This originally appeared on misteragyeman.blogspot.com on July 27, 2014.
I intend to do what every victim of the Ghanaian primary school syllabus has wished to do at some point. Every time we’re forced to write ‘of dark complexion’, against the protest of our immortal souls; every time they made me say I’m enjoying school; every time the teacher canceled my post-script– this is revenge for the eleven years of ‘Creative Writing’ I had to endure. Initially I intended to do a paragraph for every stock sentence. After deliberation I decided this would be evil of me. A full essay each is the least I can do.
You are welcome.
So this is Chapter 1 of the Myself Chronicles:
My name is Mister E. Yes, pronounced Mystery. I know it’s pretentious. Pretentiousness amuses me. Had I been born a whale, my call sign would be a jazz guitar lick. In respectable company, I call myself Mister Agyeman. On Facebook, they call me Da Bard. As in ‘The Bard’, but in ebonic. I consider myself the last word in irreverence, but Zuckerberg is to blame for this one. I tried to change it to Bam Bue, but Facebook wouldn’t let me. But it works in my favour. Once somebody has blasted you for your conceit, you feel like old friends.
Naming is a delicate thing. In Ghana, we give the unfortunate infant a quick shot of liquor to steady them for the heartbreaking announcement. It sounds a bit extreme, but it comes from good logic. You come from your wonderful amniotic sac, and the world hits you in the face with its sound. Things sound wonderful in water, you know? Our world with its harsh percussions must sound so primitive, coming from that beautiful atmosphere. And then even worse, smack- they throw one of these sounds at you and say: Henceforth, O baby, thou art Mephibosheth.
But familiarity breeds love, science claims. Unlike the babies, as adult human beings we each think our name the most beautiful sound in the world. And then we travel a bit, and we meet nice people with different palates, and these sweet new friends force us to listen to their funky remixes of our IDs. And we have to nod and smile. Life just hard.
I was christened Ebenezer. I was young and now I’m old, and I’m still pleasantly surprised when someone spells my name with an E. First decade of my life, it was always ‘A’. It’s pronounced with a grave ‘A’ in Ghana. Even teachers did it to me. Abenezer. Abenazer. Abenezar. Abel. Bernard. How did I fix it? I didn’t. I tried once to get people to call me ‘E’. Didn’t work. Now I just bear it.
Thinking of whales. There’s this poor girl whose pitch falls outside the frequency spectrum of other whales. Now she’s trapped in a cycle of anguish. She calls, they do not hear. They don’t respond, her frequency lowers in despair. Now she has very little hope of ever speaking to her kind. I don’t know how it factors into this discussion. Wait- whales add their personal trill to every call. Perhaps- no. There’s no connection.
So let’s leave it there. My name is Mister Agyeman.