Ghanaian Authors

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Ghanaian Authors

Ghana

Ghana. The first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence, a regional power in West Africa, and home to 30 million people. Ghana like many other African countries has a rich oral literature history. For this post, I wanted to discover the writings of Ghanaians and I think this selection of books is a good introduction to Ghanaian authors and a peek into Ghanaian culture and history. Each one of these authors were either born and/or raised in Ghana or have a parent who is Ghanaian.

The Pot of Wisdom retold by Adowa Badoe
Ananse is the clever and mischievous half man/half spider creature who is one of the most widely known characters in the realm of African mythology. Originating from the Ashanti people of Ghana, Ananse tales has been told and retold with modifications to every generation. In The Pot of Wisdom, Ananse Stories Badoe recounts nine Ananse stories, each filled with his famous trickery and wisdom. These stories offers an Ashanti answer as to how things began to be such as why spiders make their webs in the corners of a house or why pigs have small snouts.

HomeGoing by Yaa Gyasi
Full disclosure, I have tried to give each book a fair review but when it comes to HomeGoing I simply cannot. This is the best book I have ever read. I could have written a masters level dissertation but I will try to limit myself. Born in Mampong, Ashanti region and raised in Huntsville, Alabama Yaa Gyasi’s highly anticipated first novel (she received a seven figure advance) HomeGoing is a masterpiece (I’m trying my best to offer a balanced review, can you tell?) HomeGoing starts off in Ghana amidst the trans-Atlantic slave trade and tells the story of twin sisters separated at birth. One sister is sold into slavery and the other marries a British colonial officer. The novel follows the sisters through their descendants in Ghana and America all the way up to the present day. One of the things I love about this book is the amount of research it went into telling an accurate portrayal of Ghanaian life before colonization. Yaa describes life in an Ashanti village then transports us to the Cape Coast Castle and forward to the Ashanti-British war with such precision and detail that this book could, dare I say, double as a supplement text in an African history course. There is a way that she personalizes defining moments in history such as the Great Migration that has you guessing if this is a first-hand account or fiction. I connected with Yaa Gyasi and HomeGoing because like Yaa my father’s family is from Mampong, we share the same first name (my middle name is Yaa) and we were both raised in the United States. We share the balancing act of navigating this world as Ghanaian-American and black in America. I urge all of you if you haven’t read this book to place this book on hold on our online catalog!
 
Gold of Our Fathers by Kwei Quartey
One of the books in the Darko Dawson mystery series, Gold of Our Fathers follows chief crime officer Inspector Darko Dawson as he solves the murder of a Chinese gold mine owner in Obuasi, Ghana. I thought this was going to be a cut and dry mystery but not only do we figure out who killed the mine owner, Quartey sheds light on the intricacies and inefficiencies of doing police work and the hidden and sometimes illegal web of gold mining in Ghana. In America, and other parts of The West the police have a certain procedure in place when a murder happens, there are similar procedures in place in Ghana, however the differences are the difficulties that arise at every step. The difficulties are microcosm of issues common in Ghana such as small scale bribery, run down public buildings, and underpaid or poorly trained civil servants.

Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi
Ghana Must Go tells the story of the brilliant but now disgraced surgeon, Kweku Sai’s unexpected death and the reunion of the family that he abandoned. The title is what caught my eye, Ghana Must Go is the term coined during the mass exodus of West Africans, mainly Ghanaians living in Nigeria without proper documentation in 1983. However, my interest quickly waned after being drawn out by how detailed Selasi can make the most mundane things such as the green grass that Sai was standing on when he had his heart attack. Getting past the slow start was a struggle of mine but it does pay off.

The Seasons of Beento Blackbird by Akosua Busia
Solomon Wilberforce is an award winning children’s book author who is in love with three different women, splitting his time with them during each season. It is quite common for people to date multiple partners simultaneously but what makes Solomon different from most men is that these women are frighteningly head over heels with him. Busia writes Solomon as if he is a god; he is intelligent, kind, well off financially, and strikingly handsome. Reading the sacrifices these women make for him turns me off but towards the end the women realize that Solomon is not the light of their lives and begin living their lives for themselves, well two of them at least.