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13.09.2018 Feature Article

Celebrating The Life Of Kofi Annan (Part 1)

Celebrating The Life Of Kofi Annan (Part 1)
LISTEN SEP 13, 2018

On Saturday 18th August 2018, I was working on my laptop at home around 12.00 hours at noon. I had gone on Facebook to check posts on my wall. Lo and behold, there was a post stating that Kofi Annan had passed on. Being my role model, I was shell-shocked to believe what I was reading. At the time, I found the news bombshell hard to swallow so I deluded myself and rather believed what some bloggers had hinted that it was a hoax.

However, the source was Starr Radio in Ghana and someone had commented that Starr Radio does not broadcast fake news. The source said that even though the BBC, CNN, Aljezeera and other major international networks had not broadcast it, the shocking news was authentic. After doubting myself as a doubting Thomas, I decided to turn on my TV to the BBC, my favourite channel.

There was David Eades broadcasting the devastating breaking news, just as I had read on Social Media earlier on! I could not believe my ears as I was beside myself with anguish, grief, bewilderment, flabbergasted, devastated, and filled with utter disbelief and consternation! About four days earlier on, I had seen a post on my Facebook wall from Kofi Annan, lamenting the state of the events in the world and I had reacted by a comment. I had not physically met the man in my life but had all along followed his career and I took him as a role model. I secretly nursed a feeling that one day, Providence might smile on me and make me meet my cherished mentor. Alas, it was not to be, was it? May his soul rest in perfect peace!

Below are some pieces of prose poems which I dedicate to his memory. The first one is entitled Truth. It is about the truth, knowing that currently the world is drowning in fake news and people are fond of peddling lies, especially on Social media. It is often said that truth does not sell, so, so many people these days take the shortcut by lying heavily. The late Kofi Annan disliked fake news and I enjoin Ghanaians to rise to the occasion by forsaking the spread of lies and to cherish and jealously guard our rich cultural heritage of telling the truth. The illustrious life of Kofi Annan should inspire us all to walk straight.

The second poem entitled Nativity talks about arrogance and the worship of our pride or hubris as many Ghanaians have become narcissist, hollow, and noisy instead of being calm, sober and reflective. The calm demeanour and sang-froid of the late Kofi Annan should speak volumes to us as we mourn this monumental image and legacy of a man who in his lifetime exemplified Humility, Honour, Sacrifice of self for service to humankind, Sagacity, and Wisdom.

The poem requests us to reflect deeply on the circumstances of our birth and to reject greed or worldliness and to rather embrace the patriotism shown by the late Annan and our forebears who fought hard to leave us a legacy of freedom and justice. The late Annan was proud of his Africanness and he did not forsake his roots. The third poem entitled I am an African boasts of the African yearning and urge for freedom in all aspects of life. It enjoins us all to be proud of our rich cultural heritage and to preserve it.

The fourth and last poem entitled The African Professor decries and bemoans the base ways our beloved country has descended into as the Professor has rationally put it that the real world is the abstract world because things we see as permanent are in fact transient and ephemeral. Our folklores and wise sayings speak to such issues in our songs, hi-life, and hip-hop music.

Let us at this time of heaviness in our hearts as we mourn a great man and hero, reflect on our decaying national cultural fabric, and borrow a leaf from the illustrious life of our African chief.

Dammirifa due Busuburum Kofi Annan!
1
Truth
Sometimes the truth stinks,
Sometimes it really stings!
That, which is ennobled,
Rises like cream above the gross of lies.
Truth, like a helium-filled balloon,
Soars above the dense nether
Regions of a layer of lies,
To escape the weighing gravity of base ways,
Above the cumulus-nimbus clouds,
Into the rarefied fields of the troposphere,
It ascends effortlessly into the ionosphere,
Unfettered, untrammelled and untrapped,
Like a satellite, it beams its inescapable infrared rays

Below to lay bare all the damned lies,
Then, there and then, the truth stands unalloyed,
Tall, pure and serene
The bunch of lies flees, diminutive in despair,
A terribly crestfallen face,
It cannot face the test of time and space,
It is demolished at a devastating pace,
Who says lying pays?
Cover your face and pray,
If you are a liar and you’ve seen the light,
For, you’ve not lost the race to reform,
Veritas, goes the Harvard motto!
2
Ode to your Nativity
Remembered the day you were born?
In fetal position prior you reclined,
Sitting aplomb on your wombic throne
Of abysmal innocence,
You recused yourself and recoiled
To judge this beautiful nonsensical world you declined,

At your birth, you uttered your first feeble cry,
Of sweet sorrow cum sad joy,
It wafted along plaintively on the putrid air,
At your first inhalation, you exhaled,
Was it for a Pyrrhic victory or a Winner’s curse?

Neither fabric nor textile on you wore,
When you tore through the Amniotic Cavity wall,
To the world to explore,
And to endure the rude indignities of life’s war,

Lo and behold, you bored your way to see the world,

But shortly after you were born,
You were no sooner bored,
With the rotten world you saw
Pray, remember,
Only your birthday suit on you bore,
Naked, nude, and tactile your core,
Fair in form and fragile you informed,
Nor cotton, nor linen, nor wool you wore,
Naked, nude, you were born,
In fine fleshy fettle you informed,
Earlier on, in antenatal clinic,
Your heartbeat in fetescope and endoscope recorded
You many days and years have since counted,
Yet, many more days and years to count and recount,

Notwithstanding, a septuagenarian or octogenarian or a nonagenarian,

But nativity birthday suit recall,
Nor rayon, nor silk, nor polyester you wore,
Fabrics of earthly sheen, you abhorred,
Your food, mammary milk downloaded from above,
GMOs, red meats, and junk food you outlawed
No need in hurry the world to crave,
For all who craved and raved madly, no sooner ended in the grave,

The world craves for you, but be brave,
Let the maidens wail for the callousness of this world,

Let the minstrels croon you lullabies to dorm
The world was, is, and will continue to be what it is,

No man by his power changes it a wee bit,
It has buffeted sages,
It has dealt deadly blows to hefty blundering blokes

Adore and adorn no fanciful integument,
Stars above need no habiliment to sparkle,
Only quacks cackle, and quislings quackle,
At your nativity, you didn’t whistle,
Years on, up tight in the chest you strut about,
Struggling to come to terms with simplicity,
Stupidity obfuscates your vision,
An unenlightened darkness engulfs your reasoning,
You are held captive by your inordinate lust,
Remember, things of this world do not last
Gaudy gowns of hubris disrobe,
Nasty narcissism robes disown,
Gluttonous gossip garments dump as garbage,
Garbs of debauchery, lechery and licentiousness dissipate,

Festoons of flattery, give a wide berth,
Go get a life as in a Tibetan monastery,
Or rewind to ancient Greece to Spartan discipline,
Above all, to yourself be true,
As pure the day as your nativity
3
I am an African
When he dances, the earth takes notice
By trembling under the small balls of his feet,
He performs acrobatic feats with his bare feet,
Cavorting, gyrating and pirouetting
As if possessed by the incarnate spirit of the gods,

He postures, somersaults, surges forward, thrusts,
Fends off and beats a retreat.
In mock battle moves, he
Imagines imaginary enemies in traumatised flight,
With him and his bloodshot flaming eyes in
Hot pursuit,
What a feint cum sleight of hand,
At its dexterous execution can make you faint!
Power dance, yes African
Power dance occupies more space,
Give way, let him dance to his heart’s fill,
Let him dance the warrior dance
Over all the expanse of space,
Africa has no lack of space,
Let him dance till he is a spent force
Let him dance the Agbadza and Ogidi Dances
Or better still, the Asafoatse, Egwugwu
Or Dagbon fire dance,
To the vibrant throbbing rhythms
Rattled out from the Odabo drums or the
Atumpans or the Fontomfrom by the
Rhythm-drunk drum beaters,
See their glistening and straining
Muscles soaked in rivulets of sweat,
That form poodles and noodles on
Their oily black shimmering skins,
Reflected in the merciless scorching
African sun, they are like efficiently-
Lubricated human percussion machines-
Yes, power dance, African expression
Of celebration, vibrancy, energy, liberty,
Unlimited freedom and
Unfettered spirit!
Let him dance, let him dance
The unconstrained African power dance
That does not stay bottled in stereotyped
And well-rehearsed movements,
Or book-measured calculated steps,
The African dance does not go stale
Like bottled ale,
It flows naturally and expressively,
It spreads out in all directions
Like the unseen wind that has no beaten path
Or like the powerful Ogogoro or Akpeteshie
Alcoholic drink,
Distilled from fermented palm wine or raffia wine,
Whose intoxicating power spreads out
In the nervous system within seconds or minutes,
After being imbibed
Yeah, give way to the power dancer,
He could pluck you the sky
If you let him get by,
And the sky will no more be your limit,
Because he who brings you the sky,
Is illimitable and unlimited
When possessed by the African
Ancestral spirits,
He could likewise empower you to be like him.
With the prize of the plucked sky,
We can together celebrate
The glorious exploits of our ancestors
Who once walked, talked and danced,
Just as we do here and now,
When he laughs, the African really goes to town,
As he laughs loud and clear to make it go down,
Indeed, he laughs and acts the clown
So that one day, per chance, he wears the
Crown and gown of a clown,
Oh, chief clown in brown gown in town,
Yeah, his wide guffaws are far beyond
The bounds of Western etiquette and niceties
Aha, let him laugh, let him laugh
The peals of African laughter,
That lights up millions of hearts
And ricochets off the thick thickets,
Revealing the mirth unlimited in the African spirit,

In spite of global warming and credit crunch,
Or of impending catastrophic calamities,
The African keeps his cheer and his laugh,
So let him be, let him be,
Like the laughing jackals which abound
On the Great African savannah plateau,
Let him laugh his lungs out and
Let the African lady too laugh with her,
Her ample breasts heaving like ripe pawpaw,
Ready to be plucked and unburdened
From tired tree stalks
By a hungry forest male adventurer,
Who stumbles upon them, Phew, what a bonanza!
With relish, he plucks them with a long stick,
And in the process, chases away birds of variegated

Plumes and hues that are wont to make spoils,
Among the redolent riot of pawpaw and
Fruits of similar genre, rotting away
Deep in the soulless African jungle
Yeah, let all who cherish African humour
Laugh their multiple sorrows away,
In ripples of unrestrained giggles and wriggles,
In the event, showing off their cassava white
Teeth in full set and unalloyed by compromised chemical

Toothpaste or artificial mouth jellies and washes,
Let them be, let them be,
They prefer their charcoal paste and green
Plantain peels, supplemented by assorted
Chewing sticks with potent therapeutic powers
Yes, when they laugh their typical
Tornado and hurricane African laugh,
It’s laden with good humour, African style,
Yeah, pure and natural Africans
Who commit no social crime nor terrorism acts,
When they laugh or flatulate a million
Times in the backyard of this thick jungle,
On the wrong side of the Equator,
No need to send them off to Guantanamo Bay
Or the Hague for genocidal trial,
For fatuously flatulating trillion times and
Laughing lackadaisically on their own
God -given terrain
Yeah, they are in their own bona fide
And hallowed ancestral fiefdoms,
Mockingly laughing at their own foibles
And inadequacies,
Who born monkey, No baga (burgher) can
Yab!
When he sneezes, he sneezes indeed
With seizures and paroxysms of his body,
Discharging massive volumes of spray,
With his body rocking like a listless ship
About to run aground,
His sneeze arrests all the sinews in his
Muscles,
Reassuring himself that he sneezes
Because he is, a la Cartesian style,
Like Okonkwo in Things Fall Apart,
He stuffs loads of snuff
Up his gaping dual olfactory orifices,
To activate and awaken his sleeping brain cells,
And induce a rapid succession of sneezing spree,
Which he believes cures nagging headaches,
Dislodges malignant phlegm and tumescent
Blood clots
Above all, rendering clear 20/20 vision,
Clear and unfuzzy thinking,
At best, eliminating incidence of
Stroke and manhood arrest,
Great stuff, this snuff medicine stuff,
Courtesy of Sir Walter Raleigh,
Who centuries ago from the Red Indians of Virginia,

In the then New World- North America,
Imported to the court of the Virgin Queen
Yes, tobacco snuff may bestow therapeutic powers
Through its sneeze-inducing property,
That perhaps endows the user
With aphrodisiac
Powers and thereby, boosting the central nervous
System, supplying potent power to the powerhouse
Of manhood,
An elixir for sexual prowess and prolific
Child bearing
Yes, he is an African, he is an African,
Let him be, let him be with his
Gregarious laughter, power dance and
Sneeze-induced sneezing orgies and revelry,
Let him be steeped head to toe in his
Africanness-
Not even heavy pounding in a typical tropical
Fufu mortar can shell him of his
Africanness ingrained in his DNA,
He is hard core African, to the kernel,
Let him be!
4
The African Professor
He lives the life of a recluse,
In the jostle and tumble of the city,
Yet his eye is far removed from the bubble,
As a litterateur of the literati and haute couture
Of academia,
He subsists in a surreal world,
And sees our world as a Trojan horse,
Full of betrayals, falsity, deceit and conceit,
To him, the abstract world is reality enough,
There, he finds security and serenity,
Leading a Spartan and unsophisticated lifestyle,
He feels often misunderstood, misinterpreted
And misjudged
As he is branded bookish and boring,
Thus, his trusted companions are the seminal papers,

The ivory tower academia and the subsidised booze
At the Senior Common Room (SCR)
Indeed, the African Professor epitomises nothing
But controversy and lonesomeness,
For indeed, he seems as lonely
As the Matopo Hills of Bulawayo,
When seized by frenzies of absurdity,
He is known to converse with imaginary characters
In clear and conversational monologues,
Engaging unseen characters in his yet to be
Published fictional work, his magnum opus
To him, these characterisations represent the
‘Real’ people while the real people are

The fictitious creatures or entities-
The soulless sycophants sauntering
About every day in the city as shameless
Some bodies, yet they are nonentities,
He laments their hypocrisy, greed,
Selfishness and Mr Jekyll and Hyde masquerade
In fits of uncontrollable insanity, he rants
And raves at his imagined adversaries
In bombastic and caustic lingo,
Wishing he could catch them live like butterflies
To chloroform them and preserve them as bottled
Lab species
The Professor blames the world for his
Weird lifestyle,
He disproves almost every theory extant in
Powerful exegesis and disquisitions,
He disproves everything but himself.
In his small cottage house overgrown with a
Riot of variegated flower species
In downtown Belvedere
He lives with nine cats, nine rabbits,
Nine German shepherds and terriers,
Nine tortoises and nine doves,
None of which he could call unfaithful,
Because none was a terrorist,
To each one of them he gave a zoological name
As well as a local Ndebele name,
(He is ever distrustful of Shonas and Anglo-Saxons!)

One day, he relished the idea of conducting
An economic census of his personal assets
And he started,
‘What if nine cats each gave birth to nine
Kittens, and the rabbits each nine litter,
And the nine terriers each nine puppies,
And the nine tortoises each nine grub,
And the nine doves to each nine fledglings
Or nestlings,
Where on earth on cloud nine,
Would he be with ninety-nine nannies,
To nurse the nestlings and all the zoological
Arrivals?
Scratching his hairless balding pate,
He erupted an answer, ‘Eureka-450
Animals to be precise, and to the last count!
Alas, to his utter consternation and chagrin,
He figured out later,
All the animals in his menagerie,
Were as male and castrated or sterilized
As could be-
Whereupon, he discontinued the census,
As he came back to his senses,
Realising he was day-dreaming,
And behaving like Alice in Wonderland,
Or as they say, building castles in the air,
That is!
Whereupon, he exclaimed,
L’etat c’est moi!
(The state is myself!)
Ce la vie!
(Such is life)
Adieu Busumbrum, Adieu
Due, Dammirifa due!
Culled from my book, Mosi O Tunya Sounds ©2009 found at Amazon.com

Kwesi Atta Sakyi
Kwesi Atta Sakyi, © 2018

The author has 51 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: KwesiAttaSakyi

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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