We bring you more featured work from participants of Gird Writing Camp 2016. Today, we have a short story from Nana Akosua Hanson. This work of fiction was written at the Fiction Workshop with Prof. Ama Ata Aidoo and Dr. Martin Egblewogbe.
We bathed in the sun, near the glistening pool. It was a sunny, dusty afternoon in Mole National Park spent with the baboons, hogs and the over-promised elephants, which were the main attraction.
A bottle of chilled Star beer was at my elbow, winking at the sun from time to time and shedding tears unto the red and white chequered tablecloth. The Love of my Life lay with his head on my laps, lazily daydreaming, his eyes half closed in a dream behind his sunglasses. We were the only Ghanaians, and black people for that matter. There was a medley of British, Swiss, Dutch, and French skins, the harmonious cacophony of their different tongues hinted at a Tower of Babel. As I watched three French girls and a guy jump into the pool, chattering away in accents my Togolese French teacher in high school could only dream to have, I felt like I was in a page of a very old French storybook about the wealthy French aristocracy and their summer revels.
I took a sip of my refreshingly chilled beer, rolling it around on my tongue for a bit to squeeze out all its sweet juices before swallowing, and wondered at my boredom.
We had paid an arm and a leg, and then some to experience ‘a historical animal reserve like never before’ just to find that it was only a club for the holiday-ing expats who wished to discover ‘Africa’. I wondered at my place. I wondered at my role in this discovery of ‘Africa’. Was I also an interesting, ‘exotic’ specie to be observed and scrutinized? Was my holidaying African self which was currently covered in dust and the kisses of recent lovemaking another interesting sideshow? From the poor naked African children, to the holidaying, dusty African. I heard somewhere that tours were running in a nearby village, ‘to give you a taste of how the locals live’. What role would I be playing, my Ghanaian self walking through a Ghanaian village square with a camera, taking a tour into people’s lives for an exorbitant price of $80? Am I the monkey in the cage observing being observed? Or am I the pet monkey out of the cage observing my observed caged brothers and sisters.
‘To give you a taste of how the locals live’.
A group of beautiful half-naked girls danced into the village square, as is routine with the visitation of so many white faces and strange tongues that spoke big pockets, and treated us with a vigorous shaking of arms and feet and waists and quite a lot of yodelling. For $80 dollars per person it had to be the perfect pitch and nothing less. The money was given to the development of the village that saw no development because, it had to remain a village to make more money out of these tourists. One of those dusty crooks, an inhabitant too, with crooked teeth, eager to sell his sister for the quick buck, grinned at me and said, ‘We can show you more things, madam, so many, many more things. The villagers life happy.’
What was my role in this stream of consciousness a mystery writer writes lazily in the sky? What was the spectacle? Was I the spectacle? Were they the spectacle? Two dark Ghanaians mottled the cream white background of ‘Africa discoverers’. Was I the dusty tourist looking to find a much more intriguing story than myself? Or was I the monkey who mistook herself for a tourist and then toured with tourists too benevolent to tell me my truth to my face? Or was I the monkey who was the sideshow and knew she was the sideshow?
I gulped down the contents of my glass and poured a refill. Droplets of water dripped onto the Love of my Life’s eyebrows but he made no move. He was asleep now. Lucky him.
A big baboon skulked by, his shiny red buttocks hanging in the air with a foolhardy pride. Did baboons feel the silliest of all the primates having their innards hung out for all to see? I think not. They had this conviction with their buttocks, as though telling you ‘that’s the way it should be. Hang that ass for all to see. How silly you are to hide it in clothes’. And silly I did feel sometimes. Maybe I should title my next blog piece ‘Baboon Blues’ and I would question what gave me the conviction that I was a higher class of animal than the baboon.
I watched the baboon intently as it walked towards a group of baboons on the outskirts of the pool area, who in turn watched us intently – the human baboons with their buttocks in swimming trunks. And I wondered again, what the true spectacle was, who the true spectacle was. The humans or the baboon? The Ghanaians or the holidaying expats? The villagers or the tourists?
By the way, where were those damned elephants they promised?
AKOSUA’S BIO: Nana Akosua Hanson is a writer, an actress and an activist who believes in the power of art and artistic expression in changing the world.