The Abusua (Clan)
An atonal, old Irish washer-woman >
As you can read at the heading of the story, "The Adventures of Fufu," I have lived many dog- and other years. So, how do I condense a long life? What is important - a time line? anecdotes? pictures? philosophical musings? Since I have no insight into the correct answer and since I'm conjoling everyone else to write about themselves, I'll just plunge ahead to avoid hypocrisy and to confirm "the family affliction," verbosity.
I suppose my life can be divided into segments: ( You can skip via the links below.)
Before Africa / I have inserted my memories and photographs throughout this website, especially in reminiscing about Jack and Joanie. So, I'll skip most of a wonderful and wild childhood. I went to St. Francis de Sales Elementary School, where I was terrified and challenged by the nuns. Most of you know I may be the family's only true "Fallen Away Catholic," since the day I climbed and dislodged the church drainpipe during recess. I spent a good deal of time facing the crucifix at the back of the classroom. I transferred to public school in 9th Grade, relieved to escape the discipline and crucifix staring. Jr. and Sr. High were fun, hectic and mindless.
Then, there was University of Denver (See The Shuberts.Why do I still remember D.U.'s fight song?), a couple of dreary lab research jobs and, at last, the Peace Corps. I trained with Sierra Leone I group at Columbia University in N.Y.C. , but was sent alone to Ghana, December 31, 1961. The pun, "Here today. Ghana tomorrow." became tiresome during the overnight (pre-jet) flight.
In Africa. For two and a half years, I taught (or tried to teach) science at Achimota College, "the Eton of West Africa." Achimota was a boarding school for Ghanaians and I became housemother to 74 girls. No wonder I turned gray prematurely. During school holidays, friends and I hitch-hiked to (a) Sierra Leone (b) Timbuktu, Mali and (c) Nigeria.
During (a), we ended up in a tiny village in Liberia and only made it to Sierra Leone by hiking toward the sunset (West), since no one knew place names. If I find my letter home describing (b), written in Mopti, Mali, I'll upload it. The highlight of (c) was staying (naively and inadvertently) in a brothel in Zaria. Bert and I will never forget "The Hollywood Proprietary Club." Advice: Never choose a hotel by its name alone. Thank God for bolts on the windows and doors if you need them, as we did. My mother envied my adventures. My father had periodic apoplexy. At the end of my stay in Ghana (I loved it there!), two friends and I spent six months hitch-hiking around Africa. Now, there is a book. It was so long ago, 1964, the names of some countries have changed.
After Africa. / I was accepted at Cornell University in Ithaca NY, so after a long safari, I stopped at Cornell to assure the office that 'Diane of Africa' was real. It was lunchtime and the department secretary, clearly wanting to leave for lunch, said, "I know someone you should have lunch with." Wayne and I are still having lunch together, after forty + years.
I finished my master's, worked for the Peace Corps training volunteers, and realized (happily and mutually) I missed lunches, and life, with Wayne, who was still at Cornell. We married in 1968. Wayne collected our new daughter, Lise, from the hospital and his doctorate on the same day. We moved to Orange NJ, when Wayne got a position at Rutgers/ Newark. We adopted 11 month old Bri, in 1972.
Into Africa. /Orange had a population density equal to Tokyo and we longed to leave. Wayne applied for and received four offers to teach in universities in Africa. He chose the University of Zambia, in Lusaka, Zambia, Central Africa. Bri, almost two years old, and Lise, at three years, three months, began their life in Africa in 1973.1 We loved Zambia. Wayne and I did research on an aquatic antelope, the Kafue lechwe. Wayne taught botany and ecology. I taught labs. We accumulated animals, dogs, cats, goats2, a monkey, ducks, chickens and a chameleon in the living room. We made many great friends. We spent hours collecting plants in the bush.3
The war for Zimbabwe independence was having its impact and food shortages increased. When frustrated, write a limerick. I posted in our loo... "Essential commodities are such oddities, as sugar, flour and tea. But, the item most crucial, of import abolutional, is that vital substance, T.P." It had no effect.
We then taught the next two years in Botswana - Wayne at the University and I, in a special program at the university, and, also, Grade 5 at Thornhill Govt. School in Gaborone. The kids and I loved it (We could get across town faster on bikes, than in a car.) and Wayne suffered. (Much too dry for his lungs.) So, we bundled all our possessions and two kids in our VW Beetle and drove across Zimbabwe to Malawi, in a military caravan, since there was still fighting. Bri loved it. We stayed only a short time because of the repressive regime of Kamuzu Banda and because of the quality of schooling for Lise and Bri.
Then, back to Zambia, for another five years - until 1986. Wayne returned to the University and I taught at the International School of Lusaka, so Lise and Bri could have free tuition. It was a great school and experience. The finale was a wildlife conservation play for kids which I created and directed (more gray hairs). "ZOOM" played at the national theatre and on national TV. Of course, Lise and Bri (and 30 other kids) were stars. My great joy was taking kids on field trips into game parks, the bush, (many more gray hairs). Kathy, Mary and Jan need to add their experiences in Africa. Another highlight of these years was the effort Lise, Bri and I put into Seidokan Karate, taught by a superb sensei, Shehan Stephen Chan at the University of Zambia. We eventually tested for and received our black belts in England on our trip home from Zambia.
Out of Africa. We left Zambia with endless fond memories in 1986 and Bri, Lise and I earned our black belts in Seidokan Karate in England on the way back to USA. (We had a wonderful sensei (teacher) while in Zambia.) We bought a florist/ greenhouse business in Lindstrom, Minnesota. With a huge amount of our energy, the business, garden and the Iris Art Gallery flourished. By some miracle and the possible intervention of Buddha (or, at least, a Buddhist monk) we sold the land and business in 2002. We moved to Orcutt on the Central Coast of California and are now thriving on sunshine and strawberries. Real winter, as we endured for 16 years, is now a dim memory. Yes!!!
Of all the many experiences of my life, the one that brings the most joy and pride is being the mother of Lise and Brian. To see each "follow their bliss" and now become incredible parents to amazing babies is a moving, inspiring, absorbing final movement to the symphony of my life.
Perhaps, I should add, my life's music would have been dissonant without Wayne.
So, how and what is retirement? We've traveled to Denver to see Bri and Roary. Obviously, we love being very proud grandparents. I was a substitute teacher for years. Now, we sub-parent Evan and Sean every other week1, when Lise is teaching. We share a lovely house (large) and garden (very large) with Lise and Jeff. Periodically, I was a test administrator for computerized Board exams for nurses, doctors, technicians, financial planners. Lise and I have painted a few murals for kids' rooms. But, now, my greatest current interest is in creating websites. Check them out: (this special one) www.abusua.com, plus others, noted at the top of the page. I've also done websites for Bri's bands and events, but either pass them on on discontinued the website when the event was over, e.g. Heart for Haiti Benefit, Feb. 14, 2010. < PS. very sucessful.
I almost forgot to mention tending my designer chickens, e.g. two Japanese bantams, 'Kanjo' (male, Japanese for "gentle") and 'Aisai' (hen, Japanese for "faithful wife"), a bantam Cochin, named 'Fluffy Lamoure', and her hybrid son (cross Fluffy and a Japanese bantam), 'Banchin' plus, now, the Avian Priory of Sion. The Priory has expanded with new generations. See Behold! The Noble Chicken!
Check Super Branches and Super Duper Branches for family pictures. I enjoy of my family and friends, my Zen garden (See A Zen Garden), very elegant chickens and Wayne's spectacular sage, grass, grevillia and lavender gardens.
As inscribed on a bar in northern Ghana, "Life is short and man is but full of troubles, so why not enjoy with moonlight." I do!!!
PS: If it's OK with Lise and Bri, I'll eventually add the stories I wrote for them.
1 Kasangula Road 2 Mpongo 3 The Lion Hunt
1P.P.S. Since November 2004, I taught, as a Title I teacher (extra help in the classroom), Monday to Thursday, 8 to 11:30 am, while St. Wayne tended Evan, very other week. They are a great gardening team. Also I taught intervention reading to eight adorable, hyperactive illiterates, one hour twice a week. I loved it, but the effort was exhausting. Finally, I resigned from the testing service, since this website was languishing. 2005 Update: I retired from teaching. I was offered a position helping to teach a full-day kindergarten class, but even the thought exhausted me, so I decided to return to the testing service, part-time, and enjoy time with family, Evan-tending, the garden, web-weaving I'm not feeling fragile, but I am aware of being a mere mortal. 2006+ Update I am now fully retired to part-time grand-parenting (emphasis on 'grand'), web-weaving and enjoying life.