Anyone who has ever gone “home” knows that there are just certain things you are obliged to do no matter how old you are. One of them is to follow, a few paces behind your mother as she takes you from family member to family member so they can all comment on how much you’ve grown and she can boast about your latest achievements.
In today’s case, it was the biggest of all “family” meetings–a trip to Makola Market, one of West Africa’s largest markets where my family also owns stores. My grandfather slept in the market before he was able to buy the stores, my mother and her siblings polished their charm and their Ga (the native language of the capital city) in that very market. The Market women are like aunties to me. Most of them have been in the same spot for years, if not decades. They’ve seen me grow. They can recount every time I’ve been to Ghana and what foolish thing I did or said.
It always feels like they want me to say something silly too. One lady pulled me aside whilst I was following my mum and said “let’s have a chat”. Then she conducted the entire conversation in Twi! Unfair. She said “Kwahufuor yɛ pɛpɛfuor (pronouced peh-peh-fwoar)”. She wanted me to agree but I wasn’t really sure what “pɛpɛfuor” meant. Turns out it’s a well known phrase meaning “Kwahu people are stingy”. I’m a Kwahu person, so obviously I’m not gonna take that from a non-Kwahu person (no matter how true it might actually be). By the end of my gallant attempt to defend Kwahu people in broken-Twi there was a little crowd of Market women laughing at me, including my mum. *sigh* it’s only day seven, many more months of this to come.