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Opinions of Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Columnist: Mensema, Akadu N.

Living-Dead Ghanaians Abroad: Ah in Maryland, USA

*By Akadu Ntiriwa Mensema, Ph. D.

In the crucible of abroad
Ghanaians are suffering
I saw him
The living-dead abroad
In his work uniform
Preening his uniform
In Gaithersburg, Maryland
Near the Savannah grocery lot
Swinging his pitchfork
Adjusting his name tag
Foraging for garbage
Hunting for garbage
Drowned in putrid tears
Tears of alienation
Tears of homesickness
He got closer to me
His name tag invited me
He was a Ghanaian abroad
Alone, lost in the world
Entombed in a parking lot
Where lifelessness exists
The cemetery of living abroad
The acre of the living-dead
The Savannah Grocery’s lot
Where Ghanaians shop
Shop their life abroad away
Groceries of homesickness
Ah! Ada koobi (salted fish)
Ah! Keta school boys
Ah! Akuapem adwene (mud-fish)
Ah! Ga kenkey & shito
Ah! Fante dokono and butter
Ah! Kwahu ampane (bat)
Ah! Asante grasscutter

I saw him
In a parking-lot
Savannah Grocery lot
The living-dead Ghanaian
Fathering a pitchfork
Mothering a brush/broom
Speaking to himself
Shaking his head
Smiling at nothing
Laughing at himself
Then like a thunderstorm
Riotous tears poured
Tear-ing-up at nothingness
Uncontrollable tears
Welling up his eye sockets
Like a broken dam in a valley
Like a broken inner-spring
Watersheds of acidic pain
Of lost hope
Of homesickness
Of alienation
Of loneliness
Tears poured, flooded
Cascaded over his cheeks
Like the Boti Falls on rocks

I saw him
Hauntingly gaunt
Sauntering with a pitchfork
A snail at crossroads
His shadow beamed slowly
Snailing the parking lot
Sad, forlorn-movement
Entombed in a parking lot

I saw him
Swinging brush/broom
I saw him pitch-forking
Befriending happy stray papers
Befriending jaundiced papers
Befriending dead butts of cigarette
Befriending tattered rubber bags
And his pitchfork/brush recoiled

I saw him
Defining his space
Marching west, east
Marching south, north
All in a day’s work

I saw them all
The walking dead Ghanaians
Silent and dead in their strides
Looking for their lost past
Their sterile present
In staple foods
Kokonte, fufu , kenkey, akpele
Ah! Food is plentiful
But loneliness, alienation
Lethal back-breaking work
Toxic church membership
Vicious gossipy neighbors
Poisonous family problems
Systemic white racism
Murder appetite for food
For kokonte (face the wall)
For gari, fufu
For Ga kenkey, akpele
For tuo safi, Fante dokono
Food is plentiful
But appetite is long-lost
Lost to alienation of self

I saw them all
I saw the living-dead Ghanaians
In Gaithersburg, Maryland
Near the Savannah grocery shop
Speaking to themselves
Shaking their heads
Smiling at nothing
Then tears arrived
Uncontrollable tears
Welling up their eye sockets
Watersheds of pain
Of lost hope
Of homesickness
Of alienation
Of loss of the self
Tears of pain
Cascaded over their cheeks
In the crucible of abroad
Ghanaians are suffering

*Akadu N. Mensema, Ph. D., is a nationalist Denkyira beauty. She is a trained
oral historian cum sociologist and Professor in the USA. She lives in
Pennsylvania with her great mentor and teaches Africa-area studies at a college
in Maryland. In her pastime, she writes what critics have called “populist
hyperbolic, satirical” poetry. She can be reached at