Ghana, like other African countries, has a large proportion of plus size women, especially amongst those over thirty, but there is a minority of women who retain a small and slender stature throughout life. One such young woman, Akosua Akomwa, was trained as a welder at the Kumasi Technical Institute, a vocational training school established in Kumasi with the help of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). This tiny person was a pioneer in a movement to bring more young women into the engineering crafts. Akosua ran a successful workshop for several years but her Auntie Rose led a very different career.
Some years ago Auntie Rose had been arrested on arrival in England and charged with attempting to import cocaine. Whether she committed this offence knowingly or was an innocent victim of the drugs traffickers is not clear, but after serving her time in prison she had agreed to assist the British authorities in combatting the illegal trade coming from Ghana. She often joked that as at that time most female couriers concealed the drugs in their brassieres, her slender build and short stature rendered her of little value to the cartel which preferred to recruit tall women with flat chests.
Auntie Rose had been helping to combat the drugs trade in England before she met other Ghanaians similarly involved, and she readily agreed to join a team to take the battle to Ghana and play a role in disrupting the cartel’s operations in its headquarters city, Kumasi. When a reformed cartel member was kidnapped, she helped secure the intervention of the Asantehene, King of Ashanti, who detailed his king’s men to secure the captive’s release.
The shoe queen in Kumasi’s famous Kejetia market had been convicted of involvement in the drugs cartel and had served a prison sentence. When after her release it was suspected that she might be involved in reviving the cartel’s activities, Auntie Rose posed as an agent of a British shoe exporter to gain access to the shoe queen’s Manhyia mansion.
Auntie Rose’s Ghanaian friends were intrigued by her unusually small stature and likened her to the mmoatia, imaginary forest dwellers the size of children featured in Ghana’s famous Ananse (Spider) stories. She certainly possessed the cunning and quick wits of a mmoatia. When she was seated on an office desk swinging her short legs in a characteristic manner they watched to make sure that her feet were not pointing backwards.