My thanks to the Ghanaian poet Adjei Agyei-Baah for this composition, a praise song dedicated to his wife Benedicta Adjei Baah.
For my love, wife & life
The goddess who struts in rocking beads
Aah! So you think the lizard nods for nothing
My Nubian queen of cinnamon skin, fleshy as a baobab
Face of a blossom moon, dispersing stars to an early sleep
Hips of sinuous gestures, floating kapok in the Harmattan Winds!
Pentsiwa, with her lips of zebra stripes, inviting like the froth
of African palm wine
Pentsiwa, her eyes are of the panther’s, pushing darkness
into a broad daylight.
Ah…but for your warmth
I have missed in these wilder nights of lashing coldness
Run my fingers through your fronds of jet-black dreads
And have my sorrows drown in the grove of your shrine.
I’ve sailed the seven seas, and felt its turbulence against my skin
This blackness which you nourished with your soothing hands of shea-butter
Are now tough like the rhino’s that only your Saltpond waters can dissolve
So long my soul has been tramped, muddied in the waters
of lords who never knew me a Negus
A prince who once surveyed my savannahs of anthills and darting impalas
Of crouching leopards who felt the sharpness of the warrior’s spear.
But into your coastal arms I return through Elmina’s gate of yes return
Your radiant smile my bearing found
Your coconut water my thirstiness quenched
And in your gentle breeze a moment restored!
Here is the poem in Twi.
Mede ma medc, me yere, ne me nkwa
Ɔsɔɔno a wo nante ma woahweneɛ to nnwom
Aaah yaa na ebi se ɔkoteterɛ bɔ nitiri nko kwa
Me Nubia hemaa a wo honam te sɛ sinamon dua, wc honam sɛ ɔdadeɛ dua
Woanim te sɛ ɔsram apaeɛ ama nsoroma ahweteɛ
sisie a ɛfrɛfrɛ anadwo nkɔmɔ, atentenhuo ɛnam ɔpɛ mframa soɔ!
pentsiwa, w’ano nkawa te sɛ sare so afurum, a ɛdɔ kɔn sɛ abibirem nsafufuo
pentsiwa, n’ani nkosua te sɛ ɔsebɔ tuntum, a ɛrebɔ osum ahweteɛ.
Aa… na woho hyew
Na me kɔn adɔ anadwoberɛ yi onwunu reposa me yi
Menya sɛ me nsa nam wo tiri nwi mpɛsɛmpɛsɛ mu
Na mɛyi me nkwammoa agu woadukromu hɔ
Na m’akyini wiase afa ɛnan ahunu ɔtan a adasa wɔ de ma nipa tuntum
Me tuntum wedeɛ a wode nkuto sra so daadaa
Ayɛ wedeɛ denden sɛ bɛnkoro, na wo Akyenfo nsuo na bɛtumi ama n’ayɛ mmerɛ
Na ɛmere tenten na wɔn aboto me kra, twe no wɔ wɔn nsutam ani wɔ berɛ a wɔn nnim sɛ me yɛ ɔdehye kɛseɛ
Ɔhene ba barima a metu mpasa wɔ me hyeɛ mu a esie ne nnowa ahyɛ mu ma
Nsebɔ bruwaa a wɔ bɔɔ bena wɔ me pea ano
Nanso wo nsutadeɛ ano na mesan reba, fa Elimina pono a ɛgye abrɛfoɔ
Wo sereɛ mu na mehunu menkyi
Na wo kube nsuo na ɛkum me nsukɔm
Na wo mframa nwunu mu na me nsa ka nea mahwere nyinaa
by Adjei Agyei-Baah
Adjei is a lecturer, translator, editor and a doctoral student at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. He is the co-founder of Africa Haiku Network, Poetry Foundation and The Mamba, Africa’s first international haiku journal. Adjei is a worldwide-anthologized poet and winner of several international awards. His maiden haiku collection Afriku published by Red Moon Press (2016) has been commended by Professor Wole Soyinka, Africa’s first Nobel Prize Literature laureate. His other poetry collections include Ghana, 21 Haiku (2018), Piece of My Fart (2018), Finding The Other Door (2021) and Nipple to Nipple (Editions Unicite, 2021).