Literature in the Ghanaian Context: a Few Books Here and There – Kwaku Frimpong


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On another platform I highlighted some works done by African writers mostly fiction. In this piece however I turn my attention to Ghanaian writers. We need to celebrate accomplished Ghanaian writers as well as encourage and support new writers. One of the ways of doing this is to BUY, READ and review works written by Ghanaians. From the early works done by Amu Djoleto, Ama Ata Aidoo, Kobina Sekyi, Kojo Laing there’s been a refreshing breed of Ghanaian writers on the scene. This piece is extremely short just about 10 books, it is a humble attempt to put together Ghanaian works I have recently read and in the process suggest a few titles to anyone interested in reading them.

Nana Awere Damoah’s “I speak of Ghana” a book that resonates with a lot of Ghanaians; triumphs, frustration laced with humor this book is a must read. If you have felt that you are reasonably familiar with Ghana’s political landscape Nana’s book will prompt you to reconsider.

Harmattan Rain by Ayesha Harunah Attah follows the lives of three generations of women. Harmattan Rain is a historical fiction where Ayesha weaves a beautiful story about the culture, fears, and expectations of the Ghanaian woman around Ghana’s history from the early days of independence to the present day Ghana.

Akosua Busia brings us “The Seasons of a Beento Blackbird”. A novel that romanticizes male infidelity; the protagonist has an amorous relationship with two women, a Caribbean and a Ghanaian.

“Cloth of Nakedness” by Benjamin Kwakye has lines and imagery that comes alive in the mind of the reader. The silly lives of men in urban Accra addicted to booze and the corruption of their souls by a character known as Mystique Mysterious.

Speaking of corruption, Ayi Kwei Armah in his first two novels “The Beautyful ones are not yet Born” and “Fragments” describes the corruption that characterized the activities of the elites in post-colonial Ghana. “How quickly the new took after the old” “There was anger however this time there was nowhere to direct the anger because the sons of the land were in charge”. Reading the “Beautyful ones are not yet Born” which was written in 1968 (45 years ago), you will realize that some of the things Ayi Kwei Armah describes in his book are still with us today; everlasting corruption and the filth that has engulfed some parts of Accra. We have made significant progress as a country and it is time to reflect on ways we can deal with this canker “filth” where each year we are saddled with a number of Cholera cases.

Nana Ekua Brew Hammond’s debut novel “Powder Necklace” is a story of a young girl raised in the West but attends boarding school in Ghana, an attempt by her mother to socialize her in the Ghanaian context. Yes! If you attended boarding school you will in some ways identify with the main Character in the Novel. Grab a copy and read.

If you love crime fiction and have not read Kwei Quartey then you are missing out. His three Novel series; “Wife of the Gods” “Children of the Street” and the recent one “Murder at Cape three points” which features Inspector Darko Dawson in his attempt to unravel one mystery after the other in each of these books.

My favorite “Children of the Street” set in the slums of Accra where a criminal is on a killing spree targeting street kids. I love this book because it features the urban poverty where social protection systems in our country have woefully failed to address. The task is not for government alone. Let’s all reach out and support one social intervention or the other, for God and country.

The narrative in western media circles about African women is that of a helpless individual enslaved by culture. One writer who has sought to dispel such notions is Ama Ata Aidoo. Aidoo’s “Changes” “Our Sister KillJoy” feature strong female characters, independent and resourceful. Truly, that is how we know our mothers and wives to be. Reading fiction has many benefits to the mind, principal among them according to psychologists is that it improves our ability to detect and comprehend other people’s emotions, fears, triumphs an important skill in dealing with complex social relationships (Source: New School for Social Research).

Christian Asante writes under the pen name Kwaku Frimpong. He is a biologist by training and is currently a graduate student. He studies bird migration, wetlands and rivers using stable isotopes and mercury analysis. He is a guest blogger on this blog.

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