Sunday, September 23, 2007

Natalie Marx: my hair-braided purple sister

During the 'Ester's Walks of Life' programme on 9 September 2007, Natalie spoke about Ester before introducing and reading the poem by Ama Ata Aidoo (see post below).

Estie, you made me smile ALL the time.
You laughed with me and made me laugh.
You cried with me and cried for me.
You gave me little gifts to tell me you were thinking of me.
You listened first and then you shared.
You gave advice and helped me make decisions.
You understood me, even when I didn’t understand myself.
You encouraged me and gave me strength.
You loved me and always made sure I knew.
You helped me figure out who I am and who I want to be.
You held my hand so I knew you were there.
You taught me what it means to be a friend and you taught me what it feels like to have a best friend.

As Ester and I had officially proclaimed our ‘sisterhood’ status in Ghana, we deemed it only natural that we should inherit our own surrogate Ghanaian mother. Now being sisters with remarkably good taste – particularly when it comes to selecting members of our family – we prided ourselves (and Angela, of course) on tracking down Ghana’s award winning author, playwright and women’s activist…Ama Ata Aidoo.

Through an extraordinary sequence of events, Angela had graced us with the contact details for Ama Ata Aidoo and prior to our arrival in Ghana Ester had in fact already begun reading a selection of Ama Ata’s short stories…and in no time had become a fan. She had caught the Ama Ata bug.

Ama Ata was born in 1942 in the Fante region of Ghana and grew up in a Fante royal household. Ama Ata’s works of fiction particularly deal with the tension between Western and African world views. Many of her protagonists are women who defy the stereotypical women’s role of their time. She is also an accomplished poet and has written several children’s books.

Aside from her literary career, Ama Ata was appointed the Minister of Education in Ghana around the time that Ester was born. She resigned after 18 months and has since spent a great deal of time teaching abroad as a visiting professor in the African Studies Department at Brown University in the United States.

So I think that Estie and I had selected one of, if not THE, most inspiring beautiful Ghanaian mothers…

Ester’s relationship with Ama Ata blossomed as they would sit for hours upon hours discussing and debating, amongst other things, the wonders of which of their nation’s roots had the prior claim to the original sounds of Hebrew.

The poem I am about to read to you was written just weeks ago by Ama Ata , especially for Ester. It is a poem that encapsulates my hair braided purple sister…