THE CONCEPT OF HOME IN THE POETRY OF KOFI ANYIDOHO
by, Gabriel Edzordzi Agbozo
African writing springs forth from the historical condition of the continent and her journey through the different phases of that condition. The continent suffered a long period of slavery and colonization. These periods are marked by certain negative notions about the continent.
Ghanaian literary culture one may say is very uniquely born from this campaign in the sense that it exhibits a sense of historical awareness.
The campaign of redemption has taken a centre stage in Ghanaian writing adding to the corpus of works geared towards reconstructing the continent. Prominent among the post-colonial Ghanaian writers, who successfully added his voice to this reconstruction, is Kofi Anyidoho:
As a poet he [Kofi Anyidoho] belongs to that select group of verbal craftsmen and women who have successfully fashioned a distinctively African voice out of that ambivalent legacy of colonialism… (Mensah: 5.)
Throughout his writing career, he pays very keen attention to the concept of home. In this essay I examine what the idea of home means to him and his audience.
HOME AS THE PLACE OF THE POET’S BIRTH
The desire for home, in African culture, is a cherished desire. This desire is also a highly preferred issue in African poetry and oral traditions. In this chapter, I explore the concept of home and its accompanying images based not only on the language used but also on the beliefs and location of the people from whom Anyidoho descends: the Anlo-Ewes of Wheta. I discuss home as the place of the poet’s birth bringing out such issues as home being a place of strong emotional attachment, a place of fond childhood memories, a place of diverse communal activities that bind people together and a place of comfort.
HOME AS THE REPUBLIC OF GHANA
Anyidoho often writes about the fate of his country, as other writers such as Syl Cheney Coker, Ama Ata Aidoo, Alan Paton and Nagub Mafouz do. In speaking about Ghana as home, issues like the portrayal of the country as a place of continuous political instability, a nation led by corrupt leaders who mismanage her affairs, a chaotic nation, a nation of hope, a nation which has fair whether friends, a place to which one would like to return though the situations in it are bad and a place with its unique traditional justice system.
AFRICA AS HOME
A recurrent feature of African literature in the post-colonial period has been the tendency for writers to express their profound nostalgia for Africa as their ancestral home. Writers such as Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Alan Paton, Ferdinand Oyono, Ayi Kwei Armah and Kofi Awoonor are noted for expressing this nostalgia. The varied agonies that the continent endured and the enthusiasm to better the lot of the land becomes the inspiration to the African writer. Anyidoho has contributed a lot to this nostalgia about Africa. In this chapter, I discuss the poems in which Africa means home. In discussing Africa as home, Africa as a continent with a history of pain, Africa as the land of valiant people, Africa as a betrayed land, the lack of commitment by Africans to truly liberate themselves from the troubles that the continent faces, disgust at the mismanagement of the resources of the land and the African Union agenda are the issues I discussed.
This essay has studied the various ways in which home is given significance by Kofi Anyidoho. Home carries a variety of meanings for the poet and each meaning is presented with a cluster of associated images.