The Asante Princess Who Never Became My Princess!

Mon, 22 Aug 2011 Source: Pryce, Daniel K.

I was born at the Komfo Anokye Hospital in Kumasi four decades ago. My family was, at the time, domiciled in Kumasi because of employment: one of my parents was then a senior staffer at Kumasi Academy, an elite secondary school in those days. A few years later, we moved to the Volta Region – this relocation was not a specific design engendered by my family, but a government-mandated transfer meant to create equitability in the allocation of human resources among all the regions of the country – settling first in Jasikan, and later Hohoe, after yet another transfer, due to the sought-after expertise of this particular parent in question. A few years after moving to Hohoe – I was a teenager by now – I met this precious and pretty Asante princess, Fran (not her real name), who for a while was my princess, but who never became my permanent princess.

Reared by strict and industrious parents, Fran was very refined in everything she said or did, and she undoubtedly was the pride and joy of her parents. The only female of four siblings, Fran was two years younger than I, and what we felt for each other the first time we met was splendidly invigorating. For the first time as a young man, I felt irrefragably alive; after all, I had suffered, right into adolescence, the at once unusual awkwardness and debilitating dread around dames! This Asante princess, as pretty as her mother, had eyes that sparkled with vitality, a smile that transformed an unpleasant mood in minutes, a voice that soothed like a nightingale's, a gait that resembled that of royalty, and a spellbinding Lollipop-shaped body that once caused a motorist to drive his automobile into a ditch! In fact, Fran's gorgeousness and beautiful dark skin, encased in a delightful sheen, always brought some older men into our neighborhood to catch a glimpse of her!

Notwithstanding Fran's attractiveness, her most important quality, which I would find out in a matter of weeks after our first meeting, was her kindheartedness. Fran was extraordinarily kind, a powerful complement to all the outstanding physical features that she was blessed with. Fran's kindness was a rarity, indeed. If I ever told Fran that I liked a particular food, she would do all in her power to find or make it for me, even if the item was unavailable in our medium-sized town. Once she traveled from Hohoe all the way to Lome, Togo, to find a particular item that I had casually said I wanted. I was speechless! If I doubted Fran's love for me up to that point, she erased it completely from my mind via that singular act. And if there was a woman who never complained about the cards that life dealt her, it was Fran. Fran had such a magnanimous spirit, and her type was, not to sound repetitive, rare.

As teenagers and Christians, my relationship with Fran was a healthy one – devoid of the things that consenting adults do behind closed doors! Both sets of parents believed that the union would become permanent in the future, so they placed no stumbling blocks in our way, encouraging us instead to spend more time with each other when we both were in town. With a fiercely protective dad, I was the only guy allowed into Fran's home who was not subjected to a torrent of questions. Even male friends of Fran's older brother – he was the first and Fran the second of the four siblings – were not spared a suspicious look or a combination of intimidating questions whenever they visited. Fran's parents believed that her daughter was safe around me, and I did nothing – ever! – to betray that trust.

I loved Fran deeply, but it soon became obvious that I had to leave town, first to attend the University of Ghana, Legon, and then another college outside the country. In 1989 when I entered Ghana's flagship university, technology was not what it is today. There was no World Wide Web at the time – if the Web existed, it was still on the drawing board and was perhaps used only in a few universities around the globe – and the telephone was for the privileged only. In fact, to make a call from Accra to Hohoe would have required giving the recipient advance in-person or written notice, since most calls in those days were made and received at the Ghana Postal Service in town. Yes, times have changed for the better in the last two decades, but in tandem with the advances in technology is a regrettable loss of the familiar face-to-face interaction, which is such a vital cultural underpinning in many conservative societies, Ghana included. Well, distance can be a cruel thing, and in our case – Fran's and mine – distance became the flood that gradually swept away the foundation of our relationship.

Even though I was far away from home, I still cared a lot about Fran. I would write occasionally to her to find out how she was doing, but I rarely got responses to my letters, since Fran did not enjoy writing, notwithstanding the fact that she had a level of education that I was completely comfortable with. Like the dying embers of a fire, our relationship waned over time, and when I finally came back to Ghana in 1994, I would learn that another Ewe man had married Fran! Interestingly, I had come to marry Fran this time, as I was now out of school and gainfully employed and could think of no better future partner than Fran.

I still recall vividly the contorted expression and pain that I observed on the face of Fran's mother when I visited her a few weeks after I returned to Ghana. Anticipating my terrifying question, she quickly told me that she and her husband had allowed Fran to marry a man they had considered an unsuitable suitor, but they had done so because they had waited to hear from me to no avail! Oh, how we both wept! For the first time in my life, I felt an irreparable loss, and all I could do was apologize to Fran's mother, who did the same to me. When I left Fran's childhood home that evening, I felt like a rudderless ship that was heading for jagged rocks in dangerous waters. I never got the chance to see Fran again.

This piece is dedicated to the memory of Fran – the beautiful and kindhearted Asante princess who never became my princess – wherever she is. Fran, our interactions and conversations were like the knitting of loops of yarn to form a variegated tapestry of the finest quality, loops that should never be broken. Fran, I am sorry that circumstances took away what would have been a beautiful union, but you will always have a place in my heart.

I will be back in December 2011, by the grace of God.

The writer, Daniel K. Pryce, is pursuing a doctoral degree in Criminology, Law and Society at George Mason University. He holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from the same university. He is a member of the national honor society for public affairs and administration in the U.S.A. He can be reached at dpryce@cox.net.

Columnist: Pryce, Daniel K.