Part 2: Chapter 1 Summary of Alex Agyei-Agyiri’s UNEXPECTED JOY AT DAWN



Nii Tackie‘s and his co-travellers’ journey from Togo to Benin is uneventful. During this journey, Nii Tackie has the chance to interact with some of his co-travellers. There is Ezla, Ursula and the others whom Nii Tackie gets acquainted with.

Nii Tackie tries to unknot the identity of the man shot at the Ghanaian border. The shooting is however dismissed as if it is something trivial and inconsequential; Ezla tells him it is what happens all the time along the border.

Read Also:

(Part 1) Chapter 1 to 5
(Part 1) Chapter 6 to 10
(Part 1) Chapter 11 to 14
(Part 1) Chapter 15
(Part 1) Chapter 16 to 17
(Part 1) Chapter 18 to 19
(Part 1) Chapter 20


Not all of them are running away from Ghana like Nii Tackie. Some are just traders who make their living trading across borders. Nii Tackie is then intimated on how to cross over to the Nigerian border from the Beninese side. He is instructed to take a motorcycle and he chooses to board one owned by an elderly man.

The elderly man asks for a fee of five naira to get Nii Tackie across to the Nigerian border. Here the author portrays how exploitation, abuse and misuse of power, and deceit are intrinsic in every human being. The elderly cyclist, some distance from the Nigerian border, alights from the motorcycle and robs Nii Tackie of more than the agreed fee of five naira in a rather dramatic way; he steals all of Nii Tackie’s carefully hidden sixty-three naira when the latter is trying to take twenty naira from the lot for the motorcyclist under coercion.

Left stranded, Nii Tackie realises he is already at the Nigerian border upon seeing a border signboard that bids one farewell from Nigeria. Then, he comes to the realisation that the motorcyclist did not fulfil his part of the contract. The cyclist is supposed to take him into Nigeria and here he is, still at the Nigerian border. Nii Tackie has been duped and he now finds himself at the mercy of Customs officials and immigration officers.

Nii Tackie is confronted by a Customs official who seeks to ascertain his identity and nationality. The official teases him with the “Omo Ghana” lingo and asks for his name. Immediately Nii Tackie supplies his name, the official concludes that Nii Tackie is truly a Ghanaian. However, Nii Tackie disproves the official’s assumption and hasty conclusion by making reference to the tribal marks on his face. As we by now know, Nii Tackie is considered a Nigerian in Ghana primarily because of these facial tribal marks.

But the official is having none of this. He pushes Nii Tackie to the border post where Aaron and three others have already been arrested. Nii Tackie, in vehemence, remonstrates that he is a Nigerian like the officials. To ascertain his Nigerian identity, Nii Tackie is asked if he can speak any Nigerian language. Unfortunately, he can’t articulate himself in any. His Ghanaian name, mannerisms and his inability to speak any Nigerian language confirm the officials’ theory that he is a Ghanaian trying to sneak into Nigeria as a Nigerian.

Nii Tackie then remembers what Massa had told him about coming to Nigeria:

“Promise you will never go to Nigeria”

Nii Tackie together with other captives is ordered into a Land Rover vehicle. They are taken away from the border, past Lagos. Again, Nii Tackie tries to drive home his Nigerian citizenship. He tells Immigration Officer Paleo of how his parents were deported from Ghana several years ago and how he has decided to come to Nigeria to find them and stay. He claims he belongs to the Orojo family.

But all attempts to prevail on Paleo are abortive. Rather than take the captives to a prison cell in Lagos, Officer Paleo takes Nii Tackie, Aaron and others to his farms in Illere where they are to work in the stead of incarceration or deportation.

The place Nii Tackie and others are taken to in Illere is called Miliki House managed by Immigration Officer Paleo’s younger brother. Nii Tackie, on his part, is however relentless on finding his family. He asks around for the Orojos but could not get any clue as to where they live.

While Immigration Officer Paleo conducts his captives around and hands them over to his younger brother cum manager of the Miliki House, Nii Tackie again protests about his being treated unfairly because he is a Nigerian. Again, the officer snuffs out Nii Tackie’s protestation with the fact that Nii Tackie can’t prove he is a Nigerian; he can’t speak any Nigerian language. Paleo even claims he is protecting Nii Tackie from the more cynical cell which he would not hesitate to take him to if Nii Tackie objects or makes any trouble.

Nii Tackie notes mentally the officer’s physical features, the name and number on his breastplate (Paleo F. and SK O15/72) for future reference. Thus, Nii Tackie, while in search for his family, becomes a labourer on Paleo’s farms.

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