Today, I would like to talk about the legendary Ghanaian poet, writer, and diplomat Kofi Awoonor who lost his life this past weekend during the shootings at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya.
Well, many articles would tell you all about this man who was born George Kofi Nyidevu Awoonor-Williams, but who will end up using Kofi Awoonor as his pen name. Kofi Awoonor was a poet whose poetry was based on Ewe / Ghanaian mythology and imagery. His writings include the oral traditions of African village songs, with their various communal forms, themes, and functions/ceremonies. For instance, his poem ‘The Purification’ records a sacrifice to the sea-god in a time of poor fishing. One can find a sense of melancholy in his writings. Enjoy this snippet from one of his poem ‘Songs of Sorrow.’ To learn more about this man, check this very good article on The Guardian, the BBC, and don’t forget to go to The Poetry Foundation of Ghana to read the end of this poem and other pieces by him.
Songs of Sorrow
Dzogbese Lisa has treated me thus
It has led me among the sharps of the forest
Returning is not possible
And going forward is a great difficulty
The affairs of this world are like the chameleon faeces
Into which I have stepped
When I clean it cannot go.
I am on the world’s extreme corner,
I am not sitting in the row with the eminent
But those who are lucky
Sit in the middle and forget
I am on the world’s extreme corner
I can only go beyond and forget.
My people, I have been somewhere
If I turn here, the rain beats me
If I turn there the sun burns me
The firewood of this world
Is for only those who can take heart
That is why not all can gather it.
The world is not good for anybody
But you are so happy with your fate;
Alas! the travelers are back
All covered with debt.
By Kofi Awoonor