At home the sea is in the town,
Running in and out of the cooking places,
Collecting the firewood from the hearths
And sending it back at night;
The sea eats the land at home.
It came one day at the dead of night,
Destroying the cement walls,
And carried away the fowls,
The cooking-pots and the ladles,
The sea eats the land at home;
It is a sad thing to hear the wails,
And the mourning shouts of the women,
Calling on all the gods they worship,
To protect them from the angry sea.
Aku stood outside where her cooking-pot stood,
With her two children shivering from the cold,
Her hands on her breasts,
Her ancestors have neglected her,
Her gods have deserted her,
It was a cold Sunday morning,
The storm was raging,
Goats and fowls were struggling in the water,
The angry water of the cruel sea;
The lap-lapping of the bark water at the shore,
And above the sobs and the deep and low moans,
Was the eternal hum of the living sea.
It has taken away their belongings
Adena has lost the trinkets which
Were her dowry and her joy,
In the sea that eats the land at home,
Eats the whole land at home.
by Kofi Awoonor.
I came across this poem in ” Modern Poetry from Africa” (1963), a book bought over 10 years ago in the secondhand book section of Waterstones, Gower Street near Euston Square in London, an Aladdin’s cave of secondhand books I would never usually set out to buy but somehow I always come away with a few gems. Helping a friend with a video project recently I choose this poem to read I came across it again whilst researching Ghanaian authors/poets for Ghanaian literature week a week initiated by the “Kinna Reads” blog. Unfortunately Awnoor passed away in the September 2013 Kenya shopping mall bombings leaving behind a impressive body of work.