Sunday, September 23, 2007

Ama Ata Aidoo: A Note from Ghana

Ama Ata Aidoo wrote this poem for "Ester's Walks of Life": it was introduced and read by Natalie Marx (see post above).


Dear Ester,

Doek-wearing girl-Brit:
You burst upon us
With dancing eyes, and
The most wondrous spirit…

Clambering up and down
Ancient kombis, 207s, and
Sundry other rickety, rusty, and risible
Moving machines of
Doubtful even-these-roads’-worthiness,
beating market mothers at their game.

You stride through our
Mini jungles and maxi environmental challenges
With the ease of
Not just another native, but a never-left.

Or at the very least, like any returnee, with
Affections to restore,
Rights to claim,
Structures to repair.

Very Dear Ester,

We are greatly amazed by just how much
You remind us of the
Working conquering queens
We have known:

Ask London about Yaa Asantewa, and
Lisbon, of Nzingha.

But talking of markets,
What was it with you and me and
Our vast, long-suffering
City centre choked full of chaos, commerce?
And… and…

Then there were those
Good-natured but endless
Philosophically exciting,
Intellectually intriguing, on
Which of our nation’s ethnicities are
The true bearers of Hebraic matrilineal retentions?

Akan overlords who, in reality,
Can only rule if sanctioned by the female line, or
The Gas with their latter-day patriarchies and
Ancient subsumed theocracy?

Your royal highness,
The great debates you initiated on our shores
Are not about to end just yet.
And we are not even sorry.

Oh, see how you trail your queenly umbilicus from the womb
—needing not a second of

You Ester,
Are nobody’s candle in the wind.

A bird? Perhaps.
Some wildly joyous morning thriller
With the lightest wings of the longest span,
gloriously hued:
Ochre, silver, and glowing indigo,

Who swept through our universe, and
Brushed lightly past us as she flew…

Adjoa Ester,
It is true
You are not here.

But Child, you are hardly gone.

Ama Ata Aidoo
Accra, Ghana
August 21, 2007