I just read a book called Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi which was another lucky find from the local library. It tells how four children’s lives are adversely affected when their father walks off and leaves the family without an explanation.
He, Kweku, is an African doctor living in the States and wearing his white coat means the world to him. But when he is unable to save an older member of a wealthy family, he is fired. His younger son happens to see him in an embarrassing position as he pleads for his job at the hospital.
He never tells his wife, Fola and just simply leaves town and starts over, eventually returning to his homeland in Ghana. Olu, his oldest son is affected but finds a companion to help him cope, but the twins, Kehinde and Taiwo, are sent to an uncle in Nigeria and they endure mind-boggling abuse from the uncle and his wife. Sadie, the youngest daughter, is hiding her bulimia and her secret affinity towards girls.
Fola does her best to manage and all four of the children eventually reach adulthood. She relocates to Ghana after receiving some unexpected property. Upon hearing that Fola has returned to the country, the father, though remarried, has a heart attack and suddenly dies.
The children travel together to attend his funeral and this gives them time to bond. The mother, Fola learns more of their personal stories, pains and irreparable damage done from the father’s absence. She listens, nurtures and tries to erase some of their grief.
Patriarchs have key roles in families and even for those of us who were not deserted, we are still stymied by their deaths. We never really get over it but their absences force us to leave our childhoods behind. We gather what gifts they have left us and we utilize them as we take ownership for being adults.
Our next mission is to pass on the wisdom, share the knowledge and personal stories as we try to equip the next generations with some sure-fired guidelines for living a decent life. As one cousin said, “We become the family griot who passes on what we know and keep the wholesome traditions alive!”
Lynn M. September 23, 2017