Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Africa (03/05/09)
TITLE: Laughing At Hunger
By Henry Clemmons
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Many men and women of God and good-heart have ventured before me to battle starvation, bloating stomachs, fly infested piles of dead men and lost souls in Africa. But I, a black man with means, blessed and educated, flying on his own jet, am traveling to Ghana to hoot at hunger.
My skin is black, shinny and smooth. My teeth are white and clean. My hands are big and strong; not from picking cotton or pounding rail ties in 100 degree heat, but from working out in my churchís air conditioned gym. I also study history, know my heritage and will never forget where my roots came from. I love to laugh; itís a hearty baritone roar, and I especially love to laugh at hunger in the Greater Accra Region of Western Africa.
On approach to Kotoka International Airport , I fly over the flat sandy shores of Ghana that stretch into scrubby plains crisscrossed by crooked streams and rivers. Atlantic blue quickly gives way to shades of browns, greens and patches of mellow yellow. Scars of rainforests past are hidden now by brush and grassy wind whipped plains. I try to imagine what it looked like to the people of Ga, long, long ago as they ventured through this land in search of life.
My grandfatherís, grandfatherís, grandfatherís grandfather, and maybe a few gray headed grandfathers beyond that, had a grandfather who searched Western Africa with his people for relief from the famine and drought that were squeezing the life out of this region like two giant snakes wrapped around a duck. Heaven had been holding its rain, the seas retreated backward and rivers shriveled to shredded ribbons of moist mud.
It was tough times for black men without means, without jets, without air conditioned gyms. Hunger stalked them like ravenous lions; picking off the weak and lame one by one. The Gaís trail was littered with small mounds of dirt graves; they were about to give up. I imagine the air was still, heavy, humid. I bet, not a sound could be heard. I am sure Death opened its hands to grab the remaining survivors. And then Ö
As my jet screeches to halt on the scorching hot runway I laugh so loud I begin to cry. I cannot wait to finish my journey to the Accra Region of Ghana for the festival of Homowo. Tradition says, that a man from the Ga people, that Iím sure I am related to, stood up as the sun was setting that night they thought was their last, and looked at the darkness and death engulfing them and started to laugh. Like young Davidís stone smacked Goliath right in the forehead and dropped him dead, this manís laugh stopped hunger in its tracks. For reasons unknown, this man, my relative Iím sure, stood up and laughed at hunger. The next morning it rained and harvests of food soon followed along with a festival that ridicules hunger, called Homowo.
I, a black man of means with my own jet, am now dressed in bright red carnival clothes awaiting the beating of the drums. For thirty days before the festival begins no drums can be heard in this region, it is law, to symbolize the silence of death and hope before the day the rains came that saved the people of Ga. Finally, like a revived heart given a new chance at life, I hear a drumbeat, and then another and another until the air is filled with the rhythms of hundreds of drums intertwined with the laughter of a grateful people.
I, a black man of means with my own jet, celebrate with the people of Ga each harvest season and I tell them the about the power within the laugh that brought hunger to its knees long-long ago.
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