Yesterday I decided to check out the secondary school library as a sanctuary from the incessant flirting teachers and frustrations that come with language barriers. I skimmed the skimpy shelves, took inventory, searching for books in Twi. When I failed to find one, I asked the sleeping librarian, “Do you have any books in Twi?”
He pulled his head off the desk, the big “No Sleeping” sign in perfect view behind him, and gave me a blank stare.
“Do you have any books in Twi?” I repeated.
Then his face lit up, he rose, and went straight way to the “Chemistry” shelf, drawing out the book Agricultural Science. A textbook on trees.
I politely sat down and pretended it was what I wanted. The librarian left to weed the back of the building with his machete, and I made eye contact with the only soul in the room. A 16 year old girl named Esther I came to find out. Out on her desk she had a book of poems by Kofi Anyidoho. One of the books on my reading list. She made my day, and maybe my whole field study. Turns out she is a general art student, struggling to understand poetry because literature is not taught at school. We read through the poem “A Harvest of Our Dreams” together. Me, teaching her about symbols, similes, and metaphors, and her, reading the native stanzas, correcting my name pronunciation. It was amazing. She went and grabbed some friends, and we have organized to have my first teaching lesson at 12 on Saturday. They might even be as excited as I am. It is humbling to know that I get to teach these girls about their own literary renaissance, and that I get to learn from them in return.
Before we left for lunch, one of the girls, Evelyn, went curiously searching through my jottings. At the top of the page I had written, “First day all alone,” referring to Rachel Morison’s absence. She looked at me, smiled, and assured me, “you are no longer alone.”