Accra-pocalypse


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The first day of the apocalypse, life in Accra was business as usual. Somewhere, miles away, politicians’ scrambled voices were heard on rarely-used airwaves. The voices' owners sweated through their tailored suits as they tried to quell the infant pandemonium and comfort people trapped without electricity and internet for the first time in their lives.

Here, fathers grumbled about bad government incapable of solving dumsor once and for all. Mothers hitched up their second-hand skirts, strapped their babies to their backs, and raced to pound their fufu and boil their light soup before the sunset later that night. The local vendors lit dusty lamps or simply shut their small, stilted kiosks and went home early. Children listened to the hum of generators in the distance as they fell asleep that night. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

On day two of the apocalypse, the world was brought to the brink of another Cold War. NATO members quickly turned pale orange fingers of blame on each other. Battle lines were drawn, but esteemed generals remained at a loss. How were they to launch their well-crafted missiles when all of their modern technology had abruptly combusted?

Somewhere in Madina, Abena woke up to the sound of birds chirping. She slid out of bed and walked to the open pipes in the middle of the rusty road where she drew a bucket of grimy water. Back at home, she washed her body all over, making sure to scrub extra hard like her mother had taught her. Then she disposed of her bucket, swept the compound, purchased some koko for breakfast. She walked ten minutes down the dirt road, sidestepping the potholes gracefully and looking down in dismay as her black shoes gathered dust. Eventually she reached the tro-tro stop, got on the miniature bus, and then rode the rest of the way to school.

By the time the third day rolled around, conspiracy theorists had begun spreading their convoluted ideas through large cities like wildfire. Once the politicians caught wind of these, their boiling anger began to simmer softly and then faded to a low whistle. Why bother figuring out how to launch nuclear missiles at each other when there were aliens or ghosts or some other larger, more sinister force at play?

Word that the world was in turmoil had already reached the golden gates of the Jubilee house, and Ghana’s president had already joined international strategic talks. Just a few kilometers away, life went on as normal. As she scrubbed the large tin bowl her mother had used to cook groundnut soup that evening, Abena mused on her future. She thought about her older cousin, Tatiana, who had left Ghana to study literature in America six months ago and constantly sent her WhatsApp messages about the strange foods that only took three minutes to cook in the microwave and the machines that dried her laundry. A mosquito landed on Abena’s leg. She crushed it into her skin absentmindedly and continued cleaning.

By the fourth day, even in Ghana, word had begun to spread that there was something wrong. The light wasn’t coming back this time, because it was some greater force rather than ECG that had turned it off. When Abena’s younger brother came home from JSS and told her what his classmates had said about TB Joshua claiming to know the source and solution for the problems, she sucked her teeth and muttered that he should focus on his grades instead of being a konkonsa boy. That night, she asked her mother if there was any chance the rumors were true. She pretended not to hear her over the sound of fufu being pounded, but that night prayed extra loud to protect the family from any evil curses and dark intentions that could harm them.

Somewhere past the horizon, without Twitter to distract them or twenty-four-hour television stations to rile them up, inventors were working furiously to restore electricity. While looters took advantage of the lack of security systems, intellectuals were filling up libraries, cracking open decades old books and searching for answers. Abena’s school had never had a generator, and they were used to going days without new equipment or light. She continued carrying the single notebook she crammed all of her notes into to school every day. She continued cooking dinner for her family and watching her younger siblings. When her phone battery died, she missed WhatsApp and YouTube dearly, but life went on without them. The only thing that was different, really, was that her father who usually slept through church Sunday mornings now began dragging the whole family to midweek and placing most of their savings in the collection box.

Eventually, solutions were found and the nightmarish scenario came to an end. One day, Ekow came back from school and said the lights had come back. Abena used a pin to push down the top part of the outlet, and then pushed her phone into the remaining two holes. It began to charge. She breathed out a sigh of relief, then turned around and went back to feeding the baby stale crumbs of butter bread. Ekow ran outside to play football with his friends. Abena began making plans for dinner that night. She did not know whether or not it had been aliens or a curse or some large-scale technical fault that had led to the weeks of darkness. She did know that Tatiana suddenly became obsessed with writing tales about the last days. Dad stopped taking them to midweek and his contributions became smaller and smaller until they ended completely, and a week later they stopped going to church.
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