My new book, ‘Abrokyir Nkomo: Reflections of A Ghanaian Immigrant’, is doing rather well, I am pleased to say. I am still working on getting is available for purchase online and hope to be up and running by the end of this month.
Meanwhile, here are some excerpts from some of the chapters in the book. Enjoy…
Abrokyir: Dedfinitions and Gradings
You see, if we are to go by the technical definition of ‘abrokyir’ meaning abroad, then Togo, Burkina Faso, or Cote d’Ivoire are all abrokyir if you are in Ghana, even if they are just neighbouring countries to which you can travel even by a rickety, bone-rattling if dependable bus. Imagine, if you will, that you went to any of these countries and sojourned there for a while. On your return home you bump into a long-lost friend who remarks he has not seen you in a few years. ‘Oh’, you reply airily, ‘I went to abrokyir’. ‘O nice’, comes the reply, his face lighting up. ‘Where, exactly?’ Your confident reply, ‘Abidjan, actually’. Dear reader, technically you are right, as you have actually been abroad. But you do not need to be a rocket scientist to figure out your friend’s reaction following this revelation. He may not know whether to laugh cry or refer you to the nearest psychiatrist for a thorough examination.
Dear Reader, if you are in London and you are bored on a Saturday, you can do something that a lot of Kumasi ladies do back home-dress up in funeral gear and attend a funeral, any funeral. Funerals are to the Ashantis what outdoorings are to the Gas and weddings are to the Fantes-it is a very serious matter
It is amusing, but when you go home on holiday and visit the village, they want to kill the fattest chicken for you as an honour. When you insist on freshly pounded cocoyam fufu with smoked antelope soup, they seem perplexed. If only they knew…
And when your average Ghanaian is travelling abroad to seek pastures new, he does not forget to ask the Almighty to accompany him. Divine intervention is earnestly sought in the build-up to the visa application. This stage usually comprises a rigorous bout of fasting, prayer and supplication, and may involve asking the pastor for special prayers.
You know the familiar story. You agree with a friend to meet near the Circle overhead at 2pm. You arrive there at 2:45; he arrives at 3:15. No big deal. In African parlance, ‘2pm’ means ‘around 2pm’, which in turn means ‘any time from 2pm,or 2, 2.30-3pm’. It is only a loose guide-a very elastic appointment. We are talking GMT-Ghana Made Time… The Ghanaian may pick up the time-keeping habits of his host citizens when he travels and settles abroad. However, whilst you can take the Ghanaian out of Ghana, you can never possibly take Ghana out of the Ghanaian
When (or is it ‘if ever’?) ‘efie wura’ goes back home one day to settle down, he may be comfortably seated among his potted plants on the shaded, third floor verandah of his house one sunny afternoon, surveying life on the hot, baking streets below as human and vehicular crawl by. Having devoured his hot, soft banku and grilled, spicy tilapia, washed down with a chilled Star beer, he lies back and allows his thoughts to drift lazily, whilst he picks his teeth, belching intermittently. If you remark to him that he has things easy, he will just smile faintly and allow himself a chuckle. And then, recalling with a shudder all the cold European winter nights’ hard work and waist/back pain, he will rather breezily ignore you, for as they say, you don’t know what goes on in Dodowa Forest…
Johnny Just Come
There are some things you can never prepare adequately for. Death is probably the foremost that springs to mind. Some cynical men say marriage comes a close second. But that is not all. Nothing really prepares you for adapting to the first few weeks, or maybe even months, after you arrive abroad.
By the third month of your arrival you start wondering what you will do when your six-month visa runs out. By God, how the months fly! It is all so new and unfamiliar to you, this ‘papers’ business. After all, back home, what was your business with the Ghana Immigration Service? In fact, in all honesty, dear reader, were you even aware of the very existence of the said organisation? Just what they do, you may have wondered to yourself.
Money Remittances: A Two-edged Sword?
Many many years ago, if Kwame Atta of Kokomlele, Accra, wanted some money from his uncle in Chicago to help pay off an embarrassing debt, he would write a long letter and post it at the P & T Post Office near Kwame Nkrumah Circle. He would ask his uncle to put the money in his reply letter. Kwame’s letter would take almost two weeks to reach its destination. If Kwame lived in Sefwi Wiawso, it would take much longer.
Abaawa The Maidservant
…if the abaawa misbehaves (maybe by stealing madam’s powder, answering back when reprimanded, or being too friendly with the houseboy next door) and madam sends her back, a whole delegation may be dispatched to beg madam to take her back. There would be a stern warning to abaawa to remember the poverty in the village, and how she should be grateful for her breakthrough…
Shopping For a Ghana Christmas
The season of madness is upon us again. Yes, ‘bronya’ is here, evoking many childhood memories back home of jolloff with chicken, cake, fanta, special clothes and endless nativity plays. Already, many Ghanaians abroad have booked their flights home to be a part of the festivities there. During this season, London, Paris, and Chicago, with their freezing streets, do not quite hold the same appeal as say, Anomabu, Wenchi, or Keta, with their brass bands, fancy dress and street music.
‘Boga’ Has Landed!
Dear reader, after a few beers and some spicy, tender, goat khebabs, the next stop was Blue Gate at Osu, where I devoured the banku and freshly grilled tilapia with the ferocity of a starved and ferocious rottweiler, much to the amusement of my friends. The night air was warm and sticky, and yet pleasant in its own soothing way. It felt just great sitting outdoors and watching life go by-the loud blast of music from a thousand bars, the parade of cars, the night hawkers with their flickering lamps dotting the night air, the aromas of assorted cooked foods and the acrid exhaust fumes from battered cars. I just sat and absorbed them all, churning and digesting the uniqueness of a typical African evening. Eventually I crawled into bed and slept the night off under the constant whirring of a standing fan, for I was literally roasting due to the heat.