Sunday, 7 April 2013

Uncle, Clans, Men and Boys

'Uncle' - Original photograph by Stuart Tonge

This is my uncle. He is married to my Aunty who was a half sister to my dad, they shared a father. A few nights ago I had a dream and my uncle was in it and when I woke up, I was sad. Time is tick, tick, ticking and I doubt very much that there is enough time for my boys to meet my uncle nor my dear Aunty. This makes me sad and a little crazy. It is making me have dreams, lots at the moment, night after night which is unusual for me and usually marks a period of restlessness. To feel that you belong in more than one place can be a blessing and a curse. It taunts and comforts, it pushes and pulls, attracts and repels, it is beautiful and corrosive.

I long for great men like my uncle to be a part of my sons lives as they grow. Of course, there are already great men in their lives, not least their own father and paternal grandfather. But I mean men from my clan, you know? But they are missing. Either dead, estranged or living miles and miles and miles away, far far far away. I fantasise endlessly about what could have been, picturing these men, these missing clan of mine drawing close to my sons, showing them the way, passing on traditions. Alas this is not my truth.

So to my little ones named after my clansmen, a name is all I have to give but my hope is that you will cherish these and that they will serve always as a reminder of those men of whom you are a part, that came before. Allotey and Allotei, let these names and more help to shape and form your history. Perhaps not now but in the future and perhaps like me these names will be the superglue that keeps you together and makes you, you. It always made such perfect sense to me that I was named after both of my grandmothers. How fair I always thought, that my parents divided this history of theirs and mine right down the middle resulting in a sum of shared parts, how very fair. Dear boys I hope my calculations feel fair in measure, this is my hope. This is my desire.

Incidental collage of map and my sweet uncle's feet, a photo taken forever ago ..

At the Acquaye Family House in Accra, 2003. Libation in progress as my Aunty presents myself and my husband to the elder men of my family

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