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Opinions of Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Columnist: Asare, Noah

Once Upon a time in Banda

The end of the tarred road was the beginning of the signs of one’s proximity to Banda. The dust that greeted you in your sits right inside the car was a hint of the impending rousing welcome you will receive in Banda. The red dust that painted you from head to toe when you finally landed from your means of transportation is an indication that you are not at the wrong place if Banda was your final destination. No politics, less development but a happy people.
The sound of pestle and mortar from women busy pounding dried cassava or boiled yam were the preceding music of the harmony awaiting you. The nude kids surprisingly happier than those playing with toys in the city tells you that Banda’s well of joy has nothing to do with money or what you term development.
The chirpy jumping and the swift feet of running kids and animals told you of the lively nature of the people you consider murdered by poverty. Some of those kids will venture running faster than the passing cars which pass bye in hours. Just like the people, the animals; from chicken to the horse have absolute liberty to go anywhere at any time.
Except on those rare occasions when the goat and the chicken got often paraded before the shrines to intercede for those who brought them. They surely end up in pots from where they might end up on your plate. Don’t challenge me, everything there taste different. They taste way better than what you eat in the city. From grass-cutter to the antelope. From the chicken to the cow. From the yam to the ripe mango fruit. All of them had some special taste you will hardly find anywhere else.
No wonder people came for visits and ended up contesting for assembly man positions. Just imagine a robbery free place where you can leave your door open 24/7. It was a place to live in. It was a place where everyone you met wanted to show you his teeth. Don’t try to look at all the teeth though, some could send you vomiting. But behind the bad teeth was a pure, and an openly good heart. From those hearts they will accommodate and pamper you until you start fighting with them over their women. Only there and then will they unanimously replace the smiling teeth with fists.
Those were the days when if one of them fought you, the rest will join him in solidarity. Don’t dare cry in your mother tongue because they might just kill you. Cry in Banda language and someone might save you. They were so one that the police could not effect one arrest amongst them. They hid everyone on the police list from them. The saying; “we are all one” came with forgiveness no matter what the damage was. They never gave up on their people no matter how bad. When one of them had a trouble all of them wept with him. They could fight among each other but it ended just there. The same opponents you saw in a previous fight could be seen again gathered against someone they call “le sakra”, just say a gentile because I bet you won’t like to know what “le sakra” means. Anyone who does not speak Nafaanra is a “Le Sakra”. If you don’t hail from Banda, you qualify for a “Le Sakra”. When two kids fought their parents will rebuke them with one accord say; don’t you know you two are brothers, and the kids will continue their play.
The times have changed. The roads are tarred and cars pass every minute but we no more cover up for each other, because we have endorsed colors of partisan politics and refused our own siblings. A husband is going for a divorce because the wife dared to say she voted for the other party. We beat up and carry our own brothers to the police because of some umbrellas, coconuts and elephants. Alas, our own kinsmen have become our stark enemies. The police no more come looking for us, we carry ourselves there. We have silenced the playing kids because their best friends are the children of the other party’s chairman. The children now consider their friends their foes. The goats can no more eat someone’s cassava and be left scot free. Yes some chickens are killed in revenge for daring to pick a grain of corn because we hate their owners.
The playing kids now stay indoor all day and night because they dare not go play the rough plays of the past. The lights were on our streets but quiet useless. Useless because crime has shot up and the streets where the youth and children played under light of the moon is now deserted. We are now as silent as those who mourn a lovely wife. We are in a state of captivity on our own soil. We can’t forget to lock our doors, there is crime beyond measure. The freedom is gone. We are too careful to be comfortable. Even the chief priest at the shrine has been attacked because he has compromised by preparing a charm of protection of an umbrella or elephant man.
Unlike the days when the young will run and help the old with his load, now they insult and beat them up in the open and his loads are seized from him. The respect has either been eating by the elephant or is withered by the shade of the umbrella.
Nyiedor did not greet his own blood sister on the death of her husband because both the sister and her dead husband worshipped the elephant.
Once Upon A Time we were as one man, but now “things have fallen apart and the center can hardly hold”. Once upon a time in Banda there was no elephant nor umbrella and we were the happiest people ever. Okro naa nunu.

Noah Asare
STOCKSTADT, GERMANY.