Amore

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‘Amore’ highlights the struggles of the broken hearted in finding true love again, the obstacles that religion poses to lovers from two different religious backgrounds, and what novices should expect should they decide to give their all for love.
It’s a novel everyone will love.

By N. O. Bekoe

Click on the link below to download an except of ‘Amore’.

N. O. Bekoe – Amore (excerpt)

OF GOODNESS, RED ANTS AND LIGHT

The Kalahari Review published my short story – ‘Of Goodness, Red Ants and Light’.


I am a firm believer in the existence of goodness in every human. It might just be a spark, nothing to write home about, but it will be there. This is different with Efo¹ Babaneto. He deserved his name, for he always made us feel sorry to have been created with an ear. This is because he keeps pulling on them and slapping our faces.….

Please FOLLOW the link to read the rest of the story. Please like, comment and share.
Thank you.

https://kalaharireview.com/of-goodness-red-ants-and-light-9824046cbc4f

DUMSOR’ TAKES FLIGHT OUT OF GHANA

 

Hello Kofi,

I woke up this morning to witness the greatest shock of my life. Ghanaians, who for some time now, had had no cause to jubilate because of the harsh economic situations among many other crises were rejoicing and singing praise to the most-high God. Upon investigating, I got to know the cause of this sense of intense euphoria was as a result of the fact that ‘Dumsor”, the canker that seeks to make every Ghanaian return to living in the times where kerosene lamps and fire made out of wood were the only source of power, had finally tired of us and had packed his belongings to leave Ghana for good. He was last spotted at the Kotoka International Airport last Friday evening. Apparently, ‘our good’ friend on reaching the airport made his presence known to all by way of a blackout to announce his presence for about three hours before returning the lights. During that period, some officials, especially those at the departure hall, had to rely on rechargeable lamps to process passenger documents. (How ridiculous is that!)

 
Kofi, ‘Dumsor’ has taken on a new dimension in Ghana, to the extent of causing blackouts in Ghana’s International Airport. Can you believe the very institutions set up to provide and maintain electricity to all parts of the country are the same organizations that are working tirelessly to make sure ‘Dumsor’ becomes a rigid and integral custom of Ghanaians? The Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCO) and the Volta River Authority (VRA) have become the Poseidon making sure Ghanaians experience an excruciating odyssey as far as power is concerned. This time around, there is no Athena to help make the journey a little bit bearable.

 
I remember in 2007, a similar phenomenon occurred and the government at that time had to invest in certain areas and make some hard decisions in order to rectify the situation. But this time around, the current government have failed to rectify the situation due to certain causes that the government and the energy minister claims are too ‘huge’ and would therefore require time to fix.

 
Currently, there are only three hydro-electric dams in Ghana. These dams, namely the Akosombo dam, Bui dam and the Kpong dam are not functioning properly as a result of a very low water level, and certain mechanical problems on some of the turbines and machines being used. These problems could have been avoided if the dams were maintained on regular basis.

 
Also, the electricity is produced in the country by the VRA through dams and plants. This electricity is then transmitted by GRIDCO. The produced electricity is later sold by ECG. However, these institutions cannot access the needed capital to maintain their machines or bring in new ones to increase electricity because, the ‘notorious’ ECG is unable to collect all the money they should after selling the power to consumers, hence it generates huge losses to the producers. ECG has succeeded in selling power to certain individuals and companies like the Volta Aluminum Company (VALCO), but have failed to collect the money these entities owe them. Kofi, the last time I checked, it was the sole duty of ECG to sell power and collect money for the power they have sold. So if they cannot perform the duties for which they were established, then I wonder why they are still running and why the government had not laid them all away and employed people who are more skillful and competent to execute the duties ECG is to perform. We cannot as a country, keep suffering because certain entities are enjoying power free of charge. And why in God’s name are these entities still enjoying power if they are not paying for it? And Kofi, it is very funny to know that companies like VALCO are the ones who consume the largest percentage of power generated in the country; but for one reason or the other fail to pay for services rendered.

 
Kofi, it might interest you to know that there is only one solar plant stationed in Navrongo in the Upper East Region of the country. There are however, a series of thermal plants scattered across mostly the Western and Greater Accra Regions. These power plants are not giving us all the power they are supposed to give us because, they are also not functioning well due to unavailability of gas and light crude oil and diesel to power these plants. It is very interesting to know that a country like Ghana still depend on sister countries like Nigeria for gas. So any delay in the sales of gas from Nigeria means Ghana is going to have to embrace our departing brother ‘Dumsor’ until such times when some gas becomes available to power the plants. These plants that are not functioning at their maximum is also plagued with damages and improper functioning because of some mechanical problems. It is indeed sad. Ghana has become like the setting of one of Shakespeare’s tragedies.

 
In the mist of all these problems, investors are also withdrawing from investing in ECG because they have lost faith in the institution, and hence do not want to lose money by investing in a commodity that is not going to yield them any profit.

 
Kofi, we cannot entirely blame VRA, GRIDCO and ECG for this problem. We as citizens have also contributed in the birth and nurturing of ‘Dumsor’ to become the god reigning over us and dictating to us when to cook, eat, iron our clothes and even when to bath. Some Ghanaians can go to work leaving all their appliances on to consume electricity the entire duration they are away. Other citizens connect wires directly from electricity poles and other concealed sources to their homes. This act is popularly known as the ‘illegal connection’. When they do this, they consume electricity without paying any fee because, these wires are not connected into any ‘meters’ that reads and calculates the amount of power they have consumed. And without these ‘meters’, ECG is not able to identify and track them as people who use electricity and hence, do not tax them to pay for the power they have consumed.

 
The irregular schedule of power outages and the lack of power in the country has led to the inflation of prices of products, unemployment since businesses are not able to run again, and it has also caused an increase in taxes tariffs.

Cold store owners happen to also be a set of people who are most affected by the power crises. We see in the news how their products go bad and how they have to throw them al away, causing serious losses to the owners. I have heard that the cold store owners are now frying all their chicken to prevent them from going bad.

 
It is therefore no wonder Ghanaians were jubilating when ‘Dumsor’ made an appearance at the Kotoka International Airport. But the joy of Ghanaians was short lived as in the mist of their joy there was a massive blackout around the Legon – Okponglo area. Upon investigating we were made to understand that our dear ‘Dumsor’ missed his flight and as a result, decided to stay. Poseidon has actually succeeded in making our journey a very difficult one!

PS: ECG has now been sold to PDS (Power Distribution Services, Ghana.

KOFI DZOGBEWU (2017)

Torturing thoughts

What a world? The things we can’t have are what we yearn for most. A girl I admired, longed to be with and loved so much, was out of my reach. It was a union I can only cook up in
my dreams and fantasies. It is no wonder dreams are meant for dreamers and dreamlands.

Drawing water from the well one day, she asked for my help. She needed me to fill her pot. She needed a Good Samaritan; a willing slave. It was a welcome burden. I accepted without
hesitation. My good deed, she adored and fell in love with. My charms, she admired. My beauty, she possessed. We sneaked into the bush and consummated our passion. A great snake in the shrubs also admired her beauty, and took a bite at her.

I am a helpless young man, with a beautiful corpse. She left me too soon. The royal household will surely see my head in a noose! What business has a poor butcher in the
underworld?

Wait! Perhaps she waits for me in death….

MOMENTS

And then the fleeting moments of life
Becomes the cherished memories of our existence
God made man
Man made life
And life inspires fun

Unappreciated seconds of life
Births the lasting canvases we scribble
Flashes of our essence
Night sea breeze
Wandering waves of happiness
At HINI central
Town of unappreciated beauty
Nature’s own masterpiece
Ghanaian music
Lasting friends
Sweet local dishes
Liquor brewed with love

Sounds of laughter
Smothering voices
Tunes of human crickets
Parading seashore dances
Male and female bonding
Body against body
Skin to skin
Natural body responses

Plaguing compulsion for the pleasures of the flesh
Left foot. Right foot
Turn around
Ecstasy, euphoria abounds
Moving figures enchanted by the Azonto

Happiness,
I see you smiling at me……

©Festus Dzogbewu (HINI, 2017)

PLOT DEVELOPMENT IN ‘THE LEGEND OF THE ROCKHILLS’

Funso Aiyejina in ‘The Legend of the Rockhills’ employs many story development strategies which in one way or the other made the story more appealing and interesting to the reader. The writer uses development techniques like elaboration, description, commentary, digression, dialogue and efficient characterization among others to develop the story.

Aiyejina begins the story with a description of the road leading to the village of Otagbemi. He continued to describe the village in the second paragraph using vivid descriptions to educate the reader on the setting of the story.

“Located on the highest and the most difficult to access rock outcrop of the Kukuruku Hills, Otagbemi was a natural fortress…” is an example of how the writer skillfully describes the setting of the story to the reader.

The writer also uses commentary in the third paragraph of the story to comment on how tax collectors and health inspectors according to him used subtle and less announcing means in the administration of their duties. The writer again intrudes the story by telling the reader the nature of tax collectors and the vices they engage in the performance of their duties. The lines ‘these two strangers lacked the arrogance of tax collectors accustomed to romping among the wives of defaulting husbands who abandon homesteads to avoid embarrassment’ is the writers attempt to explain to the reader the way tax collectors behave when they ‘sneak up’ on innocent villagers.

Another significant technique used by the writer to develop the story is the use of dialogue. The writers use of dialogue in the story help to break up or minimize too much narration in the story and the technique also balanced out the other elements of fiction such as description, elaboration, commentary and digression among others.

Another technique used by Funso Aiyejina is elaboration to add extra material and also to clarify certain issues in many parts of the story. The writer especially used elaboration to explain to the reader the reasons why the villagers in Otagbemi were against the proposal of the captain to relocate them and blast the rocks to get to the rare mineral the nation needed to improve of its economic status. The writer, through the diviner, Awonimola used vivid elaboration to narrate the story of how the people of Otagbemi found themselves living in the Rockhills.

The writer also used digression in developing the story. On the fifth page of the story, the writer departs from the main subject of the story to comment on ‘how the price of oil had slumped to an all-time low on the world market, causing the country to lose a lot of its foreign-exchange earnings.’

He also digresses to talk ‘of the ecological devastation that the exploitation of oil had caused in the oil producing areas, and how that had made it impossible for that areas to return to their traditional occupations, now that oil was no longer lucrative.’ This technique educates the reader on the state of affairs of a particular setting, and how it might impact or influence the trajectory of the story.

However, in my opinion, the writer’s use of description of the setting in the first and second paragraphs of the story does not adequately succeed in describing the setting to the reader. This leaves the reader to make up descriptions in many instances of the story and this might lead the reader to deviate from what the writer intends; causing a contradiction.

Also, the writers use of commentary to describe the behavior of the tax collectors and health inspectors makes the reader understand why the villagers act and feel the way they do to these tax collectors and health inspectors. This technique also succeeds in pointing out certain issues in the story and in the development of the story.

The writer’s use of dialogue goes a long way to enhance the image of the characters, especially that of the diviner and the Chief. It also succeeds in telling part of the story all on its own. The writer also succeeds in using dialogue to reveal the cultural imperatives of the characters as those of primitive and ‘rooted in the dark ages’ as the Captain describes them. It also revealed the personality, age, intelligence and experience of some of the characters in the story.

To conclude, the techniques Funso Aiyejina uses to develop the story succeeds in enlightening, educating and explaining certain issues raised in the different parts of the story without losing touch of the central theme or central idea of the story.

BOOK REVIEW (PURPLE HIBISCUS)

TITLE: PURPLE HIBISCUS
AUTHOR: CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE
PUBLISHER: ALGONQUIN BOOKS
PLACE OF PUBLICATION: CHAPEL HILL, US
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: OCTOBER 2003
NUMBER OF PAGES: 307
ISBN: 978-1-56512-387-8
NAME OF REVIEWER: KOFI DZOGBEWU

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is an exceptional piece of literature that evokes unexpected emotions as the reader travels with a Nigerian family from a stable life to a very unsettling one. The novel talks about how Kambili’s father, Papa, uses verbal, mental and physical abuse on his family in the name of being a devout Catholic.

The story made me feel oppressed when I was reading, but then I realized that was Adichie’s genius. She did not mention the word ‘oppression’, nor did she describe ‘pain’ in the beginning of the story, yet all the details she outlined made me feel like something was terribly wrong, not just in Kambili’s family, but in the country too.

The title of the novel ‘Purple Hibiscus’ is very significant and relevant to the story. The purple hibiscus in Aunty Ifeoma’s garden represents not only the clash of cultures experienced by the characters in the novel, but likewise a hope for a better future. In contrast to the startling red hibiscuses in Enugu which symbolizes a violent past, the purple hibiscuses in Nsukka represent the future. Nigeria has gained independence from the British Empire but is challenged by new conflicts in the post-colonial era. The colour red is often associated with Achike and their home in Enugu. There we find the red hibiscuses, ‘the blood on the stairs’, and Father Benedict’s robes- all red. Red often suggests anger and passion and so is perfect in keeping with the plot. In contrast, the colour purple, as in the purple hibiscuses found in Aunty Ifeoma’s house, is often associated with feelings of calmness and solitude, which is repeatedly connected to the characters of Father Amadi, Aunty Ifeoma and other positive figures in the novel.

The framework of the novel keeps the story fresh and compelling all the way through. Purple Hibiscus for me in some ways is better than Adichie’s other novel Half of a Yellow Sun in terms of personal enjoyment and the narrative style. However, some of the themes may be too strong or heavy for young children, about twelve years old and under, depending on their social maturity and reading experience. The novel is therefore recommended for adults and young adults.

I realized that in some parts of the story, Adichie’s personal ideology influenced her writing. She made some political statements in the lines ‘these are all the people (westerners in general) who think that we cannot rule ourselves because the few times we tried, we failed, as if all the others who rule themselves today got it right the first time.’ The political statements might be lost on the reader, only because Kambili’s own personal tragedy seems much more serious, urgent and dangerous.

One problem I found with the story is that even though it is about Kambili’s account on her family’s experiences, Adichie to me made it seem like the central character was Achike, Kambili’s father; whose presence loomed menacingly over almost every page even when he wasn’t featured in the scene.

Another problem I found with the novel is the absence of a glossary. Adichie failed to include a glossary for the Igbo expressions in the story. She did a good job of placing most Igbo expressions in a comprehensive context, but the reader would be frustrated when he or she wants to find the meaning of a term; the meaning of which at best is ambiguous in the context of the expression. Take for instance, the line ‘this girl is a ripe agbogho!’ on page ninety-one of the novel.

In the unfolding of her story, she introduced the reader to the customs, foods and many aspects of Nigerian life without deviating from the subject matter. This is a unique skill in creative writing which many writers fail to achieve. Adichie creates a perfect balance of being sufficiently descriptive while never allowing the descriptions to become tedious. She describes the downfall of the family both in Enugu and in Nsukka, drawing the reader gradually towards an extraordinary tragic ending.

Purple Hibiscus is a constructively judged account of the private and intimate stirrings of a young girl faced with the challenges of tyrannical power, and Adichie voices out the subject matter creatively.

YOU THINK YOU KNOW

Do you know the strength it takes to buy your own tits? To buy your own sexual organs? To buy your own energy? You have no idea. But I do. I’ve bought them all. I bought me a woman when I wanted to enjoy pleasure. Bought me a child when I wanted to crawl through vents. I could tell you about when I bought me a man to rob a bank. Or when I wanted to impregnate a woman. Or when I wanted to be a political leader. I’ve bought them all; been them all. I own them all.

You can buy anything in my time. The year is 3000. We have done everything the human mind can think of. Now we are bored with life. Death seems a pleasurable alternative. I have bought death on so many occasssions . Sometimes for 5 years; others at 10 and 3 years. Even death is becoming boring due to the kind of excitement I prefer. The governments of the world finally gave up and abolished burials and graves altogether in the twenty-ninth century. It had no use. The dead will always rise again someday. People always bought several lifetimes in advance. Death and life is a choice and we exploited them to the max.

Nobody cares about ‘good’ or ‘bad’ anymore. There is only what the law says. I think those words were removed from language somewhere in the twenty-fourth century. We are above good or evil. We are the humans who survived the Inter-Galactic Wars of 2233. After the wars, the aliens left a lot of alien technology behind after we slaughtered them upon their attempt to enslave the human race. Twenty-five years of battle and we finally won.

Our victory came when I earned the trust of these creatures. The vile creatures believed I would betray my people and enthrusted me with secrets. After learning their weaknesses, I betrayed them. I betrayed them terribly and we slaughtered them like the vile creatures they were. The rest escaped to their home planet. But of course, I led an army to their home and we slaughtered some more for the fun of it. The humans rewarded me with so much currency to last me 100 lifetimes. I was their hero; the saviour of humans. My name is written into the books of history in indelible ink. I heard some group of people worship me as their god. Funny. I guess that brings them pleasure.

From the alien tech and weapons left on earth, we were able to alter genes and DNA. We transfered consciosness. We made men women and made adults kids. We invented immortality and increased the mind’s capabilities to the maximum. We’ve explored every fantasy and imagination. The only pleasures left to man is fear, sex and death. I’ve heard the scientists in the University of Ho are close to inventing a device to make man capable of time travel. They should be done in about 5 years. Knowing the Science Confederacy, measures will be put in place to keep the future intact while we explored the past.

Death beckons. My life should kick in after 10 years; just in time for me to exploit all the pleasures I can find in the past. You think you now the reason why my wrists are slit in this bathtub. And why my blood is draining into the sewers, but you dont. You really don’t

Images Source: Google.

LONG SLEEVES

So the rebels asked him, cutlass already in the air,
“Choose. Do you prefer long sleeves or short sleeves?” ……

He was the kind of man that was loved by everybody. Anytime you were sad or had some sort of problem, he would say something to cheer you up and blow your sadness away. He didn’t have lands. He didn’t own companies. No, Efo Dzakpasu was not a rich man. But he was a happy one. Laughter was always in excess in his house.

Efo – as he was popularly known in the Sradeɛ township – believed that the good men do will only be appreciated by a few and will be rewarded in heaven. You would hear him tell one youth or the other, when they were lamenting over a loss, “take heart dear. Half a loaf is better than none. Once there is life, all is not lost”.

Sometimes he didn’t believe in what he said himself. And he could see the confusion on the faces of those he comforted, but he believed there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter what the problem was.
So it came as a shock when the chief invited Efo to the palace. He was rewarded with 5 acres of land for being a peace maker, a comforter and a solid backbone of the youth and aged alike in the community. Efo couldn’t contain his gratitude to the chief and the natives of Sradeɛ. Could Efo have been totally wrong? Is it possible that the good men do could be rewarded here on earth before they reached heaven?

All at once, Efo started farming on his land. He planted cassava in the rich loamy earth of his newly acquired property. Soon, Efo begun harvesting. He bagged several cassavas for sale. He grinded some for dough. He sold them at the Sradeɛ market on market days. Efo’s household’s fortune changed. The laughter in his house grew louder than before. Efo gave back to his community. He saw deprived kids through school and contributed to developmental projects in the community……

*****

….and then the wars came, and with it its atrocities. The country was at war with its citizens. The rebels emerged, swept through the Sradeɛ township – destroying infrastructure and killing people. The women were raped. The aged who couldn’t fight in the war were killed. The nation was crying. Crying for help that was never going to come in time. The chief was beheaded and the palace was burnt down.

The rebels finally caught up with Efo and his household. They asked Efo to join them in their cause. He refused. They punished him and his entire household. They raped the females in his house. The took his male children away. They beat him to a pulp and then killed the females anyway.
“If you won’t fight for our cause, you won’t fight at all,” they said. The rebels asked him, cutlass already in the air, “choose, do you want long sleeves or short sleeves?” Efo realizing he couldn’t escape his fate replied, “I want long sleeves”. He didn’t end the statement when his right wrist went flying into the air and unto the ground……

Weeks later, Efo was contemplating if he had made the right choice in choosing not to fight with the rebels. Then, he remembered his advice to people in similar predicaments. ‘Take heart dear. Half a loaf is better than none’. Once there is life, all is not lost. At least he managed to save his arm by choosing long sleeves. He gathered what he could carry of his belongings with his left hand; the only one he had and set off to Accra. Accra was where he heard the government had set up a relief camp for those affected by the war.

Images source: Google.

ALABOS

As I reached the outskirts of the strange city,
A mighty silhouette darkened my path.
I traced the figure to its source
And behold two great monuments met my gaze and held their stare.
I now understand why the silhouette was so strange.
A battle wages on; and these shadows fight a never-ending war.

With a smile and an offered hand, one monument welcomed me to the city
Inscribed on its side is the quote,
“I am Alabos, thy invincible god. My brother and I welcome you to Draculis.”
The monument adjacent it, with a frown, cautioned everybody with the inscription,
“Beware of Alabos; my brother; thy gracious king.
He welcomes you with his right hand and holds a dagger in the left.”

Tension!
I recognized it. I knew it too well.
I could feel it from the story the two monuments told.
Two great kings. Two great nations.
They welcome me to this strange land
Where I will live and make a name like Alabos.

It seems like déjà vu.
I believe I lived here in a past life.
One day, in the name of Zeus, my statue will be erected adjacent these two.
And I swear I will have a story to tell.

(University of Ghana, 2015)

Image source: Google