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Turning An Ashanti Linguist From The Drugs Trade

by John Powell

posted in Reference and Education

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The albino linguist, Kofi Adjare, was a preserver of the rich oral literature of Ashanti but he had been misled into helping a Kumasi-based cartel sending Venezuelan cocaine to England. His motive was not the pursuit of pecuniary gain but seeking revenge on his former colonial masters for corrupting the ancient culture of his people. It fell to Kwame Mainu to try to convince the venerable elder to stop sending drugs overseas and join an effort to prevent their sale to the youth in Ghana.
Kofi Adjare earned his living as a driver. His choice of profession contrasted strangely with his love of traditional wisdom but it now presented Kwame with an opening gambit. He remembered that it was said that the mmoatia (forest sprites) cannot stop a motorcar.
'The powerful magic of the abrofo (Europeans) has become your magic,' he said. 'The mmoatia cannot stop a car, but you can stop a car! You are the master of all cars and all cars are your slaves. Has this new power done any harm to the rich culture of the ancestors that you carry in your head and in your heart? Has your power to fly to Accra in four hours prevented you from preserving the heritage that we all honour?
The old albino said nothing. For once his rich store of proverbs seemed to have deserted him. He was listening intently so Kwame pressed on. 'I agree with you that our culture is under attack. We have allowed the language of the abrofo to pollute our Twi and their religion to supplant our ancient beliefs, but we can defend ourselves against further encroachment. A far greater danger is that your bad medicine is now being turned against our own youth and only for the purpose of making a few men rich. Once our youth are sick from this bad medicine the culture of our ancestors will die much more surely than from the assault of a few English words and an ancient black book of anansesem (folk tales). I implore you in the name of Okomfo Anokye (a famous fetish priest) and the great King Osie Tutu to stop sending bad medicine to aborokyiri (Europe) and help us build a fence around our own children to protect them from this dreadful scourge.'
Tears were running down the old man's cheeks. 'We called your father a fool, he said, 'but we were the fools. Your father called upon us to preserve our culture but also to keep the best of all the abrofo brought us. Truly he used to say that, "wisdom isn't gold that you wrap and hide in the ground". Were you the only one who understood? I grieve for you in your loneliness.'
About the Author: John Powell
John Powell weaves a tale of tension and intrigue into the lives and loves of the Mainu family and their friends, against the rich social, cultural, economic and political background of the first four decades of Ghana's independence, in his two novels: The Colonial Gentleman's Son and Return to the Garden City.
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