The character and role of Fofo in Faceless is one big predictable topic for both students and teachers of WASSCE Literature-i-English, isn’t it?
I daresay there is no teacher nor student of Literature-in-English who wouldn’t have thought about the role of Fofo as they prepare for WASSCE, JAMB, NECO or any other examination involving Darko’s Faceless.
For some strange reason, however, I have postponed tackling this important topic on several occasions in the past. Well, finally, here we are.
You are going to have, right at your fingertips, the most important points you will need in order to deal decisively with a question about the character and role of Fofo in Faceless.
Let’s begin this way.
Here is how I will give you the points on the character and role of Fofo.
I will first give you a comprehensive list of the most important aspects of the character of Fofo.
I will then give you the essential points about the role of Fofo in Faceless. These will be in relation to other characters, the themes and the development of the plot of Faceless.
So, who is Fofo in Faceless?
What a super easy question!
Who doesn’t know? We all do, right?
Isn’t Fofo the heroine in the novel, Faceless?
Yes, she is.
Isn’t Fofo the younger sister of Baby T? Daughter of Maa Tsuru – a woman who appears not to know how to handle her men so they quickly come to their senses?
So why should I be bothering you with this CHEAP question, right?
Keep reading and you’ll begin to realize it isn’t as simple as it appears. I mean, a question about the character and role of Fofo in Faceless needs to be treated with a good measure of respect.
Because there is so much to be said about the significance of Fofo in Faceless.
Here are the essential points you need to know about the character and role of Fofo in Faeeless.
Please note: You need not say everything you find in this tutorial as you write an essay on the character called Fofo in Darko’s Faceless.
BUT YOU OUGHT TO SAY A LOT.
Fofo’s family background
- Fofo is the second daughter and fourth child of Maa Tsuru and Kwei, a native of a suburb of Accra called British Accra.
- Fofo’s father abandoned her even before she was born. So Fofo does not know her father nor his whereabouts.
Like Baby T, Fofo got her name by default since Kwei was not there to name her when she was born.
“He left us a long time ago. Mother said I was still not even born.”
- Fofo’s family is the typical traditional extended family found in many parts of West Africa and the rest of the continent.
But this particular family of Fofo’s has a couple of quite disturbing attributes.
Fofo’s extended family is made up of other mothers and children whose fathers abandoned them.
Except Naa Yomo, members of Fofo’s family have a strong attachment to superstition.
Thus, plagued by the perennial problem of absentee fathers, and reeling under the yoke of superstitious beliefs, everyone in Fofo’s extended family compound is too busy fighting for their own survival to really care about the other person.
- The undisputed head of Fofo’s household is Naa Yomo.
Enough for Fofo’s family. Let’s move on.
The Character of Fofo
At the time we meet Fofo, she is about 14 years old. She has already become an experienced street girl. She is well-versed in the survival tactics of the street. These include pick-pocketing or petty stealing and daring self-defence moves in the most difficult moments.
How Fofo came to live on the street.
Below is a description of how Fofo’s journey into becoming a permanent street child unfolded.
Fofo started tasting life on the streets as a beggar. In those early days, she would return home with whatever she had been able to get at the end of the day.
The main reason why Fofo dropped out of school to beg on the streets of Accra is poverty.
This is how she explains to Dina, the founder of MUTE, why lots of children leave school and their homes to go and beg for money and food on the street.
“When there is no food, you don’t want to be asked by anyone to go out and beg. Hunger is a foe and it is overpowering. When it pushes you, you go. It was the same with Baby T.”
Then Fofo witnessed the trauma Baby T had to go through as she was sexually molested by Kpakpo and Onko – two male adults who should have known better.
Finally, when her hapless mother, Maa Tsuru agreed to literally sell Baby T to unknown people with questionable names and to a place none seems to know anything about, Fofo got disillusioned. She began sleeping out of home and gradually graduates into a full blown street-dweller.
- Fofo is a survivor and a most resourceful girl for her age.
Here are some pointers to Fofo’s good judgment, guts and resourcefulness.
Fofo possesses enough guts to cleverly resist Poison’s rape attempt on her. Poison is the ruthless street lord who, as Odarley tells us, always gets what he wants with all the street girls.
Secondly, Fofo knows when to say no to binge drinking and premature sex on Sundays at the squatter enclave called Sodom and Gomorrah.
This is why she goes to find a vegetable washing job at the Agbogbloshie market.
Fofo considers this to be a more helpful way of coping with the harshness of street life.
The kind of wisdom Fofo possesses is demonstrated again when, at the closing stages of the novel, she chooses to learn a vocation as MUTE takes her into rehabilitation.
Moreover, despite being a teenager, Fofo often behaves like a fully-grown adult whenever the situation calls for it. The novelist makes it clear to us that the harshness of street life has made her and other street children like her so.
“ … several times within the spate of the twenty-four hours that make a day, the harshness and complications of the street can so hastily add to and multiply the aging looks and demeanour of a girl at such short intervals that she can seem like a child one moment and look like a full blown woman the next.”
Fofo dropped out of school very early in Class Two. This was due to the fact that her mother simply could not afford the cost of her uniform and exercise books.
- Fofo is a very friendly and likeable girl. She makes friends very easily.
Here are some instances to show how likeable Fofo can be.
First, Kabria quickly takes a liking to Fofo just a few moments after narrowly escaping that same girl’s daring attempt to rob her.
Dina’s househelp, Afi, easily becomes Fofo’s friend and confidant just days after Fofo entered Dina’s house.
Fofo has a dependable friend in Odarley, another street girl.The friendship between Fofo and Odarley keeps growing stronger with each passing day.
This is in spite of Fofo’s often erratic behaviour and mood swings. Fofo appears to be overwhelmed by the problems she has to deal with despite being a mere teenager.
- But Fofo can be uncharitable, almost to the point of rudeness, towards adults who cross her path.
Fofo’s stormy relationship with Maa Tsuru, her mother, her show of utter contempt for Kpakpo, her stepfather, and, of course, her rude remarks against the woman who tries to poke her nose into her affairs on her return journey with Odarley after their call on Maa Tsuru, are clear examples of this.
- Fofo’s heart is filled with bitterness and rage against those she considers to be the source of her troubles.
For example, it is obvious from her utterances and attitude that Fofo loathes Nii Kpakpo, her stepfather, and, by extension, his two very young sons with Maa Tsuru.
- Fofo can behave erratically sometimes. This is particularly so when she comes under severe pressure. An instance is the sudden manner in which she parts ways with Odarley on their return journey from the visit to Maa Tsuru.
The role of Fofo
Fofo’s young age and her experiences at that age give us much food for thought. Ama Darko, has succeeded in employing the character called Fofo to give a graphic description of the plight of many children in Ghana, and other parts of Africa, who have become street children through no fault of theirs.
- Fofo is thus an instrument of satire in Faceless.
Fofo’s troubles are not restricted to her alone. Fofo is Amma Darko’s way of criticizing failed government institutions whose lack of action are destroying the futures of the country’s children.
We cannot help but express shock and dismay at society’s failure to take good care of its children and other vulnerable groups.
- Faceless as a feminist novel
Secondly, thanks to a careful and detailed narration of the problems Fofo has to deal with as a female child, the feminist tone of Faceless remains sharp throughout the novel.
Amma Darko spares no effort in making it abundantly clear to the reader that the conflicts and tribulations that Fofo and the female gender in general suffer are the making of irresponsible men in an unequal, uncaring, male-dominated society.
As Fofo walks Kabria and Sylv Po through the dangerously hostile alleys of Sodom and Gomorrah, we are made to witness a society divided into two starkly different worlds – the privileged on the one hand and the disadvantaged squatters of Sodom and Gomorrah on the other.
- The negative effects of parental neglect and street life on the victim
Fofo’s outward rugged disposition, hidden under her natural physical beauty, coupled with her resourcefulness in extremely trying moments are the hallmark of the typical Accra street child.
Sadly, however, this condition where a child is forced to live with two rapidly alternating conflicting personalities cannot give her the needed emotional grounding for a stable and productive adult life.
That is why through Fofo, we are made to appreciate the theme of streetism and the work of NGOs like Dina’s MUTE and other civil society groups such as Ms Kamame’s PPAG.
- Fofo contributes to the development of the plot of Faceless
There is an important incident in Faceless that causes the events in the novel to unfold till the end.
It is Fofo’s attempt to pick someone’s purse in the Agbogbloshie market. She wants to find the means to enable her to personally do something about Baby T’s mysterious death.
But luck runs out for Fofo. She is caught and handed over to her intended victim-turned- rescuer,
Interestingly, it is this event that marks the beginning of Fofo’s life-changing journey in partnership with MUTE and Harvest FM. This journey is what gives the reader the rare chance to hear directly from other important characters like Maa Tsuru, Naa Yomo and Poison.
In fact, far from being Fofo’s individaul journey to rehabilitation, it is a journey of social change. This is the main story that moves through the pages of Faceless.
Granted, after Fofo’s story, the street child menace may not be completely eradicated. But, surely, society can no longer afford to remain indifferent to the issue of streetism, its causes and its consequences for all.
This, then, is the significant role of Fofo in Faceless by Amma Darko.