This week we feature the works of Oppong Clifford Benjamin, a Civil Engineer who enjoys writing poems.

In this poem, he turns a personal story into a narrative piece of artistic work. Oppong says if you have ever been sacked for fees in school, this poem is dedicated to you. Enjoy.

CLASS 3 PRINTING FEE

He stood in a tired uniform, well ironed and tucked
and his shorts fusiform
Today was exams day and he couldn't wait to write.

He walked to him Mum for the usual morning blessings
She tried to tell him that he probably should stay home
He bowed his head and she threw her eyes away
They both knew why… why it was best to stay.

But he knew what to say…
What to tell his teacher's cane and his mates who might laugh again
of why he will write but can't pay.

His Mother knew it would be another day when her second child –
will end education and chase after life around the traffic light.
She sensed the aroma of history repeating itself today
and tried harder to keep him at home
but the little boy went to school
Ready to tell all about why he will write but can't pay.

They were many kids seated in arranged rows and columns
He saw the blank desk. It was Obvious Kwaku wouldn't come
One by one, the teacher inspected their printing-fee receipts
some showed a full year, others for the term…
And he sat there, hoping to do magic.

At last the teacher got to his desk
Every child was watching with their faces covered with laughs
It was an old story: he would be thrown out again
“Show me your receipt”, the Teacher requested
“If you don't have go home”, a boy retorted
“No printing fee, no paper”, another dared to shout
…And now, they all teased.

"I’m sorry you will have to go home" said the Teacher
He stood up, opened his mouth as if to cry then shut it
"Go on, do you have anything to say?" Teacher urged

In tears, he closed his eyes, clapped both palms together
And like a humble prayer, he said:

"I don't want to be like Kwabena, my elder brother
“Who lost his education a day like this
“His daily bread is now from an oven by the red light on the street”

“I don't want my mother to keep wishing for graduates
“Yet crying for the fact that she can't afford one
“I don't want any of my mates here think me dumb
“Because I have not the chance to prove myself”

“Don't talk of my father, he is long resting and heaven is far away from here
“He too had a task for me: “Become an engineer!”
"Please Sir, Allow me education and one day we both won't regret”

"This minute, you are deleting a future
"This minute, you can create a destiny
"This minute break the rules to make an engineer and Heaven will smile.
"This is my humble plea"

He opened his eyes and to his dismay every eye was flooding
The teary teacher apologized and promised him his help

Later at home, his Mum, took the exams question paper
In a gentle voice, she asked, “how did you do it?”

Now he is a civil engineer
an award winning poet
…and the writer of this particular poem.

Oppong shares his inspiration for 'Class 3 printing fee'

I wrote this piece one afternoon in 2013. I had just returned from a school at Teshie where I paid the exams fee for a class 5 pupil. I met him crying while on his way home. I stopped him and asked him why he was in tears? He had been denied the opportunity to write exams because he couldn’t afford the printing fee. 

This boys situation struck a chord, it reminded me of my own situation years back. I was much younger.

I wrote this poem to celebrate anyone who has, in one way or the other, come out of pressing challenges. I am saluting those heroes who were sacked from school for owing school fees or exams fees; they know exactly how success tastes like, for being who they have come to be through hard work, determination and persistence.

Poetry Delight: 'Class 3 printing fee' by Oppong Clifford BenjaminThe Author

Oppong Clifford Benjamin is a Civil Engineer by profession and is currently reading his postgraduate degree.

He is also passionate about writing; so much that he gives it a first priority in his daily schedule.

His works have been recognized both nationally and internationally.  His poems were featured in Kwee Magazine (Liberian National Magazine), The PortorPortor by Forte Othniel(an international anthology which featured12 emerging and established poets like Professor Anthea Mark-Romeo and Jack Kolkmeyer, both are renowned poets.), the UK poetry library. He has read his poems in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and Russia. He is a regular contributor to the Words Rhyme and Rhythm, WRR (The largest poetry sharing platform in Africa, owned by KukoghoIruesiriSampson, a multi-award winning Poet in Nigeria).

In 2013, the WRR poetry awarded Oppong Clifford Benjamin as the Ghana Poet of the year. He was interviewed on his award winning poem and his poetry in general in a live TV program called the African Dream in Connecticut, USA; it was hosted by Oral Ofori. 

Clifford runs the vivacious www.ghanawrites.com blog. Most of his crafts are littered on the website and on his Facebook account: www.facebook.com/cliffordlabata .To grab your copy of ThePortorPortor, click on this link: www.createspace.com/6178840?ref=1147694&utm_id=6026

DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.
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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.