Kofi Manu is a Ghanaian born African of the Akan clan. The Akan clan is a Matrilineal society. This means their children are determined by there mother's lineage. Kofi means Friday and Manu means second born. The word Ghana was adopted in 1957, originally it was called the Gold Coast. The Akan economic history began as fisherman and hunters that later expanded to trade. Gold was the most valuable commodity. The Europeans helped to implement the slave trade by selling fire arms to certain tribes. Powered by greed, violence and human depreciation these tribes grew wealthy.. Before the Europeans arrived Ghanaian tradition centered on spiritual beliefs., with respect for nature and each other.
Kofi Manu was born in 1960 at least a century after the slave trade. His family and clan members remained adherent to tradition. The introduction to foreign religion and formal education would not replace Kofi's highly regarded beliefs. They were simply paired.
"Chapter One; Kofi Manu's Migration"
As a youth Kofi was studious and observant. Initiated as a man he became a Ghanaian sailor which allowed him the transportation to America. Kofi was now15 years old and spoke fluent English. This was due to the European interest in Ghana.
The trip to America was long. The ships accommodations were lacking. Kofi craved for land, he had forgotten the sturdiness under his foot. When the ship reached America and docked in Louisiana the Captain announced they would be departing in 3 weeks. Kofi felt the departure time would not provide enough experiences to gain a clear perspective of this new land. He and the crew hurried to unload the cargo, once completed everyone would be paid. Before going ashore Kofi informed the Captain of his resignation. This provided the Captain enough time to hire another deck hand. There was a regretful look on the Captain's face, then a smile. He informed Kofi there was someone in Louisiana looking to hire. He will provide a wage and boarding. That someone is my brother. Are you interested? Yes Kofi replied. The Captain then gave him a letter of reference with the directions.
"Chapter Two; The Louisiana Experience"
Under the evening light Kofi reflected on the past 5 years in Louisiana. He was strong and healthy no longer naïve in this new land. Kofi thought about the Captain who visits once a quarter. The Captain's brother Mr. Ted Freeman was a serious minded individual, fair and respectful. Kofi knew that all the progress he had made was due to Mr. Freeman’s attitude. Here was a debt worthy of acknowledgement. That being said, life in Louisiana to say the least, was troubling. Kofi had come face to face with the oppressive tactics against people of color. Louisiana was a place he could never call home. Home to him meant not walking cautiously. This is not the case in Louisiana. Kofi noticed that people of color were developing two souls, one of sheltered liberation and the other was the struggle to intergrate while being an immigrant. Kofi felt his mind weaving him as a recluse, coddling his spirit away. He worked during the day and read at night. There was one book that evoked his sense of belonging. The book was called Navajo Land and Tradition. Kofi's heart began to stir. His migration from Ghana had repercussions not realized before. This book on Navajo life validated how he felt.
Chapter Three; Navajo Land and Tradition
The Navajo had settled in America long before Christopher Columbus. Navajo history is one of persistence, dedication and sustainability. Today they are considered the largest Native American tribe in the US. The existence of the Navajo people dates back before 1300 AD. It wasn't until the 16th century when the Spanish made first contact. The Navajo people encountered many difficulties, disputes and war from the 16th through the 19th century. Land, culture, ideology and race threatened there existence. Overwhelmed they succumbed to US aggression. Forced on reservations a peace treaty was signed in 1868. The Navajo reservation soon became the Navajo Nation. The area is known as the four corners which include the Southwest of Colorado, southeastern corner of Utah, the northwestern corner of New Mexico and the northeastern corner of Arizona. Navajo people seek balance in all things, the present with the past, the people with the land and the spirit with nature. Kofi was inspired by the similarities of the Navajo. The book that influenced Kofi was written by James Hokee Stevens. Hokee is of Navajo origin meaning abandoned. He resides on the Navajo reservation about 30 miles from Flagstaff, Arizona. Kofi decided to leave Louisiana. He would buy a train ticket to Arizona.
Chapter Four; Hokee and Doli
Hokee received a Bachelor Degree at Arizona State in literature. Literature awarded him the opportunity to share the Navajo culture. Hokee's wife died giving birth to his only child, Doli. She was now 21 years old, unwed and beautiful. She had a passion for working outdoors, walking and running under the sun. Doli earned a Associate Degree in Art at Eastern Arizona College. She was an established weaver, a skill passed down from members of Doli’s maternal clan.
Chapter Five; the Navajo Road
Arriving in Arizona Kofi needed to purchase a pickup truck and a map. He thought of Ted Freeman his Louisiana employer who put him on to driving. Kofi checked the time. He wanted to contact the book's Author, James Hokee Stevens. Kofi did not believe in wasting time. He was anxious for a response regarding the reason for visiting. Kofi placed his sea bag in the pickup. He placed the map and book on the passenger seat. He was 30 miles from his destination. The landscape looked barren, lacking the usual stretch of trees seen on open roads. The trees were replaced by large boulders of rock, which were scattered everywhere They were of different sizes with shades of pink and gray.There up the road he saw a street sign, Navajo Nation two miles, Kofi had driven 28 miles without seeing a single house. The mountains he saw overwhelmed him with majestic sounds, engulfing him to bestow them humble respect. Turning right on a back road Kofi could see evidence of human existence.
Chapter Six; Kofi and Doli
The place looked well-kept and the house was modern. Sheep and horses were fenced in separately. There was a woman who had stopped working, alerted by the sound of Kofi's pickup truck. She preceded in his direction with two dogs, as escorts. She was wearing a Mexican sombrero and a colorful one piece that stopped just below her knees. She had long hair with a creamed coffee complexion. Kofi lowered the window and yelled Hello as she approached. Before she could respond he continued. I'm looking for James Hokee Stevens. Do you know him? He is the Author of this book. Kofi held the book up so she could see .Who are you Sir? she replied. Excuse me, I'm called Kofi Manu. I've come from Ghana by way of Louisiana. Ghana is very far Mr. Manu. Please call me Kofi. I am called Doli and yes I know Hokee. He is not far, come and walk with me. My name is Doli Stevens, Hokee is my father.
Chapter Seven; Ghana Remembered
During the walk Kofi began to explain his visit. Doli interrupted, Mr. Manu you never answered my question of who you are. He answered explaining the meaning of his name. He then spoke of the tight relationship Ghanaians have with the environment. That is who I am. Our customs mandate us to keep nature pure. Nature is where Abosom (Gods) reside. Nature is the medium between my people and the Nyame ( supreme being).Doli studied Kofi's words with silent respect. He told her the name of his clan and how children are determined by his or her mother's lineage. Kofi told her of the hunters, fisherman, the gold and the infamous slave trade. Why did you leave Doli asked. I wanted to see beyond the horizon. One day as I watched the docked ships on our coast, a sea Captain asked if I wanted a job. I looked at his ship and said yes. What did your parents say? My initiation to manhood was completed before the Captains offer, so my parents were very proud because their son was going to America. My father even organized a special ceremony so Nyame would protect and guide me, The next day I departed.
Chapter Eight; Discomfort
When we finally docked in Louisiana I had already decided to stay. The Captain had a brother living in Louisiana who gave me wage work and boarding. So for the last 5 years I've been a fisherman. Now you're in Arizona Doli replied. Kofi continued, while in Louisiana I witnessed many episodes of racial oppression. I began to realize that people of my race were living under constant physical and mental hardship. Yes I'm in Arizona and on Navajo land because Hokee's book inspired me to come. I hope you, your father and the Navajo people will consider me a friend. Kofi waited for a response. Doli was unresponsive.
Chapter Nine; Unification
Maybe your father can help me find work Kofi suggested. Doli thoughts was of the past week. The week of her father's passing, I'm sorry Doli said to Kofi. My father lives in the afterlife. It has been a week now and my mother entered the afterlife giving birth to me. Kofi understood what the afterlife meant, he was speechless. Doli noticed the sadness in Kofi's spirit. Perhaps it is destiny you being here at this time. What do you mean Kofi asked. This is my home Kofi. The house, the dogs, the sheep, the horses and my people. My people were not called to help because you are here. That's destiny Doli explained. Are you sure Kofi replied. I can offer you outdoor work with a wage. Before Kofi could speak she asked, do you have a place to stay? Never mind you can stay here as my father's special guest from Ghana by way of Louisiana. I don't know what to say Kofi replied. Try destiny .Destiny Kofi replied faithfully. Good lets go home I'm hungry.They had bread, roasted Mutton, tomatoes and coffee.
Written by STANLEY DORSEY