Ant Bush by Sefakor Aku Zikpi
In Ant Bush by Sefakor Aku Zikpi we have the theme of appearance, identity, acceptance, fear, confidence and happiness. Narrated in the first person by Zikpi herself the reader realizes from the beginning of the story that Zikpi may be exploring the theme of appearance. Zikpi wants her hair to be different and not to be simply permed or in plaits. The two styles of hairstyle that her mother makes Zikpi wear her hair in. This may be significant as Zikpi’s mother may be using her daughter’s hair to form Zikpi’s identity. She is Ghanaian-Australian and her mother prefers her to wear her hair as those in Ghana might. Though Zikpi’s mother might prefer this. Zikpi longs to have her hair in pigtails. Not only does Zikpi feel as though this is more acceptable for her environment but she feels as though she can wear pigtails better than anyone else. This too might be important as it suggests that Zikpi is allowing for her hairstyle to determine whether or not she is confident.
The theme of fear is also evident in the story. Anytime that Zikpi’s mother manages her daughter’s hair. Zikpi is afraid that her mother, without meaning to do so, will hurt her. It is as though she feels that her mother is being too rough with her hair. Something that distresses both Zikpi and her father. Who asks his wife to be gentle with Zikpi. However the reader realizes that Zikpi’s hair may be rough and as such takes an extra bit of effort when it comes to combing. Something that is clearer to the reader when we discover that Zikpi’s mother has broken ten combs while trying to comb Zikpi’s hair. It may also be significant that Zikpi, when her hair is in pigtails, has an extraordinary amount of confidence. Unfortunately this is short lived when Neil Prassad teases Zikpi about her hair.
There may be some symbolism in the story which might be important. Neil in many ways acts as a foil to Zikpi’s character. She is after all fine until Neil makes his comment about Zikpi’s hair looking like an ant bush. The three girls mentioned in the story also act symbolically as persons that Zikpi wants to feel better than, based solely on Zikpi’s impression or wishes for her hair. Again things do not work out well for Zikpi when she discovers that Neil may be right and all the wishes that Zikpi had fall by the wayside and that is interesting as Zikpi realizes that she has no option but to wear her hair naturally or in plaits.
The end of the story is significant as through Neil’s comments Zikpi learns to accept her hair for what it is, difficult. She no longer wants pigtails as she knows they are not suitable to her hair and rather than having another person comment on her hair. Zikpi agrees to let her mother put plaits in her hair. If anything Zikpi has gone from being unhappy, with the two hairstyles her mother has, to being happy that she has pigtails. To accepting that her hair is difficult and that she can only wear her hair two ways. It took a very brief moment of happiness for Zikpi to realize that she had to be practical.