Wake Up, I'm Home - Juanita Tsikata

Sore, maba fie.

Firi me so.

Maame, ma fe wo.

Enb3 ha me. 1

Why are you crying?

You ask?

Who angers you?

What a shame!

Is it my brothers, running from you?

No, my dear.

Or my sisters, renouncing what is true?

No, not so.



A long way you have come.

Indeed I have.

Fifty-three years is but a letdown.

Certainly I am greying.



I cannot wear my kente anywhere.

My child!

They call it kenta.

Oh my heart!

They say I’m a man.

What? How? Why?

My hair Mama!

Black curls, my love.

A man’s way, they say.

Hush you’re you!

They laugh at my tongue!

You speak of the sun!

They laugh at my ways.

And dance for the moon!

They call me British.

The gods forbid!

Indeed I am.

No, say not!

I am yours by birth.

And by blood, my love.

I am theirs by circumstance.

I warn you. Cease!

I have forgotten you.

Ay, my heart!

I have purified my blood.

You, say no more!

I crave for family.

I’m here for you.

I yearn for together.

In body and in spirit!

I am me by birth.

You said it, too!

And theirs by paper.

Come let me torch it!



Hold me close.

Indeed I shall!

Love me like none other.

Hush my child.

For I am yours by birth.

Yes, this I know.

British by circumstance.

A curse bestowed.

I must go now!

Sunset, so soon?

I will visit again!

If not, pain you will gain!

I love you, Mama.

Than you will ever know!

Adieu, my heart.

Daughter, hold steadfast!

I have to head back.

Viny3 loh! 2

I’m yours by birth.

My love, 'tis true.

And theirs by circumstance.

Forever subdued!

1- Wake up, I'm home.
Leave me alone.
Mother, I've missed you.
Leave me be.

2- Oh my child.


Dela Bobobee said...

A very touching poem. Emotionally charged. Anybody who reads this poem and your answers to the questions but does not feel anything may perhaps never know the depths and really what poetry is all about. Personally I am deep touched, not because of the melancholy undertone but by the expect manner in which the poem was delivered; very apt. It evokes deep feelings of double tragedy. The mode of delivery was just perfect, and it rightly achieved the intended effect of what poetry should be. Back to back dialogue poems between mama and daughter are always charged, either emotionally or with vituperations from reprimands. Good job. Please keep it up.

@Juanita. I feel you, nay, the poem very much because I know what you felt while writing this poem. But know what? The good news is that, you are not alone. Apart from being a passionate poet myself, I had a similar feeling when I visited Ghana sometime ago during my mother’s funeral. I tried to be the man that I thought I was. I initially maintained a stoic composure and mixed freely with relatives and old friends for some time, until suddenly it HIT me.

I chose a quiet spot for my reverie as I thought of my mom still in the mortuary while we were busy preparing for the burial arrangements. Suddenly, I felt how different this homecoming was. It was very empty and devoid of life; that wouldn’t have been the case if my dear Mama was alive. It used to be very different. Although my Ole Pa was still alive then but it wasn’t the same. Without warning, the floodgates burst open. I broke down and wept uncontrollably. I never knew men also shed tears, cry I know they do but sometimes tears don’t accompany the audible cries.

I pulled myself together when an unknown little girl quietly approached and consoled me with perhaps the exact words that sounded like my Mama. “Be strong, God does not work with weaklings”. I didn’t realized when I hugged until the bear hug became too uncomfortable for her little frame and she winced. I only thought of an offered shoulder to cry on. The pent-up floodgate of tears broke it banks. The little girl cried too, perhaps there are some people who cannot stand tears on other people’s faces. But what is done is done; lets chill, cheer up and garnish our griefs with inner elation, strength and hope. We should also learn to take our triumphs with the heartaches. “Soon, you too gonna be a mama too.Or perhaps you are already.Ha!”

Dela Bobobee said...

In my opinion, this poem evokes a two dimensional focus on African Diaspora.

It stresses the universal theme of homecoming but is deeply tinged with an African motif, hence the Diasporas perspective. Homecoming is homecoming: home sweet home; but to the African Diaspora there are essentially two types of homecoming. Why two? It is because this tallies with the number of the different kinds of African Diaspora, migration through unwilling and willing. To these two types of African Diaspora homecoming to Africa means two different things to each and every category.

1. Diaspora through Dispersal: Homecoming to those who are of African descent but with different foreign nationalities. Homecoming to these people is sometimes very vague but somehow less emotionally charged. This group view homecoming to Africa with ambivalence. This applies in particular to the descendants of the Black Africans who were enslaved and shipped to the Americas by way of the Atlantic slave trade; with the largest population in Brazil (see Afro-Brazilian). Much of the African Diaspora was dispersed throughout Europe, Asia, and the Americas during the Atlantic and Arab Slave Trade. They know that Africa is their original home but their affiliations are divided. If only they know how their long forgotten ancestors would have felt about this homecoming if it had happened during their own lifetimes.

2. Diaspora through Migration: This group applies to Black Africans who have emigrated from the continent in order to seek education, employment and better living for themselves and their children. Homecoming to this group is also sometimes ambivalent due to their long sojourns but deeply emotionally charged. Juanita’s poem is a typical example of how they feel due to strong emotional attachment to their homeland. It is believed that people from Sub-Saharan Africa, including many Black Africans, number at least 800million in Africa and over 140 million in the Western Hemisphere, representing around 14% of the world's population.

But I say to all of you, Africa welcomes you home – “Akuaba!”

Dela Bobobee said...

The most memorable highpoint of this poem is the indigenous languages used. At the beginning we see the exchange of words between mother and daughter in Twi which is the most popular and by far the widely-spoken Ghanaian language.

Sore, maba fie.

Firi me so.

Maame, ma fe wo.

Enb3 ha me. 1

Five lines away to the end we notice another different Ghanaian language, Ewe.

Viny3 loh! 2.

This goes a long way to say, this young poet is bilingual or possibly a multi-linguist. It shows the daughter’s emotional attachment to her homeland, Ghana. It also emphasises what was underscored in the poem earlier on that:

For I am yours by birth.

Yes, this I know.

British by circumstance

Indeed Ghana @ 53, and most importantly your late dear Mama are definitely very proud of you for not forgetting one most unique element that makes you truly a Ghanaian: your roots; the native language.

Unfortunately, this cannot be said of many Ghanaians or perhaps other Africans in Diaspora. Most of them might have forgotten their roots already. It is a shame that most of this category of Africans don’t even teach their children to speak their mother tongue. It is a great tragedy that, African indigenous languages are part of the highly endangered species in the world. For every five minutes one native language disappears from the surface of the earth. I have said this before on OGOV that, Culture is like a snake where the bigger snakes swallow the smaller ones. Most of our native languages are disappearing very fast. This is also known as cultural imperialism. It is the practice of promoting a more powerful culture over a least known or desirable culture.

To all this, I say kudos to Juanita. Well done!

LS said...

I prefer to take the long view. Plp have been leaving Africa for over a million yrs, give or take a few hundred thousand.


Darko Antwi said...

Getting better and better. Welldone Juanita.