Faceless is a riveting story of children plunged into the streets by poverty and parental neglect. Amma Darko in very graphic details presents sociological issues of child-neglect, gender, child abuse, defilement of girls, child-trafficking, child-labour, and violence.
Amma Darko tells the world that every street child has a story, though rarely told. The common denominator in all of these stories is parental neglect.
A non-governmental organisation in Accra known as MUTE seeks to unravel the mysterious death of Baby T, a child prostitute whose battered body was found in a slum behind a hair salon kiosk. MUTE’s encounter with Fofo, Baby T’s sister opens an investigative trail into the lives of neglected children.
The message in Faceless is that parents should take responsibility for their children. More pronounced is the message that no child should be brought into the world without means of providing for him physically, financially, psychologically and emotionally.
The novel opens with fourteen year old Fofo sleeping on an old cardboard at the Agbogbloshie market. In her sleep, she dreamt of living in a home with a roof and a toilet, a dream shared by other street children like her.
She is woken up suddenly by Poison, a street lord who attempts to rape her. Fofo resists him and runs to Odarley, her best friend who lives in a rented wooden shack. Fofo’s mother, Maa Tsuru informed Fofo, that her elder sister, Baby T was dead and that Poison threatened her into silence over Baby T’s death and urged Fofo to leave for her safety.
Kabria, a mother of three children, who lives neighbourhood in Accra and works with MUTE a non-governmental agency runs into Fofo at the Agbloghoshie market while shopping for vegetables. Kabria stands with other spectators at the spot where Baby T’s body was found when Fofo, tries to steal her purse. She rescues her from the angry mob. Fofo reveals her identity and tells Kabria that Baby T was her sister. MUTE got interested in Baby T’s matter and granted Fofo protection by taking her into temporal custody while conducting investigations regarding Baby T’s death.
As the plot unfolds, we find out that Baby T is the third child of Maa Tsuru and was born after a brutal beating. Her father disappeared, leaving her mother to fend for herself and children. Her mother finds a new lover called Kpakpo, who sexually abuses Baby T. She reports the rape incident to an uncle who lives in the same compound with them, and he rapes her also. Baby T is later sold to a prostitution ring consisting of Madam Abidjan, Maami Brooni and Poison, the street lord and ring leader. She is made to work as a child prostitute in Maami Brooni’s brothel with her earnings sent to Maa Tsuru (her mother) who simply turned a blind eye.
Onko visits a native doctor and he tells him that baby T is the reason for his problems. So, he goes in search of Baby T and Kpakpo helps him connect with her once again. Poison eventually led Kpakpo to Maami Brooni’s brothel where Baby T worked as a prostitute. Baby T remembered what Onko did to her in the past and vehemently refused to sleep with him. Enraged at her refusal, Poison slapped and tried to beat her into submission. Baby T was found dead on the concrete floor with her head split open. She was alone with Onko in the room at the time of her death. Onko committed suicide thereafter.
- Life in the Ghetto
- Child Prostitution
- Environmental Decadence
- Parental Neglect
- Child Abuse
Fofo is the fourth child of Maa Tsuru. She is fourteen years old and lives on the street. She is a dreamer and would often drift away in her own world of fantasy. She is intelligent and brave. She tactfully resists Poison’s rape attempt and disguises as boy to protect herself from further assault by Poison and his gang. Through her character, the reader gets more insight into the circumstances surrounding Baby T’s death.
- Maa Tsuru
Maa Tsuru is the mother of Fofo and Baby T. She was born under very grave circumstances and like everyone around her, she believes that she was cursed from birth. Her two lovers, Kwei and Kpakpo were both absent fathers. They walked out on her leaving her to take care of the children. She sells her daughter into prostitution.
- Baby T
Baby T is Maa Tsuru’s third child and Fofo’s elder sister. She got defiled early by Kpakpo and thereafter by Onko whom she trusted. She was sold into prostitution through Kpakpo’s schemes. She is a victim of parental neglect., Her body is found behind a kiosk in Agbogbloshie market. Faceless revolves mostly around Baby T and the circumstances leading to her death.
Poison is a street lord and leader of a prostitution ring to which Baby T was sold. He is feared by all. He assaulted Baby T and nearly raped Fofo. He also tried to interfere with MUTE’s investigations as he did not want Baby T’s true identity to be revealed. He enjoyed inflicting pain on others. The author uses his character to show that with male children, streetism takes a different twist as it makes them almost irredeemable.
Kibira is the wife of Adade and mother of three children, Kabria works with MUTE, a non-governmental agency and lives in a decent neighbourhood in Accra which is a contrast to the situation in Sodom and Gomorrah. She drives a car she calls Creamy and tries to effectively manage her career and her responsibilities as wife and mother. She was instrumental in Fofo’s rehabilitation and contributed in unraveling the mystery behind Baby T’s death.
Onko lives in the same compound as Maa Tsuru. In a compound that reeked of poverty, Onko was portrayed as a man of means who gave generously. He took advantage of Baby T and defiled her. He bribed Maa Tsuru who kept quiet over the issue. His business suffered a downturn thereafter. He commits suicide after Baby T’s death. Amma Darko uses this character to potray the fact that children are often abused by adults they trust.
Kpakpo is Maa Tsuru’s dubious, jobless and unscrupulous lover. He deceived Maa Tsuru and masterminded Baby T’s sale into prostitution. He also aided Onko’s visit to Baby T leading to the latter’s death.
Odarley is Fofo’s friend and confidant. Like Fofo, she lived on the street having been neglected and sent out of the house by her mother.
Fofo, Kabria, Maa Tsuru, Kpakpo, Baby T, Dina, Adade, Kwei
Macho, Poison, Maami Broni, Mama Abidjan, Sylv Po, Aggie, Vickie, Odarley, Obea, Essie, Ottu, Ms. Kamame
The author uses simple, everyday English language with some Ghanaian vernacular.
About the Author
Amma Darko was born in the year 1956, in Koforidua, Ghana, and grew up in Accra. She studied in Kumasi, where she received her diploma in 1980. Then she worked for the Science and Technology Center in Kumasi. During the 1980s, she lived and worked for some time in Germany. Afterwards, she travelled to Germany where she stayed from 1981 until 1987 and wrote her first novel, Beyond the Horizon which was published in German. Faceless is her third novel. Amma enjoys research and spends a lot of time with interviews and in archives. In 2008, she received the most important literary prize in her country, the Ghana Book Award. Faceless has been selected for the official literature list of the West African Examination Council for Senior Secondary Schools. She also has the book Not without flowers to her credit. Her work has been discussed in several academic journals.