Ansa…The End

19 Feb

Chapter 7

 Ansa’s hope that the barracoon in which he spent his afternoon was a temporary holding cell plummeted when they were herded back in there with their festering wounds. Ansa had thought the barracoon cramped when it held only the new slaves, but they were returned to a barracoon already full to its capacity.


They all stood pressed to each other. To survive in here you had to learn to doze or even sleep on your feet. Some had their heads on the shoulder of others. With how tight the space was no one stood the danger of falling over.


The room housing them all, about forty men, was about eight square feet and had a mockery of an air vent—two tiny openings six by twelve inches wide.


It was such a wonder that their own fellow brothers could treat them this way. He learnt within his barracoon that the wound they bore would soon become a sore and dry in the heat of the sun while they work in the fields or become gangrenous in which case the fellow may die. It was no wonder that the popular saying was ‘survival of the fittest’.


In the next few days Ansa’s wound healed and left a huge scar on his right shoulder. He bore the inscription ‘KO’ which officially meant that he was no longer a freeman but was, like a piece of furniture, owned by Kofi Obutu.


Ansa Anan was, for all intents and purposes, dead.


*                           *                           *

The slaves worked long hours in the fields. Wassaw was a kingdom rich in forests and Kofi Otubu was a very rich landowner as well as slave trader. The latest consignment of slaves he acquired was for the purpose of trading them. He awaited his contact at Elmina to know when it was safe to send them all off to the ship, which many believed may be the last to carry human cargo, which was coming from Badagry along the Nigerian coast.


Ansa, for the four days he had spent on the farm was always shackled to a certain Tome, who had been captured from Kumasi. It was indeed very remarkable for Kumasi was the stronghold of the Ashanti Empire, it being the empire’s capital city.  


As the days wore on a bond developed between them. They always spoke in low whispers as they worked so as not to attract the infamous whip of the task masters.


For Ansa the high point of his days was when he worked in the fields shackled though he was to Tome. It afforded him opportunity to take in fresh air which was very scarce in the barracoons. Then he also looked forward, more importantly, to catching a glimpse of Mosa.


They have consistently exchanged knowing glances out here in the fields. The females worked away from the males to prevent any ‘interactions’ which were impossible nonetheless.


Ansa took a stealthy look around.


“I have not seen Mosa for three days now” Ansa whispered to Tome.

“Neither have I” Tome answered his eyes glued to his task. “But there is word that the master wants to sell her off to an Alata from Accra who seeks a beautiful female slave for his master” he added.


Ansa’s countenance fell. He knew the custom of the Ashanteman who would rather have a slave girl or pawn wife, than marry a native who had abusua that may interfere in their marriage.


“His master may be an obirempon” Ansa said thinking aloud.


“No” Tome corrected him. “Obirempons are men of high society. They seldom get involved in such things.”


“What do I do now?”


“Face your task, and save your skin” Tome advised. “Remember Bosiante.”


Bosiante was king of Denkera in 1719, who as a result of a lack of self-control with regard to women, succumbed to temptation and defiled one of the beauties sent from Kumasi by Osai Tutu, the King of Ashanti. The result of his “amorous indiscretion” is his skull and thigh bone which still decorates, as a trophy, the war drum of the Ashanti Kings.


Ansa did not take offence at the unholy reference to the stain in his history, but gave it a lot of thought. But then, to Ansa, the very thought of losing Mosa signaled an end in itself. Having her near had been inspiring for him and gave him hope. She was his motivation, though he wondered if she felt the same way as he.


Now she was leaving, or had left, and he had no idea what he was to do with himself.


The next two days passed without event. Life was drudgery and a pain. To keep his sanity Ansa had to think about the beautiful things in his life. His family, the wonderful time he spent beside his father learning the skill he loved so much, his sister who should have been married by now but for…


His sweet memories, he realized, were intertwined with the misery that was his life now.


He enjoyed his school days too. Learning to read and write then had been quite a challenge having to face up to those much older than he was. But his teacher had been good to him. Good old Mr. Scot, quite a gentleman. He smiled in spite of his filthy surroundings. That was a good memory, Mr. Scot.


“Thanks to the god’s” Tome broke into his thoughts.


Ansa glanced at him uncomprehendingly.


“You are finally over her.”


“Do I have a choice?” Ansa replied. Life goes on, that’s what you have always said.”


Tome nodded his agreement.


“It has to be over before it is over, doesn’t it? Ansa asked rhetorically.


“You had a good Tutor Ansa” Tome mused.


“Between you and Teacher Scot, I really did” was Ansa’s reply.


They worked on all through the blazing heat and as the sun began to set they beheld Kofi arrive at the fields. He was accompanied by a Dutch, a mustachioed thin man on a plain white shirt tucked into black breeches.


To show off his wealth a slave held the famous brass umbrellas over Kofi and his guest. This was quite unnecessary for the day was getting cooler and the sun was setting. He obviously came to show off his army of slaves to someone whom he could impress with it.


Ansa had seen the white man before; they were around back at Denkera where they always came to trade in gold.


They stopped a few meters away from Ansa. The slave carrying the umbrella stood ramrod straight betraying no sign of fatigue at carrying an umbrella that almost weighed as much as another human.


Ansa held his face down facing the earth for fear he be singled out for anything, no matter what it was. He had a strong feeling his days at Kofi Otubu’s barracoons were over. But he didn’t want that, not when he had no idea where to find Mose.


His heart sank when the shackle that held him to Tome was unlocked and he was told to step aside. His journey to another unknown was about to begin.




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