From the Archives: "Accra" by Prince Mensah

My heavy baggage is carried
by a teen kayayo, [i]
aged by her adventures in big city,
severed from family,
lost in a vortex,
spurned by simple economics.
She carries my possession like a cross on her back,
smiling for finding funds to survive.

My contemplation is tainted by a worried
mother yelling for lost child,
pushing through crowd and din,
oblivious to complaints.

Pickpockets lookout for Johnny-Just-Comes,
naïve business folk from the hinterland.
The streets are mean with survival dressed
as con men and lotto prophets.

Frustrated market women rain
insults, vulgar and plenty,
as smells of fried fish and kenkey [ii]
soothe nostalgic nostrils.

My ears are jarred by honks of tro-tro vans, [iii]
impatient drivers in charge.
Their egotistical mates collecting
fares from exhausted passengers.
Man and vehicle combat for space
in this Tetris game.

The sun shines with intense fury
on sweaty brows and faded hope.
Beauty hides behind hard labor,
confidence is lost with missing teeth.
Dreams are what we really own -
we expect them to come true.

I pause to sip iced kenkey drink
with some bofrot. [iv]
Some kid watches me, wishing he was me.
His hungry eyes analyze the motions
of my happy mouth.
His predicament steals my appetite -
I share my lunch with him.

I walk the beach by Independence Square,
wondering about our dependence
on those from whom we gained freedom
during our struggles in the fifties.
I stand before Nkrumah's mausoleum,
venue of the old Polo grounds.
His old words are drowned in the new cries
of a deceived continent.

I walk this Accra breeze from grey sea
with waves of tears that fall
on the shores of our motherland
duped by the greed of her children.
We are rich by all standards, by nature,
wisdom, intelligence and people.

Flashy buildings house expatriate firms
which overlook native commerce
conducted by gutter and lungu-lungu, [v]
the halitosis of corruption.
But conditions do not coerce attitude.

Smiles are easy to form on weary faces -
Fama Nyame, Fama Nyame, Fama Nyame! [vi]
We shrug away our troubles and move on.

[i] A porter
[ii] Corn meal
[iii] Local transportation, normally dilapidated vans
[iv] Local version of an American doughnut
[v] Hausa word for alleys
[vi] "Give it to God, Give it to God, Give it to God!"

Old poems at OGOV don't die, but live on in our archives! Every once in a while we will dust one off for our newer readers to enjoy. "Accra" was orginally published on OGOV on May 17th, 2008.


Askiadray said...

Beautiful piece

gamelmag said...

Splendid piece. A picturesque depiction of life in Accra.

Dela Bobobee said...

A very realistic poem. This is what I call a "slice of life." Nice work, Prince Mensah. Pity it's against the rules to vote for poems from the archives.

Rob Taylor said...

Oh Dela, we needed you to champion it back in 2008!