Ghana and Synchronicity
Perhaps you know about Jungian notions of synchronicity but if so – bear with me a moment as I explain. If events occur that seem more than mere coincidence then they are synchronous. I begin this way as a preamble to three such experiences, occurring at different points in my life which came together in some kind of otherworldy fashion and point to the extraordinary.
The first of these connective events took place some forty years ago. A close friend at the time, Vic Clarke (publicly known as Lindsay Clarke, the writer) and another writer and myself met once a week to discuss our latest outpourings. Vic published a novel called Sunday Whiteman which was loosely based upon his experience as a teacher in a village in Ghana.
Some ten years later I was living in a terraced house in Norwich and came across an old lady who had been a teacher in Ghana, also writing a book while there, called Ashanti Boy. I wrote a poem after her death which I am including at the end of this blog.
Then, some twenty years on, my son Joseph was invited to play keyboards with the reformed Osibesa, a Ghanaian Afro-pop band that was very big internationally in the 60s. He went over to Accra and spent time with them playing at weddings and funerals (!) before a tour of the UK also involving a few days at the Edinburgh Festival.
Some fifteen years later I communicated via chance circumstances with a woman in Accra, the business partner of Dawn French in a clothing venture – fashion for the larger woman. We met up – and became married.
The point is, prior to my meeting with Vic, I knew nothing about Africa. I am sure the idea of going there was beyond any desire or fantasy. India (where I was born) filled that particular niche in my psyche. Now I have lived in Accra for four years, sharing it with France. But it’s a strong case for synchronicity, don’t you think? I was drawn to Ghana whether I wanted to be or not though the pull did not become a conscious force until the very end.
Here’s the poem:
She carried, deep within her, an unwritten past in Africa
and held it smouldering in a bricked kiln of stern pride
through whose vents the Norfolk winds whistled up the shapes of things gone by
in sudden snurts of flame.
Halfway through her second book, Nockv died,
Africa gripped by a final writer’s block.
She’d walked this grey brick Norwich street beneath the gathering charge of swallows
pulling shopping, her grey hair awry, like any other of our heavy ankled folk
stumping out of life.
Yet behind her slightly batty eyes no dementia hid or interminable
list of trivia; but Africa dipped in pen and pressed
against each page, dark and bleeding still,
Africa behind the still net curtains and heavy-bolted blankness of her house,
Africa silent in the eyes of her cat
stiffly waiting at the window.
So when the police broke in with their neat removal of a backdoor pane
to find her fallen open like a dried flower,
the curtains shook and the cat stretched and Africa was at last let out
in time to seek a home-going on the black dispatch of
attendant swallows’ backs.