When the War Came to Ghana - Andy Aryeetey

What was kpokpoi?
It was the rich man’s meal
Araba Last-Stop could no longer afford.
Sophisticated Akwele was no longer beyond
the reach of Ato, the fitter.
He made her strip at knife point
and ‘fitted’ something into her.

The Ga’s had mobilised their forces.
Eight-year old skilled men
taking commands from fifty-year old war commandos.
Attack on Ewes was mandatory
and a husband was to murder his beautiful Ewe wife.

The Anlos had sought Togbi’s guidance
and most powers were consolidated
in a few local heroes
believed to be bullet-proof, impervious to knives.
The Akans’ plan was to find out if they were bomb-proof.

Officials who were never at the battlefield
Were the professors and scientists of various ethnic groups.
Labelled most wanted, their lives were most sought after.
A lecturer sent his students to battle, they died there.

There were no more rural areas,
The inhabitants were extinct
Though others died through natural disasters
such as collapsing caves and underground hideouts.

The University of Ghana was bombed.
First came the pillars of the Registry
Then the lecture halls and every lecturer’s bungalow.
The safe houses were for a selected few.
Medical personnel, mostly.
To be deemed elite was a dangerous honour.
You would top the list of targets to be terminated.
Most celebrities tried to escape the country
but were denied visas.

It was no longer safe to call a place a home
a hideout was more suitable
and a family’s hideout changed address weekly.
A family consisted of one’s ethnic group
mobilised in a location.
Sometimes ability to speak two local languages
saved one’s life.

Akans molested Ga’s
and Ga children beat up Akan fathers.
Who was a school child?
He was a soldier in combat training.
Who was a girl?
She was an incubator.
Yet it was not a world to bring babies into.

Ghana was on the map for bloody reasons.
Foreign philanthropists sent aid to greedy leaders.
Three presidents were assassinated
and the party system was in chaos.
The local media was ethnocentric
and later each ethnic group elected their own president.

I could not afford a plate of banku and tilapia
and gari was hard to come by.
What do you mean by street children?
‘You dey see your body’ in ancient Ghana.
You are the street child.

To survive I gave up running and joined the family army.
This piece was my last.
My remains were found in a pile of papers
torn from my diary, a future writer.

Peace from the ‘monkey tail’ seller.
Peace from the ‘too gb33′ seller.
Buy peace from the Asaana seller -
the traditional Coca-Cola.
Peace is priceless.
Toshii Maame give me peace.

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