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Opinions of Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Columnist: Augustrian

Orphans: Every Child Is Your Child

I was born in the early seventies to a single Ghanaian lady. My mother must have been in her early twenties when she had me. As for my father, he disappeared entirely after impregnating my mother. He wasn't ready--I guess, to take the responsibility of fatherhood upon himself. As a result, I grew up without his presence in my life. Shortly after I was born, destiny called my mother to a far away country in the West. I didn't see my mother again until the eighties came calling. Undoubtedly, growing up in Ghana in the absence of both my parents was very tough. Mind you, I was entrusted to my auntie and her husband at the age of two. I became their surrogate son, and they became my surrogate parents. Life with them was a mixture of joy and sorrow. See, my auntie's husband treated me with scorn and contempt. He abused me verbally and also accused me falsely of some hurtful things. In his actions, he made it quite clear to me that I wasn't his son. He had his own peculiar ways of making me feel like an intruder--a bastard. I cried myself to sleep on numerous occasions. I couldn't understand--for the life in me, why the father, whom I had grown to love since the age of two, could be so cruel to me. In my heart, he was my father. And, of course, I loved him dearly like only a true son could.

My auntie, on the other hand, was the most sweetest. She always knew how to comfort me. See, my auntie wasn't blessed with a fertile womb. Her heart--all the same, was a fertile ground full of love. To me, she was and always will be the quintessential mother. One day, I was on the stairs walking up, when I overheard my auntie and her husband quarreling. He said something to her, and she said something in return. Minutes later, I heard her crying. Of course, I was troubled by her tears, but I stood there helpless to help her. Her husband kept on saying certain things to her. In return, I heard her telling him to be considerate. I stood there long enough to hear him mention my name. He told my auntie that he could no longer take care of me. According to him, if my biological mother cannot provide for me, then he could no longer do likewise. He felt that he had sacrificed enough on my behalf to continue doing so. In her tears, my auntie told him that I was entrusted to their care at the age of two. "kwame has no where to go," she said. "We are the only parents that he has ever known since the age of two." My auntie kept on pleading with her husband to reconsider. To her dismay, her husband didn't listen. He even threatened her with a divorce. A couple of months later, I was sent to live with my uncle in Koforidua.

I arrived in Koforidua with a bag, which contained all my Earthly belongings. My uncle wasn't present at his shop when I arrived. He came shortly after. "So, Kwame, how was your journey?" my uncle queried. "It was alright, sir," I replied. "How is Cissy and Mr Adjei?" "They are all doing fine," I said. "Are you hungry, or have you eaten already?" my uncle queried. "I am hungry," I answered. My uncle opened his wallet and handed me twenty cedis. Mind you, this was in the eighties. "Go and buy yourself something to eat," he said. To be honest, I was expecting a little more than twenty cedis from this man. Simply because; twenty cedis--at that time, couldn't buy me a ball of kenkey with fried fish. At the market, a ball of kenkey was being sold for ten to twenty cedis. You see, I was used to having my kenkey with fried fish on the side. Anyway, I took the money and headed towards the market. On arrival, I bought a ball of Kenkey--which happened to be very dry on the inside, with pepper. It was awful, to say the least. I cried my way through the Kenkey. My uncle saw me crying. "What is it that you're crying about?" he queried. I couldn't give him any answer, I was simply saddened by the Kenkey. See, it was my first time eating kenkey without fried fish. I felt reduced to a pauper. You could say that I was a bit spoiled back then.

My uncle looked at me and angrily asked; "are you crying because you're eating kenkey without fish?" "Indeed, Cissy and Kwabena Adjei have spoiled you," he said. "From now on, I am going to shake that nonsense out of you." True to his word, my uncle didn't fail on his promise--he delivered it to the brim. He wiped me--like a run away slave, for the slightest for bullshit. In fact, living with him was the closet thing to hell. He humiliated me before everybody. Also, there were days, when I was made to starve because he had a bad day. That said, my uncle--apart from it all, had a good side to him. He fervently believed in education. As a result, I was sent to a private school for my tutoring. One of the best private schools in Koforidua, by the way. I graduated from the school very well groomed and cultured. Happily, my stay with my uncle ended, when my mother came for me. Today, I am in my thirties and very well respected. I am far, though, from being whole. The abuse--which was meted to me by my uncle and my surrogate father, has left a bad taste in my mouth. Sadly, I don't have any relationship with neither one of them, even up till now. Though, I wish that things were different. I mean, truly. My advice to each and everyone of you is; don't mistreat any child because they are not your own. Remember, every child is your child, even orphans and bastards. So, please, do try to visit an orphanage, whenever you are in Ghana with some gifts in hand. Those children would appreciate them very much. Thank you!