On the way to Asikabew, we stopped by my grandmother, mama’s, place and dropped off my aunt, Sisi Mother. My dad sat in the driver’s seat and my (step) mother, Miss, sat next to him in the passenger’s seat. My aunt Maggie, my brother Kwame, and I sat in the back seat. We then pulled up to the house across from mama’s place and Kwame hopped out the car. A minute later, the trunk door swung open and I turned to see him lift a gasoline tank full of swishing liquid into the back of the car.
Auntie Maggie rolled down the car window and a young girl with a short Afro and caramel skin appeared. “Apom 3?/ How are you?”, Auntie Maggie asked the girl. “Me pa ky3w, 3y3/ Please, I am fine”, the girl replied. She handed Auntie Maggie a rum bottle full of clear liquid. Immediately, my nose caught the strong fumes seeking through the closed top. “Wei ye akpeteshie?/ This is akpeteshie?”, I asked her. “Yiw/ Yes”, she replied. “So mu ma me/ Hold it for me”, she said. “Yoo/ Ok”, I replied as she handed the bottle to me.
I began to have flashbacks of my 2014 akpeteshie escapades in the Asante village of Senchi, when the ground suddenly turned sideways and my fellow students and I stumbled home, rowdy and late for dinner, much to the dismay of our program leaders. The road to Asikabew was bumpy; the gasoline tank full of akpeteshie kept falling down in the trunk.
We pulled up to the side of the road at Asikabew. Night had fallen. I looked out the window. We were at a bar on the roadside. It was brick patterned with blue and white colored paint. “Ama Asiedua ni/ Ama Asiedua is here”, said a man who came up to the side of the car. “Oh, si fam/ Get down (from the car)”, he said. I looked at his face. It was my uncle Seth. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t remember him. I got down from the car and peeped a hostess setting up chairs for us just outside the bar. As we walked towards the bar, he asked “Wo nkai me? Me ni wo papa ye na yedi wo koe Berekusu/ You don’t remember me? Me and your dad took you to Berekusu”. I still didn’t remember him but I believed him. I lied and said I did though.
We sat down to catch up, rest and drink a lil sum. Our hostess and family friend, Love, disappeared and reappeared with STAR beer, CLUB beer, Castle Bridge rum, Mandingo flavor and akpeteshie, the local gin. After having drinks we decided it was late and we would come back to the village the next day so we could see the place properly.
The next morning, we sat outside in the front of my grandfather Nana Tawiah’s compound in blue Gye Nyame chairs. The compound was enclosed in a 10 feet long, square shaped building, with the top half shite and the bottom half black with a green gate in the middle. The roof of the house shaded us from the sweet, sweltering sun. In Ghana tradition, our family members brought each of us water sachets and came around shaking each of our hands from left to right.
Finally, Auntie Maggie said, “Yen k) hwe wo papa dan no/ Let’s go see your father’s house”. “Ama, bra o/ Ama, come o) she beckoned me. I rose and followed my family into the compound.
We walked into a huge open space in the middle of the compound. Rooms were build around the square yard, each room facing the open space. I wondered which room was my grandfather’s but I didn’t ask.
We continued through the middle towards the back of the compound and I stopped, looking down at a pile of maids drying in the sun.
The red and black colored rooms lined up on the ride side of the compound reminded me of My African martial arts tribe, Vita Saana. “Yebo”, I said aloud for good measure.
On the left side, the white and brown rooms screamed simplicity. Clean clothes hung in dryer lines near the back. We walked around the back of the house to the front. So many thoughts swam through my mind. How did my grandfather and grandmother meet? What was life like for her and him? Although my grandfather has transitioned to the ancestor realm mama is still here, so in that moment I made a note to collect her story.
My family pointed to a small house to the left of us. “Wo nena fie ni/ This is your grandmother’s house”. Heart eyes! With much excitement and respect, I followed them to the house. It was a modest, one story building with white at the top and black at the bottom. We wanted to go inside but the people living there had gone out. I walked around the back of the house to look at a vibrant green bush with yellow flowers on it. White butterflies danced mystically around the bush before disappearing inside it. I went and greeted my grand uncle, or grandfather, who lived adjacent to mama’s old place. As I shook his hand I thought, what an amazing experience to see, hear and touch direct links of my ancestral culture and lineage. It was definitely a popping & wholesome first week back in Ghana ❤