This is the Part 1: Chapter 1 to Chapter 5 Summary of Alex Agyei Agyiri’s UNEXPECTED JOY AT DAWN. So take your tie to read and understand.
It is Monday morning, 4 am, in Accra, Ghana. His lover’s body is dead when a young man enters his bedroom. Nii Tackie, a young man, is overcome by fear and panic at the idea that Massa has lost his ability to breathe. His shouts draw the attention of his neighbors. He recalls the doctor’s words about Massa’s condition amid the tension. The doctor told him Massa only had a few more months to live. A friend suggested that Massa consult an herbalist weeks before. He was thinking of Odefo Nkansah, who wrote “God is beyond Science” at Gomoa Dago. Massa’s condition is very serious.
“Within six months, the sickness had ended; she had lost a third”
Nii Tackie feels relieved to see that Massa is still breathing. Despite her pain, the ailing lady attempts to smile. She is worried about the costs incurred for her treatment. Nii Tackie attempts to hide his debt from her, despite having outstanding bank loans. He tells her about his friend’s suggestion to visit an herbalist.
Nii Tackie sets out to empty Massa’s chamber pot into an opened drain. There are gunshots heard on the streets. This is a sign that Accra residents feel insecure. He fears being struck by stray shots and rushes back into his room after disposing of Massa’s excrement. He lies down on the table next to Massa’s bed, and then he goes to sleep.
Illera, Nigeria, is at 8 am the same morning. Mama Orojo is with Ibuk on an evangelical mission to the town. Both women are members of Amen Kristi Church. Mama Orojo gets nostalgic when she sees an immigration officer. Ibuk asked her why she stared at the immigration officer so often. She replied:
“Whenever I see an immigration officer, I am reminded of my history.”
Mama Orojo then tells Ibuk all about her past. Mama Orojo arrived in Lagos from Ghana fifteen years ago when the Ghanaian government made it clear that all foreigners without resident permits must leave. This happened sometime during Nigeria’s civil war. Many years earlier, her grandparents had immigrated to Ghana. Mama Orojo fled Ghana with her grandparents, leaving her brother and grandmother behind. Her parents died on the way to Nigeria. Her parents died, leaving her without a family. She struggled to make a name for herself in Nigeria with the very little she had. The thriving construction industry and a candy store are what she has to prove it.
Their mission of evangelicalism in the community is not as successful as they would like. Many people are not interested in the Sahm brotherhood.
Mama and Ibuk will move to Tom Monday’s home, where they will be preaching the gospel to an elderly man. Tom Monday is a widower and has two children. His daughter, a twenty-eight-year-old lady, has opposing views. He claims that she was influenced by her husband, a Sahm (a political or-religious brotherhood). Mama peruses the pages of her Bible as she prepares to meet Tom.
This chapter alternates between Accra and Lagos. The authorities in Lagos are meticulous about the expulsion of Nigerians. Today’s government has launched the TOTAL WAR AGAINST ALL WAYWARDNESS. Five days remain before the 25, the deadline for all aliens to leave the country. Compliance with this deadline is evident in street movements. The aliens are moving on with their belongings.
The scene changes to Ghana, where Massa (and Nii Tackie) are engaged in chit-chat. Massa is more lively than the sickly version she was in the first chapter. Massa questions Nii Tackie about how many cocktails he has attended. The reader discovers how the two fell in love at first sight at a cocktail party. Massa refers to him as “my young banker”, the nickname she gave him.
The duo is passionately in love. Nii Tackie gives her porridge made with corn dough that Linda, a junior colleague, gave him. Nii Tackie wishes Massa would keep up her energy and new mood.
It is Tuesday at 10 am in Accra, Ghana. The reader is informed about Nii Tackie’s daily work schedule and the lack of competent and experienced hands in different Ghanaian sectors (education, banking, etc.). Many citizens have fled to other countries.
This chapter focuses on the early days and reforms of Jerry Rawlings’ revolutionary government. It also reveals Nii Tackie’s daily activities, including his bank job, part-time teaching job, and credit collection job for Susu Credit Union. These part-time jobs supplement his income and pay Massa’s hospital bills.
Despite his youth and lack of experience, Moses Nii Tackie has risen to the position of Assistant Manager at Expense Bank.
He and the Bank Manager review loan applications at Expense Bank. Aaron Tsuru’s Ant Hill Project is one of these applications. Because of its creativeness and ability to address the high cost of building in the country, Nii Tackie supports Aaron’s Ant Hill Project. His profit-oriented boss rejects the project and claims that the bank policy doesn’t support such projects. Nii Tackie attempts to convince his boss to see the project’s benefits, but the Manager resists. Linda, a bank typist, brings in the newspapers. The news reports about the expulsion of foreigners in Nigeria. There are three million, of which two million are Ghanaians. In a manner that suggests that he has Nii Takkie in his mind, the bank manager swears that if he had his way, he would fire all aliens from the bank as a reprisal.
Nii Tackie is worried about the possibility of Ghana repeating what happened fifteen years ago. Nii Tackie is afraid he will be expelled one day from Ghana. He was born in Ghana and given a Ga name. However, his tribal marks and Nigerian heritage still make him an alien.
Massa is unhappy with Nii Tackie’s desire to visit Lagos because of the harsh economic realities. Nii Tackie wishes Massa well so they can come to a mutual understanding.
Linda begs Nii Tackie for his help. However, Nii Tackie informs Linda that he isn’t available.
Nii Tackie rushes out of the bank to find a three-story remedial school where he teaches Economics to prepare for his G.C.E. examination. He walks five kilometers to get there. He arrives late. He complains to the headmaster about his delay and violating the contract he signed to instruct his students. Nii Tackie asks that his classes be rescheduled to late afternoons to make it more convenient.
Nii Tackie goes to the market to collect ten cents per trader for Susu Credit Union. The market is almost empty, and there is a drought. The roads are poor, and petrol is scarce. Market women suffer from the government’s decision to withdraw fifty cedi denominations from circulation. One woman cries at Nii Tackie’s announcement that she lost ten thousand cedis. Auntie Joe, another trader, died from a heart attack after he lost forty thousand cedis.
Nii Tackie visits the Susu Credit Union leader. After stealing the Union’s funds, he discovers his boss has fled to Nigeria. He leaves behind no funds for his family to live on. Nii Tackie also learns that the Secretary of Union has disappeared. This automatically makes Nii Tackie the last member of the Union. Nii Tackie, out of compassion for the family that has lost its way, gives the chairman’s wife the ten cedis he had in his wallet.
Nii Tackie comes home to find Massa crying. She vomited on her cloth. He begins to clean up her mess.
Mama Orojo (left) and Ibuk (right) are back in Lagos. Mama Orojo seems to be of interest to the elderly man. It has become interesting. The conversation has moved from gospel to business talk. Mama Orojo, Tom Monday, and their business empires. Tom Monday would have proposed to Mama Orojo if he hadn’t come to him as an evangelicalist.
Ibuk enters the conversation and brings the participants back to the purpose of their gathering. They talk about death, its causes, and eternity. Tom Monday informs Mama Orojo at the end of their conversation that he will be in Lagos the week after. The latter responds that she will do her best to meet him during his visit.