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GATEKEEPERS - The Quest for Clues to an Age-Old Riddle


 

Set in a small coastal village in Ghana, “Gatekeepers”  explores the coming of the World-Saviour of the end times from the perspective of six World Religions; demonstrates the essential oneness of the Religions; and makes a case for unity amongst the followers of these Religions in the search for this divine world Figure. 

The story unfolds with the arrival, from the US, of Kojo Apiata and his American wife, at his ancestral home of Bibiriba, on the shores of Ghana, for what was intended to be a short visit. Little did he imagine then, that he would be entrusted with the affairs of this remote community as the village Chief, and that those affairs would draw him slowly but inexorably into the vortex of a search for the Promised Redeemer of the end times, a search that was soon to widen to assume global dimensions... 

The author, who is from Ghana, presently resides in East Timor with his wife and three children. “Gatekeepers” is his first novel.

In Store Price: $24.00 
Online Price:   $23.00

ISBN: 978-1-921574-18-4     
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 177
Genre: Fiction


Buy as a pdf  Ebook version - $AUD9.00
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Author: Kobina Amissah Fynn
Imprint: Poseidon
Publisher: Poseidon Books
Date Published:  2009
Language: English


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I. Bibiriba, Where it All Began 

If anyone had told him, that the decision they had taken to remain permanently in Bibiriba, would have implications for the spiritual transformation of people everywhere; or that it would usher that small, sleepy village of some two hundred inhabitants, in the coastal Central Region of Ghana, into the limelight of world attention, he would have been extremely surprised. The year was 1984 and Kojo Apiata, dark, radiant, clean-shaven and bespectacled, had arrived in the village of Bibiriba from the United States with Sue, his white American wife. He had been away for twenty-six years, but was now compelled to visit home to oversee the burial of his father who had succumbed to the effects of old age, and had passed away the week before. With regret, he recalled his inability to be present for his mother’s funeral three years earlier.   

Being the Chief of Bibiriba, the funeral of Nana Gyata II was elaborate and full of ceremony and Sue was engrossed in the goings-on, so unlike anything she had seen. The burial had hardly been completed, however, and the last clod of earth thrown over the coffin, than unusual activity around her and her husband greatly alarmed her. So incomprehensible to her was what was going on, that she mistook it for a kidnap attempt and began to punch and kick anything in sight in desperate effort to salvage the situation; for suddenly and unexpectedly, a group of hefty men in traditional clothing had pulled Kojo away from her, and amid chanting, drumming, dancing, and the firing of musketry, had lifted him physically over their shoulders and began to move away, half trotting, as her husband struggled fruitlessly to free himself. What confused her even more was to see some whitish powder being sprinkled over him by one of the men, as the excited crowd disappeared around the corner in noisy jubilation.

“Goodness me! What’s that stuff?” she wailed to no one in particular. “Could it… could it be…?”

She was still in a high state of perturbation when a group of women, about seven of them, in colourful African attire, drew close to her and attempted to calm her down: “Your… your hubby… new Chief, atse a?” one of them attempted to communicate something to her.

The other women laughed, and speaking in the local Fanti dialect, noisily teased their companion to speak better English next time.

But Sue was still confused. Was it a bad omen that her husband should be abducted in this manner to see the Chief? But to see which Chief? Hasn’t the Chief just been buried? While these thoughts agitated her mind, the women’s presence reassured her somehow, and she allowed herself to be chaperoned by them, all the way to the Chief’s palace. After agonizing alone for about an hour in the room she shared with her husband at the palace, she was relieved to receive a note from him, telling her that all was fine; that he was going to be installed as the new Chief of Bibiriba in place of his late father; and that in preparation for that event, he had to be in confinement for a week to allow for certain necessary rituals of a traditional nature to be performed. He encouraged her to relax and enjoy her stay.

Sue survived the week without her husband by becoming engrossed in a book she had bought several years ago, but which because of her busy schedule back home, she had not had time to read. All so soon, the day of the enstoolment arrived, enstoolment being a term used in Ghana to refer to the installation of a chief, in any of the southern areas of the country, where the symbol of a chief’s authority and office was the stool.

The day began very well. The ceremony was full of sound and colour, the grounds of the ceremony packed full. Twisting their bodies to the rhythm of the drummers and singers since the early hours of the morning, were various groups of dancers. Chiefs had come from neighbouring communities, each one of them magnificently attired in his beautiful kente cloth and adorned with a rich array of ornaments of pure gold on his arms, around his neck, and even on his feet; and there were sub-chiefs from Bibiriba. Also represented at the grounds were ordinary subjects—the young, the old, the men and the women—in every kind of attire.

Kojo Apiata was truly majestic in his full royal regalia, surrounded by an entourage under the richly decorated pavilion. By his side sat his wife, Sue, looking splendid in traditional attire that she had adorned with help from some women attached to the palace. The main ceremony had been accomplished and Kojo Apiata, having now acceded to the stool of Bibiriba with the stool name of Nana Kojo Egyir I, was receiving the homage of his subjects, when commotion erupted. A large group of angry-looking men, wielding sticks and clubs, appeared suddenly on the scene, chanting in a manner understood to be hostile and invaded the grounds of the ceremony. The new Chief took a quick glance at the situation, and fearing that stones might start flying around, took Sue by the hand and deserted the grounds in a hurry. Other chiefs abandoned palanquins, large royal umbrellas, and other paraphernalia depicting their royal offices, and together with their entourages and subjects, dispersed helter-skelter in all directions.

Back in the comfort and safety of the dilapidated mud palace, guarded by an asafo company of traditional warriors, Nana Egyir received news, some hours later, that Kwame Apiata, his elder half-brother, had been behind the disturbances; that one person had died in the mayhem, scores injured, and a couple of houses burnt down. It appeared that Kwame Apiata, being the eldest son of the late Chief, had been peeved at being overlooked for election as the next Chief of the village.

“Jojo dear, what does being chief of a village really mean in practice? What are the privileges?” Sue asked of her husband, as they anxiously monitored the situation outside of the palace walls.

“It means I am the custodian of the culture of this place. I hold in trust, all the land and resources of this community.”

“How much land do you hold?”

“Several hectares... From the coast just a few metres from here, to the highway from where we came, is about five kilometres. Across will give us, perhaps, another ten kilometres. That will make about… five thousand hectares, if my calculation is correct.”

“Now, how were you able to usurp the right of your elder half-brother?”  

“Oh, but you saw how my installation went! I was not expecting to be enstooled… I don’t even see how we can remain permanently here. My half brother, Kwame, is not educated, and he was overlooked by the kingmakers and the Queen mother who together do the selection, probably because they feel less comfortable entrusting the affairs of this village into his hands. However, that does not mean that my enstoolment is illegal… since Kwame and I are from different mothers.”

Kojo went on to explain how inconvenient it was going to be for him as Chief, anyway; that if they went back to the States, he would need to be coming back often, for prolonged stays, to look after the affairs of the people. To Sue’s question, he explained that Kwame did not have an education because he spent all his life in the village, while he, Kojo, was fortunate to have left Bibiriba to live with a maternal uncle in Sekondi who took care of his education. It was on the basis of a scholarship he received, that he left in 1958 to study Nutritional Science in the States, as he had several times explained to her.

Three days had passed after the disturbances, and the village was still in a state of tension. Kojo, confused about what should be done, had had enough of it and was anxious to return to the States. Surprisingly, Sue seemed very relaxed and not as concerned as he was.

“Choochoo,” he called to Sue, “It’s time for us to return home. I am fed up with this situation”

“Does that mean you are abdicating?”

“Um… I have not said that, have I? But what else can one do in an environment so hostile? And Bibiriba, after all, is such a tiny village, such an insignificant place. Does my enstoolment justify the death of one person and injuries to others? No, I don’t think so.” After a long pause, he continued, “We should be leaving at the weekend. I shall be explaining my position to the elders of the village.”

“But will they accept it if you told them you wished to abdicate?”

“Highly unlikely… They would probably advise me to reconsider. If I should abdicate, which I have not yet decided to do, I would rather do so when we are safely back home.”

After a pause, he turned to his wife: “When are you going to begin packing?” What he received for an answer was complete silence. A quick glance at her convinced him that Sue was not keen on going. “Don’t you want to go home?” he asked in surprise.

“No, let’s spend the rest of our life here,” she murmured tearfully.

The response hit Kojo like a thunderbolt. His jaw dropped. “What? But Jason is still there!” he reminded her of their twenty-year old son. “What about our jobs?”

“Oh, Jojo, you know that Jason is in college and can take care of himself. As for our jobs, we can do without them, can’t we? I mean… I mean we should be able to manage here, shouldn’t we?”

Kojo was getting irritated and a bit worried—worried that his beloved wife was going crazy. Why else would she want to abandon a wonderful life in the Land of Promise, for a hostile, remote, sleepy village on the shores of Ghana—a village that was frozen in time, its inhabitants so steeped in tradition, poverty, and ignorance that even he, born and partly-bred here, had had a cultural shock when they arrived two weeks before?          

“Woman, I am no fisherman or farmer, and don’t know how to survive here”, Kojo blurted out, trying to suppress in his voice the anger that was simmering within him. “We have no choice, we have to go!”    

“I do not wish to go anywhere!” Sue shot back, in as polite a voice as she could muster.

Kojo realized at that point, that he definitely had a problem on his hands, and it would not help to be angry or argumentative. Rather, he would have to be tactful and conciliatory, and attempt to reason with his wife.

“Choochoo, my love,” he began, “I don’t know what your fascination is with Bibiriba, but there is very little to occupy our time here. The place is tiny; some of the people are visibly hostile, and in their desperation may not hesitate to visit violence on innocent people. Already one person is dead and a number injured. I do not wish to be labelled as an African leader who will go to any length to be in power. All life is sacred… One person killed for the stool of this village is one person too many. That is why I wish us to leave, so that further bloodshed may be averted and my conscience may remain clear. Come to think of it, I am now convinced I should even abdicate outright”

“On the contrary,” Sue responded, “to abandon Bibiriba at this time will be a disservice to the injured, to those who have lost homes, and will do nothing to honour the memory of the deceased. It is precisely because of the unfortunate death and injuries that I believe we should stay.”

“But, sweetheart, have you not been following the news concerning so many of the intractable wars in Africa? The underlying reason for the prolongation of most of these wars is intransigence on all sides… People…”

“But I am not asking you to be intransigent, Jojo dear. See… When innocent bystanders, engaged in legitimate human activities, are caught up in incidents such as we witnessed, and are made to endure extreme sacrifices, huh?... deaths, injuries… the ultimate outcome for them, needs to be good enough to alleviate their sorrow, and to compensate in a way for their losses. Just imagine, if we should go back home, and your half-brother accedes to the stool, he would have done so through violence, would have alienated a good section of the population, would most likely be unable to improve the appalling conditions in this village, and the conditions of the people would be worse than before, their suffering unduly prolonged. That would mean that our coming only brought death, injuries, burnt homes, resentment… division in the community! But if we should stay and succeed in improving the conditions of life here, that would be adequate compensation for the sufferings caused, wouldn’t it?”

Sue proceeded to explain how she thought Kojo should approach the disaffected faction, make reasonable concessions to them, attempt to elevate their vision to see the kinds of development that would follow in the village, solicit their wholehearted cooperation, so that they would be happy to be part of a new dispensation in Bibiriba. Those who had suffered some disadvantages or injury during the disturbances, she further explained, could be approached later and reasonable compensations offered them. “If you approach your own half-brother in sincerity and friendship, and show genuine love, affection and empathy,” she stressed, “you will be surprised at the positive response you will receive from him and his supporters.”

Kojo was pleasantly surprised by his wife’s wisdom and composure. She seemed so comfortable, so relaxed in the tense environment, so much in control of the situation. He recalled how back home in the States, they would argue needlessly about almost everything; but here she was—so sincere, so passionate, so authentic, and so very convincing in the advice she had given, of how the impasse in Bibiriba could be addressed. Knowing her very well, he was sure Sue had seen or experienced something in Bibiriba that had touched her deeply enough, for her to want to remain permanently in the village… only he could not put his finger on what it might be!

Nana Kojo Egyir I, new Chief of Bibiriba, agreed to go along with the suggestion of his wife, Sue, which meant remaining with his subjects in Bibiriba and preoccupying himself with their welfare. And that was how negotiations were initiated between the elders of the village on behalf of the Chief, and Kwame Apiata and his chief supporters, until genuine reconciliation had been achieved and the authority of the new Chief acknowledged. Kwame Apiata, in particular, was very profuse in his apologies to “Nana” and to his wife. He had been genuinely won over by the positive manner in which the Chief’s elders had engaged his team, the concessions that had been made, and the promises of development that had been proposed—development that would cover such areas as provision of good drinking water, electricity, roads, schools, a hospital—all within the next ten years, and with that, the concomitant prospect of improved economic opportunity for everyone in Bibiriba.

When normalcy was restored soon after, and Nana Egyir assumed full authority in his backwater chiefdom, with Sue, his white American wife, by his side, he was fully conscious that his work for the next decade had been fully cut out for him. Sue for her part was delighted that the couple could remain in Bibiriba and dedicate themselves to the welfare of the people.
 

 

 

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