When I close my eyes, I see it clearly. The circle of sunlight sitting on my finger. It reminds me of the mythical Sankofa bird, whose head is always turned back towards its tail, creating its own heart-loop silhouette. It is the looking backwards that matters – looking back at the thing that requires going back for.
Se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi.
It is not a taboo to return to fetch something you forgot earlier on.
I mused on the fact that I needed Google’s help to recall the Twiwords I didn’t know. Twi, the language of my ancestry. But I knew the word, Sankofa, and the bird, the Ghanaian adinkra symbol. To me the Sankofa was a flawed beauty always looking to the past at the things she had forgotten – not unlike myself. She meant something to me.
"To me the Sankofa was a flawed beauty always looking to the past at the things she had forgotten – not unlike myself"
As a child not many things had meaning. Meaning meant caring about a thing I would inevitably leave behind in the next hasty house move, and the one after that. That was how it went: we left, and sometimes our things did not go with us.
The ring was no different. Golden, dug from beneath orange earth, fashioned West African and glinting, a Ghanaian piece transported 3,000 miles from Accra to London, and from my mother’s hands to my own. I imagine a magical journey of a mineral, carrying the weight of hundreds of years of colonial rule that I might never fully understand.
"Golden, dug from beneath orange earth, fashioned West African and glinting, a Ghanaian piece transported 3,000 miles from Accra to London, and from my mother’s hands to my own"
I was just an eager child then, seven or eight years old, still brand new and tentative with what I held in my hand, and sporting a pinkie ring as fashion to show off to friends. I was an avid daydreamer and the ring became a prop for my make-believe games.
That ring was the first jewellery I remember acquiring, although I have since seen baby pictures in which the unmistakable shine of Ghana adorns my wrist. Now that I’m all grown up, both ring and bracelet are only memories, long gone and lost in the crevices of a dozen house-moves in and out of London.
I know what it means not to own a thing, to build in a temporary space, to rent moments at a time until the real owners decide we need to leave again. Now I wonder if that is of my ancestry: not quite a repetition of history, but a resignation to living in the knowledge that we could own a piece of gold but never a piece of land. And what is there to look back at, or to go back for, when you are told that the things you want to reclaim were never yours to begin with? These days when I gather my things I take only what I need, what I know will survive the journey. There is little room to be sentimental.
"These days when I gather my things I take only what I need, what I know will survive the journey. There is little room to be sentimental"
But the gaudiness of Ghana gold, the boldness of it even on a small, young finger, still carries a weight in my mind. An acquisition that belonged to me from the beginning because it came from my place, a home I’ve never really known, a ground I’ve never dug through with my own bare, desperate hands.
What if that gold ring was a reminder? A memory from so long ago that to recall it requires a return to that very place where the gold lies?
After all, it is not taboo to go back for something you have forgotten.
BAD LOVE is the story of London born Ghanaian Ekuah Danquah and her tumultuous experience with first love. Marked by this experience, she finds herself at a crossroads - can she fall in love again, or does the siren song of her first love still call?