Tuesday, 21 July 2015

My Voice Grew Pubic Hair

Picture credit: Edzordzi Agbozo

Thanks to providence
I have no fear anymore.

My heart has killed vipers
And I rinsed my mouth with the venom
Some, I used for pomade
Some, I kept for ablutions

I have walked the wider earth, in dreams
Sang across diverse landscapes
On the islands, I broke the neck of loneliness
On the sea, I made a convenant with my birth-water
On land, I jumped over the guns pointing at my window

So now, I grew pubic hair on my voice
And now I can face the firing squad at the public square
Strip my back for lashes, my face for spit

Mine is the source of life
So I shall not sneeze
When rogues and demi-gods

Pinch one another for cannibal-feast on my flesh.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015



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Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Choosing Conscience: A review of Mawuli Adzei's 'The Jewel of Kabibi'

Title: The Jewel of Kabibi
Author: Mawuli Adzei
Date of publication: 2014
Publisher: Masterman Publishing Ltd
Pages: 272
International book number: 978-9988-1-9219-8
Reviewer: Edzordzi Agbozo

The famous physicist Albert Einstein opines that we should “never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it.” Conscience is the ultimate guide of man and when lost or exchanged for anything else, humans cease to be humans. The preservation of conscience in life’s sojourns is the ultimate mission that the major characters in The Jewel of Kabibi strive to fulfill.

The Jewel of Kabibi is Mawuli Adzei’s debut novel and concerns itself with negotiating Ghanaian life through the provocation of minds to such glaring but often unidentified issues as child prostitution, the problematic head-porter business in urban Ghana, socio-political and religious hypocrisy, the entanglement of the young in the hypnotic magnetism of material and financial fulfillment and the ultimate triumph of the few good people over the many evil ones. In the very end, the conscience of the good set the path for the liberation of the whole society by exposing the ruthless lords who for their aggrandizement stifle everyone else .

The economic gap between northern and southern Ghana may, to an extent, be attributed to human creation: a result of bad policies from colonial to independent eras. In this novel, the author reminds us of this fact; whipping up our conscience to look at the direction of vulnerable geographiesThe main character, Salma (11 years old), escapes from a planned forced marriage between her and the affluent octogenarian Baba Askan. Tongka, Salma’s father, also gets to increase his financial fortunes from this marriage. Salma left northern Ghana to Accra (the national capital) with the hope of living a better life and fulfilling her dream of becoming a scholar. Accra, however, converted her from a young girl with dreams into a kayayo (Ghanaian expression for head-porter) and latter into a prostitute. 

Risky, another very significant character, is a product of illicit coitus between a minister of state and his housemaid. The powerless housemaid gets sacked by the powerful. Risky then grows up on the street to become a criminal. Abena, Risky’s mother, attempted to expose the evils of Danfo, the (dis)Honourable Minister of the Interior. She was killed by the minister to protect his image. Abena, though dead, has her conscience intact while the minister, despite his efforts to cover his crimes, was finally exposed by James Morgan. James Morgan is a journalist, a representation of the few good human beings who strived to choose conscience over anything else. In the end, he has to flee to preserve his life and liberate Salma from the spell of prostitution.

Being a debut novel, The Jewel of Kabibi, contributes significantly to literary dialogues on Ghanaian social life. The themes of the novel are worth contemplation. The issues in this novel have the capacity of replacing dawn broadcasts on radio and sermons on the pulpit, given that Ghanaians are ‘religious’ people. Even the way of disposing off excreta, the protean electricity supply, bleaching, lateness to work and corporal punishment in schools are questioned.

The Jewel of Kabibi defies chronological plot and rather weaves the narrative in an unexpected but organized manner. The brevity of the chapters is very apt. Each chapter reads like a short story in their own right. This characteristic is observed in all Mawuli Adzei’s novels and poetry; a style for which Veronique Tadjo of Ivory Coast is also very known. The masterful incorporation of cultural nuances and the simplicity of language are major strengths of this work. An astonishing observation is that, the author comes across as a feminist, giving exposure to major problems that women face. To advance a feminist theory, James Morgan who liberated Salma from prostitution and Risky, who ‘protected’ Salma from bad clients, are men just like the author himself. Sala and Bente, who introduced Salma into prostitution by having her raped, are women.  Adzei seem to suggest that men can be feminists (an echo of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) and that not all women look out for the good of their kind.

A weakness of the work is the introductory chapter. This chapter describes a huge flood from the overflow of the Bagre dam, which destroyed many valuables. This may be intended to foreshadow the destruction of the personal lives of many major characters and at another level, the destruction of the whole social essence. The description is, however, very lengthy, covered the whole chapter and made biblical allusion to the flood of Noah’s time. Being an introductory chapter, readers may expect an action-oriented narrative rather than a descriptive one. An action-oriented narrative serves as an appetizer to the readers and brings them to terms with what to expect in the rest of the chapters. Again, the author left the reader in suspense with regards to Mr Danfo, the (dis)Honourable Interior Minister. When and how will the laws of Ghana make him pay for his crimes? This suspense may, however, be a literary device or suggest a possible sequel. Also, the paper quality of the novel is of low standard and not very attractive. The cover design, however, compensates for this with a fascinating art work and a splendid color combination.

I highly recommend The Jewel of Kabibi to every lover of good literature because it brings a new perspective to narratives about post-colonial Ghana, her people, history and culture in different ways and highlights basic socio-economic problems that needs to be addressed before Ghanaians start thinking of going into space.

Mawuli Adzei in his office at the University of Ghana

Mawuli Adzei is a British Chevening Fellow and senior lecturer at the Department of English, School of Languages, University of Ghana. His books include Testament of the Seasons (poetry) (2013), Taboo (novel) (2012), The Jewel of Kabibi (novel) (2011; re-published in 2014 by Masterman Publishing Ltd) and The Witch of Lagbati (novel) (2014; Masterman Publishing Ltd). 

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Funeral for Hope

In every beginning is an end
In every end is a beginning

We shall keep our breath under our eyelids

We saw green trees melt into ashes
The mid-day rain washed memories
Damped them where rotten shadows
Once upon a pride, sold cleavages for praise;

On which face shall we smile
When the last offspring of hope
Was found, a skeleton, in a rubbish can
Behind our house of dreams
Where we erected flags to impregnate desire?

We shall lay his skeleton in state
For despair and stress to pay homage
We shall mummify it with ashes
And inter it among the daffodils in our backyard
Wait for moons to see it resurrect

For now, it will be shameful
To borrow someone’s face for funeral
Though ours is bereaved of tears
For now, we shall keep our breath
Under constant watch against thieves and cannibals


Monday, 30 March 2015


Last evening I went on pilgrimage
To Moholt cemetery

I planted a flower on your name
Hoping your memory
Waters and petals it into
The beauty you denied our world
At sunbirth

And I recalled
How, one day,
You emitted hope from your smiles
Singing away all doubts and all pains
And your voice became the libation
In a gourd of sacrifice

The rhythm of your waist beads
That provoked warriors into battle dances
And the mountain you carry behind you
That teased away the celibate priest on the other street
Are all now but eaten by termites

I shall come this way again
With you firmly rooted
In the backyard of my memory

Wednesday, 21 January 2015


Shakti; the clash of lightning, shining through the soul
Let people take away from me food and air
But if you are taken away
I start to die

Your lips my weakness
They shoot sunrays into my heart
And your hips put to shame
The Pacific Popcorn Flower,
Your eyes and the moon are twins
Your eyes magnetise than Jupiter’s magnetosphere

Like the hurricane
You destroy all beauties in your sight
What are rubies before you?
The clothing of a street beggar

The longest distance between us
Is the sound of our breath!
We are two hearts; Glued with the honey

Invade me with your lips
Stab me with your tongue
Pierce me with your fingers
And let my rod penetrate
The garden between your legs;
Leaving each other
Wanting more of every second,
And remain imprisoned until

Our stars lead us home

Tuesday, 28 October 2014


Iquo, your symphony stormed my soul
In this flower-city of Trondheim
Your symphony came, Iquo, it came

It brought the dreams of elephant-children
Who now, kneel before the ant,
They starve; their meal-bowl shrinks.
Your symphony carried with her
The memory of corpses rotting from Ebola
The pain of our land raped off everything
The betrayal of family-heads; bargaining our blood for aid
And the grenades garnishing our door-posts
And the inevitability of our very near death

Symphonies are for a hopeful people
Can we also sing symphonies?
Iquo, must we?