Thursday, January 28, 2010

Inspiring Modern African Art

One day facebook prompted me, as they/it annoyingly does, to become a fan of a site - only this time it caught my eye. It was called African Digital Art. Since then, I've been amazed and inspired by the range of great work on the site. From powerful photo images, to political statement through modern graphic design, to classic paintings... this site showcases a diverse variety of Africa's young talent. Check it out!

Below, a sampling of the pieces:

Monday, January 25, 2010

Shiloh Nights

In the hours where night blurs the lines of day, and the laws of physics and form are soft and pliable, I often float to you.

I call out and find you, elusive and ageless. The energy of your smile dazzles and carries me into a new place where you comfort me with your presence. You take the form I know, the soft downy boy’s body I crave and adore, you come back to spend some time with me and fill my heart with just enough, so I can keep going in the day, when you’ve gone.

This is my secret – our night meetings where I give you your favourite biscuits and watch the crumbs on your tiny lips. Where your laughter is pure sunshine and your voice is an angel’s. My angel.

Last night you were three. All the memories of you then, so little, came flooding back...
And though it was such a short visit, and you slept in another room, I needed you and you came. I held your tiny warm hand. I draw around your fingernails with my mind. The rough skin at the edge of each round nail, the soft pad of your palms. I breathed you in and held my breath. Though I dreamt a regular dream, somehow we both knew that you had come to help. That I needed your eyes, your skin, your little soul.

And days that hold a silence and a dull gray emptiness, I find myself alone in the car, your song will tease me from the radio, “I will go down with this ship, and I won’t put my hands up and surrendah” I hear your proud little voice singing along. But it is only a memory and the reality of day pierces my senses. Tears roll down my helpless face.

It is only our secret nights where ‘real’ is weak and love is stronger, that I am strengthened. Your power my boy, is bigger than I and this shallow world that you have left.

I love you like my baby and respect you far beyond. At once you are gone and yet you haven’t left me.

When my brave face laughs and I feel the happiness of love, the joy of good friends and good food and the tickle of a gentle breeze, you are the one I cling to inside.

I know in a way that only mystery can answer, that we have traded places. I took care of you here, I wiped your tears away and cuddled you at night, and now you take care of me – soothing my fears and cuddling me in that special place where night blurs the lines of day.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Follower number 250 - the exotic daredevil herself, Heather!

So the milestone has been reached and surpassed. People actually stop by here and read the Ramblings! I'm honoured :)

Follower number 250, a blogger buddy - is Heather. She is no ordinary blogger though.

I'll give you all a little taste of the wild madness that is waiting over at Heather's corner of the cyberworld...

Heather's blog is called Notes from Lapland (which for those of you like me who didn't know where Lapland was, shame! It's in northern Finland!!!) Can you say exotic?

Heather's from the UK and:

Has flown a helicopter!

Stolen a box of paperclips

Ran away from home at 15 to work in a seedy nightclub!!! (I added the seedy for effect)

She doesn't write erotic stories for seedy magazines in her spare time - but that's only because she has no spare time!!! She's a mom of two little ones, ya know!

And Heather once got arrested! For what, you ask? Well it was either:

a. fighting
b. stealing a helicopter
c. stealing an F1 race car

BUT you'll have to head on over to the Notes from Lapland to find out which!! Oh, and mind your step once you get there, there's reindeer droppings all over the place!!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

250th Reader of the Ramblings

Who will be my two hundred and fiftieth follower?! Surely that can be a milestone of some description!

I think that person will deserve a big shout-out and a feature here on the Ramblings!

Any takers? :)

I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank all those who signed up, signed on, pushed that follow button, and now has their mug up on my site...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Haiti Rant 2

Haiti remains at the centre of the global media frenzy – what with the aftershocks and the dismally slow rollout of the aid distribution plan.

The celebrity pop show of who's giving and playing benefit concerts is growing and spreading like a hollywood rumour.

Even Ghana is hosting an aid concert for Haiti this weekend.

Well meaning individuals across the world, on blogs and Twitter and every social media imaginable are spreading the word to donate.

But sadly, despite the many millions who have actually reached out financially, aid is just not getting to the places it needs to be. Not fast enough. Not fairly or equitably. The port is demolished, the roads have crumbled, the airport is a crippled fortress. The security forces guard the wares..

CNN explains today that, "International aid contributions have totaled hundreds of millions of dollars, but relief agencies working in Haiti say transportation bottlenecks have slowed the delivery of food, water and medicine to survivors".

The longer the aid supplies remain in warehouses, undistributed, the more violence will erupt and a very ugly side of Haiti will peer it's ugly head through the tragedy. Rule of law, which balanced so precariously before the earthquake is now hanging by a thread. Looting is rampant. An estimated 3000 dangerous criminals have escaped the defunct Port au Prince prison...

In 2008 Haiti was rocked by deadly food riots when the price of food had risen exponentially.

Rioters shot UN peace keepers and looted shops…

Fast forward to January 2010 in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake. UN and US Military officials guard warehouses and truckloads of aid. They are afraid to enter certain areas. They fear for their lives.

The predictable is happening.

Sky News reporter in Port Au Prince explained yesterday that:

“ The distribution of their food away from the depot remains piecemeal, dangerous and chaotic.
I travelled to the Port-au-Prince slum of Solidad, following a single aid truck packed with plastic bags of essentials. The slum hard men rode on the roof and side-runners of our car - without their agreement we would have found it hard to get in; we would not have got out with our car, gear or wallets.

Even as they tried to deliver the food, hundreds swarmed around the truck, forcing the doors open and stealing the aid. Punches and shouting and chaos. They abandoned the plan. Speeding away with Sky cameraman Adam Murch still on the roof. They decided to go back in darkness and try again. They told me not to come."

Violence, like a rabid cancer is bubbling and threatening to overflow into the desperate streets. The line will be blurred between the helpers and those with plenty. The aid workers may be seen as the enemy in a situation where there is no visible enemy, but the victims are plentiful.

Meanwhile, the shameless scam artists out of Nigeria and around the world have been quick to seize the opportunity to take advantage of those who would give. There are countless scams on the Internet, sprung up in the aftermath of the quake, with fake charity organizations and impersonations of genuine agencies, asking people to use Western Union to send donations.

The pockets of the criminals are filling, while the terror of hunger and desperation threaten to throw Haiti even further into a hopeless abyss.

And all the while, the media has ensured that there will be video and stills of the carnage. And we can only sit behind our TV screens and watch.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

10 Extremely Random Things

I've been a bad blogger. I've mentioned this before, but there's the latent guilt that plagues me. Every time I get a blog award I neglect to give credit and pass it on. Ok, there. I've said it. It's admitted and out in the open. Therapeutic.

But yesterday Eternally Distracted, the talented and entertaining blogger that she is, got to me in a way no one had before. She admitted to the same sorts of crimes as me. She never passes along the blog tag baton. Well because there was no pressure and she asked us to tag ourselves, I did just that.

So in honour of ED, I am posting my 10 (extremely) random things. And I'd like any of my fellow bloggers that get inspired, to do the same! Consider it passed along...

1. I’ve only worn nylons once – for my highschool graduation night. They were shredded halfway through the night and I took them off. Never again. They give me the same sensation as nails on a chalkboard.

2. I have a thing for hands – I make sweeping judgments and categorize people by what their hands look like.

3. Pink and brown – are my absolute favourite colours, especially together!

4. I hate ice cream – except for lemon sorbet and mint chocolate chip.

5. I owned a gas station for three years once as a single mom many moons ago..

6. I owned a restaurant with my ex and an investment partner in my early twenties – it was one of the most fun and exciting times of my life! It ended badly…

7. I lived my first year in University as a lie. I impersonated a Cayman Islander, with full Caribbean accent. Made friends, and later regretted how far I’d taken the prank.

8. I lived in Botswana for a year as a volunteer at 19. I was given a local name “Sedikwakenjapedigasethata” – which is a proverb meaning ‘two heads are better than one’, but the literal translation is ‘It’s not difficult for two dogs to surround you and kill you’. The short form of the name is “Sedikwa” (pron. SED-EEK-WAH)

9. I don’t have a competitive bone in my body - until it comes to Scrabble!

10. I absolutely love the smell of greenhouses. As a toddler, my grandmother used to take me in my stroller to some greenhouses in our neighborhood and ever since, the smell is hypnotic and comforting - it lulls me…

Monday, January 18, 2010

Haiti Rant

When there is a disaster, everyone jumps on the humanitarian bandwagon. The current aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti is a glaring case in point. Brangelina have held a news conference to pledge their support...

According to the BBC, the relief efforts are more large scale than for any other disaster in history. The UN has asked for $562m in aid monies to help the country over the next 6 months.

People are desperate and dying. The media is assaulting the world with the gory images of bodies and mangled survivors.

What cold-hearted wretches would not see the humanitarian aspect of this disaster, and reach out in whatever way they could, to assist?

What the world neglects, because it’s too accusatory, is the reality of what led to a disaster of this scale. Accountability is thrown out the window with the first picture of an injured or orphaned child on the side of the road.

The fact that Haiti often tops the list as the world’s most corrupt country has not been big news during this crisis. Of course it hasn’t – we are busy trying to save innocent lives, and get the basics of food and water to a desperate population.

But after the dust has settled, will the same people who are gathering the millions to pump into Haiti, be as concerned as to how it’s spent and where it goes?

Will they investigate the fact that, according to seismologists, the death toll in the earthquake will reach figures of over 50,000, “in large part because of corruption and resulting shoddy construction practices in the poor Caribbean nation”. Port au Prince is possibly one of the worst constructed cities on earth. It has been called 'a disaster waiting to happen." And then it did. Who is surprised? Whose responsible?

The relief efforts are being hampered at every turn by the lack of resources, machinery, supplies in the country. People are dying!

When do those in power in a country like Haiti become accountable for the well-being of the people? How can the fact that buildings were put together under corrupt deals, with inferior materials and design, be overlooked?

Would the carnage have been so widespread if the city was properly planned and buildings complied with regulations? The answer is no…

If the same fate had befallen a city in the developed world, would there not be massive legal implications for the building companies, the government? We all know there would.

Why is it, that the world has no expectations from, or respect for the leaders of the developing world? Why is it that aid from outside must flow without reservation into countries where the governments are notorious for their extravagant wealth at the expense of the basic needs of their people?

This issue nags at me. In Africa I’m surrounded by emergencies. Disaster characterizes the daily lives of over half the people on this continent. The governments continue to syphon the lion’s share of the countries’ resources, while the masses live in squalor, without access to healthcare, education, roads, water and electricity.

Why are people looting and shooting and running wild? The people have been desperate and ignored for a long time before the earthquake hit.

An earthquake is only the icing on the crumbling cake of corruption that has ruined so many nations.

An earthquake brings the cameras and heart wrenching stories. It brings out the motherly instinct in all of us.

But it hides and therefore condones the shameful behavior of the people in charge, who, through every corrupt deal, have sealed the fate of so many of the innocents.

And in a few months time when the media has forgotten about Haiti and turned it’s sensationalist eye to another of the world’s new and exciting disaster zones, who will ask where the relief monies have gone? Who will be benefitting? How extravagantly will the presidential palace be rebuilt at the expense of new hospitals, schools and basic housing?

Why would it be handled any differently than it ever has before…

(Photo of Haiti BEFORE the earthquake)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Thought I'd take things up a notch in terms of enthusiasm and fun. I've had this song running through my head since mid-December when I first heard it at a big Nigerian party in Accra. I especially love the little 'bomp ba domp' sound the singer makes, describing the ladies hips...

Apparently the name of this song means 'prostitute', which is not in itself a positive thing, but a friend led me to a write up recently that gave a much more interesting meaning (in a book review about a very interesting topic!):

"Ashawo is a Yoruba word that has found its way into the languages of the region. It has connotations of sex for sale, but also of independence, freedom from traditional ties and family obedience. An ashawo woman is a woman alone; under her own control, not the control of a man."

The song has been played in excess at every party this holiday season in Ghana - and I wait for it every time, to get up and shake my thang.

Thought I'd share it widely. It's not deep, not a classic, not a particularly well made piece of music, but IT's FUN!!! And I just KNOW Shiloh would have loved it. We'd have been watching him in dark shades, making up a very slick dance routine to it right now!

"Sawa sawa babeee" (my made up spelling for the Yoruba lyrics...)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Eleven years ago today Shiloh came into this world.

...sequel to yesterday's post...

I had gathered all my things the afternoon before, and made the two minute walk (or waddle in my case at the time), down the road to the back entrance of the hospital. All the kids from the compound were in tow, each carrying something, quite proud and happy to be part of the event and journey. At the hospital gate the guard tried to shoo them all away, but a few were allowed to follow me inside.

After the formalities of paying for everything, from bed space to intravenous bags, my Canadian friend and confidante, T and I were led to a fairly clean, private room.

We sat on the bed and chatted. We imagined what the baby would be like, what the birth would be like. My nerves ebbed and flowed.

In the evening my husband brought Kobi (Q) down the road to be with me. We all sat, we chatted. I hugged my boy. The nurse came and told me visiting hours were over. This was it. I was to be alone until the next day, after by baby was born.

I felt instantly terrified and sentimental. I wanted my family back. Aunty Maude! My mom. I’m sure I curled as much as I could into a ball and cried myself to sleep, hugging my belly and gathering the strength and bond the two of us needed for the next day.

In the morning I was wheeled down to the surgery ward, past the busy lobby, through the morning prayer being observed by all, made the obligatory stop and then proceeded to a smaller quieter lobby with a few people lying and sitting somberly on the hard benches.

The waiting ensued. I was supposed to be scheduled for 9am surgery, but on GMT (Ghana Maybe Time), I knew this was to be far later.

I was uncharacteristically calm. Serene. Baby thumped now and then to say hello and comfort me, in light of the dangerous events that we were about to submit ourselves to.

There was gathering momentum around the surgery as the time got closer, with nurses and other uniformed strangers moved in and out of the worn swinging doors. I was acutely aware of the dusty floors and hand marks on the walls and doors. Would they use sterile equipment? Would they handle any crisis that might arise with level headed expertise? Would they treat my baby with love and care while I lay there in a drug induced sleep?

The time came, the big white hospital wall clock showed five past ten, and a nurse came to collect my receipts. She pointed to a rickety wheelchair. “Get in”. I obeyed.

The room was blindingly bright. The light drowned out the dirt in the corners, and reassured me. It looked like a real surgery room.

I was heaved up onto a cold table while people shuffled around me. Soon I was connected to an IV and I remember asking semi-frantic questions about how long the procedure would take, where I’d wake up, did they promise to take care of my baby. I was largely ignored.

I looked around for my doctor, who appeared seconds before they injected the sleeping serum. His smile gave me an instant sense of calm. He was cool and collected and had an air of much needed authority. The curdled nervous mess of my insides became a smooth silky pudding. I slipped away while staring right into his eyes. All a mother’s trust thrown across the cold room in a glance that faded away with me.

I woke up dazed, with a heavy thudding pain in my middle. My eyes seemed crusty and my mouth was a harsh unforgiving desert. As I became aware of my surroundings I realized I was in a hospital room. There were three other people to my left. One groaned loudly. This sound was probably what brought me around from the groggy underworld. I wondered in a panic whether I’d been in an accident, what was wrong, why was I here?
Then as my mind caught up with my panic, I remembered everything and it all came rushing to me and up through my throat and formed into a frog-like yelp, “My baby!”
I’d apparently disturbed my bed-mates. One turned to me and talked loudly, as if I were deaf or a small child,

“You are in a hospital. You are fine. People are sick here, please do not shout.”

“Someone call the nurse that the obruni (white person) has woken up.”

Me: “But where is my baby? Where is my baby? I want to see my baby!” I was quite emotional, demanding, frantic. I feared the worst. What if I’d made it and the baby hadn’t? Why was I in a room with sick people? Why not the maternity ward?!

A nurse eventually appeared in the doorway, slouching against the doorframe, she looked at me with heavy lidded eyes. “Madam, you have to stop shouting! You will pull your stitches.” Her voice came across flat, monotone, slightly annoyed.

I was incredulous that no one would respond to my question. I started to cry. No one reacted. One of the other patients made a point of loudly turning over to face away from me. I was sure the baby was gone and that this was the dawning of the worst day of my life.

The nurse left the room and walked slowly down the hallway, her slothly footsteps becoming quieter and quieter, until they were gone. I was so alone, so afraid, so helpless. I considered getting up to go and ask someone in charge. I tried to move but was instantly overcome by shooting pains as my body attempted to twist. That was not going to be possible. There was nothing I could do but wait.

I called through my tears to each person who passed the room. No one was willing to help. Maybe they thought I was crazy. Maybe I was. I began to wonder. Where was my husband and my Kobi? Why wouldn’t they visit me? I checked the clock and it was after 1pm.

This was easily the most lonely I’ve felt ever, and it was the deepest, despairing emptiness that I shudder to recall it at all.

Then an angel appeared. A Canadian friend called G. I heard her sharp accent in the hallway and my anticipation of her arrival at the door was palpable. She appeared in the doorway, her face alive and bright, a huge basket with balloons and gifts and sweets in her arms. She looked so out of place in this dismal ward.

Her expression turned instantly dark once she saw my tear stained face and looked around the room. Still she came to me, dumped the basket and hugged me. Despite the pain, I grabbed onto her and the warmth of her embrace filled me to the brim. Definitely one of the best hugs I’ve ever had. I drank her in. Then she got to business and I was beyond grateful.

“Where is the baby?!” “why are you in here?”

All I could do was shake my head as more tears welled up and spilled, hot and frustrated down my puffy cheeks.

She squeezed my hand and assured me she’d go sort out everything and she ran down the hall.

I could hear her firm and then raised voice as she questioned the lethargic nurses down the hall. She was demanding, shouting now. And then silence. I bit my lip and waited some more.

An indescribably long time after that, she reappeared. Still alone but with a smile that gave me hope for the first time since I’d awoken.

“Well my dear, you are the proud mother of a healthy baby boy!”

I could have kissed her face off. My eyes lit up, by heart soared.

Me: “Where is he?”

G: “The nurses are just washing him and will have him up here in just a couple minutes, or I’ll go straight back down there and get him myself”.

She then went to work to gather up the shattered pieces of my sanity and cleaned me up, in anticipation for the arrival of my little king, Shiloh.

Three nurses came padding much faster than usual up the passage way and I heaved myself up into sitting position. I was gripped with both childlike wonder and a violent maternal desire to protect her young. Bring me that baby!!

And there he was! Wrapped all tight in a soft cotton blanket. His chubby tan face shining out the top. My baby! I devoured him. Grabbed the bundle of him and smothered him with a thousand kisses.

I felt in a bubble. I could hear nothing. The world was just me and my news.
I was at once amazed, frightened, ecstatic and numb. My baby boy had arrived!

They wheeled in a clear plastic bassinet for him to sleep beside me but I had no intention of letting him go again.

G had a mobile phone and we were able to call my mother. I barely said a word, and just managed to blurt out that the baby was a boy and that he was so sweet. I cried and smiled and blubbered. She did the same on the other end of the line…

I wanted to feed him right away but was informed by ‘nurse wretched’ that it wasn’t necessary as they’d given him a bottle of glucose syrup. I was furious. But at least he was with me.

Then G told me about her experience with the nurses downstairs. She had wandered around the surgeries and eventually found Shiloh, alone and unwashed, lying in a cold plastic bassinet. She was appalled and ran out calling wildly to the nurses. They were in a lunchroom, greedily pawing kenkey, fresh pepper and fish from a shared eating bowl. When she asked why the baby had not been cleaned and brought to his mother they casually explained it was lunchtime. I was beyond furious at the story, but at least he was with me.

I mentioned to G that I was sad and concerned my husband and Kobi had not come in yet to visit, she told me that they were refusing all visitors since it was not yet official visiting hours. I was furious, but at least Shi was with me.

Then G went to the nurses, now that she’d quickly developed a reputation as a no-nonsense obruni, and she demanded to know why I was placed in a room with sick patients. Apparently there was no room in the other ward. I couldn’t believe it! The man beside me had a rotting foot. My ailing roommates resented my eventual flow of visitors and Shiloh’s deep newborn cry. I was upset, but at least Shi was with me.

And when, in the night I had to call for the nurses help to use a bedpan, with the man beside me gawking, the nurse annoyed and unhelpful, my stitches pulling and stretching with excruciating pain, I was embarrassed and fuming inside, but at least I had my Shiloh with me.

Happy Birthday Shiloh. 11 years ago you arrived, causing me turmoil, crushing me with worry that I wouldn’t see you, and filling my life with more than a mother could ever ask, once you came. Beautiful, boisterous, ‘bad boy’. You charmed me from that first moment, and had me entranced every day thereafter. I only wish, more than a mother could imagine, that I had you here with me today.
Shiloh Devon Nii Kpakpo Mingle – January 9th, 1999 – June 22, 2005.
We miss you ‘like harmattan paw paw’. Every moment since you left us here without you.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Eleven years ago today my life changed forever.

Eleven years ago on this day I was huge. My ankles resembled over stuffed sausages, my cheeks hid my eyes.

I sat on a wooden bench in the Trust Hospital of Accra, sandwiched between many others in my bloated condition. The front door of the lobby was ajar, the power was out and air-conditioning was a far off dream. I wore chaley-wote (flip flops) and a multicoloured boubou, a tent dress that held me and my little one in, barely containing us as the sweat trickled down my back, my arms, my rotund tummy.

The sounds of the busy street permeated the hot waiting room, honking of cars, shouts of street hawkers and clouds of gritty dust made their way in amongst us.

After the lobby-wide morning prayer where we were all asked to stand (health status permitting), each of us was sent from reception to another cash kiosk where your appointment must be paid for in cash before joining the queue. Once paid, with our receipts in hand, the hours passed while we waited, some in silence, some clicking their teeth in exasperation, some chatting quietly, brought together by their shared predicament. So many women, so few doctors.

I was a volunteer and the only non-Ghanaian, non-African, non black lady in the building, apart from a Russian nurse that I’d heard about and had only seen once in my numerous pre-natal check-ups. I was not anonymous. But I was used to it.

Nine months before that, I had come home from a typical day at work. For me it meant moving around within the bustling craft market, sitting and chatting with the wood carvers, the painters, the trinket pushers about their needs and opportunities.

I took a tro tro into Osu, and walked up from the main road to the compound I shared with my husband’s family and various tenants. 54 of us in all.

The ladies sat out front of the compound gate, by the small shop that had been set up by a tenant, selling cokes and sweets and tiny plastic wrapped portions of peanuts and sugar and laundry soap powder.

They watched me approach and called to me. When I reached the group they were debating and jostling and laughing and it seemed I had provided the subject of their conversation.

“Kobi mami, (the name given to me affectionately in Ghana, as the mother of Kobi)

“Your face is looking tired”

“Yes look at her eyes!”

“And the walk. It is true.”

Me, clueless: “Good afternoon. What is it?”

In unison after a few giggles, “You are pregnant!”

They were all convinced also, in that African way, that it was a boy.

It seemed absurd. The consensus out of nowhere, the thought, the idea. Despite not having felt very well over the past few weeks, I shrugged it off. Later in the evening, we sat in our ‘chamber-and-hall’, the two rooms we had in the compound, connected by a doorway with a curtain, the overhead fan incessantly whirring above us. I turned to my husband:

Me: “Can you imagine, Aunty Maude and Josephine were outside with the other ladies when I came home today. They all said I was pregnant!”

Husband: “Well I’m not surprised. You are. I can sense it. It is good news, no?”

Me, with my cultural baggage fully in hand, wondering a.) how the hell does everyone know but me, and b.) how can this be my husband’s reaction, if it is indeed true?!
I headed to the pharmacy the next morning for a test. They explained that if you bought the test, they would do the test right there, and off they sent me to the grimy little bathroom in the back hallway. They took my urine to another room and came back with the positive symbol on the little stick. And there it was. They told me in a matter of fact way.

“Please the test is positive.”

“You mean I’m really pregnant?!”

“Yes please. Do you need a receipt for the purchase?”

So I walked back out into the baking heat of the street, dodging between the open gutters underfoot and the hive of life around me. I felt in a bubble. I could hear nothing. The world was just me and my news. The truth that it took a test to convince me, but that my African in-laws had known by intuition.

I was at once amazed, frightened, ecstatic and numb. My baby boy was on his way.

In the hospital on January 8th, 1999 I was very aware that my due date had passed and that there were dangers involved. My little kicking baby was in the breach position, and after giving my ribs a bashing for the past couple months, had not turned inside me.

My choice to stay in Ghana through the pregnancy haunted me on that hospital bench on that hot dusty day. What if I’ve compromised my baby’s chances? But he was a Ghanaian baby. His father wanted us to be here. His aunty, my angel Aunty Maude was a nurse and she wanted us there. She had always made me feel secure, calm. The hospital was a two minute walk from the compound, at the foot of our road, right on the main strip. It was a highly recommended hospital. But today there was a power outage. There were not enough doctors. The patients, like cattle, filled the hot pen. What was I doing?! Taking this whole African thing too far. I wanted to call my mom, so many worlds away. I had chosen a life that held no familiarity, no reference point for everyone I’d known back home.

So this was me, and I had shuffled up the benches over the hours, closer and closer to the door of the doctor’s office, until it was my turn.

I went in and was greeted with the doctor’s broad smile. He seemed tireless.

“Madam Holli”

“The boy is stubborn! I thought we’d have seen you in the delivery ward by now!”

He helped me up onto the rusty examination table and felt around with his warm hands.

“Ok, madam. He has not moved. The time is late. We will have to do Ceserean birth. You choose – tomorrow or the next day? I will make the booking.”

Oh my God. I had never envisaged a full operation in Ghana! The hospitals, the risks! The absurdity of choosing your child’s birthday?!

“Please, can my husband and aunty come in to the surgery? Will I be awake?”

“Sorry, no and no. This is a serious surgery and visitors cannot be permitted. They can visit you afterwards, during visiting hours.”

I knew right then this was not going to be like any of the C-section births I’d heard of in Canada. What happened to bringing your own music in, hubby with you, holding your hand, family in the waiting room to burst in a few minutes after the birth?!

My pulse pounded in my temples. There was no time, no other option in sight. I couldn’t run home to Canada. I’d have to trust this doctor and face this within the framework I found myself in. Baby nudged me back out of my paranoid frenzy, from within.

Me: “Tomorrow please. What time should I arrive?”

Doc: “You have to stay now, I will have them book you into the ward”.

I’d need to bring my own bed sheets, toilet paper, drinks, food, soap and towels, on top of all the normal things like newborn diapers and a carry home outfit for the baby….

My head was spinning. I told him my house was very close and I needed to go get my things.

So I walked back out into the baking heat of the street, dodging between the open gutters underfoot and the hive of life around me. I felt in a bubble. I could hear nothing. The world was just me and my news.

I was at once amazed, frightened, ecstatic and numb. My baby boy was on his way.

To be continued...
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