PJ@9: Portrait by Charles Kofi Bucknor

If I write today, it’s because of something Charles Kofi Bucknor told me when I was nine years old. He said it frequently, how I’d be a great storyteller. He was great friends with my elder brother Kojo Dadson, whom he met while at St Augutines College. Like my brother, he was into drama, and together, they formed a performing group with some of the most talented youth of the day. It was called Talent Incorporated and as early as that age, I was a member.

They rehearsed in our house, and we the younger ones, as a matter of course, knew all the songs and dances for a musical drama they put together called ‘The African Connection’. One day during rehearsals, my brother called me to join in, and from then my character was written into the production.

It was a dramatised version of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, and I played Kofi’s son. There was a scene where we would be working on the plantations with the White slave master whipping us. Sitting on his ‘throne’, I would be polishing his shoe, and he would kick me off, each time he’d stand up to go whip somebody. On the third kick, I would die, and my father, Kofi, would try to pick me up but each time he tried he got lashed. But, on the third try, he’d pick me up anyway amidst the lashing, and finding me listless, he would bellow out a cry, followed by a “Tsooo boi” call, which would lead to a big revolt! Then we would launch into spectacular dramatised dancing to rythmic drumbeats!

I was coached for the role by Kofi, naturally. Bra Charles to me back then. In 1978, our group was selected to represent Ghana at the 11th World Festival of Youth & Students in Havana, Cuba. That’s when I became his protégé. We travelled by cruise ship, and he looked over and made comments on all the poems I wrote. It was my incursion into African consciousness and I had been introduced by default by Kofi. He enjoyed spending time with me and said it often, how I’d be a great storyteller.

He called me by my initials, and he’d bellow it out through a wide smile; PJ! Only he called me that. And he’d engage me. I revered him. On stage, he was robust. And with me, he always reteireted how smart a storyteller I was, and would be. So much so, I abandoned my desire to become a pilot and followed a path in the arts and public relations. It was his influence, because I remember him each time I am complimented on a good piece of writing i do.
He was such a gentleman. Debonair and loved fine things. He was very Fantsi like that. What a loss!

Source: PaJohn Bentsifi Dadson

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