Winner: Adinkra Poetry Prize 2023: Estella Apenuvor for Odo Nnyew Fie Kwan


– noun. meaning – load, luggage, burden. language – Hausa (Ghana) 

When we are bored, we count mother’s ribs and argue about who got it right. I always win.  My cracked heels sing lullabies. I never fall asleep. These homeless truck pushers give us 10  cedis after they rape us. When we get to see their faces, they make it 20. Pray you see his face  before he escapes with the dawn. They are kind, kind rapists.  

‘Please buy one cup of gari from the shop. We’ll add two cups of water and watch it rise’- anthem of the doomed single mother. There’s nothing more beautiful than watching gari rise.  ’Tis just like when Jesus arose on the third day. Risen gari makes you believe in God and  imaginary shito. On days you don’t want your rusted pan to disgust your feminist customer,  you distract them with stories from the North. I tell her home is a verb that means ‘to  smother.’ 


-noun. meaning – woman, girl or female. language – Ga (Ghana) 

I tell her my mother was a child bride, who escaped from Home when Home had attempted  multiple times to smother her. Kayayoos return with shiny pots and endless streaks of  jewelry each year. Accra must be heaven, everyone there is an angel, my poor mother’s assumptions transported us far from home. At least in Accra, when politicians show up, with  cameras and gaudily robbed journalists, we eat take-away rice. If you do not know death, take  a good look at sleep. 

Nsuo b3y3 buor den? 

-proverb. literal meaning – what can water do to soften the rock? language – Asante Twi  (Ghana) 

I should explain why the man’s statue stands tall at Kwame Nkrumah Circle, sad and lonely  wondering if his beloved country is indeed free forever? I tell her I was birthed right here  under this statue. I lay down every night counting my nine-year-old fingers waiting to get  pregnant – kindcourtesy : truck pushers. But the 10 cedis asks me to shut up. Money talks for  the second time today. Sometimes telling these unconcerned madams your life story earns  you an extra coin for pure water. So, my tiny arms hoist this story like the flag of Banana  Republic. If you do not know death, take a good look at sleep.

What the judges said

Odo Nyew Fie Kwan is a prose poem of majestic ambition, mining semiotics and social memory to explore how many ways a chicken can come home to roost, so to speak. The colonial-mindset parallel of ‘kind, kind, rapists’ is breathtaking.

Meet the Poet

Estella Esinam Apenuvor is an English Literature teacher, a poet and short story writer who aspires to have a tremendous effect on Literary Writing in Ghana. She was the 2nd runner up for the Abena Korantemaa Oral history prize in 2020. Her poems and/or short stories have been published in the Samira Bawumia Literature Prize Anthology titled “All Ghana a Stage”, the Journal of the Writer’s Project of Ghana, Writers Space Africa Magazine (Ghana), Slave to Hearts desire (India). She is greatly inspired by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie and Yaa Gyasi.

Apart from managing a literary blog, she spends her free time outside of work reading, observing nature and watching YouTube hairstyling videos.

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