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In today’s class, we will be talking about reading and analyzing non-African poetry: Faceless by Amma Darko. Enjoy the class!
Reading and Analyzing Non-African Poetry: Faceless by Amma Darko
The work, Faceless by Amma Darko hinges on the victimization of the female folk by the domineering influence of masculinity. The patriarch society which the work presents to us shows great imbalance in the way and manner the females fare in the story vis-a-vis their male counterparts. With a focus on the heroine of the work, Fofo, we realise how the spate of poverty in the society where the woman is left to provide for her children, forces mothers to push their young girls into the streets. In Sodom and Gomorrah, young girls and boys of Fofo’s age are seen trying to survive all by themselves. Some are seen to pay for the day hours while others pay for night hours. Some engage in hawking, stealing or prostitution as a means of survival. Fofo is seen sleeping out late at night in front of a kiosk, so that; she will meet up an appointment for a job. Right there in the middle of the night, Poison suddenly came upon her forcefully and abused her sexually. After being freed from the stronghold of Poison, Fofo decides to visit her mother, but not without the company of her friend, Odarley. In her mother’s room, Fofo gets informed that Baby T, her elder sister’s body is found dead at a site in the market, Agbogbloshie. She tells her mother of Poison’s unwholesome act on her and that she has decided to leave town. MaaTsuru has been in a cold war with Fofo and is handicapped with words to change Fofo’s mind. Odarley feels that Fofo has shot her out of her mind and affairs when Fofo tells her that she will be on her way to only God know where. On the other hand, the Adade’s family is presented with Kabria in her usual routine of taking care of house chores and taking her children (Obie, Essie and Ottu) to school. For her, this is a herculean task which her husband intuitively believes is her sole responsibility. Not minding the inquisitive nature of her last two children, Kabria can meet all the cooking and get to work in her car called Creamy. Kabria works for MUTE, a non-governmental organisation with Dina as the boss. Her colleagues are Vickie and Aggie. On a particular day, Kabria got to work late and Dina got sad about it. To compensate for her late coming, Kabria decides to shop for Dina in Agbogbloshie. At the market, Kabria held about the death of a young girl and her body left in front of a kiosk; and that instance when she decides to find out the reason why people were gathered at a spot, a young boy swiftly steals her purse from her but caught up with by some members of the crowd surrounding her. Kabria intervenes to save the boyfriend the wrath of the mob and quickly takes him out of their mist. At the car park, to Kabria’s amazement, she realises that the young boy is a girl disguised as a boy. She tells Kabria that she knew the dead girl and that she was her sister. Recovering from the shock, Kabria tells her to show up at the same spot the next day. Kabria returns to her office and tells her colleagues what she had seen. Dina decides to give kabria a chance to work on the case. The next day, Kabria repeats at the market just as she has told the young girl. After waiting for a long time, Kabria sees the girl and feels pity for her as she takes her to her office, MUTE. In the office, it is agreed that Dina takes her home as she is a divorcee and has nobody to cater for, and they discover that she bears the name Fofo. After recuperating from the beating she had received for speaking with a stranger, Fofo demands to have Kabria around before she can speak about herself and her dead sister. Through flashback in her words, Fofo reveals that due to the helpless situation her mother finds herself by marrying Kpakpo, a jobless and evil schemer, whose only inheritance is the one room he got from his father. Kpakpo rents his room out with the condition that he lives with his tenant. This has been working for him until he met with one whose brother is a soldier and he forcefully asks Kpakpo to vacant the room paid for by his brother. Kpakpo deceives MaaTsuru and makes her fall in love with him. Before MaaTsuru could unravel the fact, it was too late and she decided to accept her fate of taking Kpakpo as her second husband. Kpakpo’s presence in their home is the beginning of the crisis as Fofo’s two elder brothers disappeared from the house as they could no longer tolerate Kpakpo making love with their mother in the same room they sleep. On this particular day that MaaTsuru was away and her children had to sleep in the room with just Kpakpo, Kpakpo saw it as an advantage to do his bidding. He abused Fofo’s elder sister, Baby T, sexually that night, while Fofo watched secretly. Fofo innocently tells Onko of what Kpakpo did to Baby T in great confidence as she and others have taken him to be their moral confidant. Onko takes the opportunity to also abuse Baby T sexually. This gets MaaTusru infuriated that she goes to confront Onko. He pleads and offers some money to stop to the case, and also makes MaaTsuru understand that he knows of Kpakpo and Baby T. Due to the complication surrounding the matter, MaaTsuru falls into Kpakpo devilish advice to send Baby T to Mama Broni to get her a job. Unknown to MaaTsuru Baby T is introduced to prostitution in connection to Poison, who stands as the kingpin of the prostitution business. After series of investigations by MUTE with the help of Sylv Po, a radio presenter, it is discovered that Baby T did not die at the market but that her killers brought her to the spot to distract any further trace. Kabria and her team pay several visits to MaaTsuru, Naayomo, Onko’s workshop, Poison, Mama Broni, a native doctor and the police station, among others, to unravel the secret behind Baby T’s death. When questioning Poison, he reveals that Mama Broni knows better. He says that Onko had come to request for a particular girl of his and that he was ready to pay any amount to have her. When asked who the girl was, he said Baby T. Poison reveals that Baby T had refused to accept Onko as a client, but was compelled by him. He says that Baby T stays in Mama Broni’s place as a special worker, who he treats well. However, he states that the death of Baby T is an accident as she fell into a fight with Onko, who stabbed her with a knife. On realizing this, they decided to take her wounded body to the market place, so that, it may be assumed that she was killed there. But before the investigation team could get to Onko, he had committed suicide, and Mama Broni confesses that she had been the one calling in on the radio programme to make the presenter believe that the dead girl is not Baby T but someone else. So at the end of this revelation, Fofo is fully recuperated and is sent to learn a vocation which will empower her to survival financially in future. This is done with the help of MUTE and Kabria in particular.
The theme of gender imbalance:
The story presents to us a society ruled by man. That is why the victims and those considered inferior are females. Beginning with the Adade’s family, Adade believes that it is the duty of the woman to do all chores of the home whether or not it is convenient. So Kabria alone has been struggling with cooking, assisting the children with their assignments, answering copious questions, watching her girls. No wonder sometimes she gets to work late; not to mention the fact that her husband has refused to change her car for her. Kabria goes in an old Volks car called Creamy while Adade goes in a brand new Toyota car. For Fofo and those living in Sodom and Gomorrah, there is no equality between the males and the females. They all live in fear of either Poison or Macho. These men parade some gang members with which they subjugate the females who live as prostitutes, hawkers or thieves on the road. Some females work for them. To MaaTsuru, the case is not different. The ill-fate tagged on her and her lineage is brought upon her by the actions of a man, who should have been her father. MaaTsuru’s first husband, Kwei, battered her life by getting her pregnant for four times and neglecting her four times. In the end, he pushed MaaTsuru out of her life. Because Baby T is a female and considered weak, Kpakpo and Onko abuse her sexually, and finally, Onko killed her.
The theme of neglect and poverty:
Faceless is symbolic as it represents the faceless and shameful life of poverty due to neglect some girls face in their lives that they turn out to be street girls. Through Fofo’s experience, we realize that many of the girls out on the street did not get there because they loved it but by the mighty hand of poverty in their home which is borne out of the neglect given to them by their parents, particularly fathers. MaaTsuru is very poor and cannot provide for her children, she begins to rely on her two sons, who are engaged in a work, to provide for the whole family. But things become worse when they decide to leave the home because of Kpakpo’s presence around. By this time, MaaTsuru’s condition increases negatively and poverty takes over her home. To survive, she gave Baby T to Mama Broni and later on sends Fofo away into the streets. MaaTsuru’s actions are because she is poor, and has been neglected by the men that came into her life.
- Discuss the exploration of gender imbalance in the work.
- Narrate the plot of the work.
In our next class, we will be talking about Reading and Analyzing Non-African Poetry: Faceless by Amma Darko. We hope you enjoyed the class.
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