I returned to Keta again last weekend on Easter Sunday to attend the one year anniversary of my cousin, Courage Elikplim Beckely aka Abichi’s funeral and also took a tour to Keta Secondary School where I took shots of the school; I just had to because, I manage the Ketasco Alumni (Dzo Lali) Group on Facebook. Earlier on, I had promised the group, I shall try my possible best to bring some current photos of the state of the school.
Well, a lot of change has occurred over the past years. The church service was kind of very long because, about three other families were present in the same church for the Thanksgiving Service of their past relatives or friends. I couldn’t stand the stress in sitting down whiles I had other stuffs to do. I quickly dashed out after the offertory was taken.
Keta now appears to be a ghost town, deserted by her children, most of whom have left her shores in search of greener or maybe browner pastures. The town seems quite empty, compared to what it used to be and those who remain, wander around with a strange look of restless on their faces. The Keta market which once served as the heart of the town no longer bustles with the same energy it once did. Now all the merchants (and their customers) have aged; they no longer frequent the market or have completely closed up their stalls. The younger generation who might have taken up their trade, are now too few in number to restore the life and vitality of the market.
The buildings all stand in a melancholic state. Their grayish, brown walls tell the story of their neglect - decades gone by without renovation. But stubbornly they remaining standing; strong solid structures, grand in style and stature. The architecture is closely European, reminiscent of the colonial era in which they were built. My first point of dashing to was the slave Fort Prinzensteinthe mightylocated near the Late Togbui James Ocloo’s Residence. I took a couple of shots of the Fort and later moved to the old E.P. Church compound. The Sea had washed almost everything away if not for the Keta Sea-Defense Project; there wouldn’t be any evidence ofchurch and school that once stood on that compound.
My grandmother was and still an avid member of the E.P. Church and so was everyone. It was more like a family church, almost everyone in my maternal and paternal families were members of the church. So you could imagine the effect it had on me. Just adjacent to the church is the Amegashie Family Palace which the sea took almost all of it away leaving the front huge gates which have now been changed. The remaining of the church and Amegashie’s Palace has been painted in white-wash.
Thanks to the good Samaritans who want to keep history alive. I took a couple of shots of both buildings for evidence sake. Alas, church was over and I had to return to the house where friends, families and other members from the church were to be refreshed. I met a couple of friends from my kiddy time who came around to say hello to me and find out, where I’ve been hiding all these whiles. Well, it was good seeing them again, though but I was very careful in dealing with some of then.
The greatest obligation when visiting one’s hometown is the number of people you must greet. First stops were made to some of my ancestral family homes; Adadevoh-Beckely-Degadjor, Fumey-Setordjie, Tamakloe and Acolatsey households where I was warmly met by several relatives, many of whom I had never met before (or only remember vaguely from my childhood) yet they all seemed to know me just at the mention of my mum or dad’s name..
Altogether that weekend, I was able to visit and see some places and people in the town. I visited my aged great-great-grandmother who normally holds my arms and touches my face to see if I’m growing in flesh. That’s hilarious, init? I also saw how the main street coming from Tamakloe Gardens through the A.M.E Zion Church and Tay-Agbozo’s Residence has been paved.
Later that afternoon I roamed the streets of Keta and Dzelukope with my cousins. I was amazed at the number of people who ran up to welcome me. Word travels very fast in small towns and everyone knew who I was. People told me how they were related to me “hey, don’t you know me, I am your mother’s cousin’s wife!” or “your dad and I used to best friends, we went to elementary school together!” Those who happened to have seen me as an infant before I finally left the town, put on a greater display; screams of “Oh my God”, hugs, kisses, “Oh look how much you’ve grown, you were just a baby when you left!” It was all pretty overwhelming, but also very nice being among people who are so welcoming and really take you as their own.
As the sun began to set, my cousins and I headed towards the beach; we wanted to see the sun melt into the ocean. The waters were very calm that evening; nothing like the angry crashing waves I remember from my childhood. It was then that I began to see some of the progress made by the Sea Defense Project. Once upon a time the beach was considered too dangerous a place to be and only fishermen ever ventured into the waters. But now people also frequent the beach for leisure. I couldn’t believe seeing some guys coming to defecate around the shore. The moment, I pointed my camera to them, they hurriedly wore their trousers and took their heels without cleaning their a**… ha aha ah.!
My impressions of Keta last weekend left me feeling depressed, but that is because my attention focused only on the losses of the town. All I could think of was things that were no more; the people who had left, the market that had slowed, the buildings that were crumbling. But my time here this weekend has shown me other things.True, the Keta of today is not the same as it was when I was born or the other years when I came back to school in Keta Secondary School nor is it the same Keta my parents knew as children. But the strong sense of attachment and belonging that I felt towards the town has shown me that despite all the changes, in essence, the Keta of yesterday is still the same Keta of today. It still bears the same soul.
The spirit of Keta has not left. Long Live Keta. Long Live Everyone from there...!!!