Writing 101 Day 16: Search your Stats for a post idea

The sea eats the land at home” by Kofi Awoonor, a look at my stats reveals that this poem is a very popular post. From the information on searches I can see that the title of the poem is a common search term, I first noticed this earlier in the year.

The following is a list of thoughts and ideas that come to mind when rereading the poem.

Strong images of a coastal town in Ghana devastated by flooding.

In general the sea is a friendly neighbour washing in and out, keeping to the natural boundaries of dry land and sea, a change in season always brings the risk of a stronger current, a sea with more energy, higher waves, more volume.

I think of what is missing, a flood defence, physical and structural.

I am reminded of a school trip to the Thames barrier.

I first came across the this poem in the Penguin book of Modern African Poetry published in 1963.

In the UK currently there is the Floodline, each local authority has a flood map, areas are assigned with risk levels from floods.

I type “flooding in Ghana” into the Google search engine and find out – Flooding is still is a major problem in Ghana, the most recent floods occurred in June 2015.

Another search reveals the poet who unfortunately is no longer with us was killed during the 2013 Westgate Shopping Mall attack in Nairobi. He was in Kenya to perform at the Storymoja festival.

What comes to mind when you read this poem?


The sea eats the land at home by Kofi Awoonor

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,
Weeping mournfully.

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.