Friday, October 14, 2011

Lessons at my Granny's knee

I started a series on the people that have been very instrumental in shaping and forming me into the person God planned for me to be.I am a work in progress,but I can definitely look back and see the impact that specific people had on me without even realizing or knowing it.One of such people was my maternal grandmother, or Dada as we called her.
Dada was one tough old lady.Having grown up in one of the remote portions of colonial Ghana, she grew up without formal education and learned to farm and to trade.That was what she did to take care of her family of five children,my mom being the second.My earliest memory of her would be her sitting on her little stool out in the sun weeding( yes weeding!) or cracking nuts or some such thing,and this was no mean feat for someone who was almost 70 years old.She was always doing something.If there ever was a firm believer in hard work.it was my grandmother.No idleness for her!That is one thing I have come to appreciate about her.She knew that there was so much to do and so she didn't believe in wasting time.

Perhaps the one thing I will always remember her for is the fact that she insisted on me learning to speak my mother tongue.I was about five or so and couldn't speak it very well, and she came and said I was going to learn to speak it whether I liked it or not.I am really grateful for that because otherwise I am pretty sure I would be lost if I had to go to my hometown!

Some of the best memories I have are of her telling us stories about growing up in her time and the things they did.She would also tell us all these parables and riddles that set us thinking till we could solve them.She would always give us kids a piece of meat from her bowl because where she grew up that was the culture.One of the most valuable cultural lessons she taught me had to do with honesty.She grew up in a large family, and this was fairly common in those days, so whenever the kids were eating together they had to find a way to split the meat fairly among them.What they would do was pick one person to split the meat into equal pieces and then everyone would take their share, but in order to ensure that the person doing the splitting up did not cheat ,he/she would be the last to pick their piece of meat.Morale of this?Be fair otherwise you get stuck with the smallest piece of meat!That was just one of the many things she taught us and I am grateful to have known and spent time with such a grand old lady.When she died I was devastated, but she was pretty old by then.I was in college at the time and she had already been ill for a while.She would always be complaining about being cooped up and so sick she couldn't do anything.She just hated being idle but I guess she had no choice then.It was tough on her and on all of us to see this feisty lady confined in such a way, but through it all we remembered that it would only be for a short while.

I thank God for her life,( because otherwise I wouldn't have been born)!But seriously, she taught me the importance of respecting your culture and the need for hard work.For that I will always be grateful.I do miss her, especially running to her whenever I got in trouble with my mum or auntie, knowing that she would be there to listen and protect me.It is an honor to be her grand daughter.
(image courtesy: jonathanpritchard.co.uk)