Book One, Chapter One of Faceless opens with Fofo’s dream while she sleeps on a piece of old cardboard in front of a provisions store in the Agbogbloshie market place.
But before we discuss the significance of the only dream in Faceless, I would like us to quickly go over the essential details of the dream.
In her dream, Fofo smiles at the situation where she finds herself “far removed from the realities of the life she lived”.
In Fofo’s dream, she is living in a home with a roof over her head. But when it begins to rain, Fofo now does what she does in real life. She rushes somewhere to search for a safe and dry place to huddle close to other kids for warmth.
Then it occurs to Fofo in her dream that she actually has a roof over her head.
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In Fofo’s dream, there is a toilet in her dream home. The toilet has a roof.
An angel watching over her smiles with her.
Fofo simply enters her dream toilet to ease herself. She does not have to worry about the street bullies and their thick-set leader, Macho.
Fofo’s dream comes to an abrupt end when she feels the hands of a man on her breasts.
It is Poison who has come, not in a dream anymore, but in reality, to attempt to rape Fofo.
The Significance of Fofo’s Dream
Fofo’s dream in the Agbogbloshie market is significant in several ways.
The realities of street life for Accra’s street children
Fofo’s dream highlights the stark realities of the kind of life street children are forced to deal with on a daily and nightly basis. The dream, therefore, brings to the reader’s attention the theme of streetism right at the beginning of Amma Darko’s novel, Faceless.
Below are the realities of street life that come up in Fofo’s dream.
- Street children have to live and sleep in the open or in very insecure places
- Street children have no access to decent toilet facilities.
- Street children are constantly harassed by more powerful male street thugs even while they ease themselves on refuse dumps in the open.
- Street girls live with the danger of being raped at any time. The theme of sexual violence, therefore, comes to the fore in Fofo’s dream.
The author’s use of irony in Faceless
Fofo’s dream is not an ordinary one. The dream Fofo has had in Chapter One of Faceless may sound like a normal dream but it is more than that.
Fofo’s dream is a waking dream. It is a dream that every street child of Accra lives with; every day of their lives.
Just as in her dream, Fofo and all the other street children dream of, or have a strong desire to, get the opportunity to live like children of other families – families like the Adades who have a roof over their heads, decent toilets and other basic amenities.
But the irony is that while in her dream she can get access to these facilities, the situation in Fofo’s real life is the direct opposite. That is why she still has to run for cover and warmth with other street children when it begins to rain in her dream.
Also, the threat of street bullies like Macho molesting the weaker street children as they ease themselves on the refuse dump is real. So Fofo, in her dream, may have a safe and roofed toilet to go to, but that is still a mirage in her life and those of the other street children.
The author’s use of foreshadowing in Fofo’s dream
Amma Darko makes use of the literary techniques of foreshadowing and flashback in her novel Faceless. Fofo’s dream is just one instance of foreshadowing in Faceless.
The events in the dream prepare the reader to later come face to face with the shocking realities of the way of life of the street children of Sodom and Gomorrah.
We will later experience, with these vulnerable children, the harshness of the life they’ve been forced to lead.
On the opposite side, we will as well be introduced to more stable and secure families like that of Kabria and Adade with their three children.
The author of Faceless juxtaposes Fofo’s world with that of Obea’s, for example, to make us see clearly the deplorable conditions of street life in Accra and other African cities.
Unlike the dire conditions of Fofo and other street children, Obea, Essie and Ottu wake up each morning to a secure family setting.
Thus, the details provided in Fofo’s dream are, in fact, not her reality but the reality of other privileged children. For children like Fofo, a roofed house, a roofed toilet, a secure and loving family are simply a dream that may never come to reality.
It is, therefore, not surprising that this dream never lasts for long.
As Fofo feels Poison’s hands on her breasts, she is quickly jolted back to the reality of life she must deal with each day of her life.
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