The Legacy of My Grandmother: Love Letter to the NEW AFRICAN FEMINISTS.
She was unlettered and never stepped foot in any classroom, but was intelligent and culturally aware. School is not synonymous to intelligence just as Church isn’t to “God”. She was staunch Christian of the Church of Pentecost, like his sisters one of whom became founding Prophetess of Bethlehem Prayer camp at Edumfa, but she was never religiously ‘zombified’.
She used to send her offerings/collection even when she could not go to church (yet the church did nothing useful for her, JUST LIKE HER SISTER WHO HELPED MADE THE CHURCH POPULAR AND LOTS OF MONEY). Her critical mindedness was standard and her conscious effort at making better women and men out her grandchildren was inspiring. Many years after her death my memory seemed to have started processing all she did and said and it’s possible I would write a book soon.
Many other differences she made in my life never came across as “formal acts” or deliberate ones. Many were just comments I heard her make to someone which I heard and has been echoing in my subconscious mind for decades eventually becoming a moral law to me. Others were behaviours I observed of her.
She never grossed over anything. From how I walked to how I talked and ate she had her eyes on to correct where she found not to be the best.
She asked me not to bend at my knee when walking but keep my back erect and give full strides. She told me not to bow my arms and not to swing on one leg as if I had waist problem. Up to now ‘Otto fista’ (sagging pant cant be found in my family, and we have more boys now than before). She told me to look more ahead when walking since it was a sign of purpose and direction.
UP TO NOW WHEN I AM WALKING SHE IS PART OF THE MEMORIES I CARRY. I am a man now, not grandma’s little boy, but have received many compliments from strangers for how I walk.
She taught how to even talk. She told me I sounded nasal and and often used too much effort than necessary to speak. So, she would stop me whenever I went make usual kids complaint and ask me to start again, this time relaxed since I was too nasal for which reason she didn’t hear what I said. “Kweku t) wo bo kasa, Na mennkyem” (lol only the Mfantsefo will understand).
I FIND MYSELF OFTEN HAVING SUCH PATIENCE TO CORRECT YOUNG PEOPLE TOO BECAUSE SHE IS A CONSTANT MEMORY!
What necessitated this post?
It was the sight of seeing University Students chewing morsels of food like GOATS CHEWING at eating places on Campuses, and striking their bowls with every scoop they make. It reminded me of what my grandmother taught me: She gave me a mirror one day to look at my face while chewing roasted maize! I also had her scolding me anytime my spoon struck my plate. MY FRIEND, TAKE A MIRROR AND LOOK AT YOUR FACE WHEN EATING AND SEE WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT; some of you can scare. Guys, it’s food you are eating!
She was a proud woman. We lived just about 2 minutes walk from the beach in a community where children going to scramble for fish was the practice. Many children left school before closing for the beach when the fishermen arrived. Some never completed school. Some became fishermen picking up the habit with drugs and alcohol. SHE WOULDN’T COUNTENANCE ANY OF HER GRANDCHILDREN BRINGING FISH HOME FROM THE BEACH and would swiftly take it and drop it in the gutter. By that we knew it was NOT our duty to fend for the home, and that’s what she was enforcing. Going to the beach to scramble for fish was thus not encouraged in the household.
When she was due to be made Warrior Queen (Tufuhenmaa) of Ekumfi Essarkyir she passed it to her young sister. As a child I was in awe of the near worship she gave her Queen sister. We even had a special Stool reserved for her in Cape Coast for her sister when she visited. And when I was born she gave me to her sister to raise. She when became old she asked to be relocated from her house in Cape Coast to Edumfa to stay with her sister. SHE INSPIRES A KIND OF LEADERSHIP IN ME. Her act gave me a definition of leadership that makes me respect leaders even when they are younger than me.
Do we still have grandmothers her kind? She is about the only person I miss often.
She is in the picture with two of her grandchildren. One is her daughter’s daughter and the other is her Niece’s daughter. She took pride in us. I WOULDN’T BE SURPRISED I WOULD SET UP A PROGRAMME IN HER HONOUR THAT WILL FOCUS ON GROOMING when done with the #TheEkumfiProject (Centre for Education and Youth Development).
She was called Obaapanyin Abena Kum (a.k.a Esther Nkum) whose name every male in the family takes pride in giving to his first child, boy or girl. I will give her both. THE IMAGE OF A STRONG WOMAN IS IN MY FAMILY.
Written by Abeku Adams