Long ago a man called Kofi Amero lived in a village called Amero Kopfhi. The village was named after him because in those days he was the wealthiest man in the whole area. Kofi Amero was a very strict man, but he wasn’t fair, no, he was nasty and selfish. In spite of his wealth, he lived by himself, without a wife or child, because no woman could tolerate his strange behaviour.
One sunny day, after Kofi Amero had taken his breakfast, he was relaxing on the front porch of his house, when all of a sudden he caught sight of a stranger dressed in the most tattered and shabby clothing. The man looked so weird that Kofi Amero decided he must be a madman and tried to ignore him. He was a little surprised when the man addressed him and asked for some food. Kofi Amero didn’t like giving charity, and he was quite annoyed the man should ask for something. But he had some uncooked kokoyam lying around under the window, so he took a small dry piece and threw it at the beggar. The man grasped the vegetable greedily and ate it within seconds. When he had eaten every last bite, and licked his fingers in the process, he straightened himself and before Kofi Amero’s astonished eyes changed into an angel of god.
Kofi dropped to the floor. The stranger requested Kofi Amero not to be disturbed, he meant him no harm. He said: “Kofi, as you were kind enough to let me share some of your food, even though you thought I might be a troublesome beggar, before I leave this place, I will grant you any three wishes that you may make.”
As you can imagine Kofi Amero got very excited when he heard this. “Hahahah, heeheehee, today is going to be a good day for me!” He scratched his head, wondering what he could possibly ask of the angel, then asked him to come inside. He pointed to an old armchair in the corner of his room. “Master, he said, you see that chair in the corner, there?” The angel nodded, “Yes, I can see it.”
Kofi continued: “Well, you see, I bought that chair for myself, at great expense, so that I may rest after a hard days’ work. But it is the only chair in my house, and every time I get a visitor, they have to sit in it, and I have to remain standing or sit on the floor. That really bothers me. I’d like you to put a spell on it, so that if anybody sits on it, other than myself, of course, the chair buckles and throws its occupant into the air! So high that when they fall onto the ground they’ll be hurt and will never want to sit on my chair again!”
Even though the angel thought this was rather an unusual request, he had given his word, so he said to Kofi: “It is done.”
Kofi Amero rubbed his hands together, and took the angel back to the front of the house, where he pointed out a tree; “Master, do you see this tree?” The angel nodded, “Yes, I see it.” Kofi explained: “I planted it, a great expense, in order to improve the environment, to make the place look nice and green, but you know, Master, I’ve noticed that people from the village have been stealing the leaves from my tree. They say it has some medicinal qualities and that it cures children’s illnesses, but I’m not at all happy with that, not at all!” Kofi coughed, and then continued: “So Master, I’d like you to put a spell on it, so that anybody who tries to pluck a leaf, gets sucked onto the tree and gets stuck to the trunk!
Again, the angel considered this to be a rather strange request, but he it was not his job to judge the merits of people’s wishes, so he had no other choice but to grant that one too. So he told Kofi: “Very well, Kofi, it is done. What is your third and last wish?”
Kofi asked the angel to follow him to the back of his house. There he pointed out some hoes and rakes and other gardening tools. “You see these tools, Master?” asked Kofi. The angel nodded. “Yes, I can see them, fine tools they are.” “Exactly, agreed Kofi. I bought these tools, they cost me a lot of money, I don’t need to tell you. People come all the time to borrow them. Sometimes they ask, sometimes they don’t, they just pick them up and take advantage of my good nature. And of course when they break, it’s down to me to pay for the repairs. So I’d like you to make them soo soo heavy, that every time somebody tries to pick them up, other than me, of course, they just drop them and they fall on their toes! Then next time they’ll think twice about wanting to use my tools!”
The angel nodded sadly, “Very well, Kofi, he said, it is done. I leave you now.” After that the angel vanished into thin air where he was standing and Kofi Amero was left on his own again. As usual.
Several days later, as Kofi Amero was cleaning up after his supper, Satan came to visit him. Of course Kofi Amero didn’t recognize his visitor, he showed him into the house and offered him the only chair to sit on. The visitor lowered himself onto the seat, and as soon as he touched it, the seat threw him up into the air, and as he fell down with a great thud, he hurt his leg. The visitor got up, straightened his clothes, swore at Kofi Amero, and limped away. Kofi Amero laughed and laughed, he was happy that his trap had worked and that night he slept exceptionally well.
On another day Kofi Amero was getting ready to go to work when he heard a loud commotion at the back of the house. He walked round there and was pushed aside by one of his neighbours, who was limping and cursing the day he first laid eyes on Kofi Amero. Kofi laughed out loud and called after the neighbour: “Let that teach you a lesson! You should save up and buy your own tools!” The incident put Kofi Amero in a good mood for the rest of the day.
On yet another day, he was returning from a hard day’s work in the fields, when he noticed a woman from the village, carrying a baby on her back, walk up to the tree in the front of his house. It was obvious that she intended to pluck some leaves from the tree, and Kofi Amero stopped and watched with anticipation to see of his third trap would work as well as the first two. As soon as the hapless woman touched a leaf, she was pulled towards the tree by an invisible force, and found herself stuck to the trunk. She called out for help, but Kofi Amero just laughed at her.
“Serves you right, he called out to her. You people think you can just take what’s mine without paying! You think about it while you’re stuck there!”
That evening Kofi Amero was having his supper, he couldn’t stop laughing to himself at the plight of the woman stuck to the tree, and the two men who had fallen into his traps. The more he thought about it, the more he had to laugh; his laughter came out in uncontrollable bursts.
But suddenly he stopped: a sharp pain shot through his chest, and Kofi Amero collapsed, he’d suffered a heart attack. A few days later Kofi Amero’s brother, who worked a field next to Kofi’s, became curious about the fact that he hadn’t seen his brother for some time, and decided to call on him. He found Kofi dead on the floor of his room. Immediately he set about informing other members of the family, and making the funeral arrangements. As the body had already started to decompose, this had to be done in rather a hurry. Kofi Amero was buried without much ceremony, only two of his brothers attended the funeral. None of the villagers wanted to waste any of their time mourning a man they all despised.
So it was that Kofi Amero arrived at the gates of heaven to be judged. He was greeted there by the angel who had appeared to him some time ago, but Kofi Amero didn’t recognize him. The angel produced a large book, and invited Kofi Amero to look at was written there about him. “As you can see, Kofi Amero, said the angel, during your lifetime you have only ever done one good thing, that is when you gave me some of your kokoyam. But everything else that’s written about you is about all the bad and selfish things you did to your family and your neighbours. You’re not qualified to enter this place. You have to go to hell.”
So Kofi Amero walked away from the gates of heaven and made his way to the gates of hell. When he got there he found Satan waiting for him. Satan recognized him as the man who played a nasty trick on him with a chair, and flatly refused him entry. So Kofi Amero was denied access to heaven and hell. Because he had failed to please either the masters of heaven or the masters of hell his soul was doomed to roam restlessly in the space in between for eternity.
Kate Awo Fumey collected this story in Ghana