Wednesday, 9 May 2012

A Black & White Story

Within the novel “Ama”, I read a story told amongst the slaves along their journey south to the coast of Ghana.

In the beginning, Onyame, creator of all things, selected 3 black men and 3 white men and gave each a wife. They were shown a large clay pot and a piece of paper and told each group should choose one. Lots were drawn and the black men won. They considered the options carefully.
The pot must hold something of good use and it was large. The piece of paper could not possibly be of much value to them. Eventually, they chose the pot. Once they examined the contents, they discovered some iron and a small piece of gold.
The white men were left with the sheet of paper on which was written “everything they ever needed to know”.
Onyame gave this country to the blacks and took the whites to the great water in the south. He taught them to fell trees and build a boat. He directed them to a country far away and they set sail.
Years later, descendents of the white people returned with goods to exchange for gold, mined here in Ghana, and slaves. (The paper had shown them how to make things)

Some of the captured slaves asked what the white people were like. The answer was that they are very tall and ugly. It hurts your eyes to look at them and if you look for too long you will surely be blinded!

Often, around here I see adults talking to their children about me. The children are sometimes visibly frightened. Then the adults laugh and explain that they tell their children, if they don’t do what they say the white woman will take them away! Fortunately, this doesn’t occur with all of them. I am not aware that I have ever before, knowingly, frightened a child. What a shame it should happen here and through no fault of my own. Last week having spent some time with a couple of 3 year olds, one told the other, in Dagaare, “I don’t fear the Nansapor (white woman), any more”. Thank God. I am working on them individually and in small groups to try and dispel this horrifying myth.

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