Kaakyire Akosomo Nyantakyi’s Ancestral Sacrifice is a book that explored Christian-Traditional Conflict, as F. Ohene-Tena maintained. Nyantakyi hailed from Kukurantumi-Akim in the Eastern region. His novel is one of the finest Ghanaian literatures so far recorded. This prose contains characters who are extremists, conservatives, ambitious, and some sympathetic.
There is a good command of the queen’s tongue. Like Chinua Achebe, Kaakyire beautified the whole story with Ghanaian proverbs.
Ancestral Sacrifice has 26 Chapters. It was Kaakyire’s thesis work which he later developed into a novel.
My space is limited. I would have continued to appreciate Nyantakyi’s effort, bit I have a business to conduct. The business is Kaakyire’s main character, Mrs. Janet Little.
She was a very fine widow in her 50s. She had two sons; Dr. Fred Little and Bob Little. She cared and loved them just as any mother would. Although Mrs. Little lived in Asana village, money was not a lack. Her late husband left a handsome inheritance for her. Dr. Fred was always away. He rarely visits his mother and sibling. It was 17years old Bob, who rather behaves like a six year old child, who was the mother’s company. All the children in the village distanced themselves from him except Nana Boatema. She was his best friend.
Again I have been caught up with limited space. If not, discussing each chapter to describe Mrs. Little would be more exciting. I hope I’m permitted to delve straight to the ‘business’.
Once Bob was feeling dejected because the other children refused to play with him, Nana Boatema being his only friend wanted to cheer him up. With Mrs. Little’s permission, Nana took Bob to the Stool-House where there was an ongoing sacrifice. Despite being a Christian and strongly opposed the traditions of Asana, Mrs. Little consented that Bob be taken to the place of animal sacrifice. For she wanted her son to be happy. That is if it would.
At the Stool-House, Bob could not stand the blood that oozed from the slaughtered sheep. He burst into rage. The guards sent him outside for he was uncontrollable. He looked everywhere for Nana but could not find her among the gathered crowd. He then decided to find his way back home. Unfortunately, he missed his way into the sacred forest of Abosompom. For seven days, Bob wandered in the forest.
News of his disappearance spread like wild fire. All the neghbouring villages heard about it and helped to search for Bob Little. The search was futile. Janet’s church members despised her a lot for allowing her son to witness something that their faith was against. She could be expelled from the church she loved so much as a result.
After 3 days of unsuccessful search, the chief of Asana came to the conclusion that the only place left to look was Abosompom. But before that, the family of the disappeared one has to offer a sacrifice and pledge an allegiance of support for the search.
Botwe was too extreme in matters of her new faith. Botwe, for that was her traditional name before she converted. Paragragraph 11 of chapter 7 captured her saying to Dr. Fred, “We are Christians, son. We can’t support animal sacrifice”. In which case she was not ready to do it eventhough her son was at stake. The only action Janet took was to read her Bible, chapter to chapter, verse from verse and count her rosary. Did not the same Bibe say give to Caesar what was Caesar’s? Did she not love her son so much? Moreover, it was about keeping custom and not for Botwe to bow down to any god.
In a clearer picture, Mrs. Little was the one being assisted. The traditional folks did not mind the fact that they were looking for a missing Christian. They were ready to stretch their hands. As Nana Barima, the chief, always said “We are because I am, and I am because we are”. For together, they stand firm.
Heaven, we are told, help those who help themselves. How did Mrs. Little understand this statement? Was she thinking by always rocking her chair, reading the Bible and counting rosary would bring back her son home?
Bob could have been found on the fourth day if Janet had not objected until the last minute. No amount of words could convince her. Until she came of knowledge that the church she worshipped would be closed including the schools it built. Yes, the traditional council had the power to do so and no one could interfere, not even the Acts and Clauses. She was also to be banished from Asana since she has refused to do as customs demanded. There was little peace between the two doctrines.
On the seventh day she agreed. Botwe bought the sheep and pledged her support. But it was too late. The search party came back with news of Bob’s death. Her only company.
More often, we are so glued to our beliefs to the extent that we show disregard to beliefs other than ours. Mrs. Little could have saved herself and Bob. The church she adored would not have been dragged into the issue. Even while she was holding onto it, what did she get? Despise and condemnation from the sisters! They called her a sinner. They cared less for her sorrow and pain.
Sometimes, we need to put ourselves first. For so I end with this “Each for himself, God for us all”.