They Took Over Our Playground

The author, Chimeka Garricks
Photo Credit To Taruwa Magazine

By Chimeka Garricks

We did not play football that day.

As we burst through the bamboo thicket onto the beach, we were stopped by an apparition. We stared in disbelief. There were fishing boats on the Maracana! The once pristine beach was cluttered with nets, baskets and other fishing gear. Fishermen idled, ingroups, by their boats, hard frowns on their faces.

It was an unwritten rule in Asiama that the fishermen only operated from the nearby Ofirima Island, and not from Asiama Town itself. From the beach we could see Ofirima Island, across the restless ocean, just off our left. Every single boat was now over on Asiama Town. The fishermen’s shacks were completely deserted. Ofirima Island looked sad and lonely. We turned our gaze to Ashawo Village on our right. We could make out movements; Ashawo Village seemed to be okay.

We dragged steps, heavy with confusion and fear, across the sand. We trudged towards the boats, hoping for an explanation for the desecration. We dared notaskany of the fishermen, because they were glowering at us like we were the cause of whatever it was that made them angry.

The book cover
Tomorrow Died Testerday

Suddenly, Doye spied Soboye, his elder brother, with a group of fishermen. We approached him hesitantly.

Soboye was only fourteen, but he acted like he was a lot older. He did this because he wanted to be accepted by some bigger boys. I remembered years ago, when he had been nicer, and had even played with us a few times. Now, he either ignored us or was impatient with us, like a lot of adults were.

Soboye saw us coming and quietly extricated himself from the group. He strode towards us with a frown. “Good afternoon, Brother Soboye,” we chorused unevenly. “What are you children doing here?” he demanded. “We came to play football,” Doye replied.

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Soboye squinted at us suspiciously for a moment. We all looked away. Then, he grumbled, “The Amayanabo and his council of chiefs sold Ofirima Island to a new company called Imperial Oil to use as their base camp. It was just this morning that we were informed and ordered to move from Ofirima Island. There was no other place to go but here.” “Where is Papa?” Doye asked in a noticeably conciliatory tone.

Soboye smiled and his face flushed with pride in his father. “Papa went to the Amayanabo’s palace to curse the Amayanabo and his chiefs to their faces.”

Excerpted from Tommorrow Died Yesterday, a novel by Chimeka Garricks, Paperworth Books, 2010.

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