This particular magic trick snuck up on you subtly; gradually.
First, the taps stopped running in your area. They would run one week and dry up the next, till they dried up all together. You took it for granted that the problem would be fixed; but it is still here, rubbing its long fingers on just about everything.
Then your electricity supply became erratic. They said the water level of the Akosombo Dam had reduced. Then they blamed the turbines. And then they said the Electricity Company was in debt. You discovered that the country’s disco light crisis had been christened “dumsor”. Like everyone else, you lacquered your disappointment with dumsor jokes. You believed beyond doubt that the problem would be fixed. But now, during your power-less days prayer finds your tongue more easily than laughter. On light-less nights, you shake the problem’s grip off your boundless optimism, becoming faintly aware that a certain something is curbing its boundlessness.
Then you heard about the blatant pilfering. The Bank of Ghana can’t account for 100 million dollars. The oil industry simply misplaced 200 million dollars. 44 million cedis more than was budgeted for our president’s expenses have somehow been spent.
By this time, you are conscious of the certain something. It is a disappearing act. You shrug it off as merely an optical illusion. But it persists. It is stealing your hope. It is playing with your eyesight so that all you can see is the problem. It is telling you that the problem is the only thing left to be seen.
Now it’s 6pm on a Saturday night in your pitch-black city. The lights are off, there’s no water running through your taps, and like everyone else, you’re on strike. The doctors are on strike. The primary school teachers are on strike. The university lecturers are on strike. Heck, the Association of Unemployed Graduates is on strike! They too need salaries!
You sit in the darkness and think to yourself because there is nothing else left to do. You used to join protests against the government on Red Fridays but you don’t anymore. It is a waste of your time. The only one of the government’s senses tickled by your Red Fridays is its sense of humour. You shake your head.
You think yourself back to the time in your imagination where water run every day and electricity was a thing you took for granted. You realise with a sigh that that time is called hope, and you can hardly reach it now. The magic trick is now a very dark magic, with which you must wrestle, just to get to your hope.
At least you have a house. At least you have a place to sleep. Clothes on your back. A snug bed at night. But you do not have an answer for the many who do not. And you cannot, for the life of you say, “Ɛbɛyɛ yie”, because your heart has no honest belief that it will ever get better.
You used to want to leave this country with more than your humanity and more than your remains in the city’s soil. You used to want to plant seeds of progress. But where is the water? There is no hope; your seedlings would stand no chance. You used to want to squirt your own bit of icing on the national cake. But now your tummy only churns because the stale national loaf has left a bitter taste in your mouth.
All you want to do is leave.
You have never been a believer in magic. But you now cannot deny the power of this particular magic trick. It snuck up on you slowly and will not leave. Because of it, you can no longer reach your hope. You can’t find it. You can’t see it.
You are searching. You really are. You are looking out for it. You are peeling your eyes, rubbing them sore. You want to see it, like you used to. The blackness persists. The emptiness hugs closer.
There is a disappearing act where your hope should have been.