Esseboe Kwami Nyamidie grew up in West Africa. As a young boy, he played in his parents’ cocoa farm where he experienced firsthand the beauty of the natural world. He did not watch any of the popular TV programs Americans of his generation enjoyed. Nobody owned a television set in his village. There was no electricity.
In the absence of Disney movies and children’s television programs Nyamidie slept under the magnificence of the tropical night, its vast infinite sky glittering with stars sheltered him from light pollution. In the day, he lived among huge tropical trees such as the giant mahogany and tall palm trees with diverse insects and birds that wore multi-color feathers. He encountered animals with strange forms and shapes that produced unique sounds.
Nyamidie played games with his Mother when the night sky was clear when the moon and stars shone. His favorite game involved looking for the night’s brightest stars. Another was choosing the star each of them would like to be. When they saw the New Moon appear every 28 days, often behind the clouds, Nyamidie’s Mother would make a wish. She prayed for health, happiness, and protection for the family during the month that was beginning.
Nyamidie went hunting for crabs in nearby ponds and rivers with his older brother, Albert, when the sun went down. They would catch crabs crawling in the rain. Sometimes they dug them out from their holes. As they strolled into the dark with kerosene lanterns, they saw and heard many critters of the African evening.
Night Critters Play relives some of the enchantments of the tropical night that the author experienced while he was growing up. Unfortunately, some of the animals and insects he describes are going extinct. Take a trip with him in this fictional but biographical adventure to discover some of the creatures he grew up knowing.
Esseboe Kwami Nyamidie lives in the Pacific Northwest.