“Freedom!”

“…and when the large crowd finally calmed down, bringing their victory chants under control, Kwame Nkrumah looked round at the faces of the multitude gathered at the grounds and asked in all seriousness, ‘Show by hands if you’ll be eating Jollof tonight.’ Thousands of hands lifted up to the heavens amidst loud cheers and jubilation. Then right on cue, the skies opened, letting its showers wash down the sweat off their tired bodies. Independence day couldn’t have gotten any better. It seemed even Heaven was going to eat Jollof that night too…”

– Diary of Welbie Snr (Ghana, 6th March 1957)

 


Kwame Nkrumah stood behind the podium, scanned the faces of the crowd once more and smiled lightly, mostly to himself.
“Agoooooo!” he chanted into the array of microphones arranged in front of him.

“Amɛɛɛɛɛɛɛɛ!” The reply that greeted him was filled with so much enthusiasm and joy, he was overwhelmed.

The night was still young. He intended to keep his speech concise and very straight to the point so that everyone could disperse and celebrate the night away. What most people didn’t know was that he had been shouting from excitement prior to his coming to the grounds to deliver the declaration of Ghana’s Independence and as such, his left pocket with filled with Ahomka Ginger toffees to restore his voice from sore throat.

“Ahemm.. my mic still dey on? Ahemm” he cleared his throat into the microphones.

“At long last, the battle has ended!  And thus, Ghana, your beloved country is free forever!”

He mused that the speech would take longer than expected when his opening line was met by yet another bout of chanting and jubilation. His main concern then was how cold his jollof would be when he snuck back to Regina Adofo’s place later that night.

Regina was one of the seven women he was secretly seeing. The way to a man’s heart is definitely through food because Regina’s jollof was something he found divine. Of the seven women he was seeing concurrently, it was only Fatiah who came close to challenging Regina’s culinary skill. Though Fatiah was a foreigner, an Egyptian as such, she had a knack for preparing koose so delicious that he often retorted if manna should fall from Heaven, it’d taste just like Fatiah’s koose.

“And yet again, I want to take the opportunity to thank the people of this country…” He continued his speech.

Apart from officially declaring the independence of the newly-born Ghana, Nkrumah had another important message he wanted to put across. He had had a vision of the future. He was actually spending the night at Florence’s when he had this vision. A vision of a young man with hairstyle he, Nkrumah, hadn’t been exposed to before.. but he figured there’d be lots of mannerisms he’d find intriguing especially if they’re from the future.

“Also, I want to inform you people of a vision I had..” he had reached the part he wanted to talk about most passionately.

“I had a vision of me standing here today with a young man. A man with hairstyle so dreadful, I’ll just go ahead and call it dreads. He had lips so thick it reminded me of my mother’s palmnut soup. Since I haven’t met any such person yet, I can only assume he’s from the future.”

The multitude looked on in stunned silence as they listened to their colonial hero go on about this said vision.

“What I’m saying to you as a country is that, there’s another who will come after me. He’ll come to you with dreads as I’ve described. He’d do great things, throw this country into a state of frenzy euphoria – he’d preach “freedom” and mention his name to you.. thus you’d know it’s him.”

Unbeknownst to Nkrumah, this part of his speech among other parts never made it to official records.

******************

Ghana, 61 years later

Fitzgerald Amartey, the old man popularly known as Old Soldier Never Dies, sat in his dingy living room on a sunny Tuesday afternoon watching the music videos that were being aired on his TV set. He was just telling his co-tenants again for the hundredth time about how the purported Nkrumah’s speech on Independence Day years ago wasn’t a true representation of what he said; about how he was there at the grounds himself and that Nkrumah spoke of his vision.

“Yes his vision is to see the entire Africa free.. he said it in the video” they’d often retort.

“No no.. not that vision. He had a vision of a young man with dreads and lips thick like abɛnkwan” he’d reply and have them laughing. They never took him serious.

“I’ll never die till this I see this vision man.” he’d often tell them.

Sitting behind his TV, he had no patience for the current trend of music these days. He didn’t get them at all. Furiously grabbing his TV remote to sift through the channels, he paused with a skip of a heartbeat as the words of the current song playing, caught his attention.

Freedom. Freedom. Freedom.
Shatta. Shatta. Shatta. Shatta. Shatta. Shatta. Shatta.
My name is Shatta Wale.
Freedom.

Staring at the screen dumbfounded, his mind replayed the words he heard sixty-one years ago… “- there’s another who will come after me. He’ll come to you with dreads as I’ve described. He’d do great things, throw this country into a state of frenzy euphoria – he’d preach “freedom” and mention his name to you.. thus you’d know it’s him.”

“Ohmaigordd. Heet is ‘im.”

Fitzgerald Amartey, popularly known as Old Soldier Never Dies, dropped to the floor in a crumpled heap.

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