Fiction by Araba Ofori-Acquah
22nd February 2023
“The only famous Africans are either political leaders or political rebels.” I can’t even count how many times mama has said this to me. But I really thought today would be different. I should have known anyway. Since she’s become so into this whole Christianity thing it’s like she’s forgotten the reality of this our Africa. If you know anything about Africans, you know we are a little more tapped into the supernatural than the Westerners. My aunties and grandma have told me about some of the experiences they’ve had — experiences that are literally out of this world — so I don’t know how mama can suddenly act as if these things don’t exist. Anyway, it’s not by force — if she can’t see my future now, it’s okay. She will just have to watch it play out with the rest of the world. But I didn’t come here to talk about my mother anyway, I came to share my news! Today, I had a vision. I was lying here on my bed, visualizing my upcoming play being a success, as I always do — just like grandma taught me — and then something happened. I don’t even know how to explain it but I’ll do my best. Here goes. As I said, I was practicing visualization but then, all of a sudden, I felt a surge of movement even though my body was still, and felt like I was enveloped in light even though my eyes were still closed, and then I started to see images. But not just from my imagination oh. It was like my mind was transported somewhere, out of my body and into the cosmos, so the visions were not coming from my mind but rather being shown to my mind. My name on the front cover of newspapers and magazines, segments about me on talk shows, Oprah knew my name! Oprah! Can you imagine? And then I felt the fast movement again and felt like I fell onto the bed even though I had never left the bed, and that’s when I opened my eyes.
I always knew my plays would take me far. And even though those around me can’t dream big like me — mama, my friends, those useless ex-girlfriends — they still agree I’m an excellent writer and an above average actor…better than these ones you see in the Naija movies who only got the part because their fathers are Big Men. And now I see exactly how far I will go. This is the future that has been revealed to me and I am certain of my destiny on this earth. My plays will change the world — for myself, for Africans, for all Black people. The world will remember my name.
20th June 2023
It’s happening! I’m one step closer to fulfilling my destiny. When I told mama dearest the news I could see that she was conflicted. She said she was proud of me but her sweet words couldn’t overpower the pain in her face. I’m not sure what it was — maybe fear? She hasn’t travelled outside before so it makes sense, I guess. But even though I’m also a little scared and will miss mama so much, nothing can bring me down from this high! Because my play — a play about Ghanaian heritage, a play about Black pride — is going stateside baby! Yes oh, your favourite African is going to produce a play in New York City, paid for by whichever dead rich white person left all their money to ‘developing diversity in the arts’. Thank you dead rich white person. Thank you.
28th February 2024
Today is the day that my life will change, the opening night of my play. I chose this date to represent resistance, pride and power. On this day in 1948, my ancestors rioted in Accra, an event that they say was a turning point in our politics, a turning point that eventually led to our independence 9 years later. And now, on this day in 2023, I will celebrate how far we have come and how far we will go. Is it the nerves or because I’m in America that my heartbeat has moved from the steady rhythm of Afrobeats to some kind of experimental jazz. No, it’s because I saw it just now as I left the theatre. It wasn’t there when I arrived but, I guess because I left after midnight, it magically appeared in the hours we were rehearsing. My name in lights! I always thought that was just something they say on TV but it’s true. It was on the theatre entrance, right next to BLACK STAR RISING: OPENING TONIGHT! As I was admiring it, I heard someone behind me shout “Hey, that’s the guy!” and I said to myself, “Yes, I am the guy!” and then…and then…well, to be honest, I don’t really remember what happened after that. My memory has been hazy. I’ve really just been kind of floating around since. Must be the nerves. Anyway, I have to go – it’s a big night ahead!
29th February 2024
A big night indeed! More than I ever could have hoped or dreamed. A sold out show, standing ovation, international press. I knew I would be a star…I just thought, you know, I’d be around to actually enjoy it.
Yesterday, on my way to the theatre, as more and more people walked past me – no, walked through me, I finally started to understand. I finally started to remember. And then I saw the headlines. ‘BREAKING NEWS: Another unarmed Black Man shot in New York’. The news has gripped the city, the nation, my homeland, the world. And now I see my future more clearly. After a staggering opening night, the play will go on to tour globally and be adapted into a Netflix Original. It will indeed feature on Oprah! Everyone will know my name, even back home. A headline in Ghana reads: ‘Ghanaian man shot dead by police on 28th February: Has anything really changed?’
Araba Ofori-Acquah is a Ghanaian-British healer, DJ, cultural curator and award-winning writer interested in preserving African past and reimagining African future. Her writing centres on healing, the female experience and the many shades of Black-ness, taking the form of creative non-fiction, fiction and – very occasionally – poetry. Her writing is published or forthcoming in anthologies published by Ama Ata Aidoo Centre for Creative Writing, Jalada Africa and Writers Project Ghana. Her debut book ‘Return to Source: Unlock the power of African-centred wellness’ was published by Hay House in April 2023.
Originally published December 6, 2023