Balme Library: A Prosopography of Dead Books

Thu, 10 Nov 2011 Source: Mensema, Akadu N.

*By Akadu Ntiriwa Mensema, Ph. D.

** I recently spent about two months in Ghana, and the next series of poems will

recount my observations and experiences. Stay tuned!

Balme Library

The mind of Ghana

The University of Ghana

Named after the imperialist

David Mowbrary Balme

The first Principal

University College of Gold Coast

Our unsurpassed Balme Library

The eternal fountain of knowledge

Oh! With imposing helplessness

Majestic structure in repose

Posing before the dimmed sun

Ah! The past incandescent sun

The sun of Mt. Lago

The sun on Mt. Lago

The great hill of Labadi People

Where Ga gods harvested wind

Anchored on Mt. Lago

Christened Legon

For foaming white tongues

Imperialists’ frothing tongues

Tongues of deceit

Balme Library

Balmed like all

Our stable corpse

Corpse of memory

Balming mindsets

Like all Ghanaian libraries

Deserted by governments

Desecrated by administrators

Libraries of muses

Sites of refurbishing the mind

Sites of growing new minds

Ghanaian libraries

Mind-boggled on precipices

Citadels of poisoning minds

Balme Library

Archives of dead materials

Outmoded resources

Mold-infested books

Catalogued in 1948

With thousand fingerprints

Primed in aging computers

Books soiled in time

Books soiled by time

Infected books

Infested books

That diseased the mind

Balme Library

Old books, old journals

Aging books, journals

Books of yesteryears

The burden of memory

Sunset without sunrise

The muses of the past

With lost voices

Sing dirges in pages

Forlorn on shelves

Mourning on shelves

Buried in shelves

Balme Library

Outdated journals

Books fried by time

Journals fried in time

Books discarded overseas

Outmoded books/journals

Trajectoring anti-Africanisms

Trajectoring primeval Eurocentrism

Ghanaian-prized dependency

That nourish young minds

Ah! There is another Balme

Anointed balm

The balm of privilege

The elitists’ way

Go to VC’s official residence

The palace of Legon

Overabundant resources

State-paid for latest books

State-paid for latest journals

Latest books

Latest journals

Stocked in the VC’s libraries

Latest magazines

Paid for by the state

Embossed on VC’s dining tables

Decorating VC’s guest house

Ah! While students suffer

Ah! While faculty struggle

Ah! Balme Library

One of our narratives

Narratives of victimhood

One of our blackness

The inconvenient truth

Our cultural touchstone

Of solemnizing mediocrity

Of ritualizing ordinariness

Of nativizing poverty

Of neglect

Of birthing the past

Past as present

Balme is saddled

Saddened by the past

*Akadu N. Mensema, Ph. D., is a nationalist Denkyira beauty. She is a trained oral

historian cum sociologist and Professor in the USA. She lives in Pennsylvania with

her great mentor and teaches Africa-area studies at a college in Maryland. In her

pastime, she writes what critics have called “populist hyperbolic, satirical”

poetry. She can be reached at akadumensema@yahoo.com

Columnist: Mensema, Akadu N.