THE INSIGHT WEDNESDAY 16TH –THURSDAY 17TH SEPTEMBER, 2009
BY BISMARK NII ASHITEY BRUKU
When my father was transferred from Sekondi to Accra in 1950’s fate brought us to stay awhile near kwame Nkrumah’ first president at Accra new town before we moved to broadcasting house because the white man my father should have replaced was reluctant to vacate the bungalow. We were therefore provide to live near kwame and some at his top ministries especially N. A. Welbeck and Kojo Botsio also not too far away. (five minutes walk ).
As child all we knew was that there was a farmers ‘Bigman’called kwame Nkrumah living nearby as neighbour but how ‘big’ we did not know. In the meaning when we were passing by on our way to school we would sometimes see him admiring his flowers when the gate was opened. To our minds eyes we saw a fall lanky dark.
There was only one policeman at his gate and another who serves as body guard in his black Opel car with registration No. AD 1633. These were the only security he had.
There was a big mango tree in the middle of his front yard and whenever mangoes were in season we would go to the policeman at the gate who would allow us in. I don’t know if it is an instruction from kwame Nkrumah and if he Kwame was at home he would say ‘children don’t throw stones, just climb the tree.’ And we would climb and help ourselves.
There was an open plot of land behind his house and one day we decided to go ‘BELA’ hunting there so we set fire to the bush to smoke the rats out of their holes. Anybody here who has gone ‘Bela’ hunting before? Show by hand). Unfortunately the fire got out control and the wind blew the smoke first into the house and the fire in the same direction. We panicked and began to run helter-skelter to fetch water from nearby houses to put the fire out. In the midst of the confusion, Nkrumah appeared with his bodyguard. Hey, children. What is going on ? sir, we are hunting ‘Bela’.
The man looked hard at us and asked am I ‘Bela’ too or do you think I belong to the ‘Bela’ family? You see you have smoked me out of my house when I am not ‘Bela’. Next time you go ‘Bela’ hunting use sticks and clubs not fire. You may burn somebody’s house or destroy something. Do you hear? And with that he walked away with his bodyguard. The man was full of humour and loved children.
As children we never short of mischief. We quickly turned the burnt area into a play field area and cleared the area of any remain weeds and erected two goalposts one directly kwame Nkrumah’s wall. Sooner than later our balls were dying over into his house we went through his main gate but when our ball went over his wall we chose the easiest way out over the wall. We did not have the mango-patience’ .
Going round the main gate will waste precious football time, one day famous big man called us said, I cannot stop you from playing your foot but when the ball goes over the wall don’t climb it. When you do that then you are behaving like criminals, armed robbers or thieves. Are you armed robbers or criminals? ‘No Sir, we shouted with confidence. Then don’t climb the wall. But did we care about criminals or armed robbers, no sooner had our ball entered his house than we forgot all about his advice.
My narration and last story ends rather on a sad note. One night we heard a loud and big noise. When we woke up in the morning we were told that a bomb been thrown at our bigrams house so we all trooped to go and see what had happened. Indeed we saw a big and gapping hole in the wall of the room kwame should have slept in.( But I think that night kwame went to AWOSHIA or did a SALOME so he escaped death because he did not sleep in that room that night).
And that was the end of our relationship with our famous big-man and neighbour. After that bomb incident we did not see him again and as a children we did not care to ask or to find out where he had been taken to until fate broth us together again- he at the flagstaff house and my father and on broadcasting house with only wall separating flagstaff house and our bungalow.
(The flagstaff house experience has been shared with the public already on 4th march 2009 at the arts centre during the centenary lecture). Finally before I take leave of you I humbly suggest that, that red brick house at Accra Newtown which was Kwame Nkrumah’s first residence be turned into a museum of Kwame Nkrumah.