Five Questions with Nana Yeboaa:
Nana Yeboaa is the pen name for Bernadette Poku. She is a spoken word artist and performance poet. Some of her poetry material have apperead in the Taj Mal anthology, T.dot griot: an anthology of toronto black story tellers.
Five Questions with Nana Yeboaa:
1. That closing phrase, "settle in my heart that I am home", is very striking. Did you start the poem with it in mind? If not, when did it come along in the process? Did you write it out exactly like that on your first approach, or did you edit that line many times before getting it the way you liked it?
The poem did not start with the phrase "settle in my heart that I am home". In my mind, it was having a sense of longing that brought me to that phrase. For the most part, the poems I write are minimally edited for diction or content as it tends to take away from the emotions that I was feeling at the time of writing.
2. This poem is, in some ways, a reversal of the stereotypical narrative of Ghanaians "dreaming" of moving to the Western world. It reminds me, in this sense, of Kwadwo Oteng Owusu's "Cold Feet". How do you feel when you hear of Ghanaians desiring very badly to travel to the West? What would you say to an individual with such desires, if you got the chance?
I dont blame those who dream of moving away to seek greener pastures. I just blame their circumstance. Likewise, there is a sense of dejection among these people. All that comes to them is a flight to get away from all the troubles of home and the poverty. However, at the end of the day, most of us yearn for home because our worldview is affected: the foreign culture sometimes does not agree with us very much and we feel lost, looking for a sense of peace and the place called home. To each is handed their destiny and fate. However fruitful you want your life to be is in your own hands. Live and own your life be it in the West or in Ghana.
3. You (and many of us) are too young to remember a time when the Volta wasn't dammed. Still, does the fact that the river is dammed (and not only dammed, but dammed to create the largest reservoir in the world!) affect in any way how you think of the river? Does it affect how it functions for you metaphorically?
Now that is a question that brings to light the stories that my grandmother told about those days. The river really took the lives of those who lived on its banks. Homes and property were lost and the fortunate ones were relocated. The Volta also known by the Akwamu's of the area as Fra is as potents as ever. As a child I was told to be careful and respect the water for it had a spirit and it could certainly drown. In reality the Volta is what it is: the livelihood of those who fish from it, the source of water to wash off the grime of the day, the enigma of hydroelectic power for most of the country and beyond. The Volta river will be there every time one visits home.
4. I love that your poem includes a reference to the Adome Bridge, which I've always found to be a very striking, graceful bridge. It struck me in reading your poem that it's a shame the Adome Bridge doesn't appear more often in Ghanaian poetry (or perhaps I've just been missing it). When did you decide to add the bridge into the poem?
It's not a matter of when I decided to put it in the poem but really when I will walk over it again, or drive over it and admire the place which I call home, the place in which my heart resides. The bridge just like the river is needed. It is the unique structure over the river that gives the Volta credence.
5. Are there other buildings or visual wonders in Ghana that you think deserve to be memorialized in poetry?
There are, for instance in Accra, Osu Usher Fort, the castles in both Elmina and Cape Coast, Kakum Forest, Boti Falls, Manhyie Palace in Ashanti Region, etc.
how this poem can be left like this without a comment baffles me. perhaps the reason is that many people identify strongly with it and it has struck a familiar chord in their hearts leaving them mesmerised.it has made me think of the many zimbabweans doing menial jobs in the uk, canada, america and even closer to home in south africa. this poem raises a lot of issues- perhaps i must say social political ones. why do people leave their homes to be in exile- including self imposed exile. why is there so much poverty on the continent that we have elusive dreams of making it in the west , etc. ah. let me leave the message and move to the artistic endeavour. i read this poem aloud to get the rhythm. it is there in abundance. well done my dear sister.
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