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Poetry

The Otumfuo Of The Ashantis

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He who knows not the Otumfuo
Let me present him
He has mounted the throne
Dissolved many a throne
To concretize his own
His Golden Stool (1)
Is a handmade of the gods
His cloth is a woven one of a kind
The secret only Ananse knows (2)
He passes like a train of army ants
With every door shutting behind him
His umbrella is a shade of baobab
The defenseless seeks refuge and lives
And His appellation is a long tape of epic
And for those who care to know:
“The white man brought his cannons to His bush,
But His bush was stronger than his cannons”.

This is the poem in the Ashanti Twi dialect.

Deɛ ɔnnim otumfoɔ no
ɔma me nkyerɛ no:
na ɔforoo abaanwa!
bubuu ahennwa nkaeɛ
de kyekyeree ne deɛ
na ne Sikadwa Kofi
yɛ abosom nsa ano anwinnieɛ
na ne awenntwoma da mu fua.
na ɛho ahintasɛm deɛ
Ananse nkutoo na ɔnim.
na nipadɔm a ɛdi n’akyi te sɛ nkranee.
na ɛpono biara mu to wɔ n’akyi!
na ne kyiniiɛ krɔn te sɛ ɔdadeɛ nwunu
na nea ɔdwane kɔtoa no, wɔgye no atenaseɛ
na ne nsammerane yɛ apawa a ɛkyerɛ n’abakɔsɛm
na wei kɔma nea ɔpɛ mpaninnsɛm ɛtie:
“Kwasi broni de n’atubena baa ne kwaeɛ mu,
nanso ne kwaeɛ no dii n’atubena no so nkunim”.by Adjei Agyei-Baah .

Adjei Agyei-Baah bi a lecturer den translator for the University of Ghana School of Distance Education, Kumasi Campus, he  teache Academic Writing den Literature related courses.

He is bi the co-founder for Africa Haiku Network and Poetry Foundation Ghana, den currently serves as the managing coeditor of The Mamba, Africa’s first international haiku Journal. He bi widely anthologized, win several international awards. Adjei bi an author of two books: “AFRIKU” den “Ghana 21”,  looks forward to publishing ein first long verse collection “Embers of Fireflies” in 2018.

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Poetry

Where the Bead Speaks | Poem by by: Ama Ata Aidoo

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My uncle was the prophetic one,

throwing his beads this way and that,diving, foretelling,

warnings galore, sweet promising.

One eye on the past, four to the future,half a dozen or more for now.

He was good if the news was good;for evil news we blamed the beads.

Made from bones

or fashioned glass,

cut out from stones

or beaten brass

It’s the many human hours, Sister,it’s the sweat and blood, Brother,which makes the bead a thing apartfrom precious diamonds, opals, and gold.

Turn them this way, shake them that way,see how they shine incandescent,see how they glow in a million hues.

Elegant and enchanting bead,

flowered flawed, folded, or fielded,you are the true frame of our feasts,your festivals, fetes, and fiestas.

Give me a bead that’s wrapped in joy;find me a bead to carry my grief.

We sing of beads, and sing with beads;

just see how well they show on us.

Beads are the zeze of our joyous trails,

the ziz of life when all else fails.

Beads are zany, zesty, zingy,

the greatest zaiku, a grief zapper.

Speak to me of beads, Grandma,

speak to me.

Talk to me of beads, Nana,

talk to me.

She brightened up immediately,

she looked at me with a welcome smile.

Grandma pulled up a stool and sat,

she listened well to me and asked:

“You want a tale on beads, do you?

You want a tale or two?

I’ll tell a tale or two to you.

But to speak to you of every bead,

in words that sing and dance like them,

you and I shall surely need

more than my life in hours and days,

more than your life in weeks and years.

A million lifetimes is not much

if beads are the theme, the thought, the thing.

We dive for beads, we swim, we float,

we mine for beads, we comb the woods.

Koli beads for the infant

on his wrist and on her waist,

cascades of white beads for the mother,

a very fitting celebrant.

There are beads that are tame

like what welcomed baby here;

there are beads that are wild,

lion’s teeth, lightning struck.

And there are beads around my waist,

For only my and my dot-dot’s eyes!!

Have you seen my love tonight?

Asked the ardent warrior youth.

Light of step, curved like a bow,

her eyes were wonders to behold.

She was oiled and very clean,

she was powdered like a queen,

she wore a sarong of the purest silk,

her toes were nestled in their thongs.

Have you seen my love tonight?

She who wore gold beads in her hair?

Then the pretty maiden asked,

who has seen my love tonight?

Who has seen my warrior brave?

he had said no more to war,

he had buried his arrowhead.

His girdle was free of blood and sweat.

He was adorned in his very best,

he was oiled like a king,

with beads of silver in his hair.

Who has seen my love tonight?

They welcome us here in the palest white

and bid us farewell in black,

sometimes blue, and brown, and red,

metallic green, or indigo.

There are beads, by far the most,

that are polished, tarred, and feathered.

There are beads, worked over and under,

elegant hued, thin and narrow.

Beads are the zaffered, the zingiest,

the zenith of all great times.

Cool, calm, and forever collected,

clawed, clayed, or colored,

constantly changing, bead

you are the best, you are the greatest.

So don’t talk to me of the chevron.

Don’t ever talk of it.

Don’t break my ears on the chevron.

Don’t break my ears!!!

As barter for my life and yours,

no gem on earth could fit the bill.

Not gold, and if not even gold,

then what on earth is chevron?

I dread the chevron.

It was a weapon

of oppression,

and not at all . . . a bead.

Seven whole humans for one bead?

And what kind of trade was that?

A layer each of sand and mud

for the lives of our kinsmen?

So what if it was one and not seven?

One soul for a shiny piece of bead?

This sounds like the greatest greed,

this sounds like utter foolishness!

Don’t talk to me of the chevron,

don’t even mention it.

Don’t break my ears on the chevron,

don’t break my ears.

They say that cheap beads prattle,

rattle, and tattle,

but great beads never talk.

Yet if a string of beads is fine,

it sings,

it dances,

it jumps,

and sizzles.

If a string of beads is truly fine,

it can speak in a million tongues.

It will have something for all,

and say the most amazing things.

And every now and every then

every bead laughs out aloud.

 There are beads that are smaller

than the hopes of a mean mind.

Though called bodom, as in a dog,

poochy pug, puggy pooch,

bodom beads, they are so big,

they are the elephants of the pack.

They lead the way

and announce the day.

The nature of beads is a mystery,

the how of it, the feel, the glow

of earthly gems: the least and most,

our first and true try to create, to beautify our human selves.

The best of doors to human hearts,

our spirit’s window to the world,

beads clothe our woes in vivid color.

Beads like angels plead for us.

Beads can lift the heaviest heart.

And like tea and precious brews,

beads can warm us when we are cold,

and cool us when we are hot.

Blessed are the beads

that bring us peace.

Spare us, O Lord, in this lifetime,

beads of war, chaos, and strife.

No beaded strings of calamities,

earthquakes, floods, and famine.

No veritable tsunamis of woe.

Keep us cool and keep us warm.

For each color in the rainbow,

there is a bead, somewhere on earth:

a million years old, if a day,

or shy in its newsness, and done this dawn.

Blue beads, green beads,

yellow beads and grey,

black beads, white beads,

red beads and brown.

Your rise from heaps of your own ash

with more of you than ever were.

You, bead, are an awesome one,

you are the phoenix of the years.

Their making uses endless hours,

the how, the when, the what of it.

The wearing is by a billion souls

whichever way, however much, and everywhere . . .

Mined and molten

man-made wonder,

raw organic, or cooked, and dried,

forever treasured, forever prized.

Bettered and bartered,

broken and beaten,

burnt or badgered,

bruised and bloodied

you are the never-left-behind,

oldest, ordered, owned invention.

Pure and precious, polished pearl,

still safe, sacred, scraped, or scratched;

Traded, treated, tough in trouble,

unique, unmatched, unbreakable.

Verdant velvet, virginal as rain,

beads are virile, vestal, vain.

Gilded and golden,

there can be no palanquin.

If you are not sitting with the king,

you are the queen,

the soul, and spirit within.

Beads are deserving,

beads are worthy,

wash me some beads to warm my skin,

a token of love, a gift for my kin.

Hollowed and hallowed,

jingled, jangled, juggled,

you are our life’s companion,

the closest friend until the end.

Don’t tell me if there were no beads

something else could meet our needs.

Something what? Something where?

Please keep it there, even if it’s rare.

By:  Ama Ata Aidoo

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Poetry

Lost In The Enslaved Spirits | Poem

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In our ancestors’ future

Culture was the path of security

Of safety

Of enlightenment

Of peace

Of protection

II

In our ancestors’ future

We were clothed by culture’s silk

Adorned by Odomankoma’s mental gold

Given extra eyes by the seer of the sky

To see distractors

To teach and mould aliens to follow

And not to turn followers

III

Like the eagles in flight

They saw no flies flying on their futures’ backs

Like the clean cows

They saw no ticks, living on their futures’ skins

Like spirit horses

They saw no seats on the backs of their futures

Now laughters of tears

Happiness drowned by sorrows

Play our mpintin

Play our dondo

They play the drums of the land

Even when their skins have made way for their weeping fingers

IV

Flies now ride the eagles

As culture turns ground

Ground pounded into dust and mud

Ticks now own storey buildings

On backs of the sons of the cleanest cows

Sons of the proud coffined fathers

Who left with smiles but now frown behind rotten woods

As seats shamelessly parade on the saintly horses

Broken by alien hands of manipulation

V

In the spirit

The dance of adowa is breaking the web

The dance of kpanlogo is breaking the legs of the spider

The dance of abgadza is pushing for the clean corners

And Bambaya fans their course

Clearing the gifted eyes to see all visions

So we dance on

Trying to lift culture from the mud

Lifting it from the dust

Onto the rightful throne of the gods

To find our way back from the enslaved spirits

Amoafowaa Sefa Cecilia (c) 2016

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Poetry

For My Mother In Her Mid-90’s| A Poem by Ama Ata Aidoo

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We know you all dey love Ama Ata Aidoo ein plays den fiction. But  you know say  she bi poet? She publish two collections of ein poems in the ’80s den ’90s. Still, fans den readers seem to only celebrate ein work as a playwright instead of a fiction writer.

That is why we make happy say University of Nebraska Press recently publish a new collection of Aidoo ein poetry. The collection bi titled After the Ceremonies which dey contain brand new, never-before-seen poems, which bi some selections of ein two previous collection.

This bi one of her poem from the collection. The poem bi titled “For My Mother in her mid’90s.

Enjoy!

 

Long

complex, complicated stories:

heart-warmingly familial and sadly colonial.

You know how
utterly, wonderfully
insensitive the young can be?

Oh no. We are not here talking adults
who should know better,
but never do.

Aunt,
I thank you for
being alive today, alert, crisp.

Since we don’t know tomorrow,
see me touching wood,
clutching at timbers, hugging forests:

So I can enter young,
age, infirmities
defied.

Hear my offspring chirping:
“Mummy, touch plastic,
it lasts longer!”

O, she knows her mama well.
The queen of plastics a tropical Bedouin, she must travel light.

Check out the wood,
feel its weight, its warmth
check out the beauty of its lines, and perfumed shavings.

Back to you, My Dear Mother,
I can hear the hailing chorus
at the drop of your name.
And don’t I love to drop it
here, there, and everywhere?
Not missing out by time of day,

not only when some chance provides,
but pulled and dragged into talks
private and public.

Listen to the “is-your-mother-still-alive” greeting,
eyes popping out,
mouth agape and trembling:

That here,
in narrow spaces and
not-much-time, who was I to live?
Then she who bore me?

Me da ase.
Ye da ase.

 By Ama Ata Aidoo  

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