Wednesday, July 1, 2020


image by Khadija Saye.


Growing up in modern Ghana, I remember a small 
portrait of my great grandmother, Hanna, on the
mantle of our ornate fireplace. She was married at
12 and had 10 children by the time she was 25.
She was one of ten wives. Women had no real rights 
then, at the end of the19th century; but she was 
rebellious, and had an independent soul. She tired of 
the arrogance and cruelty of her husband, and she 
refused to have more children. She was raped
regularly, and was forced to have 3 more kids.

She was taken to court, and found guilty of being
disloyal to her husband. She was publicly stoned
for her insolence. She was blinded from head
trauma, and was left with blurry object perception.
The bright sun still hurt her eyes, so she dealt with
her photophobia by fashioning a rawhide strap,
fitted with three equal squares of lamb’s wool--one 
stationary for her nose, and the other two could be
moved off her eyes while inside.

For three generations now, my family owns a large
prosperous cocao farm, with huge orchards. We 
provide seed pods for some of the world’s best
chocolate. Oddly, Ghana never enslaved its own
population. They bought and imported slaves for
cheap labor.

In our family, my mother, and her sister-wife, were
the first women to graduate high school. I have
been fortunate enough to graduate from college.
We’re well off enough to vacation annually down
south along the Gold Coast.

My great grandfather had ten wives. My father
three. My husband only has me, and he’s damn 
lucky to have me. Looking at great granny’s
portrait at my parents, I wonder what she would
think about modern Ghana; where we’ve kept
AIDs down to a minimum, and now we are dealing
with the world-wide Corona virus pandemic. We
have managed to only have 18,000 cases of Covid-
19, and only 118 deaths. Every day we hear and
see how terrible it is in America, and we pray for
them every night.

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over at Visual Verse Anthology

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