My grandfather, Frederick Opoku Kofi Gyekye, was a forester. He is the broader gentleman in this picture in shorts. This picture was taken in 1965 at the Accra zoo. The names of the other people in this picture are unknown, but I assume they are work colleagues in his field.
I never had the pleasure of meeting my grandfather. He died just after I was born. I understand he was a stern man who broke my grandmother’s heart with his philandering nature. Now, that’s not the sort of thing one ought to readily admit to a bunch of strangers about one’s ancestors, but it’s the truth and that knowledge certainly has affected me – or at least my craft – today. After my grandparent’s bitter divorce, my grandmother found love again and married a man who treated her like a friend…which in my estimation is far better than being treated like a queen. Royalty can be so unapproachable. All the same, my grandmother never spoke of her second husband as often as she did her first. Because of this, several of his mannerisms, sins and quirks have manifested as (some) peculiar traits that the villains and heroes that populate my stories carry.
My family is from Larteh (Kubease) and were of the Akantsane – the gold weighers. No one really knows what happened to all the gold. My father tells me it was lost due to “mismanagement”. All the same, my relatives still believe that there is a pot of gold my great-grandfather hid waiting to be discovered in the family house. You can see the concrete patchwork in different parts of the courtyard, where someone attempted (a failed) to a treasure hunt.
These are the stories that affect what I do today. I have become a story teller, and since I am not in a position to carry out the family tradition of weighing precious metals, I try to make my written works carry their weight in gold.
Submitted by Malaka Grant