Little Effia knew it was late. “Fo,” she whispered to her elder brother. “Father will whip us if he finds us here at this time of the night.” “We’ll be quick, Effy,” Ekow assured her. “Don’t you want to see the forest fairy? They say she’s the biggest in the whole of Ghana. Imagine, she’s been seen on our farm!” Effia’s eyes sparkled through the thick midnight blue stillness. The cocoa farm looked eerie, almost foreboding, in the weak moonlight. Effia let out a tiny shriek as she stepped on some dry cocoa tree leaves. She was terrified, but the prospect of stealing a glimpse of the glittering forest fairy overshadowed her fears.
The siblings darted from one cocoa tree to the next on their tip toes. Suddenly, Ekow stopped. “I see her!” He whispered urgently. Effia tried hard to peer through the trees. A tiny, golden orb flickered at a distance. Slowly, the orb floated towards the duo, it’s tiny light flashing. “Where’s the fairy, why can’t I see her?” whispered Effia. Ekow scratched his head.
The orb hovered over the children and gently landed on Effia’s arm. “Fo, it’s a firefly,” she giggled. The light-emitting beetle moved in circles, then stopped. A second later, Effia screamed. “Oww! It bit me.” Ekow froze. His face suddenly felt hot but his body had gone cold. “Effy!” He screamed, realization and terror flooding his veins. “Effy, hit that firefly away and run!”
Effiatried to swat the insect away, but it wouldn’t budge. It bit harder and began to suck at her crimson blood. “Fo, it’s hurting!” Effia cried. Ekow pulled his sister in a blind panic across the farm. “We must get home!” Crying, he ran as fast as he could. For a brief second, he looked around and shrieked in terror.
Blood was pouring out of Effia’seyes and mouth. The firefly was still etched onto her arm. Ekow tripped and fell. The boy watched in horror as the insect sucked the life out of his sister. “Dadaaaaa, It’s the Adze!!!!!!!” he screamed till his lungs hurt. Blood dripping from its fangs, the vampire firefly detached itself from Effia’s limp body and pounced onto Ekow’s face. Then, all went black.
Awusi’sbloodcurdling cries reverberated through the village. She threw herself over her children’s lifeless bodies and wept. Most of Bame was gathered at the cocoa farm. Shocked and scared faces looked at Awusi helplessly. The children were worse than dead. Their corpses were ash-grey, shrivelled remains of their once human selves. Mr Nettey sighed in frustration. Two children gone meant two workers less on the cocoa farm that he managed. On top of that, now his workers would run away before sundown, lowering productivity. This unsettled him more than the thought of a nocturnal blood-sucking insect.
A woman nervously walked to the center of the crowd. “The Adze is back. This firefly can get into our homes through the tiniest of spaces. It can shapeshift, destroy us. Oh, what are we to do?” She began to cry. Noisy, tensed discussions ensued. Mr Nettey pinched his brow. His dream of retiring early and settling down in Accra seemed to be slipping away. He did not understand the Ewe people’s fixation about a tiny firefly. “OKAY!” He boomed, throwing his hands in the air. “Does anyone know a solution to this?”
Yao, one of the farm’s oldest workers, spoke up. “The Adze likes coconut milk and palm oil. If we keep out enough supplies of these, we could distract it…” Mr Nettey snorted, “A killer vampire firefly drinks coconut milk? Then, what are we waiting for? Let’s give it as much as it wants. We have cocoa to give the world. Come on, let’s chop, chop!”
Yao continued, “but….this is a temporary solution. The Adze cannot be killed in its insect form, only when we trap it in its human form can we destroy it.” A shudder travelled through the gathering. “The problem is it is very difficult to identify an Adze in its human form as it is a witch and can possess other humans…”
This was becoming too complicated for Mr Nettey. He had a lot of cocoa to be harvested, superiors to answer to and profit to be earned. He roared, “I will finish the lot of you off before that if I don’t see everybody at the farm in thirty minutes. Get all your children too. On the double!” The villagers scuttled off, too terrified to argue. Alas, poverty was a more frightening prospect than the Adze. Slowly, only Awusi and her husband remained.
A tired and pained Kwame touched his wife on the shoulder. “Awusi, it’s time for their funeral. We must now live with the pain….” Awusi slapped Kwame’s hand away and screamed, “To hell with you! Didn’t I tell you that it’s wrong for the children to work? I wanted to give my children an education, but no, all you care about is the dirty money you make on this shit farm!” Kwame began to weep. “I have debts Awusi, it was just a matter of few more years and you knew it.” “KNEW IT? Knew it? Our children are DEAD!” Awusi voice had reached a fever pitch.
Suddenly, she calmed down and stood up. In a strangely peaceful voice she said, “I’m tired. Goodbye, my children,” and walked towards the village. Kwame assumed she was in shock. He sighed and went on to carry out his children’s funeral.
It was well after midnight when Awusi left her hut. She crept past the village. Cracks in the walls had been hurriedly repaired, pieces of cloth had been stuffed under the doors and into the tiniest gaps of window panes. A child cried in a house. “Shhhh!” hissed the mother. “Be quiet, or the Adze will get you!”
Awusi walked through the cocoa farm right till she reached the edge of the lake. The silhouette of the mountains beyond looked strangely comforting. She took a deep breath, removed her headscarf, and began a guttural chant. “Oh, creature of the light, doom and terror; I beckon you to me. Make me your vehicle. Oh, creature of …” Awusi was in a trance. Her chants echoed across the lake. She opened her eyes to stare right at a firefly. “Oh, Adze,” Awusispoke calmly. “You took my beautiful children from me. I come here with a thirst for revenge. My anger is not limited to you, it exists beyond. I feel angry at the injustice, the greed and the way of man. I am furious at the cowardice of the villagers, at slavery and the selfishness of the world. Help me bring the world to justice, Adze. Help me avenge my children.”
The Adze paused for a moment, then whooshed into Awusi. She shuddered, opened her glassy eyes and walked towards an unsuspecting Bame.
There was pandemonium at the farm. Villagers who had come to work were greeted to the sight of Mr Nettey hanging from the largest cocoa tree. Cocoa beans were stuffed into his eyes and mouth. Dried blood lathered his skin and his hollow corpse swung in the wind. The worst had transpired. The Adze now walked amongst them.
Every house in Bame lived on tenterhooks. People were on the brink of madness. Any flying insect that crossed their paths was caught and killed. Suspicion seeped into mindsets and shredded relationships. Awusi now planned her next move. Should it be those corrupt officers at the processing centre? No, it had to be Kwame. He was the primary reason for her children’s death. Then, it would be every family that lived in Bame. One by one.
Melancholy engulfed Kwame as he stared at a light bulb. Awusi seemed to be in a trance since the children were gone and he felt helpless. He chose to soothe his guilty conscience by blaming his misfortune. The door opened. Kwame turned to see Awusistanding in front of him with a glass full of hot liquid. “Oh, Kwame. Look, I have brought you hot cocoa.” His wife’s voice was silken, almost alien. There was a certain glow around her. Kwame walked towards her, part confused and part relieved that she was speaking to him again. He held out his hand to the glass when he noticed that Awusi’s eyes appeared green. Within a split second, Awusi flung the boiling hot contents of the glass onto Kwame. Kwame’s screams tore through the night. Awusiknew no one would come to help. She cackled. “It will be interesting to feast over blood-flavoured cocoa. Or will it be cocoa-flavoured blood? Hahahaah!” Assuming the shape of the firefly, the Adze proceeded to devour its second victim.
Pretending to be a normal human being was taking a toll on Awusi. Visitors flocked her home during the day with sympathy and food, none of which she could digest. She couldn’t leave the house easily at night as watchdogs had been stationed everywhere. Her stomach growled. She needed blood. As dusk set, she peeked outside. Her neighbour was placing a bowl of coconut milk outside her hut. Awusicouldn’t take it anymore. She rushed to lap it up when there a deep cry, “There she is, she is theAdzétɔ!!!!” Awusi had walked right into a trap.
It had happened very quickly. Hot water had been thrown onto Awusi to weaken her. She was held down by a dozen men, bound with ropes, then flung into a cage. As she was dragged towards the cocoa farm, Awusi snarled at the booing villagers like a wild animal. The entire village followed her with flaming torches in their hands. “Witch! Cursed! Kill her!” they screamed and stood around like acircle of eager ants.
Awusi suddenly shrunk into a fragile, pale version of herself and began to wail. “My family is dead and this is how you treat me? People of Bame, I am one of you. I am not the Adzétɔ. Don’t you have a heart? Don’t you understand the pain of a mother?” The villagers paused. Some of them even began to look sympathetic. One of them tried to walk towards the cage when Yao yelled, “Stand back! The Adzétɔ is trying to hypnotise you. Oh, I knew it was you, Awusi. Your time is up!”Yao held up his flaming torch. Awusi roared and swelled. Her skin grew darker than the night and nails grew into talons. Green light shone fiercely through her eyes as she spoke in a rustled baritone, “You fools, you think you can kill me? There is no escape. Grrrrraaahhh!” Orange flames submerged Awusias she screamed. As she succumbed, a burst of neon light touched the sky. Soon, a heap of warm ash lay in the cage where the Adzétɔ once stood. It seemed like it was over. The villagers cried happy tears.
It rained the following morning. Water blended with Awusi’s ashy remains and seeped into the soil. The cocoa trees absorbed this water and fed their growing cocoa pods. The new farm manager was happy with the year’s high-quality produce. This wonderful cocoa was sent to chocolate factories all over the world. It was processed, tempered and packed in shiny wrappers.
Pierre from Paris bought this chocolate for his wife. Andrea from Ohio received a big box of the chocolates for her birthday. Lata from Pune added it to her Diwali laddoos. Abdul tasted it over chocolate-coated strawberries. It was the most delicious chocolate anyone had ever eaten.
But soon after,all of them swore they saw a green light in their dreams and have often woken up screaming and vomiting blood. This bar of death could reach you when you’re least expecting it.
What if you ateit?
Fo – Brother in the Ewe dialect of West Africa
Dada – Mother
Adzétɔ – The human possessed by the Adze, witch
The Adze is a vampiric firefly belonging to the Ewe folklore of Ghana and Togo. It preys on the blood of men and women but especially enjoys the warm blood of beautiful children. This shapeshifting creature can possess humans and legends say that there is no cure for the bitten. It often appears around areas where greed, jealously and misery thrive. Local tribes still live in the fear of crossing paths with the Adze to this very day.