Article #16 in the YCC Kids Club Ghana Student Life Stories Project
How a Brush Fire Killed Olukpedu
By Mawuko Courage, Age 15
My name is Mawuko Courage and I have four brothers and six sisters. I live in Kpotame in the North Tongu district in the Volta Region of Ghana. My mother is a trader and my father is a pastor.
I was fourteen years old when my friend Olukpedu was burned by a brush fire.
Brush fires have become a great predicament in our community. The term “brush fire” refers to the burning of trees, grass, and shrubs. Often these fires begin when people burn their rubbish to dispose of it, or when they want to drive away animals or clear land for farming.
As the wise saying goes: Fire serves as a good servant, but a bad master. Fire may be useful, but it can also quickly destroy life and property.
Olukpedu was a friend of mine who was living in Kpotame to further his education. He was originally from Nigeria. One day in the year 2009, Olukpedu went into the forest to pick some firewood for cooking.
Suddenly, my friend came across a naked fire burning ahead of him. He drew nearer to the fire to see the reason why it was set. He then came back to where he was searching for wood. He did not realize that he had dropped his cutlass back near where the fire was burning.
As Olukpedu was returning, the fire was burning highly at his back in the absence of him knowing. My friend thought that the fire would quench before he arrived at his normal place, but yet the fire did not quench.
He had begun to tie the wood he had collected with a rope when the fire reached him. Olukpedu wanted to run away, but before he could run, the fire caught his back.
My friend began shouting and calling to people: “Hey! Hey! Help me!” over and over again. I heard him and thought he was joking. But before we could get to him, Olukpedu had been burnt.
My friend was still alive, so quickly he was sent to the hospital. Before they reached the doctors, however, Olukpedu had died. His life was ended and I was left alone. I felt so lonely for days and cried for a month, but my friend couldn’t be woken up. I just kept saying to myself: “God gives and God takes.”
Now, however, our Cross-Culture Class at YCC has taught us that it is NOT enough to simply say, “God gives and God takes” and leave it at that. Instead, we must learn to be local leaders and educate the public to develop our communities for the better. By educating our communities, we can prevent tragedies like what happened to my friend Olukpedu.
Lillie’s Note: Please do leave a comment for Courage, making sure to state your geographical location!
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 3.7 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!