This walatu-walasa life is not helping me enjoy my pastime of sitting up atop my roof so high, to watch the watchables, ignore the ignobles, tangibilise the intangibles, reflect on the reflectables and, generally, enjoy the enjoyables in life. This is the reason why you have not heard from me for the past five moons or so. The ko-nea-ba-ing, the to-ing and fro-ing and its concomitant hustling are what is keeping this body inside cloth, as my Eko brothers and sisters would say.
When a new person is welcomed into a home, our elders usually say ‘w’aba a, tinaase’: if you have come, do stay, to translate it loosely. So, I have come, but as to whether I would stay and not vanish again, only time and what is in my pocket now will tell. For, as sure as koose is taken with kooko, if the weight of the cowries in my dzokoto diminishes, I will have to go back to my life of walatu-walasa to make ends meet. For now, as the ends are close to each other and have not started moving away, let me drop what is on my mental plate as quickly as possible.
Ei, where to start from? I am in that state Koo Gyamera was in when he was taken to a buffet table after being rescued from that galamsey pit he was rescued from at Japa, having been imprisoned underground for a week. He didn’t know which food to touch first: ampesi, apeprensa, fufu or kookobintom. He ended up with a headache!
So many things have happened during these five past moons that I don’t know which konkonsa to crack first. Nsempii! However, I have learnt in life that, when confronted with multiple knots to untangle, you tackle the one your hands touch first.
Thirty years ago, just around this month, my History teacher in Ghanacoll, Peter Anti aka Pierro, introduced us to the story of the Boston Tea Party. Pierro was a great teacher who brought history to life, almost as if he was telling stories by the fireside. The Tea Party protest is one of the highlights of American political history. This week had started on a great note and all I can think of is the Need Dough Party. Incidentally, we can twaa Tea with it.
How did it all start? Well, I was sitting atop this roof so high and I saw Papa Frankie Helmani rush into Auntie Ima’s shop by the Kumasi station opposite the Post Office. It was just around the early morning when the serious ones were about leaving for their farms and the lazy ones were stretching to change gears in their sleep. When he came out of the shop, which is also called a supermarket because it has more than three shelves with products labelled with their prices, he was carrying an olonka of refined dinart.
Ah, Dinart! I remember those Rawlings chain days when going for weighing in the polyclinics was more for the tom brown and powdered milk than it was for the welfare of the babies who were supposed to be the focus of the weighing. Oh, tell me about my tom brown school days! If that powdered milk distributed at the clinic was available during the second world war, there would have been no need for the atomic bomb. The powdered milk was good for the mouth, adequate for the stomach, necessary for diluting the contents of the intestines and gaseous in its exiting motion from the orifice down at the rear. Hence the nickname ‘Dinart’, which name explained itself when the first letter of the alphabet was added to the nickname. Gone are the days!
Back to my Need Dough story. As soon as Papa Helmani came out of Auntie Ima’s shop, he waved the refined dinart over his head and started running. I mean, racing. As Teacher Annobil said once on the hills of Menya Mewu, Papa Helmani ran as Zacchaeus did (and I can still remember the entire school intone with him: “And he reeeeein, and Zacchaeus reeeeeiiiin”, imitating how he pronounced ‘ran’!). Papa Helmani ran straight into the house of Amakye the towncrier, who was recovering from the hangover of the previous day, having charged it further when he took in a calabash of cool water from his cooler in the morning. Well, from this roof so high, I don’t know what Papa Helmani gave to Amakye to bring him down from his eternal high, but all I saw was that Amakye exited his house running with Papa Helmani, straight to the village square. By now, a little crowd was following them and wondering what in the name of akati was going on. Trips to farms were immediately postponed as curiosity took the better of all who were already out of their houses. The commotion drew more people out of their beds. Even Twumasi, who was known to sleep like a well-fed python, came out of his house, clutching his sleeping cloth, famed for its ability to cause a full-blocked nose to clear in seconds. The scent!
At the square, Amakye mounted one of the bamboo benches at Mmaa Zenabu’s kooko base and cleared his spirited (read: spirit-influenced) throat and announced:
“Oman frɛ yie! Oman frɛ yie!”
I could hear the response from atop this roof: “Yie mbra!”
“Hear me, all you Sikamanians! Papa Helmani, we all know. He is known far and wide across this village and beyond. His head is like a tank of information and we all know he speaks about his thinking. He says he has been in deep thoughts about the need dough situation in this village and his research led him to Auntie Ima’s shop this morning. Here (and, as if on cue, Papa Helmani waved the olonka of refined dinart over his head) he has his evidence: the price of dinart is rising like an uncontrolled fart and going through the roof. He says a few moons ago he only needed twenty-six cowries to get an olonka but today he had to cough out nearly thirty-five cowries! Papa Helmani says I should say this for all and for Odekuro and his sub-chiefs to know that the price of refined dinart is meaningful because it is linked to the overall state of the Sikaman country. His mouth, through my mouth, has fallen!”
Immediately Amakye finished, there were shouts of “Ampa!”, “Mo ni kasa!”, “Enoa nono!” et cetera.
But, whilst Amakye was making his speech, Opanyin Hevon Huge had spilled away to Auntie Esi’s apampam store, the one near the chop bar she used to operate years ago. Oh, you should remember it. Close to Ayima’s night stand where he does his kyebom. Yes, that one. Opanyin Huge went there and got the same refined dinart for twenty-nine cowries. As soon as he got it, he started running to the village square too. Running paa o, like Zacchaeus ran. He ran so hard that it had to take aponkye-brake-like skills for him not to miss his stop, right at the bamboo bench on which Amakye stood.
Remember, Papa Helmani and Opanyin Hevon Huge go back a long way. They used to be neighbours and former best friends. Their bestfriendship took a French leave and came back again for a while. Presently, I do know from conversations gleaned that their bestfriendship is under re-construction.
Anyway, the approval grunts of the crowd were interrupted by the piercing shouts of “Helmani lies!” by Opanyin Hevon, as he waved his olonka of refined dinart over his fair head!
Come and see confusion! As I tell you this story, my friend, the villages are just buying and comparing prices of refined dinart all over. And talking about where they bought them from. In the end, the real question in the Need Dough debates might be lost: is the ground hard even though it is raining? Or it is not even raining at all?
In the meantime, the Need Dough debate is helping advertise outlets. Silver lining!
A warning: If you don’t use Need Dough but rather Dinart, and you comment some, may you be afflicted with multiple Sidbugri poxes that will make you exude the result of the vim of boiling beans!
I am enjoying the Need Dough debates. Indeed, in the end, we all need dough.