Ghana Is No Place for Dreams – Efo Dela

Posted: December 5, 2018 in Uncategorized
Dela Nyamuame - Social media's Efo Dela. Pic cred: EAA Media Productions

Dela Nyamuame – Social media’s Efo Dela. Pic cred: EAA Media Productions

 

A lot of my friends are going through a young adult crisis. I know because we talk about it and we try to help each other. Finances, relationships and jobs form a big core but much of the despair results from a sense of political disappointment. Ghana is an expensive country and many people have lost jobs this year. It has gotten hard, and the guys are having to spend their productive years just trying to stay up, instead of flying. So this title is worth it. This poem is worth it and @readjerome’s tweet that triggered it, is worth it.

As I write this, Dorothy has tweeted ‘anywhere but here…anywhere but here’. I talk with her about possible futures, dreams and school. A Nigerian tweeted that he could not fathom how Ghanaians cope with such an expensive country and do not protest, that we are too docile. We are docile for sure. So we have resigned to start disbelieving in our home as a place for dreams.

Efo Dela wrote this poem below. He shares my name and I suppose you should check out his highly recommended poetry blog. He’s one of Ghana’s young poets whose style I am familiar with and who I read quite a bit. I think I see similarities in my poetry voice and his, and I tweeted my appreciation of his poetry and general Ewe poetry last year at this thread.

I will do a brief review of the poem afterwards.

Ghana Is No Place For Dreams

6:45am:

A hawker
Tiredly taps
On the rolled window
Of a prisoner of traffic.

For sale:
Bootlegged aspirations
Bagged in small sizes
Sold at half price,
or less

On the radio,
There’s a man
Talking incoherently.

The glazed-eyed
Traffic inmate
Hears neither the hawker
Nor the man.

Ghana is no place for dreams.

 

REVIEW

Before I go on to review this, I should say that I chose this poem for the romance of its attempt to incite. Ghana is a place for dreams but you have to not go back to sleep.

The poem starts in the early morning, 6:45am. A street hawker has already set up shop, hoping to glean any luck from the morning throng. If you have ever been in Accra, you will readily appreciate that at 6:45am, there is already kilometers of traffic snaking through the city to all manner of ends as people go in pursuit of their lofty dreams. There also is a reluctant acceptance that people with wares will weave through traffic and shove their goods in your face in search of sales.  This hawker taps ‘tiredly’ (line 3), on the rolled-up window of the person Efo Dela chooses to call “a prisoner of traffic”  (line 5). The sense of tiredness at 6:45am reminds me that sometimes these hawkers have worked some other job through the night and have probably even postponed sleep until the morning traffic is past. The desperation.

This particular morning, Efo says that the hawker is not even in search of a lot. He sells bootlegged aspirations at half price or less. The idea is that anything to make a sale for the chance to not go through the day penniless is enough.

But at the same time, our “traffic inmate” (line 15) is absent-minded, not distracted by the hawker nor paying attention to the incoherent babble from the radio, he himself, his eyes glazed, perhaps lost in what is left of faltering dreams and the ruins of burnt-down aspirations.

There is no hope for a dream at 6:45am in Ghana traffic as the ensuing day promises no hope, being preceded by a confused radio presenter and tiredness even before the day has begun.

Let me take a moment to remind that Ghana is supposed to be one of Africa’s fastest growing economies and a poster child of the Africa rising narrative. Make of this what you choose. There is no price for a dream.  Brilliant poem by Efo Dela.

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