We had three weeks to enjoy. On the day of vacation, the school compound came alive with expectations and promises to keep in touch with one another.
As for me, I was expecting a trip to the United States of America because we still had visas from the invitation my uncle gave us the previous year so imagine my disappointment and sorrow when I reached home and heard we would rather be going to Berekum in the Bono Region for some days.
My mum was packing our things in different travelling bags. I was taken aback because I had not been informed of any trip but when I asked what was happening, my mum told me we were going to her village —Berekum. “What?” I exclaimed.
Although I greatly adore my grandmother, the idea of spending Christmas there did not sound great. “We are not going to spend Christmas there, we are just visiting for a few days that’s all,” mum said.
My dad too said it was for my own good as I would be able to learn more about village life. He also told me that we would be donating some items to the village during our stay there.
The next day, we set off at dawn. Dad’s driver took his position behind the wheels and drove with extra caution and calculated speed.
We arrived at Berekum after what seemed like an unending journey. I went straight to greet grandma. Upon seeing me, my grandma was so excited to see me. Did this old woman miss me that much? I asked myself.
She voiced out her favourite name for me ‘Me do baako p3’ (my one and only love). I knelt down as a sign of respect and she showered me with blessings. Instantly, all my anger disappeared and was replaced with laughter and joy.
My dad urged me to take the opportunity of being in the village to take a stroll around every day and mingle with the natives in order to learn their way of life before we left.
The things I saw and read in my biology books and on social media were right in front of me. I developed an interest in all of it and over time even learnt some fighting and hunting skills from the village hunters. It was a wonderful experience. We donated relief items to people in a nearby village and the joy on their faces made everything worthwhile.
I was sad the days went by too quickly but I couldn’t also wait to get to Accra for the Christmas holidays. On Saturday, December 24, we bade everyone farewell, and my family and I set off on our journey back to Accra.
I came back to reality from my sleep because I heard the vehicle shaking uncontrollably as the driver had drifted off the main road. My dad began to bark orders at our driver but it fell on deaf ears.
Immediately, some thugs came out of the bushes and surrounded the car. It was then I realised we had been kidnapped and the ‘Judas’ was our beloved driver, Salifu.
He ordered us to come out of the car and handed us over to the men. He took a big brown envelope from the gang leader and left.
The men began to harass us and demanded $150,000 as a ransom for our freedom. We were tied up and taken to a car parked nearby. They later took us to an uncompleted building. We were left there without any food or water.
In the middle of the night, I realised that if I did not take matters into my hands the worse would happen. I struggled and managed to find a sharp object to cut the ropes they used to tie us.
I helped my parents cut their ropes and headed for the door. When we reached the gate, one of the thugs was awake and was about to alert the others. My fighting and hunting skills came in handy and I struck him unconscious.
The others heard the noise and started chasing, shooting, and ordering us to stop. I was very scared. Fortunately, at a distance, I saw a police van on patrol and started screaming for help.
When the police reached where we were, I wanted to explain the situation but I fainted because I was so exhausted.
When i gained consciousness, I heard an exchange of gunshots and calls for backup. When I woke up in the ambulance, the thugs and Salifu had been arrested and our car was retrieved. I was taken to the clinic by my parents for a check-up. I was ok so the police escorted my parents and I for about an hour. When there was no imminent danger, we thanked them and said goodbye. We got to Accra safely.
That was the most horrifying Christmas eve ever and I pray every day for our lives.
Joel Frank Williams,