I didn’t know Cape Coast had such grotesque eyes. Eyes that rival the way a sky would open up for memories to baptize an ancient monument. In books, I know she has been talked about many times. That the details of her inviolability and the revival of her time-honored days chronicled in academic sheets and archived in humorist concertos.
Why do people write so profusely about Cape Coast Castle? Why not the literature embedded in her streets? Why not about the mathemactics of her people who struggle to trot on plains with dead knowledge? Why not about her constituted ruggedness that shimmers in the elbow?
When I first read Professor Kwadwo Opoku-Agyemang’s Cape Coast Castle (a Collection of Poems) around the first quarter of 2015 at the Africana Section of the Sam Jona Library of the University of Cape Coast, I wanted to meet the elite poetry Professor who houses himself in a shoe-fit office in a university that least religiously acknowledges varlour. I wanted to sit with him —leak my temple towards his countenance— and look straight into his eyes; plead with him to tell me the truth beyond a line he wrote in his introductory page, “To name Cape Coast Castle properly, therefore, means to grasp the full range and significance of the single most traumatic body of experience in all our known history.”
I got to know him a few moths later from the Creative Writing Society’s workshop. His love for the Caribs is consonant to theatrical performances. He would spell out how some kids in the States had anthologized some poems to him and how he had kept them so pristine till date, even though, those were hand-bound.
Six months into the gilt-edged Professor’s poetry volume, I drifted towards Cape Coast Castle, ceremoniously. I wanted to make it a ritual inhabiting its finesse. I was not so sure if it was just the constellation of poems I wanted to read over and figure out other alternatives, especially, First Trip to Sunrise or that particular poem in which he worshipped Naana in its threaded verses like an opera at full throttle. I was, however, certain to find out if Cape Coast was beautified in all its lanes and noisy boulevards in his masterpiece. Whether to this body of works and other magics, the town’s disfigurement were surmounted.
I can’t recount the number of times I have visited Emintsimadze Palace /Or/ used its thruway to the Castle. Each time I had passed by it, a sickeningly dumbfoundedness visited me. Such a feeling becomes stronger when I think of it as the sole keeper of the traditions of this mouthed-in-chapter of a colonial town.
There is nothing so special about Emintsimadze palace. It’s architectural design isn’t mind blowing — so simple a design. It’s roofing resembles an 80-year-old adult who has been spanked by a phantom. The old walls have been left to be scorned by the Atlantic that sits a few meters away. I wonder if its traditional regime has elapsed. /Or/ if there would be some sort of an internet tweaking crowd funding adventure to give its insolvency a makeup. Such a traditional edifice of its magnitude that has lost weight in the wake of today’s technology-wired day is tear-jerking to make any pillowcase afterthought about.
You’d want to think that there are no paradigmatic streets in Cape Coast. There are. Veritably, a milky-way of them with bubbling Anglicized accented names and Ghanaian occupied memes. Kawaanopaado (/Shut Up/) and Kadadwen (/Sleep & Reason/) boulevards rhythmically intervene the typical Cape Coast character. Governor Rowe, Victoria, Beulah, Johnston, Attebury alleys are names that trickle in genuine synchronization and affinity to the colonial badge.
The twist is certain of its origin. It’s a barrage of many different subways conjecturing how a town could sell its actors and playmakers for masked men from the unknown. It’s called, a substitution of subtitles yearning to dribble posterity of its knowledge and ambiance.
I do not want to believe that Cape Coast isn’t a mine-site. Yes. It is. It’s a mine-site of knowledge. With all its educational sites, what else is difficult to mine in this earth? The educational infrastructure polishing of this township mesmerizes on a daily basis. I can’t imagine the number of times I’ve cursed my statistical high school profile for not being able to subscribe to a concession on this land.
Each day by the coast, boys wrestle their fate in the intricacies of the shoreline. They pray to the sea God to show them which fish has a zodiac to the eternity of their dreams. You don’t usually meet a true son of the land thrive in its creme. It look as though the divine installation of vassalage have been bequeathed to its young blood.
Mfantsipim School, Wesley Girls High School, Adisadel College, Holy Child School, St. Augustine’s College et al have assumed abominable courtyards for grooming autochthons from this homeland. While interlopers feed to the full of their bellies from this barn, architects of this farmland are deprived of the necessary nourishment for tomorrow’s survival.
You’ve heard of the outdoored infamous ‘Kotokuraba Market’? This present one, call it the modern stooge, that politically arose from the ashes of the old sane-engulfed-Kotokuraba which made waves for itself throughout the corridors and foyers of this country. This is not the place you’ve once fallen in love with. This is not the same place where you, somehow, planted a kiss onto your lover’s right hand when you carried her basket of goodies after her during one Sunday market. It is not the same air that the locals used to inhale. It has gone superfluous of its nobility. Its tangible acceptable climate has feigned into limbo.
Political machination has eaten the honey out of the honeycomb. You won’t be proud of its present state. No one takes a masked sinner on its laps as a saint. A broad day life in the heathen of Kotokuraba market sends a truly patriot of this town sobbing. Everything has eventually fallen apart akin to the tragedy of Okonkwo in Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.
Passerbys have stolen the trophy from the hunt game, the hunters twerk in gyration. Submerged in political apogees, the famous Kotokuraba market has lost it history to the whirlwind —its foliage has been reduced to wanton derision and deliberate lampooning.
Asafo Supi . . . Is it Bentsir, Brofomba, Anaafo or Akrampa that broadens the scope of the Coasters? This town has gone cuckoo. It has teleported back into inertia. Manna have ceased falling on this isle. The sea cannot hold its fantasies against the fleeting memories the people used to adore. And the opprobrium of this failed arsenal, destitution has visited the land. Nothing seems to work for the collective good of the indigenes. Not even its unrivaled culture. Not its idolized history. Not these fractured colonial cartilage. Not these less pixelated institutions.
But you know one thing for sure if you’ve ever suckled colostrum out of the breasts of Cape Coast — it is a town of many million parts — /& a dream of multi-dreamers, yet, full of emirs who primarily oil their bodies with colonial amour-propre devoid of modern-day evangelistic demands for cheek swirling lunge.
**//Cape Coast — a town that has known the teeth of colonial capitalists sits on Ghana’s coastline in the Central Region as its capital.
**//Emintsimadze — the traditional palace for the Cape Coast chieftain.
**//Asafo Supi — leader of the Asafo (Tradition War) company of the Fante people in Cape Coast. Bentsir, Brofomba, Anaafo et al are part of the seven major Asafo companies in Cape Coast.
Abeiku Arhin Tsiwah is a Ghanaian Smartphone Enthusiast //& Content Critic. He’s the Poetry Editor at Lunaris Review (a Journal of Arts & the Literary, Nigeria) & the Creative Director at The Village Thinkers (a Creative Writing & Arts Society, Ghana). The 2018 Shortlisted Poet for both African Writers Awards /&/ West Africa Citizens Awards has had his works published in Afridiaspora, Peeking Cat Poetry, EXPOUND, Whispers, Novel Masters, African Writer, Agbówó, Tuck Magazine, Africa Redemption Magazine, The Liberian Literary Magazine /&/ elsewhere.