Wednesday, July 2, 2014


Glossary/ Meanings

1. Akpeteshie – local gin
2. Alakpa tor - Liar
3.  '' Awoo!! Awoo!! - Mercy! Mercy!
4. Godi – boxers/underpants
5.  Me gbo dzi!'' – ‘’ Take your time / be careful/ be gentle
6. Togas – baggy three quarter length trousers made from a African print
7. Zhi ne! – punch him
 8. ''Mi gbor dzi nam loo!!'' – Everyone calm down


Kofi Dogo was the village drunk; everyone knew it except himself of course. In his mind he was a stalwart citizen whom the village needed.

Every morning like clockwork, he was up by 6.05am, his body in spasm from the usual withdrawal syndromes of alcoholism.
He would immediately reach for the bottle of akpeteshie* thrown carelessly at the foot of his  weather beaten mattress - which he had pissed on too many unmemorable times - and take two gulps to steady the trembling of his fingers.

Then with a deep sigh after the akpeteshie* had worked its way through his blood, he would stagger up, grab his towel which hung on a coarse rope above his bed post, sling the dirty thing over his shoulder and totter to the compound latrine and shower in his Monday to Friday godi*, which hung slack over his narrow buttocks.

His neighbours quickly scattered from the compound the moment they heard the familiar creak of his trap door, except for the old hag who was the land lady. She was an ancient creature with a twisted back from years bent over gathering salt in her husband’s salt flats, which when became profitable over night, had now turned her into a property owner.

She didn't seem the least bit intimidated by Kofi Dogo, unless she didn't show it, and day after day over the last 4 months since his rent became over due, she had come to rain insults on him and his father’s house hold, who by the way were all dead or had disowned Kofi Dogo because of his habit.

Personally, all her tenants felt she should just throw him out of the compound house and find a new tenant to occupy his one room, and put an end to the insult war.  However they never suggested it, least they themselves were late with rent in the near future and suffered a similar fate.

The latrine heaved of its usual sour odour in the warm morning weather, but Kofi Dogo, used it like an Olympic champion, squatting over the seat, doing his business swiftly whilst inhaling the akpeteshie* fumes in his mouth in favour of the smell of the latrine.  Afterwards, he ambled over to the compound shower next door for his bath; one ignorant tenant had carelessly left half a bucket of water in their hasty retreat from the bathroom on hearing his footsteps, and seeing his good fortune he smirked at the thought of the tenant scattering hastily away, revelling in the thought that he frightened his co tenants.

In two quick motions, he doused himself with the water and lathered up with the small piece of soap gelled to the window sill. He was about to rinse off the soap suds, when he heard the scuffling and the raised voices, approaching the shower. Before he could make sense of what was happening a barrage of muscular men charged into the tiny room and hauled him out, soap suds and all, with him grasping to catch the edge of his towel to cover his nudity.

The women in the compound had started hooting by then, the palms of their hands moving rapidly against and away from their opened lips, and the town crier materialised like an angel of death, wildly beating his gong and singing along to a cacophony of mumbo-jumbo. Kofi Dogo, whose heart was pounding, looked around wildly for a way to escape, he was so certain he was about to be lynched; unpaid rent, a long overdue tab at the palm wine bar at the end of the village road – oh yes, and that instance when he had disrupted the village durbar during their corn was time to pay the piper.

He tried to twist himself free, and because of the soap suds, he slipped easily out of the hands of his captors, onto the sandy compound ground. He lost, his towel in the process, but at that point, his mind was programmed to flight and it didn’t occur to him that his testicles were on display for the entire crowd to gawk at.
He made a break for it, but a powerful side slap sent him tottering into the arms of a muscular young man, who quickly hooked his bulky arms under Kofi Dogo's armpits, grasped his head and held him firmly in place.

'' Awoo!! Awoo!! Mi gbo dzi di!''*

One of the female tenants cried out and she quickly whipped off her second cloth, rushed forward and wrapped it in a loose knot around Kofi Dogo's lean hips before anyone could stop her.

The sting of the slap was wearing off and Kofi Dogo began to protest; he kicked his feet out desperately trying to hit anyone his legs would reach and shouted

''What is the meaning of this?? EH! Lego! Lego!'

The small crowd which had formed around the spectacle parted and Efo Kodjo, a reasonably well to do shallot farmer by village standards, marched purposefully through, in his usual over sized t-shirt and togas*, dragging a young woman behind him. Her head was bent so low all you could see was the lines of cornrows on the crown of her head.

For a little man, Efo Kodjo seemed to be breathing fire and brimstone like a dragon. His eyes were large and red with anger and for once in the longest time, Kofi Dogo felt fear. He had never seen a man look at him with so much anger and all the initial bravado he had felt disappeared.
Efo Kodjo thrust the girl forcefully towards Kofi Dogo, she stumbled and for a brief moment everyone thought she would fall, however she caught herself in time and steadied herself with the palm of her hand on the sandy ground. 

'Foolish man!'

Efo Kodjo shouted, his face now inches away from Kofi Dogo's face

'Drunkard! You think you had gotten away eh? Today you will suffer!! Seriously suffer!! I promise you that on my mama's grave!'

Kofi Dogo blinked, processing the insults and trying to make sense of what was happening and in order to formulate a response back, he retorted sharply in his usual gruff drunken manner

'' For what?''

Efo Kodjo's eyes widened and his jowls quivered in disbelief, then suddenly he threw back his fist, aimed and landed a solid blow on Kofi Dogo's right eye, he came back again to land another but he was restrained by one of the young men close to him and an elder who had materialized out of nowhere. The women in the gathering shouted a mixture of.

''Awoo!! Awoo!!''* and '' Xi ne!!*

The Elder came forward again, followed by a fuming but calmer Efo Kodjo, who had been released from the grips of the young man. The young woman was still crouched on the ground between Kofi Dogo, the Elder and Efo Kodjo.

''Mi gbo dzi di nam loo!!''*

 The elder announced to the excited gathering which had swelled in size and want for air.  He approached Kofi Dogo, looked him dead in the eye and began to speak.

 ''Kofi Akpalime, son of Christian Kwaku Akpalime. I have known you since you were brought screaming into the world from your mother’s womb. I was there at your naming ceremony....I dipped my hand into the water and the schnapps  myself for you to suck from my finger as custom demands- perhaps then I should have noticed that you sucked a little longer and more thirstily from the finger dipped in Schnapps that the finger dipped in water, but alas, here we are. We can't go back.''

‘Hmmm’’ the women hummed deeply and dramatically as he paused for effect for the rest of the crowd to also murmur their ascent. He continued;

 '' The entire town has known for years that you are a drunk, we have never chastised you for that, but today of all days you have brought shame to your father and his father's name. Unfortunately we cannot resort to the old ways of punishment by banishment or worse, because even as traditional as we are, we are also Christians. However! We can still punish you for your disrespectful behaviour towards Efo Kodjo in another way.''

Kofi Dogo was amazed, with his good eye, he looked around at the crowd and then back to the Elder's face and stuttered

'Togbi, I…I…What I’m being accused of?  Eh? ''

Efo Kodjo, leapt at him again for a second blow, screaming

'' Alakpa tor!! Foolish!!'' and had to be hailed back, his little legs flying in mid air, by the same young man who had restrained him the first time.

The Elder shook his head in disapproval and said

''Kofi Dogo, this is not the time to tell lies. Almost the entire village is here, there are witnesses too who saw you taking this young woman who Efo Kodjo married just yesterday morning, to the beach yesterday evening. Eh, Kofi? Are you going to deny it? Eh? Are you going to deny that you made her a woman before her own husband did? Eh?''

Kofi Dogo's jaw went slack, and he looked towards what was Efo Kodjo's third and youngest wife, whose head came up a notch for him to see her seriously chewing her bottom lip. She could not have been more than seventeen years old. There was nothing attractive about her face; with its fine dusting of puberty pimples covering her cheeks but then again there were those nubile firm breasts and those thick thighs and rounded buttocks....wait a minute how did he know this??

It suddenly dawned on him in a blurry flashback; tottering back from the palm wine spot at the end of the village's main road, singing – ironically - ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’, stopping to piss behind someone's hut...presumably...yes...definitely Efo' Kodjo's hut, the frightening rustling in the bushes behind him, him shouting out a warning to whatever manner of wild animal which was about to attack him....the warm hands smelling faintly of shea butter covering his mouth to quiet the shout, hands guiding him to very soft breasts whilst she pulled him forward quietly into the grove and just before the beach... laying down between two over turned canoes...the sand on her back after she pulled off her dress, lay on her back and beckoned him towards her, whilst mumbling gibberish about old men, never letting them touch her, pleading....begging…cajoling… 

 Kofi Dogo squeezed his eyes hadn't been a drunken dream after all, but he didn't know how he would explain it, it was a ludicrous story, who would believe the story of the infamous town drunk over the ''innocent'' seductress who chosen to give her maiden head to him over her older, shorter and probably inadequate husband. He smirked at the thought of Efo Kodjo being inadequate, but quickly concealed it and opened his eyes again and swallowed

 ''Torgbui...'' He started, but the elder silenced him with a dismissive wave of his hand and said

''Kofi Dogo, enough is enough! The witnesses have seen! Efo Kodjo has testified! This is your new wife. Repay Efo Kodjo for her bride price by the end of the week. We are finished,''

He signalled to the crowd and said aloud

‘Everyone, please return to your homes. We are finished here.’’

The crowd slowly began to disperse,  Efo Kodjo who was still lingering around tapped two of his right hand fingers against an invisible watch on his left wrist and said
‘End of week!’

He gave Kofi Dogo one last nasty look, before he turned and walked away.

Kofi Dogo’s captor released him, and rising to his feet Kofi Dogo looked down resentfully at the young woman before him, who was nervously chewing the pad of one of her thumbs. Her head stayed lowered and for the longest time he said nothing…he was having a very bad day.

No comments:

Post a Comment