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26, 4, 2024



My last post, ‘Awengaa’ contained two paragraphs showing the firm bond between mother and baby, the agency being the mother's breastmilk. Then was my reference to a past encounter in a Ghanaian village where there was an odd substitute for the mother's breastmilk. While the feedback to ‘Awengaa’ was virtually an avalanche, I refer parDcularly to one that ruined my day.

My words:

 “Our mothers were experts, diagnosing every restless cry or baby’s whimper. It could be hunger, fatigue, stress; it could also be pain from a bad touch. Yaa Nyarkoa our mother, knew it all. In several cases though, mother’s breast milk was the prescription. It was nature’s syrup and lullaby, lulling the baby to sleep, some days with mother’s breast still in the firm grip of a sleeping baby. Though asleep, the baby bounces back, crying should mother stealthily draw back her nipples; baby would cry protecting the rights of toddlers, until the nipple returns. The mother-baby prank continues until the baby finally drifts away in sound sleep, and excess milk rolls off nature’s fountain, untapped.” 

“But sleeping babies could mean something else. In the late 1990s, I travelled to the Western region for a funeral, and learned more of this world. A baby was fast asleep when we arrived at the village. For how long had it slept; some three hours or more, we were told. Why that long? The horrifying truth rolled off the mother’s lips. This was a site well known for Indian hemp culture, and weeping babies interfering with household chores were regularly doped to sleep. It was a widespread practice, we were told; a marijuana syrup was their lullaby. My colleague and I were dumbfounded to hear this. Tracking the social progress of such babies would be interesting. Baby drug addiction could start by default and, like child marriage, be considered normal in parts of Ghana.” 

Soon after my post came this unnerving response: “Hi Prof `Kwesi, I am surprised you will recall the incident of my grandson, who was often drugged in childhood instead of being fed by my aunt. Unfortunately, he has grown up as a drug addicted adult, now living on the street as a mentally ill person. How sad that he was never able to cultivate big acres of cocoa farm and even put up a bachelor-type house for himself. Sadly, he now lives on the street, his whereabouts difficult to track.” 


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