Announcing OTC: GREEN GREEN GRASSES

I should have written this blog post long ago. Instead, here I am, announcing a project on the day it launches. Because, you know, life. Anyway.

Do you remember Kuukua Annan from the OTC short story series? Because I remember being asked why Kuukua’s cousin, Ntiwaa, always had to be in every story somehow. Well, for all you curious minds, here’s your answer: Green Green Grasses.

 

As soon as I finished writing Kuukua and the Magical Markers, I knew this podcast had to fokn camon. Approximately 1 year and 4 months since the conception of the idea, it’s about to go live!

Green Green Grasses is a scripted podcast, which means it’s entirely audio, but like, dramatic in a similar way as a play on a theater stage is dramatic. It’s 8 stories of Anansesem (you probably figured that out from the name if you grew up where I grew up), coming out every Wednesday (the Sacred Day of the Ananse, which you’ll know if you’ve read Kuukua’s stories) until the episodes finish. Each episode is loosely based on a Kuukua story in consecutive order. Real ones can probably figure out which folklore characters correspond with OTC characters.

 

Honestly, I think my only relevant roles in the GGG project were conception and scripting. Everyone else did all the important stuff. All my friends and their friends/relatives who agreed to voice act for this thing that they didn’t even fully understand yet, but somehow still killed their respective roles! My best friend, Tronomie, who, despite demonic afflictions, spent ages compiling, putting thought into audio effects, and mixing until he was probably sick of hearing everyone’s voices! I mean, I’d have gone mad if I’d had to play every line fifteen times just to get one thing right. Speaking of collaboration, GGG is being released under MoonSpider Productions, which is made up of literally two people: myself and Tronomie. OTC is an Akotowaa project, but GGG is a MoonSpider project. Does that make sense? It’s fine if it doesn’t, LOL.

Anyway, I’ve typed a lot. Watch the videos in my social media announcements, LOL. 🙂

Episode 1, Why the Spider Uses Its Web to Catch Food, comes out TODAY at 5.30pm GMT. [Update: Since I know many of you probably think it’s too much work to go and find our SoundCloud via another post, here’s the link. Yes, it’s out.]

 

So like, stay tuned and dat, and follow MoonSpider on SoundCloud. 🙂 Oh, also on Twitter and Instagram, if you want to.

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-Akotowaa

Kuukua and the Killjoy Kente

Yes, I finished the series! Now I can end the year in peace!

(Update: individual OTC stories are no longer available, but you can download them all in a single PDF collection on my OTC site.)

Back of Kuukua and the Killjoy Kente

Snippet below:

Kuukua and the Killjoy Kente

Charlotte was on the ceiling of Mr. Dotse’s office. I didn’t understand how she had become so brazen, risking being seen by someone random. She had already surprised me enough a few months ago by deciding to befriend my roommate, Nana Konamah, but that, at least, was understandable; it was only decent to make sure someone knew all their roommates, human and non-human alike. But as for my school principal dier, I had no idea why Charlotte was frolicking so freely in his presence.

I was so tense about Charlotte being seen that I almost forgot the true reason for my anxiety: the fear that I was in some sort of trouble. There weren’t many other reasons I knew for students to get called into the principal’s office in the middle of the week. I almost felt like I did whenever I heard my mother yelling “KUUKUA ANNAN!”  from downstairs, a surefire sign that I was in deep trouble. Now, I was trying to backtrack, see if I’d done anything worthy of being summoned by Mr. Dotse. The closest I had come to punishable trouble was yesterday’s skirmish with Ken, but as far as I knew, no teachers or staff had been around to witness that.

Ken, my classmate formerly known as Kennedy, had been getting on my nerves lately. This semester, I’d realized something about being in boarding school: annoying people start feeling more annoying, not because they’re becoming worse, but because you can never really go home from them. It had been easier for me to ignore Kennedy during JSS. Now that he’d transformed into “Ken” and I had to see him in the hostels even after school had closed, my tolerance seemed to be withering. It was as if nothing could properly humble him, not the trick Yaw and I had played on him during the long vac, nor the way our seniors treated him here. As soon as he got over anything, it was right back to the my-father-is-richer-than-yours attitude, and it irritated the hell out of me.

The exams this semester had rocked him roff, and it was as if he didn’t know how to deal with it in any other way than complaining plenty. Yesterday, he’d been making strings of ridiculous jokes about how if he could have his way, he’d have left school long time, just that he was afraid of ending up career-wise something “wack” like a mechanic or a carpenter.

Maybe it was the stress of exam week and sleep deprivation thanks to everyone who had been demanding my assistance with maths and physics over the past few weeks, or the fact that my Ananse training hadn’t been allowed to slack a bit even during the exam period. Or maybe it was the synchronized nightmares Yaw and I were having. Either way, the very second after Ken passed his comment, I was already getting ready to slap him.

I stood up threateningly, and interjected very loudly with, “And what is so wrong with being a mechanic or a carpenter, ehn?”

Ken had obviously been taken by surprise; he hadn’t even known I’d been listening, much less emotionally affected. To save face, he quickly recomposed his expression from shocked to haughty again and said something that made me even angrier. With his signature sneer, he asked, “Ah, where is Yaw Connor? He should come and collect his girlfriend before she comes to beat me, oo.”

When I lunged at him suddenly, people actually had to hold me back.

In my defense, this wasn’t usual behavior; I was just too stressed not to ignore him. In any case, I hadn’t had the opportunity to lay a finger on him, so I didn’t think that was quite the reason for my having been called to Mr. Dotse’s office.

I was still scanning through my possible grave offenses as I watched Charlotte carefully, even as I tried to pretend I wasn’t watching her. Drawing Mr. Dotse’s attention to whatever I was looking at was the last thing I wanted.

“So,” Mr. Dotse said to me, “Kuukua Annan.”

“Yes, sir?”

Because he was sitting down, I could manage to look at his face as I responded to him. In other circumstances, I would probably have been severely distracted by the mystery of how such a young man could possess such a huge stomach. He was my dad’s age, so he was only in his forties, but Mr. Dotse’s stomach made him constantly look like he had just finished a meal consisting of about two whole horses, drowned down with some omotuo and light soup.

Charlotte dropped a few inches without warning from a thread she had just spun. Although I was used to her doing this often in the confines of my bedroom, over here, my eyes shot back up to the ceiling in anxiety.

“Surely the spider knows how to take care of itself?” Mr. Dotse asked. “They are usually far smarter than you Annans like to give them credit for, you know.”

***

Download the story to read the rest! 🙂

Oh, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Love,

Akotz the Spider Kid.

Kuukua and the Whistling Woodmen

Welcome to seven!

(Update: individual OTC stories are no longer available, but you can download them all in a single PDF collection on my OTC site.)Back of Kuukua and the Whistling Woodmen

Preview?

Kuukua and the Whistling Woodmen

It sounded like somebody was trying to pound fufu on the ceiling. Awurade, what were these kids up to now? It had only been about forty-five minutes since the adults had driven off together to their jazz bar, and already, the children were practically bouncing off the walls. Babysitting was not what I’d intended to spend any part of my mid-semester break doing, but here I was, in a house full of twenty kids, the oldest of whom was ten, and not a single parent – and whoever was jumping around on the corridor upstairs was making it seem like the kitchen ceiling was about to cave.

“Kuukua, what have you been doing all day?” Yaw wanted to know. “I’ve been calling and texting saa.”

“Mostly catch-up training,” I responded. “But also, my parents were running around because of tonight’s distin, and I got dragged into their mess.”

With a twinge of stress in his voice, he began, “I really need to talk to y—”

“YAW AND KUUKUA! SITTING IN A TREE! K-I-S-S-I-N-G!” came a yell from just outside the kitchen, interrupting whatever Yaw had been about to say. Of course it was William, that too-loud, too-known seven-year-old kid who couldn’t seem to sit still if his life depended on it. I’d been tired of him ten minutes after meeting him.

Yaw and I weren’t even touching. He was all the way on the other side of the kitchen, trying to get out paper plates, forks and cups, while I was at the stove, turning the fire off on the jollof. But a second later, my brother Kwamz shouted from the top of the staircase, “Herh, Yaw, what are you doing with my sister?”

“Ah, Kwamz, kindly mind your own business, wai,” I retorted immediately. “If you want to be useful, come and help us carry the food!”

“I would, but I promise you if I leave these children alone for two seconds, one of these vases will get smashed!”

“What are they even doing?”

“Playing catcher!”

BOOM!

I started. “What was that?”

“Just a picture frame,” I heard Kess answer from somewhere else in the house. “Don’t worry, nothing broke!”

“Yeah, but I might break soon,” I muttered, so softly that only Yaw could hear me.

The noisemaking was endless, and I felt like every thirty seconds, something new was demanding my attention. I discovered I had newfound respect for every kindergarten teacher in the world, because as for me, I was ready to tie all of these children up and send them off to a different planet. Instead, here I was, preparing their dinner.

My father had deliberately waited until I came home from the boarding house for the mid-semester break to throw one of his many fundraisers, the gains of which would go towards his service projects like the volunteer carpentry he did for the disabled students of Hope Angel Special School. This time, he’d rented out a whole jazz bar to throw a private concert, and while the adults danced, drank beer and listened to Adomaa, M.anifest, Okyeame Kwame and everyone else perform until two a.m., Kwamz and I got stuck at home with everyone’s children. He considered this extra hospitality part of his duty as the Ananse.

Speaking of which, he’d made me repeat the definition to him as soon as I came back home, as if I could have possibly forgotten it in the time that I’d been at school: The Ananse is a person endowed with above-average wisdom and creativity, who must use his or her role to defend those that need defending, and build up, wherever necessary, any aspect of society that would facilitate the cultivation of wisdom and creativity, in whichever community one finds oneself, be it interpersonal or systemic.

“You know what’s great about using a concert to generate funds for service?” he’d asked me. “It’s fostering creativity and wisdom through the means and the ends, in interpersonal and systemic ways. That’s an Ananse lesson. Write that down.”

But for someone who was supposed to be endowed with above-average wisdom, it seemed a rather stupid move to offer to host twenty children in your house all night with no adults present.

Kwamz had protested as loud as I had that there was no way the two of us would be able to handle so many children on our own, but Daddy had refused to revoke the offer he’d made to his friends and invitees. So we’d reached a compromise: I could invite some of my friends over to help – and all their parents would receive complimentary tickets to the concert too. Kwamz had also tried to invite his friends, but every single one of them made up excuses, which all boiled down to the fact that they’d rather be nearly anywhere else on a Saturday night than babysitting in the Annan household. Now that I was in the midst of it, I could especially see why.

So, that was how I’d ended up here with Yaw, Kess, NK and Kwamz, trying and partially failing to manage all these children. Oh, and Ntiwaa, of course, because her parents had forced her to come.

“The night will be over soon,” Yaw tried to console me.

“It will not,” I countered sharply. “It’s not even six p.m., and you know these parents are not going to come back before one. And it’s like they all made their children drink two cans of Coke before they brought them to the house!”

“Okay, yeah, you’re right,” Yaw conceded.

 

***

You know the drill! Go back to the top and download the distin! 😀

Akotowaa

Kuukua and the Difficult Doors

Number Six!

(Update: individual OTC stories are no longer available, but you can download them all in a single PDF collection on my OTC site.)

Back of Kuukua and the Difficult Doors

Sneak peek?

Kuukua and the Difficult Doors

There were invisible threads on the ceiling now. My roommate Nana Konamah and I had gotten fed up. The architects of this hostel must have had some sort of sense impairment when they were designing, because this nonsense of the light switch being on one side of the room and the fan switch being on the opposite wall had been making our lives unnecessarily difficult. If the room was too hot or too cold during the night, NK would have to walk all the way to my side to regulate the fan speed. If she fell asleep with the light on, I would have to walk all the way to her side to turn it off. I’d never liked sitting down and doing nothing about problems that could so easily be solved with thread, so now our room had a very small-scale version of the complex thread system I had built in my room back home. It proved immensely helpful in instances just like this one…

“Felicia is coming!” NK whispered urgently. The next second, I pulled a string from my bed and the light went off. NK hadn’t even had to sit up.

“Don’t say anything,” I warned Princess, who was beside me in the dark now.

It was way past lights-out, and I was exhausted, but I’d promised Princess I’d help her with her physics homework when I had time. It turned out 11 p.m. was the earliest I’d been free enough to help anyone on a Monday night, and Princess wasn’t even the first person I was helping tonight. I was not, however, ready to get in trouble for it with Felicia, my hostel prefect. I already did enough weeding and gardening throughout the normal week; I wasn’t about to add gutter scrubbing to my schedule just because I’d decided to be a nice, helpful classmate.

I heard Felicia’s footsteps as she did a brief walk-through, passing in front of all the rooms in the building. If she didn’t see lights or hear voices, she just moved past each door after a few seconds. I listened keenly, made sure she was way out of sight and hearing before I pulled another string and the lights switched back on.

“Ahahn, so which question were we on?” I asked Princess, suppressing a yawn. But Princess’ mind was far from Newton’s laws of motion at that moment.

“How did you do that, with the light?” she asked with a mixture of curiosity and fear.

“Magic, anaa?” I replied, bored, irritable, and tired.

“Kuukua, be serious.”

“I thought everyone knew I’m a witch by now. See eh, let’s continue with the distin. It’s due tomorrow morning, and frankly, m’abrɛ.

“So you won’t explain?”

“Ei, Princess. Do you want to finish this homework or not?”

Her facial expression reflected the struggle she was going through, trying to rationalize what had just happened, but then she gave up, clearly also weary and looking forward to sleeping. “Fine. Let’s continue.”

“Great. So, we know that force is equal to mass times acceleration….”

I could have explained – at least about the spider-silk thread – but that would have led to even more questions. How did I know how to build this switch-flipping system? Why was the thread invisible? Where did one acquire spider-silk thread? Why did I have my very own pet spider?

I wasn’t ashamed of the strangeness that came with being the future Ananse, but truthful explanations were long. Claiming the rumor my cousin had started – that I was a witch – was much easier. So was evasion.

I turned the lights off again when Princess went back to her room. I hoped she wouldn’t get caught breaking curfew.

I thought NK was already asleep, so I was surprised when I heard her say, “Wo dwen sɛ wo yɛ Kwaku Ananse.”

When I heard that, I sat up briskly, my heart hammering loudly in my chest.

“What did you just say?”

“You think you’re Kwaku Ananse. It’s something my mother says a lot to me and my siblings whenever we try to get away with messing with someone. Because, you know, Kwaku Ananse was a trickster.”

“Interesting.” I let the silence breathe and tried to process.

“You remind me of him, though. Kwaku Ananse. Except you’re cleverer. From the stories Mummy told me, the way Kwaku is always getting outsmarted, he doesn’t seem particularly intelligent to me.”

“That’s what Ntikuma wants you to think,” I muttered, repeating my father’s words after the last time he’d told me an Ananse story.

“Pardon?”

“Erm. Nothing.”

NK didn’t know about me being the future Ananse – but she knew almost as much about my quirks as my grandpa, my father and my boyfriend. I’d only known her for about three months, but it was a consequence of living together. My room was the only place I could do some of the weirder assignments my father set for me.

The previous week, for example, I’d spent hours on end at my desk trying to master the process of extracting only the sticky kind of silk from my orb weaver spider, Charlotte, and turning it into spider glue. My grandfather, who used to be a chemist, would videocall me sometimes to teach me how to make varying kinds of spider glue, from mildly sticky to stuff stronger than wood glue. After she’d witnessed everything I’d messed around with at my desk, keeping the Ananse definition and its relation to my family from my roommate felt incredibly stupid.

 

NK had helped me construct the web. It would have been a struggle otherwise, because I didn’t have access to ladders, and the only movable furniture in the room were our desk chairs, and they simply weren’t tall enough. But I’d had to get on the ceiling somehow. As I’d struggled to think of how to manage it, NK had looked at me and said, “Kuukua, don’t you ever think of the body as a tool?”

“The body as a tool?” I’d repeated.

“Yeah. Same as a ladder or a hammer or something.”

“I use my hands and fingers a lot.”

“You use them to manipulate things you consider tools. But you’re always looking for things. Machines. Sometimes, the thing you need the most is a functional human body.”

“Sista, why are you speaking in parables?”

She’d laughed, then extracted her chair from under her desk. She’d knelt down in front of it, and at first, I was on edge because I thought she was bowing down to me or something, but then she instructed, “Get on my shoulders.”

I did. Then she got on the chair and stood upright, and when I raised my hands, I could reach the ceiling with ease.

Installation had taken more time than it would have if I’d had a ladder, because Nana Konamah needed to take breaks from holding me up. It was altogether a precarious situation, but I was used to precariousness. Yaw would have said, “A week that passes where Kuukua doesn’t put herself in danger of breaking her neck at least once, is that one too a week?”

 

And for the rest of the story, download via the link at the top of the post. Happy reading!

-Akotowaa