Ansa…The End

12 Feb

Prologue

Ansa is set in early nineteenth century Ghana. The era of the slave trade was nearing its end, but that would not stop the slave catchers from going for their last runs. This is especially so if the slave catcher has a motive.

 

Chapter 1

The chase had started. Ansa tore through the forest in a speed that would leave the cheetah green with envy. He had been feeling watched all morning as he hunted for game for tonight’s dinner. He had had every intention of catching nothing less than antelope. His sister’s suitors were coming today and he had promised mama that he would make her proud. He had been taught the art of hunting game by papa of blessed memory and he learned very well.

Papa…

Papa had been the best father any child could have wished for. In an era when no one was ready to allow their children ‘waste’ time on education, papa had insisted he got at least the basic education when the missionaries arrived. Ansa had been tagged lazy because he spent precious time poring over books when his mates were breaking their backs over farm work. To compensate for that he had spent countless nights out in the forest with papa and had turned out to be the best hunter the village could boast of—an educated hunter. 

The demise of his father had hit him hard. Not much the demise itself but how it had occurred. His dad had suffered an agonizing death. Papa had died doing what he enjoyed doing best—hunting. It was still a mystery. No one has been able to explain how a renowned hunter ended up in the belly of a boa constrictor!

Papa had gone out one night four years ago and never returned. The best of the hunters had gone out in search of him and of course Ansa had been one of them. Ansa was fifteen then but having proven himself there was no doubt that he should lead his own search group.

He had found the boa before anyone else. The snake looked dazed and stupendous from swallowing a whole human being. Ansa let out a cry, like a terrifying war cry, which brought all the members of his search party as well as the other groups to him. One and all were stunned at the sight, for them all it was a first.

A lot of care was taken in the killing of the snake. This was done in order not to dismember any part of Anan’s body. Ansa, with eyes full of tears disemboweled the boa to bring out his father. This activity took place in utter silence. No one said anything nor moved a muscle…no one dared.

Ansa was breaking apart inside him. With each cut from the knife the snake was slit open to reveal his father. It was an awful lot to expect from a fifteen year old, but Ansa was expected to be a man and show no visible signs of grief.

Two members of the search party found some plantain leaves with which Anan was wrapped.

His father’s funeral had been a somber affair. The women lifted up a dirge that reminded one and of the great hunter and warrior the great Anan was. Usually the funeral should have been a time of great partying with eating, drinking and dancing, but no one had been on hand to perform the last rites for Anan and that was a sign—a bad omen.

All of this had happened five years ago and Ansa had managed just fine, taking care of all the affairs of the household. The once ‘lazy’ Ansa was now the pride and joy not only of his household but also of the community.

Ansa held on tightly to the dane gun he had in his hand. The dane gun used to be his father’s and it had been his most prized inheritance. He contemplated stopping and firing a shot at those who were after him, but he couldn’t risk it. What if they were great in number? He had no idea who they were and why they were after him. He had no enemies in the village and he was not a thief.

He was getting tired now and as he listened to his surrounding he noticed his pursuers were either far behind or had given up on him. He slowed down and then happened on a sturdy shady tree. With a leap Ansa climbed up the tree and waited.

His years hunting beside his father had taught him how to be in tune with his environment. It was easy for him to differentiate the sounds of the forest and so when he heard the sound of footfalls he clearly recongnised it.

He walked stealthily, careful not to rustle the leaves under his foot. He had on the white man’s clothes, knee length shorts made of khaki and a shirt also made of khaki. He was heavily bearded and there was a gun in his hands, the same type of dane gun Ansa used for his hunts. But this man was not hunting game, he was hunting humans!

Ansa had heard about this before. He was a slave catcher. He worked to catch his unsuspecting black brothers and deliver them to the white man. Ansa did not know who was worse, the fellow Africans who hunted their brothers and sold them off, or the white man who was ready to buy a human being simply because he had a different skin colour from his.

The man was under Ansa’s tree now…searching. Ansa did not dare breathe. He had used the leaves to cover himself up. There was no way this man would notice him from down there.

The man walked a few paces past the tree. It seemed he was contemplating what to do next. Ansa had an idea of his own. He slowly lifted his gun to his arms and took aim. His finger was on the trigger when he heard another footstep approach less careful than the other.

“Don’t tell me he got away?” the newcomer asked in a language that was surely Akan. This was an Ashanteman!

Ansa tried to see his face. If it was someone he knew would he spare him? He dismissed that thought immediately. There was no way he was going to spare him. These slave catchers have made a small fortune for themselves in this trade—much more than they made in their trade in gold when these Portuguese first arrived. He needed to stay up here for as long as they stood down there and endure everything that came his way: the hunger that was leaving him dazed and even the ants that were having their merry way with his arms right now.

The newcomer was also dressed in khaki and brandishing a dane gun. What gain had they gotten from the white man? Dane guns that should be used for the hunting of animals were used for hunting humans.

Ansa had heard it said in some quarters that the dane gun cost about forty humans. He looked at the gun he was carrying and wondered how his father had come about the gun. Could his father have…? No, no, no. It was ridiculous just to think about it. He remembered his father had strongly advocated against the selling of their brothers to the strange white men.

The Ashantehene as well as the Obirempon—the ‘big man’ in Ashanteman had always had their share of slaves who did the house chores and farm work. But the very idea of selling these slaves to some strangers so they no longer had access to their family members and friends struck him as ridiculous. He remembered that his father had once gone to see the Ashantehene over the matter. It was after that visit that his father had returned with a gun, and also mandated him to go to the school of the white man. Could his father have sold out?

“The boy seems to have disappeared” the bearded man replied.

“He would have made good business,” the newcomer said. “Did you see how agile he was? That boy is a gold mine; I can see the merchants falling over themselves to buy him at the auctions.”

Both men were quiet for a while each one lost in his own thoughts.

“I hear the masters want to abolish the trade”, the bearded man broke the silence.

“So I hear too, but I don’t think it would work”.

“Don’t rely on that thought my friend; we should be looking at another line of work very soon”.

The newcomer considered for a moment, “It is getting late, we must go, I think it is Ansa’s lucky day”.

Ansa almost fell off the tree in shock when he heard his name mentioned. These men actually knew him! But who would hate him and his family so much that they would specifically come looking for him to sell him off to the slave dealers?

He didn’t wait long to find out.

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One Response to “Ansa…The End”

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  1. Ansa…The End « cbnwali - February 12, 2013

    […] Ansa…The End. […]

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