I’m humming a consistent tune. It’s been on my mind for hours and I figure humming it will get it out. I’ve been at it for hours. It is quite persistent, this tune of mine. I try hard to sing another song aloud in hopes that I’ll forget the persistent tune, but as soon as I fall silent there it is again.

My Persistent Tune

Amidst morning chores and the day’s sales I keep humming my tune. By noon I’ve fallen completely in love with the song although I’ve only been singing the two lines I know. I’m belting out my two lines now, almost oblivious to the bemused looks I’m getting. The song is a Twi (a Ghanaian local language) song. It speaks of the need to rise up and work to move Ghana forward. It says that being lazy is accompanied by poverty and hunger. In a country that just came out of being a highly indebted poor country, we have at least a fair idea of what poverty is. My song, well the two lines I remember, is subtly urging Africa to work, to make the continent better and brighter, not “dark.” It’s really all up to us. Each person in their own small way. If we sit idle “hunger and poverty will kill us.”

It is always a small victory for us when even the slightest opportunity is taken to work and earn money. It is saddening to see able-bodied people standing on the streets, begging for alms. I do not know their stories, I’m little informed of their situations, I will not judge but in my mind I’ll always wonder. I see an African mother fighting the odds to give her son a future, doing her bit. She probably knows my tune as well and has taken its warning to heart.

It is just after dawn and she is walking quickly, holding his little hand, her other hand steadies the load on her head. Tentatively, she lets go of the load and lets it balance. Her center of gravity apparently impeccable. School must be out on break, because she never brings him to work with her. Today is different. She has a dull green cloth around her waist as a skirt. It falls to her ankles and covers her chapped heels. Her matching green t-shirt looks like in a life long ago it had colorful inscriptions on it. When she gets to her stall, she lays out a mat on the ground for the little boy and begins to lay out her wares: vegetables.

He doesn’t remain seated for long. He is more awake now and hungry, he begins to whine. Mummy turns and eyes him as she reaches for the carry-on bottle of porridge. She must have packed breakfast left overs. As she feeds her son, I can see the future briefly. He is a successful young man, a writer maybe, and he is eulogizing his mother for her tireless efforts to get him where he is. Back to the present, his eyes are content as he sucks on the bottle. The future seems bright. My tune is satisfied. It has driven me nearly crazy.

The song has quieted down in my head now.

by Nana Adwoa Amponsah-Mensah

(Image by Imago Pro)