Another suitable title for this post is this:
The Character and Role of Baby T in Faceless.
You are, therefore, going to read as much as you need to know about Baby T.
You will also discover the significance of Baby T’s death.
Finally, you will get to know more about Baby T’s contribution to the themes and to the development of the plot of the novel, Faceless.
Are you a teacher preparing your students for an examination involving Amma Darko’s Faceless? I believe you will benefit immensely from this study guide.
Let’s quickly begin by answering this important question:
Who is Baby T in Amma Darko’s novel, Faceless?
Amma Darko, in her novel, Faceless, portrays Baby T as an ill-fated child.
Baby T’s coming into the world, just like her mother’s, was marked by an unfortunate incident.
Kwei, the young man who fathered her had run away from Maa Tsuru, her mother, just before she gave birth to her.
Since Kwei was not around to name the baby girl, everybody started calling her by the default name Baby Tsuru (or Tsuru’s baby). This name is what will later be shortened as Baby T.
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Just like Fofo, Baby T started attending school but dropped out at Class Two. The obvious reason is poverty and lack of proper parental care.
By the tender age of twelve, Baby T had suffered so much hunger and starvation that she and Fofo, her younger sister, had to frequent the streets to engage in all manner of income-earning activities to support their mother.
This was to enable Maa Tsuru to take care of the household.
Baby T suffers sexual violence
But it is the coming of Nii Kpakpo, their “new father”, into their lives that will shape the future of this young girl.
Nii Kpakpo defiles Baby T one night while Maa Tsuru is away to give birth to his son at the midwife’s.
And when Fofo and Baby T turn to Onko, the supposed kind-hearted “uncle” of the extended family, for support and comfort, he takes advantage of Baby T’s innocence and vulnerability and brutally rapes her.
Baby T is wounded both physically and emotionally. She is traumatized by the unfortunate experience.
“Baby T lay there motionless, crying. The pain was distinct in her eyes. The trauma she had suffered had left its prints on her very person and her soul. She was in great physical and even greater mental pain. If the good Lord gave her long life, it was obvious she was going to require lots of strength and love to rebuild her dignity, her self love and trust.”
But this is not to be.
Meanwhile, Maa Tsuru, on her part, is unable to stand the pressures and the consequences of these sad events in her family,
Maa Tsuru, therefore, agrees with Kpakpo’s suggestion and sends out the poor girl onto the streets and into child prostitution.
Baby T Dies
Not long after, Baby T’s lifeless body is found dumped behind a certain blue rasta kiosk at the Agbogbloshie market.
It is clear that Baby T died at a different location and her killers only found it convenient to dump her body there.
Details found at the crime scene include the following.
- Baby T’s face is mutilated
- Baby T’s body is found naked
- Her dead body is without any trace of hair – it has been clean shaven.
A slaughtered white fowl is found at the scene the next day after the body had been dumped there.
The narrator also tells us that it is most likely that Baby T’s corpse, like numerous other victims of the street, will eventually be transported in a refuse truck to a place called Mile Seven and buried in a cheap wooden (wawa) coffin.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE DEATH OF BABY T
In fact, Baby T is just one more victim of social injustice.
The death of Baby T exposes the failings in the governance of the country
The police and all other law-enforcement agencies are found wanting when the need arises to investigate criminal cases.
What is even more telling is that there is absolute lack of interest in the matter if the victim happens to be a street child.
It is rather non-state players like the media and other civil society groups that become the advocates for the rights of the vulnerable in society.
Harvest FM and MUTE are clear examples here.
It highlights the effects of parental neglect
Baby T is simply a representative character. She is a single example of what becomes of a female child when her parents and family fail to take good care of her.
Baby T’s death is used to develop the theme of sexual violence
Sexual violence is one major theme in Faceless.
Amma Darko portrays this social canker as a dent on the conscience of society as a whole. Irresponsible men, even close family relations, are the perpetrators.
Unfortunately, cases of rape and defilement within families are often hushed up.
One reason for this is the desire of the affected family to escape public ridicule.
Also, poverty makes the victims and their parents choose to accept financial compensation, however small, from the culprit rather than allow the law to deal with him.
State institutions show very little interest in such matters of sexual violence. So the problem persists as the culprits are left off the hook.
Out in the street, young, defenceless girls are at the mercy of characters like Poison. Poison’s attempt to rape Fofo is a way of scaring and silencing her and Maa Tsuru regarding the identity of the murdered Baby T.
Thus, sexual violence, for street thugs like Poison, has become a weapon used for intimidating and controling others.
To the novelist, unless male sexual predators like Kpakpo, Onko and Poison are made to pay for their actions, society will continue to produce more Baby Ts.
Baby T’s death also highlights the theme of superstition
The society portrayed by Amma Darko in Faceless is one that is controlled by all forms of superstitious beliefs. For example they find any means to attribute every event, particularly the unfortunate ones, to one curse or the other.
As we have seen in this novel, the people’s obsession with superstitious beliefs is largely responsible for most of the problems they face.
Below are instances of superstition in the novel which relate directly to Baby T’s death.
- It is Onko’s desperate attempts to have access to Baby T’s private part in order to take her pubic hair for spiritual cleansing that will result in the girl’s untimely death.
- Baby T’s clean-shaven body can be traced to Onko. He has been ordered by a juju man to produce the victim’s pubic hair for expelling a supposed curse he attracted by having sexual relations with a cursed girl.
- Maami Broni goes under the cover of darkness to slaughter a white fowl at the place where Baby T’s body has been dumped in order to ward off any negative spiritual consequences.
The effects of loveless homes on males like Poison
When love has no place in a home, the result is children who grow up to have virtually no feelings for others. All they have learnt from their parents is brutality. That is the case with Poison, the Street Lord of Soddom and Gomorrah.
Poison’s brutal assault on Baby T for her refusal to have anything to do with Onko, shows the extent to which loveless homes are producing boys who will turn out to be a danger to all.
The dangers that street children are exposed to
Baby T’s death helps to reveal the problems that every street child has to contend with.
- Violence and death
- Sexual harrassment as suffered by Fofo at the hands of Poison following Baby T’s death
- Insecurity and insanitary living conditions as discovered by Kabria and Sylv Po during their walk through the alleys of Sodom and Gomorrah.
The event helps to reveal the essential characters of Maa Tsuru and Fofo
While Maa Tsuru comes out as a naive and hapless mother, incapable of protecting her own children, Fofo emerges a smart and assertive young girl, who, if given the chance, can make a big impact on her own life, on her family and on society at large.
Baby T’s death contributes to the development of the plot
In fact, the entire plot of Faceless, is built around the circumstances surrounding this girl’s death and the investigations by MUTE and Sylv Po’s Harvest FM into the causes thereof.
This one event plays a pivotal role in the plot of the novel. It is what moves the action of the novel from one stage to the next.
The death of Baby T triggers Poison’s attempted rape of Fofo. Fofo then has to visit home to look for answers from Maa Tsuru.
When Fofo learns from Maa Tsuru that her sister has been killed, she resolves to do something about it.
Fofo’s first step after learning about the death of Baby T is to go find some money and then look for “government” for assistance.
So Fofo disguises herself as a boy, in clothes she picked from Kpakpo’s abandoned polythene bag.
Next, she goes to the Agbogbloshie market. Fofo is caught at the market trying to rob Kabria of her wallet.
Kabria’s rescue of Fofo and the conversation that ensues between the two will lead MUTE to investigate the death of Baby T, in particular, and the conditions of the street children of Accra, in general.
So now you can use these notes to prepare well enough for any question on Baby T in the novel, Faceless.
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