Let’s Take A Trip To Ghana.
I am dreaming. I am standing in front of stones, huge stones arranged in a straight vertical line. These stones are fresh, neat, smooth; the kind of stones you find under the sea, precious stones. There is this guy beside me. He is a black guy with a white face. I know he is a black guy because he stretched out his black hand and gave me a black stone. Then he motions to me to throw the black stone, to aim at the first big stone in front of me.
“With all you’ve got,” he says.
I swallow and, with all the energy in me, throw the black stone. What happens next is amazing. Like magic, my black stone hits the first huge stone and the huge stone rolls and hits the one in front of it. The second stone rolls and touches the third stone. The third stone rolls and touches the fourth, and then the fifth, the sixth, the seventh…and in a minute, I have animated these stones. I have given them life. And they are moving, an endless line of moving stones set in motion by one black stone.
Last year December, I realised that I could no longer write creative nonfiction. I was a little scared. Creative nonfiction is my thing; it has always been my thing. I try and try and try, and I fail. I try writing a Christmas piece but the words won’t just flow. I try writing a Thank You story for my blog, to all of you who have stayed with me, with George, with Shola, with this blog since the beginning and I fail.
Then I do what I always do when I cannot write; I read. I read the exact kind of writing I am finding difficult to write: creative nonfiction. I read Bikozulu. I swim in the ocean of beautiful words that live on his blog. I laugh, I cry, I comment, I like, I do everything. Then I return to my screen and there is nothing. I go back to reading. I read Magunga. I read Meshack Yobby. Nothing. Not a single word appeared on the screen. Frustration set in. What is happening to me? Am I losing it? Is this the end of all the creativity the creator buried in me?
Then I visited a friend’s blog. This friend stopped blogging years ago. But I checked it out: dunnidoxa.wordpress.com . And there, I found it. Before I knew it, I was writing. A page, two, three, four… I lost count. It was like those smooth stones waiting for a trigger, like dominoes waiting for a push. And that blog gave me that push. Here I am.
WHAT IS HAPPENING.
Father is talking. Father is tall, handsome (if you consider his skin and his hair), smart, brilliant (he reads, big time!), and funny. He is talking about a guy who has been in detention since 2008. And this is 2018. He has not been tried and found guilty. But he has already spent 10 years in prison.
How about his family, Daddy? I ask.
He doesn’t have one. He is a Ghanaian.
Oh, I sigh.
Yes. The Chief Justice was going around prisons during this Yuletide season and heard about his case. Then he checked him out and set him free. After 10 years.
After 10 years, I repeat and let the words sink into my head.
This is what justice in Nigeria has become, really. For 10 years, this man has been crying, thinking, wondering, praying to God for a miracle. And after 10 years, our Chief Justice strolls in and breaks the chain. And then what next? Where will this former prisoner go? What will he wear when the blue colours of bondage are stripped off him? How will he contact his family? Will he remember he has a family, that his wife was pregnant when he was arrested? Will he remember the address of his house in Ghana
WHAT WILL HAPPEN.
Actually, he will. He will go home with the money given to him by his saviour. He will get to his house and notice that things have changed. Life has happened. The guava tree that used to be in front of the house is no more there. The verandah wall has been plastered and the ground tiled. The windows have been changed. Even the house has been painted. He will look again to be sure and then he will knock.
A huge sluggish woman will open the door. Her huge lips are painted green. And she will part them and words will flow out.
Who you looking for?
My house. This is my house, our friend will say.
You fine? You out of your mind? I say who you looking for?
Please, this is – was my house ten years ago.
Ewww! Ten fucking years! Take look around. House burned down. To ashes. What you see now is renovation…from the ground. This is new house.
Yeah man. Fire aksident! Now if you mind, I go.
And then the huge sluggish woman with bad English will shut the door and return to her TV. Our friend will sit on the floor and cry. Why am I alive? Why did I leave Nigeria?
Then the woman will come out. Our friend is about to apologize but the woman throws something at him. It’s a newspaper. A ten-year old newspaper. There, on the front page is the picture of the house burning to ashes. Our man will open to the story and consume it. He will look through the name of the survivors and will sigh when he sees his wife’s name. And then he will turn to thank the woman but she has returned to her TV.
Our friend will go to the police station. They will make some calls. Mention some names. And then they will give him an address. He will not know the place so they will drive him there.
This is where your wife lives, the policeman says.
It is a big house. A beautiful house with the smell of flowers. Our friend will knock on the gate and a gateman will open.
May I help you?
I am looking for Sandra. Sandra Annan.
Sandra Annan? The only Sandra here is Sandra Musumbe.
A tear drops. Can I see her?
The gateman will go in and return with a man and a woman. There is Sandra, yellow and beautiful like the stars of the sky. She will open her mouth and cover it with her hands. And then she will run to our friend and touch him. His face, his hands, his legs. He is real. But she will not believe it. She will never believe it; it has been ten years. So she will turn and go back inside.
And her husband – her new husband (because human beings have needs and don’t have the patience of a sloth), Musumbe will come and shake hands with our friend. He will tell him she waited for five years before she gave up and they married.
My child? My child? She was pregnant when –
Oh, she lost the pregnancy. Sorry, man. I know how hard this is.
But he doesn’t. So our friend will turn and get out. The police have gone. He will walk the streets for two days; no food, no water, no life. Five days later, Death will find his soul sprawled in the gutter. And Death, the eternal enemy of man will smile, scoop up the soul and take it back to where it came from.
That is what will happen.
PS: It’s been a while. I’m still trying to convince my brain that it is a new year. When I succeed, I will write about how things will go on this blog this year. Happy new year. Thank you for staying with me.