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Even at twenty-one Nana Akua Benewaa reminded you of the defiant Julie Marsden played by Bette Davis in the film Jezebel. It had something to do with her strong hands, and her no-nonsense tone. Even her laughter had an assertiveness about it that made you inadvertently pause yours and make room for hers. Or maybe it was exactly her eyes – half glint, half deadpan. Or all that baby-soft skin posing as ego. Whatever it was, it reeked of audacity. Everybody called her N’akua. N’akua had big boobs and tough hair. She wore her natural hair in cornrows and wore pleated skirts with lace shirts to church. She kept a nail clipper cutter she stole from her maternal uncle in her purse in case she needed to teach random men who feel up on girls in town a lesson. She was the first of all five of her mother’s children – who after 5 pregnancies had given up on giving her father a boy. Her mother, was one of the big market woman in Koforidua market and had promised to give her her own portion of the produce to sell and keep when she was done with primary school. Somewhere in May 1951 when she was 12, her father came back home with a skinny woman holding a newborn boy. As if that wasn’t enough, he gave three plots of the land his mother was farming on to his new wife, and there was nothing her mother was able to do about it. Because although her mother did all the farming, the land belonged to her father. The next day her mother sent her off to Akropong to stay with her grandaunt and attend the all-girls boarding school in Aburi. She worked hard, finished top of her needlework class, and went off to the Korle-bu midwifery school to be a nurse. All in ten years. She loved men as much as she hated them. Once, she laid a mat in front of Akwasi Awuah’s room and refused to move until he promised to marry her. Two weeks later she broke up with him for letting Agartha wash his dirty clothes instead of doing it himself. She loved politics. Adored Nkrumah and read everything she could find about Marcus Garvey. She also thought a lot of government officials were full of shit. Lumumba’s assassination broke her heart. She showed up to the mourning parade with her loud poster and unsmiling face demanding for justice. Went back home and danced to Efya’s Boy Bi Beh Gye in nothing but her underwear, until her head spin. Valentine’s day was in 3 days, and she knew exactly what she was going to wear. She sang along to the chorus with verbatim, sure as hell it was written for her. The song made her feel like she could dream any dream she wanted in this small puny slick city of Accra. And she damn sure did. She damn sure did. 

Written by @asantewawith1a

Lit and black is a product of Black Girls Glow, we’re building community for women artists to create and collaborate. If you’d like to support us please go to our patreon, there’s different levels and you can support at a level as low as $1. Thank you, and support black women artists. 

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