I missed a week, and all week I was thinking I really ought to at least post a vignette from my memoir, and all week I kept thinking I will write that blog entry so no need to post a vignette. But as you can see I didn’t get to it. It was a very busy week. It begun with my hosting people in my new space, news of one of my student’s losing her father, my sister Sheela’s best friend losing her mother, and ended with the news of Whitney Houston’s death as I was recovering from the violence in Safe house, Denzel Washington’s latest movie. Surreal!
I received about 25 people in my new home last Sunday and I have to say I was impressed with myself. Almost all the various tributaries of my life came together in these 25 people and for the most part everything flowed effortlessly. People made conversation. People asked for advice and people gave it. People asked for a re-cap of my time in Ghana. People were kind and interested in each other. I was a happy camper. My best bud stayed the night and honoured me with the gift of doing my dishes. But the day begun with me not wanting to get out of bed and with absolutely no groceries in my house. At first I didn’t panic: I’d go out to the grocery store and grab the necessary ingredients but then I realized that some of my guests were coming early and that just couldn’t be arranged. When a few calls to some key people didn’t yield any solutions, I had a slight moment of panic. What would I serve people? It even crossed my mind to “order” food! I KNOW! But that thought was short-lived. Finally calls were returned and groceries arrived and I began cooking. I had some great sous-chefs. Everyone was well-fed and watered by the end of the evening and I dare say they all had fun.
The theme of feeding folks continued through my catering gig at Mills College on Tuesday where I had the privilege of feeding Nuruddin Farah who specifically requested fish cooked the “Ghana way. It was a pleasant evening but this catering thing is no joke. My back was on fire by the end of the night. I fed myself and my ex, my famous groundnut soup which took about four hours to prepare, on Wednesday. Again on Friday, I fed two more friends and then two more again on Saturday and Sunday. SO all in all I fed about 100 people this week. Do I need a new career? I have been exploring the idea of setting up shop somewhere. During the party, I was introduced to Guest Chef andGuerilla Cafe’s pop-up restaurant. I have applied to both. Keep your fingers crossed y’all; I might be coming to a location near you ;-).
So it’s not a wonder that with feeding this many people, looking for furniture for my new apartment, trying to be a support for the grieving people in my life, and trying to find work that will keep a roof over my head, the most important thing of all went by the way side: My writing. No blog. No new vignettes to add to my memoir. No journaling. I am happy to say that I did edit almost half of the memoir at various times during the week. Plus I met with my advisor who had plenty of notes for me. It’s coming along. I officially have two months until it’s time to turn in my manuscript for my thesis. I know this is what i’m supposed to be doing this year so I’m sure it’ll fall into place. In the meantime, I’m working on my citizenship, figuring out how to pay my bills, and feeding people.
Enjoy another taste of the memoir:
I am the fourth child of my father, from the Ewe in the Volta region of Ghana. My father borrowed five women’s wombs. He legally married only two of these women. I am the eldest child of his first wife, fourth womb. My father, according to family tales, never stayed with any woman long enough to have more than one child with each of the five “recorded” women with whom he had children. That is, until he met my mom and charmed by her beauty and culinary skills, stayed long enough to have two girls, Sheela and I.
I am named Kuukua, for girl born on Wednesday in the Fante ethnic group, Dzigbordi, for the attribute patience, and Yomekpe, the paternal family name, which means “grave stone,” the latter two originating from my father’s ethnic group. I trace my mother’s maternal lineage to an English merchant who docked on the coast of Ghana and decided to settle down and marry a woman from the Akan-Fantes in Cape Coast. Her paternal lineage, in much a similar way, traces back to colonial settlers intermarrying with the Gas in Accra. These two groups intermarrying with the colonial settlers created a spectrum of tans and browns in our family.
I was raised in my maternal Grandmother’s house. A five-eighths mulatto, she was highly suspicious of the locals and for her, this meant anyone with a darker skin shade than hers. Not only was my father’s family a darker shade of brown, they were also not Catholic, and so were to be doubly feared.
Grandmother’s extended family were practicing Anglicans because of the original merchant descendant, but three generations before, my great-grandmother converted to Catholicism before her marriage to a Scottish man thus, causing our branch of the family to become Catholic. By the time our generation came along, we practically only kept company with those who were Catholic. For the majority of our growing years our lives revolved around our Catholic Preparatory school and our neighborhood Catholic parish, St. Charles Lwanga. We had the occasional non-Catholic friend playmate; once a Muslim family friend included my family in the Ramadan food deliveries, honoring our friendship and shocking Grandmother into silence. Reared only with my maternal lineage for most of my life, I had little knowledge of my father’s family, food, and religion. Once I was ready to reclaim what had been taken from me, I began to notice the joys and challenges that go along with recovering historical memory that has lain dormant.