Back To Oroko Street
September 8, 2011 § Leave a comment
There’s a quiet street that gently slopes down to the edge of the Nima River in Kokomlemle. It’s mostly strewn with business now, but was once filled with mostly multicultural families- even still an oddity in Ghana. There was an Indian man living opposite to a white storey building. He was fond of my sis and once gave her a life-sized doll. He had this peaceful compound with a Krishna shrine at the entrance. I would’ve liked to visit that house more often had I not found that effigy a bit scary. I think a white family or two lived on the street, but I’m not so sure. It has been a very long time since I’d been back. I know I played football with one Caucasian boy living up the street one time, but I can’t remember when they finally left Oroko Street. The Quartey’s were two doors up from ours, and theirs was almost like a second home for us. They had these cool leather ottomans that I plan to copy whenever I build my own home.
Before my first year at Deyis, school was on the next block at Star Avenue. It wasn’t as quiet as Oroko, but it had just about everything a toddler could need: aunts, uncles, favorite teachers, and Belinda. There was also Challenge Book Store at the top of Oroko and occasional trips to Ghana Library Board with all the movies and books for any budding geek. I can’t remember why we stopped going to the library, but I still remember I owed them a book. On occasion, my aunt would take me and my cousin Kwaku out to the Tesanor Club for whatever we wanted. It really was the life. If it wasn’t her, it was my uncle coming in his minivan to pick us all up. His usually meant a trip to grandma’s for all the freshly-baked bread a kid could eat.
Oroko Street was a fun and healthy place to grow up. I had my 6-or-so sisters if you count the Quartey girls for all the entertainment any toddler could ask for. I realized my love for running from my many sprints up to the top of the street to buy roasted peanuts and back home before mom noticed anything. I’ve never been bothered by materialism nor was I ever influenced by the culture I left that seems to reinforce this subliminal notion that accumulating things we often don’t need equates success and happiness even if it leaves us broke and often miserable. There were five of us at the time. We didn’t have very much, but I can’t imagine any other way to have started out my first 7 years in life. I don’t believe we even had a tv. Almost everything I cared for was within walking distance from my house. Some of my best memories as a kid were of my oldest sister walking me across the river to school and mother putting on new socks on my feet backstage before a kindergarten recital. There were lots of memories I won’t mention. But a return visit to my first home really brought into perspective for me what happiness and living it could really be. We lived in the boys’ quarters behind the white storey building (opposite the Indian’s house), at the end of Oroko Street, in a new surprise to me: in a room not much bigger than my bathroom! Think about that the next time you and your overscheduled and over-wired child expect you to spend money on yet another needless item for you all to be happy.