NTOABOMA—The Parable of Narmer as told to me by my great-grandmother.
Far, far away in the Land of the Ancestors, Nana Awuraba Abrefa, an ancient warrior queen looks in, into the lives of the living, to assess the souls of Ghanaians in the twenty-first century, and to make the decision whether to intervene. She wields a sword in one hand and a feather in the other. The feather is what Nana Awuraba Abrefa uses to test the hearts of (wo-)men, and the sword to strike down the enemies of Ma’at—or those whose hearts create suffering for the rest of the living. She is the protector queen of the souls of Ghana-Folk. She allows a messenger of the enemy to try the souls of the leader of Ghana and the ordinary Ghanaian (whose future is inextricably linked with the decisions of his leader). Nana Awuraba Abrefa wants to know who’s lost their minds.
So Nana Awuraba Abrefa looks on to assure herself about the stable minds of the living.
The leader is visited by the messenger. This is Nana Akufo-Addo. The messenger arrives at the front door of Akufo-Addo’s little mansion. He hands Akufo-Addo a letter. In the letter, the messenger claims he has come to live in one of Akufo-Addo’s bedrooms situated at the front-left-corner of the mansion. The letter reads that “from this day forward until the end that room shall belong only to the messenger. The messenger can roam freely in the compound, and do what he pleases. He can do what he pleases to any thing, any man, any woman in Akuffo-Addo’s little mansion. And if something goes wrong, as in for instance, if something is broken, or someone is shot and killed, Akufo-Addo must send a letter to the Ancestral World for redress.” Furthermore, the letter states that the messenger “has absolutely no intentions to move temporarily or permanently into Akufo-Addo’s mansion!”
The messenger hands Akufo-Addo the letter. He reads it carefully, over and over and over again. Then Akufo-Addo murmurs to himself three times, each time louder than the one before: “You are surely not moving in. You don’t intend to. My hands are tied.” The messenger assures Akufo-Addo not to worry, letting Akufo-Addo know that the previous owner of the same house had signed a similar letter which expired today, and that it is only a renewal that he implores Akufo-Addo to sign. The messenger continues, and assures Akufo-Addo even further, that Akufo-Addo should not worry about the house. The messenger writes a check payable to Akufo-Addo’s residence for twenty gold cedis to this effect. Akufo-Addo smiles, and giggles, and repeats three successive proclamations, each time louder than the one before: “It is true, the messenger is here to stay and help me in my house. He is not moving in.” Akufo-Addo whips out a pen he inherited from his father, and he signs the letter, completing what is called in the Ancestral World, the Monetization of Souls. The messenger thanks Akufo-Addo and leaves, promising to return momentarily with his belongings.
Nana Awuraba Abrefa watches on stupefied, cutting a feather in half in just a single swing of her sword, angry at the instability of the Akufo-Mind.
Across from Akufo-Addo’s house is a little man, Tologo, living in a hut situated at the far left corner of a sizeable compound on which he grows seasonal crops like corn, tomatoes, peppers and on which the Tologos raise a few chickens. The hut is roofed with actual thatch. The compound is fenced-in, but Tologo could still manage to see over the fence. Tologo spots the messenger approaching from over the fence. The messenger approaches the front gate of Tologo’s compound. Since Tologo has never seen this messenger ever in his neighborhood he thinks it a bit odd. With his children drudging along with their chores in the compound, Tologo decides to meet the messenger at the gate. Tologo grabs his machete.
The messenger knocks. Tologo stands behind his gate and asks the messenger what business brings a stranger to a family house on a hot afternoon? The messenger replies that he has come from the Ancestral World to deliver a message to the living. Tologo asks: “Which Ancestral World? Yours or Mine?” The messenger replies: “Ours.” Tologo retorts: “Well, I don’t know who you are so how can it be ours?” The messenger replies: “If you let me in I can deliver the message, and then you can understand.” Tologo looks over the fence again and takes a cursory look at the messenger and then glances over to the hen coops where his children are busy with their chores. Tologo asks the messenger: “How can a man invite into his house a man with whom he has never had a drink. If you are a messenger from the Ancestral World, you would appreciate the following decorum: How about we meet over at Daavi’s Akpeteshie Bar?” But the messenger implores Tologo to open the gate and to assure Tologo that messengers don’t drink. The messenger pleads that all he wants was to deliver the letter. However, Tologo insists, without opening the gate, that the messenger rather meet him over at Daavi’s Akpeteshie Bar. When the messenger tries opening the gate, Tologo brandishes his machete.
Frustrated, the messenger turns away and departs, murmuring to himself.
Nana Awuraba Abrefa watches on stupefied, letting down a flurry of feathers into Tologo’s compound home. She is surprised at the contrasting minds of Tologo and Akufo-Addo.
The next morning while Tologo prepares to leave for the farm, he looks over his fence and sees smoke, and then he sees the messenger, his arms front-folded, smiling sheepishly at a burning house. That house is the little mansion across the street—Mr. Akufo-Addo’s house. Tologo doesn’t quite know what to make of the man, except to rethink his going to the farm that morning. Up behind Tologo’s fence stands the rest of Akufo-Addo’s family, looking for a place to perch. Tologo welcomes them to his hut and spends all his day fortifying the fence around his compound. Tologo is now certain that the devil has come to town to take whatever he can get. The messenger is not a man with a message, nor is he a man entrusted to deliver a message from the Ancestral World. He is the devil, sent to try the souls of Ghanaian-folk.
Alas, will Nana Awuraba Abrefa now watch on? Or will she intervene in the lives of the living?