In a conducive environment stood a giant building with beautiful hedges neatly trimmed. The environment was decorated with different types of ornamental plants. An attractive sign post with red cross printed on it stood a hundred meters away from the main building. Two ambulances were parked close to the building labeled EMERGENCY WARD. One man in a white laboratory coat was seen entering a room while two ladies in nursing uniforms walked hurriedly into the emergency ward. A tall man with a stethoscope around his neck also entered the male ward.
“He’s responding to treatment. His temperature is normal.”, said Dr Ansah, the senior medical Officer of the Holy Family District hospital. The doctor continued,”Please how’s this boy related to you?” “I have no idea doctor, we found him almost drown in the Volta river yesterday night,” answered Kormi. “Drowned ! Yesterday night!. What was this little boy doing on the river at that time of the night,” the doctor exclaimed and asked. “.Yesterday night, I was cruising in a yacht with a journalist friend of mine who had come down from the United Kingdom to shoot a documentary film for his television station. It was raining cats and dogs when we heard a distress shout for help. We followed the direction of the noise and moved further only to find the boy almost drown with his hand holding the capsized canoe. Though we arrived there in time to save him, the boy was semi unconscious. He collapsed after I had swiftly held his arm and pulled him out of the water. So until he wakes up, this is what I know for now”, Kormi explained. After a short conversation, the doctor left to attend to other patients. Kormi Dzogbenu was a resource person to Steve Briggs, an expatriate journalist living and working in the United Kingdom who had come to Ghana to shoot a documentary on the largest river in the country. He had come to the Volta region with his best friend, Kormi Dzogbenu living and working in Accra. After keeping watch over Sitsofe the whole night at the hospital, he decided to go to the hotel, where they lodged, and take some rest. Kormi resolved to stay with Sitsofe, who was lying on the hospital bed still unconscious. An hour later, Sitsofe opened his eyes and found himself in an unfamiliar place. He looked confused and desperate. When he realized that he had some strength in him, he slowly got up from the bed and attempted to ran away from the ward. However, Kormi, who was slumbering, woke up quickly and held his hand. The doctor was called once again to come and check on Sitsofe for he had woken up. At the same time, Mr Briggs arrived at the hospital. He was a tall fleshy and hairy man. He wore a blue T-shirt, dark trousers and local sandals to match. As soon as he came, he went and sat beside Sitsofe on the bed.
“How has he been?” , Briggs asked pulling his pair of spectacles up. “He’s doing fine,” Kormi responded.
Sitsofe was then given the opportunity to tell his story from where he was given away by his father to the harsh treatment he was going through in the hands of his master. After narrating his ordeal, both Briggs and Kormi felt very pity for such a little boy to have gone through the hardships of life. “This is what’s trending in most of our fishing villages in the country and the government is too lax on dealing with this societal menace. The lives and futures of these young boys are always put at stake,” Kormi lamented as he turned to talk to Briggs.” “Some people can be so ruthless, callous and inhumane. How could you allow your child to go through such inhumane treatment?,” Briggs Wondered. Kormi and Briggs had decided to take Sitsofe back to his village but the boy protested vehemently and pleaded with them not to send him back because his father could possibly give him away the second time. Briggs seemed to be in deep thought after which he called Kormi aside for a brief discussion. After over fifteen minutes of deliberation, Sitsofe finally found favour in their eyes. Briggs had seen something special in sitsofe and had resolved to assist him.
The duo had decided to go back to Accra with Sitsofe and give him a better life. But for the security of the child and his limited time in the country, Briggs would have factored Sitsofe’s story into his initial assignment. That day, Sitsofe was discharged. He was sent to the hotel, fed and clothed by Kormi and Briggs who later went with him to Accra. Sitsofe looked very emaciated as a result of the harsh treatment he was going through. His eyes were bloodshot and felt some slight pain on his little finger.
In Accra, they lodged at Kormi’s house. Kormi owned a three bedroom apartment. He had a girlfriend whom he was to marry in the next few months. His girlfriend, Araba, had traveled for a six month course in Kumasi and was scheduled to return soon. Briggs and Kormi had decided to put Sitsofe in school. With two days left for him to return to the United Kingdom, Briggs had pledged to take care of Sitsofe’s school fees, books, clothes and any other thing the boy would need while Kormi also decided to take the feeding and some miscellaneous expenses. Before leaving for the United Kingdom, Briggs encouraged Sitsofe to take his studies with all the seriousness it deserved and assured him that everything was going to be alright. At ten years, Sitsofe had no prior experience in schooling because his father, who saw no value in education, never made an effort to send him to school. Three weeks to vacation, a teacher was hired to homeschool Sitsofe to prepare him for the mainstream school after vacation. Througtout the vacation holidays, he was being taken through some rigorous studies. Before school reopened, Sitsofe could recite the twenty-six English alphabets, count numbers and stringed some letters ranging between two and four alphabets. Kormi was personally amazed at the high level of mental smartness Sitsofe was naturally endowed with. Kormi on his part, also communicated with him in basic English regularly, minimizing the use of the Ewe language. When School reopened, Sitsofe was enrolled at The West Coast School, a high class school attended by children from affluent homes. He was subsequently placed in Primary one and the class teacher was tasked to give him extra assistance.
At his first day in school, Sitsofe felt like a frog in hot water. He had come to meet children from different backgrounds. Though his english-speaking skills hadn’t taken shape, he tried as much as possible to express himself in the mist of his school mates. Sometimes, some of his naughty school mates pulled his legs for speaking bad grammar but he wasn’t bothered at all. He spoke the best that he could without thinking about the outcome. Also, he had some friends who assisted him. Every morning when he arrived at school, his class teacher would guide him to read short children’s stories and after school, take him through writing and arithmetics. Gradually, Sitsofe was fitting well into his studies. His relationship with the new environment had solidified.
One fine Saturday evening, when the atmosphere was too calm for mental activities to take place, there was a knock at the door. Kormi was then assisting Sitsofe in doing his assignments in English and mathematics. Sitsofe ran to the door and opened gently. There was a tall lady standing at the door. Her lips were painted red with lipstick. She had a blonde hair. She looked extremely angry. Sitsofe greeted her but she refused to answer. Rather, she looked at Sitsofe with a contemptuous eye and passed by him. Araba had returned from her trip. On arrival, she had decided to come and see her boyfriend, Kormi. However, on her way, one of Kormi’s neighbors, who bumped into Araba, gossipped that Kormi had a secret child somewhere and had gone for him. Araba was so furious that she didn’t wait for the person to give details of the gossip. Therefore, seeing Sitsofe in the house had confirmed what she had been told early on.
“You’re welcome my sweet banana,” Kormi said and got up to hug Araba but was given a cold shoulder. “We need to talk Kormi,” Araba requested in fury. Kormi asked Sitsofe to go to his room and continue with his homework. “Kormi how could you! How could you do this to me? I’ve lived with you for many years but you paid me back with dishonesty. I am disappointed in you, Kormi,” Araba ranted painfully without asking Kormi to explain his side of the story. Kormi, who looked disturbed, calmed her down and explained everything to Araba but she wouldn’t believe him as she continued calling him a liar. At some point, Briggs had to intervene via a phone call to attest to Kormi’s account. Though it wasn’t easy to convince Araba initially, later on, she took the explanations with a pinch of salt because she couldn’t afford to lose Kormi. Araba apologized to Kormi which he accepted. Their seven year old relationship had normalized. One month later, they got married in a colorful ceremony.
Some years later, Sitsofe, in class six, had improved tremendously in his studies. He was amongst the first five best students out of the thirty-five class enrolment. He would turn fifteen years in soon and had grown to be more handsome than before. Kormi’s love for him had grown beyond imagination. However, his wife Araba, hated the boy with so much passion. Sitsofe’s world turned dark whenever Kormi traveled. Kormi and Araba had no child ever since they got married. Therefore, the kind of love Kormi showed Sitsofe made her heart burn with hatred and jealousy for the boy. Sometimes in the absence of Kormi, Sitsofe would be made to work excessively for many hours without food preceeded by physical and verbal abuses. After such treatment, she would warn Sitsofe to keep a tight lip on the issue and never disclose it to Kormi or any third party. Since the threat instilled in Sitsofe was intense, he would oblige. When Kormi chanced upon Araba’s abuse against Sitsofe one day, hell almost broke lose.
“Do you know what baffles me? You’ve been in this marriage for years without a child. You always pray and cry to God to give you a baby. When you mistreat someone else’s child, how do you expect God to grant your wish?”, Kormi rebuked her. The statement Kormi made really hurt Araba badly and she replied in tears,”And so you mock me with my childlessness because of this brat? How dare you humiliate me in front of him?” Araba planned to leave the house but Kormi quickly went to their bedroom and apologized for his utterances. Araba accepted on the condition that Kormi must sent Sitsofe away but Kormi explained to her that Briggs would be mad at him for sending the boy away and that Briggs would be in Ghana later for them to decide the future of Sitsofe. Inasmuch as Kormi loved his wife and wouldn’t want his marriage to collapse, he wouldn’t have the courage to send the boy away because his soul was connected to him. Araba accepted the explanation and they smoked the peace pipe.
The following year, Kormi had to travel to the United Kingdom to execute a project together with Briggs. He was going to stay for one year. Before leaving, he pleaded with Araba to take care of Sitsofe as her own Son. “Don’t worry about that,” Araba answered reluctantly with her heart full of evil. Knowing what lay ahead of him after Kormi had departed, Sitsofe wasn’t happy but Kormi had assured him that things were going to be fine. A day after Kormi’s departure, the woes of Sitsofe began. Araba continued to treat him badly. Sometimes, Sitsofe would go to school without money or food. Whenever Kormi called and requested to speak to Sitsofe, Araba would compel him to conduct himself in a way that wouldn’t allow Kormi to detect the sadness in his voice. Monies sent by Briggs and Kormi for Sitsofe’s upkeep and school fees were misappropriated. Araba used the money for her personal gains. His academic performance began to dwindle. In school, Sitsofe would often become pensive and detach himself from his peers. His class teacher, Roberta, would later get closer to him to find out the source of his mood. Initially, Sitsofe was reluctant to share his problems with anyone due to the stern warning he was given by Araba. On top of that, his school fees had piled up for three terms. One Sunday morning, while Araba was taking her bath, Sitsofe crept quietly into her bedroom and retrieved the contact number of Kormi. The following day, he handed the number over to Roberta who in turn gave it to the accountant of the school.
When the accountant managed to call Kormi and told him of Sitsofe’s school fees, the latter was utterly dismayed. With two months left to return to Ghana, Kormi decided that for the report he had received concerning the non payment of Sitsofe’s school fees, he would preempt his activities in London and come down before the appointed time. Kormi was so infuriated that he decided not to Inform Araba of his coming. Also, in order not to incur the displeasure of Briggs, Kormi decided to keep the issue from him. When Briggs decided to come back to Ghana with with him, Kormi wasn’t happy because coming down with him meant Briggs would definitely find out the the issue. They finally arrived in Ghana a week after. Araba was surprised to see them unexpectedly and consequently rebuked Kormi for not telling her of their coming. Araba looked uncomfortable because the numerous scars on Sitsofe was noticeable. Briggs was unimpressed when he detected the situation Sitsofe had been going through. He had seen scars and healing sores at Sitsofe’s ankle and that had left him agitated. Late into the night, while everyone was asleep, Kormi confronted his wife for failing to pay the boy’s school fees despite the monthly stipends sent for his upkeep and the abuses she subjected him to. It turned into a heated argument. The following day, Briggs called Kormi and expressed interest in going with Sitsofe to London without letting him know the actual reason. “I just want the boy to experience life in Europe,” Briggs said. Though Kormi wasn’t in agreement with Briggs, he later endorsed the idea because Briggs was a good man with a heart of gold. Besides, Sitsofe needed to be liberated from the unfair treatment being meted out to him by Araba. Briggs started the documentation process and within two months, everything had gone through successfully. Now, Sitsofe the poor boy was traveling by air to the land flowing with milk and honey. He was extremely excited when the news was broken to him. Seven days later, Briggs and Sitsofe left for London. However, Sitsofe never severed the strong bond he had with Kormi as they communicated almost every weekend.
Fifteen years later, a young man of about thirty years old in a pair of spectacles had just come out of the terminal 3 of Kotoka International Airport . He was nicely dressed in suit. Wheeling his luggage, he boarded a waiting taxi. As the taxi moved, he looked at the city from where he was seated. He brought out his face towel and began to wipe the sweat on his face. He took off his coat and complained, “Indeed, Africa is hot.” And the driver replied, “Hahaha…. As for you burgers, this statement has always been your anthem,” the taxi driver replied sarcastically. They both laughed. Sitsofe had grown into a man. After completing his medical school in one of the prestigious universities in the UK, he was immediately employed in one of the biggest hospitals in North London with a good salary and a house. A year before his visit to Ghana, his co-adoptive father, Briggs had died of cancer at age seven-two. Steve Briggs neither married nor had children so he willed all his properties including three houses, three bank accounts, eight private cars and a large farm house to Sitsofe. Sitsofe was also made the sole beneficiary of Briggs’ numerous investments and pension benefits running into millions of British Pounds sterling.
When he arrived at Kormi’s house, it was an emotional scene. They hugged for close to two minutes as Sitsofe wept and thanked Kormi repeatedly. Araba had divorced Kormi two years after Sitsofe had left for London and he never remarried. Unfortunately, he had no children with Araba, rendering him fatherless and lonely. He had just turned seventy-two years with health problems associated with old age. The wrinkles on his skin were highly visible and his hair was full of grey. .
“Don’t worry daddy, I am your son. You will continue to be my father till death do us part. You and Briggs made me who I am today. I was nobody. I never believed a poor boy like me would climb up to the apex of my dreams. Daddy, you and Briggs are my fathers and I love you with all my heart, body and soul,” Sitsofe stated and wiped the tears of Kormi.
A week later, he bought a five bedroom mansion situated in a gated estate community for Kormi. He also employed some domestic staffs such as cooks, a driver, cleaners, a gardener and a gateman to attend to his needs.
Later on, Sitsofe decided to go see his biological family at Alakple. Kormi had expressed interest in joining Sitsofe to the village. Though Sitsofe didn’t like the idea due to Kormi’s health conditions, the old man insisted and he had to oblige.
In the village of Alakple, an old woman of about eighty years sat in the middle of the house cooking. The smoke from the worrying fire had forced some tears out of her eyes. Using the hanging edges of her cloth to wipe the tears, she kept yelling at some three children who were playing violently, to comport themselves. The house in which she lived was in a dilapidated state. The clayed wall protecting the house was in ruins. A white private car pulled up in front of the house. The three children, who were supposedly the grandchildren of the old woman ran towards the car like what many village children do. Sitsofe and Kormi got down from the car. Upon seeing his stepmother, Yawa in a state of deprivation, he quickly went back into the car and shed some tears. Kormi calmed him down. After about two minutes, they entered the house. Yawa, whose eyesight was gradually becoming weak, found it hard to recognize Sitsofe when he entered the house and greeted her.
When she finally recognized and remembered Sitsofe, she removed her head scarf and tied it around her waste. With her two arms across her head, Yawa cried so loudly that she was inconsolable. When she later got grip of herself, Sitsofe narrated his story to her and how Kormi and Briggs had saved and given him a better life. Despite her chronic waist pains, she effortlessly got up and knelt in front of Kormi saying, “Ametsitsi, akpe sia. Mawu na nyera wo(Thank you my elder, may God bless you)”. Afterwards, Yawa recounted what had happened after Sitsofe had been taken away.
“The very day your father sent you away, he returned home some few hours later looking very happy while counting a huge sum of money. I asked of the source of the money but he wouldn’t mind me. Upon a careful thought, I realized your father had sold you to someone just like what most irresponsible fathers did in this village and beyond. I went and questioned him once again but he gave no answer. I summoned him to the elders of this village but it amounted to nothing. I made every effort to trace you but to no avail so had to give and hope that one day, you would surely return to where your umbilical cord was buried. One fine Saturday, a well built man with big eyes came to this house to look for your father. As soon as he saw him, your father looked very happy. I excused them and entered the room. Few seconds after entering the room, I overheard whispers and realized those two men were up to something so I eavesdropped on their conversation. That was when I got to know your father’s dealings with him. When the man reported to your father that you had disappeared on the river, I came out to attack the him. I shouted with so much pain that neighbors and passers-by to stormed the house. It was a sorrowful scene. Your father couldn’t stand the sight of the wailings of the women that had gathered so he entered his room. When the news got to your maternal uncle, Gameli, he went to the next town to make a police report. The police arrived to pick up your father and that wicked man. Both were sentenced to fifty years imprisonment but later, news from the prison camp got to us that your father had passed on after he was mysteriously attacked by a swarm of bees whose source remained a mystery to them. when the ‘amedɔdɔ'(the messenger )brought the news, I quickly went to the backyard to check on the bees only to find them missing. They couldn’t come back again till today. All your brothers are alive but one had died leaving behind the three children you see at the far end(she pointed at the direction of the children). Their mother also decided to abandon the children and left for the big city. Life hasn’t been well for the rest of us. Three of your six living brothers are married with children and are living in the next village. The remaining three have also gone to the big city to seek for greener pastures and are supposed to be back tomorrow.”, Yawa paused and began to cry. Sitsofe removed his handkerchief to wipe her tears.
When she calmed down, she continued,”After the death of your brother, we decided to consult a diviner. We were told your brother died a natural death. The diviner also told us that a saviour would come and rescue us from the bossom of poverty. He failed to give me further details when I asked. He only told me to prepare. I thought you were dead, I thought you were forever dead after drowning so I never expected to see you again. Your name SITSOFE means saviour and your comeback has fulfilled the prophesy of the diviner. Like Jesus christ, you have come to suffer to save the rest of us.
Kormi and Sitsofe were utterly amazed after hearing all those revelations. The next day, Sitsofe’s brothers reunited with their long lost brother bringing happiness into the family for the first time in history. Two years later, the family house was renovated and expanded to accommodate all the family. However, Sitsofe relocated Yawa, his stepmother to the city. Three years after the death of Yawa, he built a secondary school at Alakple and named it after her. In that same year, he launched a non governmental organization in London called Kormi Briggs Foundation to rescue and send enslaved children to school. The foundation received major supports from prominent personalities around the globe. To bring child slavery and labour to its knees, he drew the attention of the government on the severity of the situation by publishing a book titled SITSOFE: THE JOURNEY FROM ALAKPLE TO LONDON by SITSOFE KORMI BRIGGS. The book would later become a huge success. In giving a speech at a global forum on child slavery, he singled out his little finger, looked at it closely and tilted it saying, “My story must break the shackles of child slavery .