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5) ARTS AND CRAFT

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On Friday after school, Lum and Neba gave Uncle Ndifor no peace until he got into the bush and fetched them palm fronds and bamboos for their arts and craft project. Atekwana and Anjikwa had come down to carry out their project alongside their friends. Daddy was out at club 38 drinking with his friends. Mama was at the neighbors. Before leaving, Mama had warned them not to scatter leaves and bamboos in the yard.

Uncle Ndifor taught Lum and Anjikwa how to get the leaves off the fronds. The girls had decided to make brooms and the boys were making bamboo stools. As the girls made their brooms, Uncle Ndifor took out the back from the bamboo. Uncle Ndifor sharpened the bamboo back into nails. He then cut the bamboo and taught the boys how to arrange the bamboo before introducing the nail. The boys were so excited about their work. They could imagine proudly presenting it to their teacher. Usually the crafts presented by the pupils were sold by the teachers and money put into the school's coffers.By evening, the kids had come out with two good bamboo stools and two large bundles of brooms.

After cleaning the yard, the kids were all exhausted but stared at their work with pride. They slept like logs that night dreaming of the grand remarks and scores they will get for their arts and craft work.  
 Saturday was more exciting because Tabi and Mbah came to play with their friends. They had brought their bicycles along. Atekwana and Neba stared enviously at their comrades’ bikes.

“Wow look at your bicycles. I will ask my father to get one like that,” Atekwana said.

“My dad said if I pass well in my exams, he will get me a bicycle,” Neba lied.

“Chai! It’s a lie.” Lum said clapping her hand in her brother’s face.

“You were not there when he said it.” Neba said angrily.

Lum and Neba argued for a while till they decided to go play with their friends. After bike riding, playing hide and seek and running about, they decided to go harvest some guavas. There was a large guava tree behind house. They each climbed the tree like little monkeys. They harvested as much guavas as they could. When they were done, they decided to climb done and eat the guavas on the lawn. Anjikwa was down first. As she saw the others get down, she mistakenly saw what looked like a snake and screamed, “Snake.” Everyone except Lum was now down.

Lum was still at the top and got terrified. Horrified, Lum unconsciously let go of the branch she was holding and fell. She gave a very loud scream as she fell.

Mama who was talking with her next door neighbor heard and immediately recognized her daughter’s scream. She immediately jumped up and ran, crying, “Oh My! What am I going to do with this child?”

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6) Youth Week

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The week after lum’s accident was bitter sweet. She only returned for classes on Wednesday because of her fractured arm. Her broken arm made her the center of attention. Mr Boniface had been extra kind and patient with her. Also Babila bothered her less. Her friends even helped her carry her school bag. Also her broom had scored her a 10/10 in arts and craft. The week had actually been milky until Lum tasted the bitter side of having a broken arm. She could not play as before and so was exempted from all the activities that usually brought her satisfaction. What had started as a great week, ended sour. Worse, Mama had banned Lum from ever climbing a tree. During the weekend, Lum kept praying her arm will get healed fast.

 On Monday which started off the youth week, Lum unsuccessfully tried to convince Mama to take the cast off. Her arm was actually beginning to itch. It was impossible scratching within the cast. Lum ate her breakfast and walked sadly to school. Neba got the worse from Lum’s arm situation. Apart from the fact that he could no longer retaliate when she pestered him, he now attended to her like a queen.

Devotion went on as usual. The head teacher then read out the agenda for the week. Saturday was going to be the 11th of February which was the national youth day. This whole week was the youth week. The week was packed with activities ranging from marching practice; inter sport competitions, choral singing, traditional dance competitions, and cleanup of the school premises, ending with the grand march pass on Saturday. The most exciting thing about this week was there was going to no classes throughout the week.

Monday was devoted solely to marching practice. The process involve choosing pupils from class four to seven who marched best to represent the school during the grand march pass. The march pass was competitive and the winners were awarded a prize and also gained prestige. Lum and her friends who had nothing to do with the march pass visualized themselves playing all day. Their hopes were however shattered when they were told they had to fetch several gallons of water to pour on the marching ground in order to prevent so much dust from rising while the senior pupils marched. School closed early on Monday. Lum and her brother were able to play at Mbah’s house before returning home. Tuesday was packed as well. The choral singers and traditional dancers were doing their final rehearsals. They had been rehearsing after school for the last two weeks. On Wednesday, they were to meet other groups in a sister school for a choral singing and dance competition. The head teacher had authorized class two to four pupils to accompany and cheer the school’s choir and dance group. All the pupils were to appear in school early and very neat. They were advised to behave themselves during the choral and dance activities.

On their way home, Lum and her friends chatted about the upcoming events. They pictured all the assorted snacks that will be sold at the competition ground. Lum especially was thinking of how to convince Daddy to give her money to spend tomorrow. It was going to be exciting visiting the premises of another school.

When Lum got home, Mama took out time to press uniforms she had reserved for special occasions for Lum and her brother. Mama also polished their black pair of canvas and brought out new socks for them. Lum and Neba stared proudly at their uniforms, shoes and socks. They were both going to look sharp tomorrow. All through the night, Lum dreamt of bread and sardine, sugar cane, bonbon, bread and chocolate, ice cream, Alaska.

“Lum! Lum!” Mama called. Lum could hear her name called lightly in her sleep. The voice grew louder. Lum then woke. Her spicy dream vanished. She sighed and dragged herself sleepily out of bed. By the time she had taken her bath, dressed and was having breakfast, her usual high energy was back. Mama kept looking at her neatly dressed kids with pride. Daddy gave Lum and Neba each three hundred francs before leaving for work. Neba put his money in his pocket, while lum put hers in a tiny wool purse hung around her neck.

“Be careful as you eat so you won’t stain you uniforms.” Mama cautioned Lum and Neba.

Mama then went out to hang the clothes she had washed in the evening on the drying line.

“Your cast is getting brown.” Neba said staring enviously at his sister’s cast.

“Then?” Lum said smirkly.

“It makes you look like an old woman.” Neba mocked touching the cast with his spoon.

“Stop it. I know you are jealous.” Lum said. Neba sighed and hit the cast with his spoon. Lum then lurched at him with her good hand, but unfortunately toppled her left over tea. The tea poured on the table and flowed to Lum’s uniform.

“Eh heh! Mama will kill you.” Neba said with a smile.

Just then mama walked in. Immediately she saw what had happened, she dropped the laundry basin and froze for a while. Mama then screamed, “Oh my! What am I going to do with this child?”


Do you love writing beautiful African stories, articles or poems, you can submit them to be published on our blog...We welcome inspiration from Africa...



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TROPHIES FADE, FOOT PRINTS LAST

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Everyone seems to want a trophy or a pat in the back nowadays for everything they do. I believe that’s part of what is wrong with the world. Why should you expect some kind of reward for what you are supposed to do? Why should you expect some medal for carrying out your responsibility? Gratitude and appreciation are quite pleasant and necessary. However, these should not necessarily be our motivation towards our responsibilities.
 When a parent starts purposefully expecting some reward for catering for their own kids, or a student expecting some pay for passing their exams, or a teacher expecting a trophy for passing on their knowledge, then that is in itself their reward. When you do what is right and just, and expect praises in return then in all you have failed. How different is such behavior from that of a politician. The give and take mentality is what this is all about. The attitude of calculating how much has to return to you after you do what you have to do is what runs the world today. Can we just love, care and support people because it is our duty and responsibility to do so? Can we work as hard as we can, not for the pat on the back but the difference we can make? Most parents who constantly remind their children they are doing them a favor, are at risk of raising rebels or estranged kids. Those who selflessly devote themselves to care and love their kids; raise adults who not only do the same, but look back with genuine appreciation for the people who put them first. When we start feeling we are doing people favors by loving them or being fair to them, then we have questions to ask ourselves.
A nurse at the hospital will be rude to patients, because she thinks her being there is already a favor. A politician who is suddenly honest expects praises. A rebellious kid who turns honest wants to get a ball. A good doctor wants to be treated like a god. The cycle goes on and on. Everyone is on some kind of eye service and expecting some form of praise or glory. When the praises and medals do not come, all the good work suddenly disappears. Africa is going through a face of growth; yes people will stand in the way of progress. Yes the government might be resistant to the progressive ideas you bring. Yes no one might give you a red feather for the work you do. However, the TRUE AFRICANS who know their responsibility to their home won’t give up easily. Yes no one may seem to see or notice your work, or put you up for an award. If you love your home, then it is you DUTY to improve and push it forward. Someday, when trophies rot and medals are lost, someone will look at the undeletable foot prints on this land; then they will ask, “Whose foot print was that?”Such lives forever. You see what we do for ourselves, will die with us, but what we will do for others will live forever.
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4) LONG BREAK PALAVER

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The long break was usually noisy with pupils running up and down. Some teachers went home during the short break, while others stayed in the staff room and some went to an off license or canteen. Like most pupils, Lum, Camerika, Mangiento, Anjikwa and Manka ran to the food shed. The food shed was quite crowded. The fresh smell of Accra beans, Accra Banana, Kru kru, moi moi and other snacks could be got all over the area. The pupils fought their way to the sellers, each wanting to be served first. Lum, and her friends brought out the ten francs coins they had each saved for break time. Manka opted to do the buying. They all settled for Accra banana. This as a snack made from frying a mixture of banana and cassava flour.
“Remember to ask for pepper,” Mangiento shouted after Manka.
After about ten minutes, Manka emerged victorious with a trophy of Ten Accra bananas wrapped in a plantain leave. The girls all hurried to the play ground. The sat under the shade of a tree and ate the Accra banana. Camerika then pulled out some garri and Sugar from her bag.  The tap was far off and they needed someone to fetch water with which they were to eat the garri.
Tumbu tumbu burst calabash seeker belle burst. Abelle belle kai kai tumbu don burst. Burst burst burst burst burst. The first shall be the last and the last shall be the first.” Lum sang pointing from person to person as she sung. The last word landed on Anjikwa, so she had to go fetch the water. Mumbling, Anjikwa ran off and fetched the water. The water was put into the nylon paper containing the garri and sugar, and then the paper was shook a little and left for a while. Camerika the burst a hole at the bottom of the paper through which she sipped then passed it around like a last supper. Once the girls were through with their meal, the headed to join their mates playing dodging. Dodging was a game where one person stood at the center aligned by two persons on extreme opposite ends. The persons at the ends then threw a sock ball and the person at the center dodged it. Each dodge counted as a point. Once the ball touched the person at the center, they were out and someone else got in. the person who reached a chosen number of dodges won. In order to play with ease, the girls usually took off their shoes, pullovers and rolled their gowns into their pants.
Lum watched the others play steadily. She impatiently awaited her turn. She hoped to play before the break was over. Finally, her turn had come. Lum took off the new pullover Mama bought a week ago, her shoes and also her school bag. She asked Camerika to keep her eye on them. She rolled up her gown into her pants and jumped in energetically. She successfully dodged up to fifty. As she dodged, all the other girls including Camerika had their eyes glued on her. They all hoped the ball would hit her so she can come out, that way they can each take another turn. Once Lum was out she walked towards Camerika. Just then they heard the bell. Break was over. Lum hurriedly went to get her shoes, bag and pull over, but they were gone.
Tears slowly ran down her eyes. Mama was sure going to kill her today. She could already hear Mama’s voice, “Oh My! What am I going to do with this child?”




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