cold memories

of our agonies

were mere

daydreams of

toddlers and

drunks,

after all…



still,

we are not

the least bit

fazed:

four centuries

of ineffable

indignities

cannot be cancelled

by the halting

smudge

of cynical

scribes…



Blackman

marooned among

the hopeless ranks

of a Carolina

chain-gang,

rise up,

arise

with the righteous

indignation

that only

a hurricane

could match,

Blackman

hung up

a tree to

die and rot

like strange fruits

on a Georgian

oak,

tell me,

if you are

no prime fruit

of old Africa’s

loins,

what are you?



A white

shooting-star

dropped out of

America’s

pale-blue skies

and then

instantly

quenched

and seen

no more?



Three centuries

of murderous rape

cannot be blotted

with the stroke

of a pen;

luckily,

Caliban

has out-mastered

the master

at his own

tongue;

luckily,

Caliban

is truth-tinker

to such crock

of slag…





7/11/09



By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr.

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