On March 32nd, 2055, we dived into the ocean black.
Swam through the waste in our hazmat suits;
Seeking the bottom, seeking the blue
We had been thirsty for years, but this was the first time we were thirsty for change.
How did we get here?
Well, I’ll tell you.
First, the waters turned grey, and no one cared.
Then the waters turned stagnant and green, the rivers and streams contained behind dams of plastic bottles and disposable bags,
and still, no one cared.
We made jokes, made excuses, looked away.
The world had bigger problems than a few choked rivers,
Waterways that offered no passage, and drainages that did not drain.
Our floating cities—the last hope for our endemic overpopulation—were themselves overcrowded
What did we care for rivers?
Until the rains stopped falling. Then we cared plenty.
Even then, at first, we didn’t think of the rivers.
We thought of ourselves, our convenience, our wealth, our crops.
And looking good, one time for the gram.
And so we kept pumping our waste into the rivers.
Harmattan came too early, we told ourselves, and if it was staying too long, well, global warming.
But the year turned, and the rains did not come.
March 32nd, 2054 was the last day of rainfall for the year, we took a day off to gather in our national cathedral to pray,
But the rains did not come.
We blamed our politicians when the market women had no fish to sell,
And kenkey for the needy was no longer a thing,
(Cos there was no fish, just kenkey)
Because without rains, the very rivers we had polluted refused to breed life.
We cried, we threatened, we cursed.
And still, the rains did not come.
And then, one day, a great vulture appeared to our president,
Live, on national television, on his knees before the National Altar.
And told him why the rains would not fall,
Why our land died of thirst,
Why we cried, but the sky wouldn’t cry back.
For Onyankopon had seen our wasteful ways,
And the cry of the river gods had reached up to his throne
For in our hubris we had even polluted the ocean,
That great disinfectant.
On that day we learned our folly
How we had taken for granted the one thing we thought we would always have.
But Otweduampong had withheld his rain,
That we may learn to withhold our excess.
The crazy thing was,
We came together like we never had before.
Became a country, at the last, in more than name alone.
We turned to the gods of science to appease the gods of nature.
Turned the machines from mining the earth to mining the rivers
Pulling ore of plastic and metal and death
From the lakes and the rivers.
It took a year,
The Volta returned to flowing blue;
The Bui Swamp once again became a dam
Even the Korle lagoon blew fresh in the morning breeze.
The gods above saw it.
And sent his rain once more.
Lovers danced in the rain;
Kids splashed about in the river,
And on March 32nd, 2056, we shared a bottle of rainwater to celebrate.
By Kofi Nyameye, Mawuena Mensah and Kadi Yao Tay, as part of the Bright Mirror writing camp in May, 2019 on the theme of water, Les Pieds Dans l’Eau.