When we got out of the old raggedy Peugeot we looked like we’d just crossed the Sahara, the sun bearing no mercy. I had wrapped my hair, covered my nose and was in a long-sleeved blouse and jeans in spite of the heat. It was not a market day so there were only a few traders under sheds here and there, their produce far from fresh and looking much like leftovers.

It was clear that we were visitors – we were the only ones who cared to cover our noses and eyes. Oh my, the dust! On our map, we had the whole town of Sibi to cover; there is the part of the village on a hill (Sibi Hilltop), and the main village on the lowland called Sibi Central, in the Volta Region, Nkwanta North District, and heavily populated by Konkombas.

That day, our mission was at the main village.

There is so much one learns by simply observing, quietly. Her mother sold rice right by the road, and although another sold waakye a few meters up along the same road, hers seemed to be the popular one. The back of her head was flat, going up like a steep mountain, then down to her shiny forehead in a gentle slope. She had only panties on, looking full of energy as she ran down from her house down to where her mother’s food station was set up. It was a little past 12pm and I was exhausted. I had interviewed about 5 women, and I needed a break. I was reclining behind the woman under a shed she had set up for her customers, when her tod came charging down. Her mouth looked like beaks; thin and pointy, it made one smile. “Mama, Mama, Mama,” she squealed, her tummy coming down ahead of her. She carried a bowl in her right hand and her mother started to laugh before she got to her. I could tell she already knew why she was headed her way.

When she got to her mother, who had settled under the shed too, she grabbed her hand, and started walking towards the food station. The woman got up and followed, clearly amused, yet every movement giving the routine away. The little girl pointed eagerly to the large silverware that contained the cooked rice, then to the smaller one that contained the uncovered tomato gravy, and then extended the bowl. Her mother laughed, shook her head and took the bowl from her. When she saw that her mother had started dishing the rice, she turned around sharply and shot up, back to where she’d ran from, her tiny legs going at top speed. I was confused, but the woman kept laughing softly, dishing the food, and shaking her head.

A few minutes later the wind carried the “Mama, Mama, Mama!” to us again, but this time, there were two voices. I turned to see the little girl sprinting ahead of a little boy the same height, with the same head and lips and eyes, and tummy, and I smiled knowingly.


They got to the shed, sat on the floor and their mother turned around with the rice in hand.

Ah, lunch! I started to laugh too.

The woman came back to sit by me and I couldn’t resist asking Hwan ne Panyin? – Who is Panyin?  and she giggled and pointed to the girl. “Ah, I knew it!” I laughed louder. “She does act like she’s older, if even for a minute.” The woman giggled again, shaking her head. “She was actually the second to be born,” and then went on to explain.

You see, in their culture, the one born second is Panyin (Eldest), and the one who comes out first is Kakra (Youngest). The reason is that, according to them, Panyin sends out Kakra to check if everything is okay out here; if life here is worth living, before he/she follows. They say if Panyins are born still or die soon after birth, then Kakra must have told them it was best they went back to where they came from.

I looked at the little girl scowling at her brother, displeased, perhaps, with something he had done, as they ate together, and I smiled. She had come for their lunch and gone back to call her Kakra, like she had taken that on herself as her way of saying thank you to her natal Cupbearer. Soon they were done eating, and it seemed, had just noticed that music had been playing. They both stood and started to dance on beat, sending their mother into another fit of mirthful laughter.

It was beautiful.

Later that evening when my team converged and we made ready to get back into our chartered Peugeot, I caught myself dancing too, for a few seconds, before I took my seat. The memory of the dancing twins making me smile yet again.

 I have many troubles, but that night, those thoughts and that brief boogie that I gave in to, told me, like that Kakra told his Panyin, that life here is worth living.


12 thoughts on “SIBI CENTRAL

  1. Awww. Ain’t this just beautiful. Am just imagining how the dance goes like.😀😊 something new has been learnt about Volta culture, thanks Amma. Looking forward to read more. #voltaseries

    Liked by 1 person

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