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CHAMPION: ANCESTRAL DENIAL
'Champion' is a found root of an indigenous Ghanaian hard tree that has been fixed — cleaned, trimmed and varnished for interior and exterior decoration. The root has a compact base on which sits three major out stretched projections. These projections have smaller protrusions that springs from them. The middle projection is set in a vertical pose of twist and turn while the other two moves in opposing direction that is to the left and right of the composition. The bark of the root structure has bumpy texture that manifest the termites work on the root.
This makes the root to assume some tactile surface texture. The root has a natural ocher colour, a colour that portrays honour and wealth of royals. The root sculpture depicts the head mask of conqueror — a raised face and upper arms appearing from a pivot. It suggests the posture of a celebrating social hero. A person who has endured denial and rejection from his own but through the assistance of the cosmic world he has been able shoot into prominence.
There lived some time ago, a two-month old baby boy whose mother has bolted away and was just at the care of an ailing less- employed youth father. Hmmmm! as the story got unfolding, it came to the attention the community that, this baby boy was not the only offspring (dependant) of this father but there were two additional siblings as well. Mother, an adolescent errand- girl and a migrant had thrown her hands in despair, given up her responsibilities and preferred restarting a new and better life elsewhere, a practice that has today become acceptable to Ghana's less-endowed youth. The father, an alcoholic, an untrained cobbler, stationed at a popular lorry station and a market place in Agbogbloshie a densely populated community in the capital city and could only do with a merger proceed from his trade, a size of income which in the Ghana is referred to as 'hand-to-mouth' income. Agbogbloshie, a populous suburb-environment where the hustle and bustle prevails for only the survivors, life trials are counted on daily basis. What you earn today takes you to the next day. There is the Ghanaian parlance that goes 'heaven helps those who help themselves', or in the popular Ghanaian highlife musician, Amakye Dede's rendition; se ekuro dosuaa wontsina fakor na wonngye enyenguase, meaning 'if you continuously sit in one spot you sit on your worth'. These indigenous clichés here mentioned propelled persons to be on the constant move just to meet the social pressures and dictates of human sustenance. These and other acts create neglect and abandonment within the Ghanaian society, something that leads to hopelessness among infants and the youth. Therefore, the less hearted will always offload their burden unto others who are ready to bear.
In his admonishment to his followers, the celebrated speaker and preacher had inferred that any set-back is a set-up in the journey of success — Joel Osten. Mankind certainly possesses opaque lenses that prevent us from seeing afar in the realm of the unseen world. Donald Trump, the celebrated American's speech to the Americans on his perceptions on Africans and Arabs, insinuates that Africans refuse to see far, they only and always just perceive their immediate stretch of space, they do not see into the future and this eventually affect their development. In most situations, mankind is always limited by the cosmic perception of enabling us see that far. Being able to see into the future of persons is a scarce reality. We are definitely not able to anticipate the future associations, positions, and successes of people we rate low or disregard along the line of human relations.
Stunting one's prospects to life is a normal practice to witness. Therefore in an attempt to overturn the speculations and anticipations of observers, mankind usually abandons God's times and ways to make choices that are equated to the quick-fix and easy-fix syndromes, an option that usually leads us to return to the starting point or regret our earlier decisions. Inspirational and motivational speakers of both local and international stature, and the Akan culture have always reiterated that, 'say good things about yourself, or tell yourself you are the best, but quit remembering your negatives because they will eat you up at all times'. Just like the David story of the Bible days, in spite of all the set-backs of David, he always declared himself as the best and the best arrived at his doorstep.
In our modern day, child bearing has become one of the major challenges to several middle class couples. Today, several efforts are being made for people to become mothers and fathers as being one is certainly an honour to oneself, one's family and the society. To the African society, children are believed to be the reincarnation of the ancestors and that their appearance on the physical world provides joy, honour and continuity to the society. Several questions are being asked as to why and how orphanages are springing up everywhere and everyday in spite of the numerous challenges the elite class faces with child birth. Yet the Lower class, the least educated and the less financially endowed continue to be the repositories of child itinerary, yet inability to bear the needs and wishes of these children. Is the African cosmic more benevolent to the marginalized rather than the economically, socially and academically upright persons? or Are they less sympathetic to the affluent rather than the less endowed? Maybe the affluent is not recognized enough or well sighted by the by the cosmic world. Or are they created to take care of the less endowed infants and orphans?
The question being asked in recent times is: Is the establishment of orphanages a quest to improve upon the plight of the unfortunate children? or Is it an attempt to enhance the financial stature of owners? or Is it to make marginalized children really happy? or Is it to put food on their table? or Is it to put shelter at their disposal? or Is it to offer them education?, or Is it to put clothes on them? or What? These are but the requirements of the Millennium Development Goals, a global policy that is enshrined to provide child development and safety by all nations and individuals. Yet in the African communities, child neglect and abandonment is pervasive and gradually becoming a canker. The teeming youth are turning in off-springs at their earlier ages, creating lot of teenage parents that are weary and unsupported. The elderly group or the aged parents are also giving birth at their later stages in life, creating what is known in Ghana as pension babies — children giving birth to at the blink of their parent retiring age from active employment. Even though the middle age group is touted as the sexually active and reproductive bracket, the political and economic policies of the nation has rendered majority highly unemployed and are therefore unable to take good care of their children as they may be expected.
Coupled with the social and cultural demands of the African society, the affluent and the poor are both expected to join in the race of providing the African ancestors the opportunity to reincarnate into the physical world and reconnect with the living. The baby boy in this context is one of such requirement, but he tries to adjust with the new world which is stained with poverty, filth and denial; in contrast with the spiritual world where his soul is connected with his creator and the benevolent spirits.
Growing up, the baby comes to appreciate the masculine single-parenting that confronts him. Mum is absent and mummy's siblings are un-reachable. Recuperating with health and a social matter was something that was unthinkable for the infant. Femininity was absolutely absent in the life of this infant. Singing of lullaby, cuddling, giggling, storytelling and others that offer babies soothing and gentle sleep mood had disappeared from the life of the infant. As the baby progresses to adjust to the father's new role, pediatric ailment sets in his life. Infection from the filthy environment and abode takes over and his health condition deteriorates.
The decline in the health status coupled with babysitting expose the poverty level of the ailing father, a condition that was very pathetic to contend with. Seeking a better medical assistance for the son has become rare for the father. Health insurance has not been subscribed for the family. The baby's soul though pure and strong has never encountered any standard medical facility. The closest Health and Medical Center to the infant's soul is the Over-the-Counter Licensed Chemical Shop, where the father contacted the seller, possibly, to procure a non-prescribed self-medicated pharmaceutical product for use.
Alternative medicine or the traditional medicine, a system that relies on herbs, tree trunks, barks and roots has been the most patronized medication by the indigenes and the less endowed in the community. These medications are found in every nook and cranny of the community. Though very popular to the community, their oral types are not recommended for infants. Possibly they are good for bathe and douse since their efficacy may be strong and dangerous to the throat and the intestines of the infant.
Seeking proper and intensive medical assistance and attention for infants is very essential for their growth and sustenance, since infants may not be able to express their health condition as adults do. It is therefore prudent for parents and guardians to acquaint themselves with the signs and symptoms that are associated with the common ailments of infants. Infants ailment require special knowledge and skills but there are limited accredited pediatrics and specialist medical facilities that have proven to be infant friendly and potent.
Such facilities are known and always recommended for prompt medical attention by family members, benevolent neighbours and good community members. Yet the less endowed holds the opinion that, though the pediatrics and specialist medical facilities services are prompt and efficient they are also very expensive to put up with and are therefore established for the privileged and the affluent in the society.
In African the community, system allows for all members of the community to be responsive to each other's plight and condition in terms of guidance, direction and support for all persons and for the societal growth and survival. So, should the innocent soul of an infant be watched on to perish in the sight of the community while good and benevolent persons stay aloof? Why must the community be caught watching while fathers and mothers throw their hands in despair? Why must the community look on unconcerned to the deterioration of the precious gift from God and the ancestors? Oh no and never and never again. In situations where witches and wizards are caught causing havoc to their prey, traditional priests and priestesses are able to remedy situations by intervening to redeem the perishing from their predators. The community must not witness the death of this innocent soul.
There appears a benevolent community member, a neighbour in the market space, the place where the ailing father resides and operates his trade. The benevolent community member is someone who could not mind her own business as said in the Ghanaian phraseology. She exclaims 'how do I look on or see you destroy this precious baby's soul? I know of a nurse in the renowned state of the art government hospital who is kind and light hearted. The nurse will be able to help save the soul of this baby. Give the baby to me. If I spend the whole day in the hospital to save this soul and make no sale and profit from my stall, I will be blessed by the Almighty God for doing His work. This baby's soul is a precious one'. The benevolent neighbour takes on the duty of God to remedy the situation. The epoch has come for the baby to meet a better healthcare and parenting. The baby, wrapped in ragged and tatty apparels, is conveyed swiftly to the emergency ward of the renowned hospital.
The light hearted nurse takes over with the situation and leads the benevolent neighbour, the new guardian, to seek attention for the perishing infant soul. The infant is resuscitated but diagnose of several infant related ailments: mal-nutrition, anemia, vitamin minuses, ñoppy muscle, and congenital and other hygiene induced infections. To resuscitate the infant, he needed to be in the intensive-care ward for some days as signs were good for his survival. In all this and as the day went by, the ailing father had not appeared but had prayed for the non-return of the baby since his presence has continuously added to his woe and predicament. The later hours of the day saw the benevolent neighbour return without the baby and her sales for the previous day depleted. All her money had been spent on the health care of the infant.
The ailing father who had no hope and expectancy in the survival of child upon setting eyes on the neighbour then burst into tears, wailing and yelling, rolling and staggering: my son is gone, my son is dead, he has joined my fore-father and uncles, God take care of his soul for me, he's gone and he's gone to meet our ancestors. But as happy as he was, just to see his troubles go over in his staggering mood, the announcement came to him as a surprise, the son was alive and doing well, he has not given up the ghost, he is still with the living. What a cold bath, the poverty crises still prevail? Oh God! Why!? Even the death does not want the soul of the son. As said in Akan 'owu mpo mpeno' not even the death desires him.
Shame and guilt then clothe the ailing father as the community observers look onto his schematics and performances towards the presumed death of the child. Then he acclaims in style "foster him, take care of my son, take him forever, am no longer able to house, feed, clothe and also nurture him. I cannot be responsible for his needs and requirements, am not capable of fathering him in addition to the ones at home, take him or let the hospital own him forever, let him leave my sight and I donate him forever". The father now turns his back on the root of his future, the root that will be his bedrock. Like the Bible story; 'the stone the builder rejected shall become the head corner stone someday'.
The precious son, the holy infant and the darling boy becomes the sweet pie of the new guardian and hospital wardens. His rejuvenation in the days past offers some joy and pleasure to the guardian who now spends unending hours at the prestigious hospital ward. Watching the Baby darling kicking and rolling in his cot with easy and ecstasy, delight and amusement gripped both the new guardian and the hospital staff. He attracted empathy and sympathy of the hospital staff and other parents who are there attending to their wards and those visiting their loved one at the hospital.
Day upon day, lots of gift abounds his cot. These includes socks, layette, caps, dresses, blankets, toys, feeders, walkers, and others that comes in either as brand new or used booty. Medications and consumables did flow as and when the need arises. The darling boy now becomes a precious boy. His soiled surroundings now make way for the designer's ideal look and taste. The darling boy, now undeniably darling, wooed and continue to woo almost every sympathiser including the high and intermediary profiled medical gurus to himself. What an ancestral penetration and cosmic favour drawn to the infant? What an intervention! The once fed a day now has in-between meals; one dress a week now has a change over in regular intervals; the one without footwear and head protectors now has several of them for all season.
Darling boy has now gained weight and form, and his health status well improved to the admiration of the prestigious hospital staff. What an amazing record time of renaissance, a remarkable impression of health care and delivery to the almost a home call convict of an enormous rejection. He was a picturesque that had no intended connoisseur. Darling boy had to be discharged from the ward and the hospital for the simple reason that his health condition had improved remarkably and that fresh patients and newer convicts of death had arrived for same health care. A hospital bed must not be a permanent abode to persons. It is a health transitory space meant for the weak, ailing souls or persons.
Medical bills and consultancy fees to be paid took over the joy the boy has managed to experience in relation to his well-being. How does he get out of the hospital without settling the accrued bills? Who takes care of these bills to enable the easy exit and reunion of the infant with the family or the guardian? Where does he go from the hospital since the ailing father has literally donated him to the guardian and the hospital? Must the hospital absorb the bills as bad debt and have possession of him as well? Maybe the hospital will nurture and allow him to work as a labourer to pay-off or settle his debt in future as an adult captive? Does the hospital know the ailing father? Did the father know the hospital where the son was admitted into? Did the father visit the son while in the hospital? Perhaps he could have attracted some attention and sympathy from the medical facility just as the son did.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "That Root You Left Behind"
Copyright © 2018 SAMUEL A. BENTUM (Ph.D).
Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
TABLE OF CONTENTS, v,
LIST OF PLATES, vi,
LIST OF FIGURES, vi,
INTRODUCTION: OVERVIEW AND BACKGROUND OF THE COLLECTION, 1,
CHAPTER ONE: CHAMPION, 8,
CHAPTER TWO: ESPOUSE, 26,
CHAPTER THREE: CAMPAIGNER, 51,
CHAPTER FOUR: PUGILIST, 66,
CHAPTER FIVE: CRUSADER, 77,