Ten Exceptional Non-Fiction Writers from Ghana you should read

 

Two weeks ago, Gird Centre brought you a list of ten contemporary fiction writers. Through their creativity and brilliance, they have broadened literary spaces, providing variety and quality. Today, we bring you another list of contemporary Ghanaian writers of non-fiction. We believe their contributions to telling the experiences of society, has played an important role in quickening the collective consciousness of Ghanaians. We hope you find a wonderful read from the works of any of the writers below:

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  1. Malaka Grant– Malaka Grant is a Ghanaian-American writer. Rarely does any issue of social relevance escape her notice, especially in relation to gender, African identity, motherhood and sexuality. Malaka gets you to look at issues from several angles; she gives the account people would rather sweep under the rugs. She makes you feel, and laugh, and reject with disgust the injustices that have long been accepted by the Ghanaian as ‘culture’. Apart from non-fiction, Malaka writes fiction and children’s stories. She has five books to her credit, namely, Madness and Tea, Lover of Her Sole, Daughters of Swallows, Yaa Traps Death in a Basket and Sally & The Butterfly. You can read some of her work on her blog, https://mindofmalaka.com.

 

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  1. Nana Oforiatta Ayim– Nana Oforiatta Ayim is a writer as well as an art historian and a filmmaker. After living abroad for a decade, Nana returned to Ghana with the vision of contributing to an ardent reinvention of the narrative of and about Africa. Her dream is to seek the untold, undocumented stories and retell it. Nana has written extensively on contemporary African arts while facilitating numerous research and exhibition projects internationally. In 2012, Nana Oforiatta Ayim founded a cultural research platform known as ANO with the aim of helping artists “at the early stage of their career to find a foothold within the art world here [in Ghana] and also internationally so they don’t feel like they have to go and live in London or Paris or New York in order to be artists.” Nana Oforiatta Ayim’s writing has appeared in publications such as The National Geographic, The Statesman, The Dubliner and Time Out. Her first novel will be published in 2017.

 

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  1. Nana Awere Damoah– Nana Awere Damoah is a multi-talented writer. Nana believes in creating his own style anytime he writes. In his non-fiction writing, Nana introduces a diversity of style such poetry, storytelling and satire. Nana’s works have been published in the Legon Business Journal, Sentinel Nigeria Magazine and African Roar which is published by StoryTime. Some of Nana Awere Damoah’s works of non-fiction include I Speak of Ghana (2013), Through the Gates of Thought (2010) and Excursions in my Mind (2008). In 2015, Nana released Sebetically Speaking; a collection of humorous and satirical articles, focused mainly on socio-political happenings in Ghana. Nana keeps a personal blogs as well. You can visit any of his blog to find out what Nana has been cooking even as this list was being  compiled https://nanaaweredamoah.wordpress.com or http://nanadamoah.com

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  1. Nana Darkoa Sakyiamah– Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah is a writer and blogger who focuses on stories that explore issues around the diverse sexualities of African women. She is the curator of ‘Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women’, a highly acclaimed and widely read blog on African women and sexuality. Nana started this blog with Malaka Grant. Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women’ is a safe space for African women to talk about sex and sexuality. Nana Darkoa has written several pieces for This is Africa and The Guardian. Visit her blog at http://adventuresfrom.com

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  2. Richard Akita-Richard Akita is an entrepreneur and life coach. He is passionate about seeing people serve their communities as best as they can; he believes that the gifts that people have can be maximised through constant use, under the right conditions of mentorship and encouragement. Richard is a teacher, motivational speaker and mentor. Some of his works include Power of One: One Idea, One Decision, One Action; Cheat on Fear; Every Day in Love: Inspirational Love Expressions & Insightful Quotes.

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  1. Nana Ama Agyeman Asante- Nana Ama Agyeman Asante is a journalist and a writer. She is currently a co-host of the Citi Breakfast Show on Citi FM, an Accra based radio station. Nana Ama keeps a personal blog on https://nnyamewaa.com .From politics through to gender and sexuality, Nana Ama is unafraid to tackle what is controversial. The candour and boldness of her writing stands out; she calls it as it is. You can catch up with Nana Ama on her weekly podcast, Radio Unfiltered.  Radio Unfiltered explores all national conversations – politics, policy, economy, minority rights and other issues through the lens of women. Join the discussions here:  https://soundcloud.com/radio_unfiltered
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  2. Ebenezer Amankwah– Ebenezer Amankwah is the author of Ahead of the Game: Afare Donkor and Ghana’s Financial Renaissance. According to Ebenezer, the story was inspired by the shocking resolutions which the founder of CAL Bank, Afare Donkor, made at an Emergency General Meeting (EGM) of the bank in 2008. The book chronicles a series of actions and reactions including the removal of the managing director of the bank, Frank Brako and a block trade on the Stock Exchange. Ebenezer has worked as a journalist at Citi FM; he previously worked as Corporate Affairs Manager at Standard Chartered Bank and is currently the Corporate Communications Manager at Vodafone Ghana. Ebenezer’s first book Ahead of the Game: Afare Donkor and Ghana’s Financial Renaissance, was launched in 2015.

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  1. Kuukua Dzigbordi Yomekpe– Kukua Dzigbordi Yomekpe characterizes herself as a memoirist, essayist, and writer of social commentary. Kuukua is the author of several essays and prose poems. Some of her essays have been anthologized in: African Women Writing Resistance (UW Press), Becoming Bi: Bisexual Voices from Around the World (BRC), and Inside Your Ear (Oakland Public Library Press). Her essay, The Audacity to Remain Single: Single Black Women in the Black Church, won the Marcella Althaus-Reid Award for best “Queer Essay,” and is anthologized in Queer Religion II (Praeger Publishers). Her piece of creative non-fiction, “Where is Your Husband: Single African Women in the Diaspora and the Exploration/Expression of Sexuality was published in May 2015. She has participated in the Voices of Our Nation residency at the University of California, Berkeley. Kuukua keeps a private blog, The Musings of An African Woman. You can visit her at https://ewurabasempe.wordpress.com

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  1. Kofi Akpabli– is a journalist whose major works span tourism, culture and the environment. Kofi doesn’t only write non-fiction; his historic play The Prince and The Slave won the National Play writing contest in 1991. In addition to a collection of short stories and poem, some of Kofi’s books include Harmattan – a Cultural Profile of Northern Ghana; Romancing Ghanaland: the Beauty of Ten Regions; A Sense of Savannah – Tales of a Friendly Walk through Northern Ghana and Tickling the Ghanaian – Encounters with Contemporary Culture. He writes a travel column Going Places with Kofi Akpabli in The Mirror newspaper, which is published weekly in Accra. Kofi’s dedication to his work has not gone unnoticed. In June 2011 in South Africa, Kofi Akpabli was voted CNN Multichoice African Journalist for Arts and Culture. In Uganda the previous year, he had won the same category, making him the only African to have won this award back-to-back. In August 2010 Kofi also won Ghana Journalists Association’s Best Reporter for Arts, Tourism and Entertainment. Last but not least, Kofi Akpabli’s latest work has been published in a new Commonwealth Non-Fiction Anthology launched in the UK in May 2016.

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  1. Kobina Ankomah Graham– Kobby Graham is a lecturer at Ashesi University; he is a writer, blogger, DJ and editor who has a soft spot for modern African culture. His blog https://kobbygraham.com is mainly dedicated to championing the arts and contemporary culture. Kobby has written a host of articles that covers a wide range of topics. He doesn’t hesitate to make-up his words (one wonders where he got fauxogamy from) as a way of tearing down the stiff barriers in the English language that restricts the full expression of contemporary Ghanaian experiences. Kobby believes art and culture help society “dream itself out of its problems” with fresher ideas, and from a more buoyant, inclusive perspective. If I were starting a project in film or music, I will pray the gods that Kobby mentions my project on his blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Public Mind II

Demonstration.
The leashed goat bleats.
Tweets
inundate the timeline.
Annual flooding of the streets;

The mere fact that history
repeats itself. . .

History
repletes it’s shelves with books
yet to be written by enthusiastic writers
having taken on a different occupation.

Job application
Unemployment. Self-employed. Entrepreneur.
Like if I take that money start that business.
Business plan.
You dey wedge Obama make he come talk say “YWC” – Yes We Can.

But anytime people dey give you thumbs up
you for know long time say
yes you can!

Voter’s registration.
The Ballot boxes. But how many people dey vote for the right reason sef?

Secof fight go fi pai for there,
you no go go there go vote saf.
Filled with so much trepitdation.

And so it’s now become a case
of sore thumbs and democracy —
you no dey wan vote saf.

Or is it now a gamble of thumbs?
Which government go be less corrupt
so say you go vote give that one;

I mean,
this be some b-s thinking,
anagram of this
still stinking,
and so I go like talk say,
What . . . the . . . *sighs*

Consternation.
You be the Ghanaian,
you be the nation.

The after party be the minority
in parliament’s internal politics.

The primaries no be secondary matter
for this congress of democracy
bringing division in PP’s offices.

So e check like
the losing parties
always be the decepticons,
as the sworn in presido
be the Opitmus….Prime

Prime news. Headlines.

The people’s demonstration
Voters and non-voters frustrations
Entrepreneurs and Job Aplications
Multiparty or the people’s nation?

Right now dier, the way e dey go
You knor know if you for rep the black
or the gold.

Secof this nation be so much green
with passionate youth
wey dema eye red
but I dey wan ask one question,
“Who wey e dey here
go fi give all
for the red?”

Public Mind. The End.

 

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Daniel Kojo Appiah.
Daniel Kojo Appiah (also known as O’Zionn) is a literary enthusiast and a lexivist. He’s been writing poetry since 2004 and has been performing poetry for 5 years now. He spends his time promoting literary events and projects online.You can follow him on twitter O’Zionn.

~WHAT IT REALLY FEELS LIKE~BY AMMISHADDAI OFORI

 

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He announced with a gleaming trace of self-accomplishment in his eyes. It was in the way he said it. It was in the way he always said it. As though announcing a new personality. The one that always surfaced after 3 successful drags.

It was the way he knew that he knew. The way he was suddenly aware of the full extent his knowledge and his encompassing understanding of all things. He was aware that his god-like features were heightened. That he could understand all, know all and be all.

Even the pride in him was known. He could see its colors and he basked in it. It was the high pride. High pride was justified. He knew he was entitled to his self-worship; as long as he was on an elevated platform other humans, devoid of THC, couldn’t attain.

‘I am high’.

That statement would introduce new conversations and different worldviews mostly centered around his opinions. He would talk for minutes about himself, what he thought was wrong with the world, his solutions for mankind, what he really thought of his companions, et cetera. The list was endless. He was endless. He was an exploded version of his thorough self.

It would also boost his already voracious appetite for tasties and sex. And he had to have them in the moment. Delayed gratification would be senseless. Nature’s gift to mankind required him to indulge in what would only last for a few hours and they were infinite; too many things in the world to do before that time passed. His hormones and neurotransmitters were calling the shots on pleasure and satisfaction. And he had no reason to disobey.

The fact that he needed help from foliage to get to this state never crossed his mind. Nor did he explore that section of his thoughts. All his elevated knowledge was dependent on an overlooked classification of plant so cheap they could be bought for less than the price of his socks. That was what was so great about it anyway: the ability to buy pleasure for less. It always made him question why induced euphoria had to be illegal.

 

‘I am high’

A confirmation of his absolute dependence on himself to rule over the circumstances of his life. He was definite he was in charge. No external or internal forces could upset his balance. In this state of chemical intoxication, the only law of the universe was himself. No need to follow all the many rules of men who in themselves were just as flawed as he was, but were denying their weaknesses just so they could save the clay moulds they wore over their heads.

At least he was being real. Admitting that he was a broken shell of everything he had been told he could accomplish. The same society pretending to be perfect was making hard this easier path. So hard in fact, he needed to escape from them. And he needed help escaping without feeling any shame. Because beyond that shame was a state reached by a minority only he could relate with.

His only challenge now was keeping that state without needing to need. The more he needed to need, the less successful he was at staying uninhibited. A High he would know. He had tried too many ways to let the effects last. What if he was finally able to make that state last? What if he stayed in that state for so long he never to come back to earth to relate with the mortals? That was too risky. That was what those people called lunacy. And he wasn’t ready to be called a lunatic yet.

‘I am high’

He said it every time to confirm one of the few states he was sure of. There was no longer a need to know who he was in that state. What he was, who he was, was high and that was all that mattered. There was too much pressure from himself to be more significant than he already was. To be a better boyfriend, friend, co-worker, church member, son, brother, law-abiding citizen, intellectual, creative, life of the party, the list seemed to be endless and he always felt like he could never be enough.

 

At least when he was high, he was on top of the world. Above every description he had to check off the list to be a human being.

 

 

IMG-20160817-WA0005Ammishaddai Ofori is a tech entrepreneur,writer and spoken word artist. He is currently co-founder and content Manager of Flippy Campus, a social media app for Ghanaian tertiary schools. He is part of the Singers and Speakers Association SASA– a creative group that seeks to inspire the world through art, poetry and music. Ammishaddai’s Twitter handle is @Qubammish@Qubammish.

 

Of Warriors Who Once Upon a Time, Came Upon a Witch

 

akuamoahThey had been travelling for days after a loosing war; had seen brothers slashed to pieces by the enemies sword, impaled on sticks for vultures to devour, cowards! They had been chased out, like dogs from the battlefront.

And so they walked in silence, hungry but too ashamed to ask for food, thirsty, but no one dared speak, walking, limping in pain, the ache of the soles of their feet,

when the witch came upon them.

Gentlemen, warriors, the clouds turned dark as the night in a rush, it thundered and flashed, the warriors came to a halt.

And she sat there, under the oak tree with a smile, Hair gray as the ash of firewood after ananse has gone to sleep, skin as wrinkled as the cracks on a harmattan floor, a cloth draped around her frame, she turned and she spoke, gentlemen, warriors, her voice creaked, raspy, it shook.

You have lost your battle, I see you forlorn at the shame, I make you a preposition, should you be willing to bargain. Take you to the past, I will order time in reverse, you will know what you did not, you will be stronger in your front.

The warriors were quick to decide, they agreed but at a cost, no matter the outcome of the battle they would give her one of them. Atoanika the brave was quick to offer himself, brothers let her take me, for the good of the clan, there was murmuring but in the end they knew, they were all cowards, it was he who had only run when pulled away. Atoanika was the bravest of heart.

Time swirled, the wind blew back, they found themselves whisked away only to be back with their brothers in a chant, marching on to a battle which they had not so long ago just lost.

And so it came that there was the clinging of swords and the racing of hearts, the battle was won but something had gone amiss, something had happened that no one of them could have foreseen; Atoanika had fallen in battle, Atoanika was dead.

The warriors went on as they had before, only a few of them knowing what lay ahead beneath the oak. There were loud chants, dancing and merry making, closer and closer they approached their joint promise that only a few of had actually made.

Those who knew stayed behind in silence, afraid of what was to come. Soon they were upon her, the old witch sat still under the tree.

Gentlemen, warriors, the clouds turned dark as the night in a rush, it thundered and flashed, the warriors came to a halt.

A promise was made me not too long ago, I see you celebrate, where is Atoanika my love? I long for his embrace, as you are victorious he is mine, Let him come to me, let him come to me now.

She turned her head, a knowing smile on her face….

Now in times of old, when men could speak with beasts, when a devils bargain was set it came at but one cost, to deliver on the promise made while in need. It was that you pay up or Sasabonsam Kraman, hounds of the king of demons came to collect, your soul, captured, dragged to the abyss.

And while they stood, the old witch began to laugh, and then the original who knew jumped to bush, running, screaming, pleading for their lives. The snarls of canines rang clear into the night.

listen and you could hear teeth sinking into flesh.The devils bargain had been met.

Sansa Kroma
Ne na awuo
ɔkye kye nkokɔmba
ɔse ɔnnkɔ ye edwuma
Ne na awuo
ɔkye kye nkokɔmba

 

alvin

Alvin Akuamuah is a writer who likes to jab at intuition.He writes with all of his feelings, and invokes the ghost of his grandfather. You can follow him on Twitter @Alvin_wal_crawl. You can also visit his blog:  https://anansesemsesewu.wordpress.com for more of his work.

THIS MONTH ON QUOTE WITH GIRD – MR HAPPY AND THE HAMMER OF GOD & OTHER STORIES

Welcome to Quote With Gird. During the month of May we collected and shared some memorable quotes from the book Mr Happy and the Hammer of God & Other Stories by Ghanaian writer, Martin Egblewogbe.

Mr Happy Cover Illustration
“Mr Happy and the Hammer of God & Other Stories” by Martin Egblewogbe [Publisher: Ayebia Clarke Publishing
Here, we have compiled a few of the quotes for you. You may have missed out on the quotes on either our Facebook page,  Gird Center or on our Twitter feed, @GirdCenterGH, or maybe you did see them and would want to read them again. We hope you find them interesting and worthy of inspiration or discussion

1. “A man walked the path he did because of a million sources of coercion – overt, covert – life was the great manipulator.”

2. “He could see that she could see that he didn’t want to talk. This is where honest people say goodbye.

3. “Yet when he stopped speaking to people they considered it a hostile act, but how could keeping your peace be a hostile act.”

4. “Oh the misery technology can bring: on the glowing screen it is worse than I could ever have imagined

5. “Dervi was not convinced by Bubu’s philosophizing. She came from a rich family and could afford to study anthropology and be detached […] For him to be ‘detached’ meant to ‘starve’. He had to go to the field and work.

6. “His applications were rejected so many times that he slowly lost faith in his Bachelor’s degree. However, his fortunes turned when he concluded that the orthodox means of seeking a job would not help.

7. “Long ago he had heard someone say that Psychology was the Science of Rescue. But rescue from what exactly?

8. “Dervi knew that God had not died. Nietzsche had written that; and Nietzsche rather had died.”

9. “The lexical accuracy of the word ‘mistakecould be questioned. Great lies are often hidden in misnomners.”

10. “His fingers passed lightly over the Health warning. Cigarette smoke is bad for you but good for economy.

Look out for the book to quote from for the month of June via @GirdCenterGH or Gird Center

Quote with Gird is a Gird Center project that seeks to present to our audience notable African writers through sharing quotes from their books.

You may purchase Mr Happy and the Hammer of God & Other Stories by checking with any of the bookshops near you or you can get copies by checking with Ehanom Books via the Twitter handle: @EhanomBooks or on Storefoundry: ehanombooks.storefoundry.com

We Celebrate Chinua Achebe; his spirit and his words.

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“We cannot trample upon the humanity of others without devaluing our own. The Igbo, always practical, put it concretely in their proverb Onye ji onye n’ani ji onwe ya: ”He who will hold another down in the mud must stay in the mud to keep him down.” ~Chinua Achebe

We are dedicating the day to quoting Chinua Achebe on our twitter and facebook pages: @GirdcenterGH and Girdcenter respectively. 

We thank you Prof. Chinua Achebe. Rest in the most perfect peace. 

Ma’s Wig ~Tanya Chan-Sam

I always fell asleep in Ma’s bed, cuddled up to her soft, upper arms as she told bedtime stories.  One night after the story she said, ‘You’re a big girl, aren’t you? Can you keep a secret?’

My grandmother’s eyes, behind her tortoise shell glasses were fixed on mine.  Unused to direct eye contact with her, I blinked a few times and then concentrated on the twin suns in her lenses that were reflections from the naked bulb above our bed.

Ma guided my hand onto my heart, my finger on my lips and made me nod my head to an oath that I would never tell anyone, ever, what I was about to see.  She lifted her hair.  Right off her head.  I kept my forefinger pressed tightly against my gaping mouth.

‘It’s a wig,’ she mouthed.

‘Oh,’ I said through my barred lips.

I watched as she combed her fingers through her own hair.  Thick, coarse, grey fibrous hair twisted into braids.  Fascinated by the long, crinkly, strands growing past her ears onto her shoulders, I stretched out my hand out to touch the tendrils that dangled against her wrinkled neck. 

‘Uh huh, don’t.’  She slapped down the back of my hand. 

I sucked my stinging skin and watched as she took up a wide tooth comb and forked through her hair.  The yellow light above us shone on her mass of grey hair that she plaited into long tap roots then wrapped it all under a white headscarf and patted me on my head before turning out the light.              That night, I started my lifelong apprenticeship of wig duty.  My responsibility was to keep a vigil, to warn her of any hairs showing.  ‘The vagrants,’ she called them.  To alert her, I would have to swivel my eyes from left to right and finger the side of my head to let her know which side her natural hairs were beginning to stick out.  Ma would try to tuck them back into the wig, gripping the wig with her middle finger and shoving the vagrants back inside with her forefinger.

One Saturday morning, we went to Claremont to shop.  A long boring wait for me in the haberdashers where Ma bought buttons, zips and sequins for the ballroom dresses she sewed most nights.  Laden with Ackermans and OK Bazaars shopping bags, we joined the long queues at the bus terminus. 

The Lansdowne queue snaked past the pissy smelling sub way steps to Claremont railway station.  I could hear the train conductors shouting out destination stops; ‘Rondebosch, Mowbray, Kaapstad,’ followed by their squawking whistles and the squeal of the train wheels as it thundered off in the direction of the city centre.  Around us, hawkers balanced boxes of fruit and vegetables on their heads or outstretched forearms.  Deftly they rustled fuzzy peaches into brown paper bags and juggled change in their baggy pockets.

            Ma and I shifted forward slowly, heaving the shopping bags a few steps at a time.  Suddenly we were pushed forward into a huddle colliding with the women in front of us.  My head was caught between a bum and a large rump covered in nylon flowers.  When I extracted myself out from under the tutting women, I looked up to see four or five skollies standing close to Ma. 

The tallest one spoke first, “Ok mummies, stan’ now still.’

Then the second tallest said, ‘You’ve all lekker done your shopping.  We also poor mummies.’

The smallest one, who had the word, TEARS, tattooed in the space that joined his eyebrows.  In a low voice he said, ‘Don’t shout, and you’se won’t get hurt.’ 

            Ma’s hand pulled my face so close to her wide hips that my view was obscured by her green crimplene dress.  I craned my neck around her thigh to get a better look.  Sunlight caught the gold slit between the tallest skollie’s full lips as he smiled broadly at Ma.  Above my head, she held out her purse to him.  He stared back at her, right into my grandmother’s eyes.  I twisted my neck to look up.  From behind her tortoise shell rimmed spectacles, she stared back at the skollie.  Not at the purse in her trembling palm.  He placed a large brown hand over hers like the priest did when he shook Ma’s hand after mass on Sunday.  In the skollie’s opened mouth, I could see the pink tip of his tongue slithering around the gold slit between his two front teeth.  

‘Hey, auntie,’ he said softly and shook his head from side to side.  He leaned right over my head and whispered in Ma’s ear, ‘I knows where auntie is keeping auntie’s real money.’

He held her gaze, then lifted his eye to the top her head, and nodded delicately.  The skollie crossed his arms over the multi-coloured cloth of his printed shirt and tucked his hands into his armpits.  With a dancer’s balance, he spun on his heels and turned his back on Ma.  His long fingers appeared and he drummed at the side of his lean ribs.  The sinews on his neck stretched first left, then right, as he looked up and down the queue, while Ma’s hand reached under her wig and gingerly tweezed out the two banknotes with her thumb and forefinger.  I had leaned forward like the skollie.  Ma yanked me back to behind her hip and hissed, ‘Look for hairs.’ 

I worked furiously and furtively, my eyes darting around her hairline, my fingers surreptitiously pointing to the unfortunates.  Only once I’d nodded my head to signal all was in place, did she tap the skollie on the shoulder and hand over the notes.

            On the bus home, I stood next to the seat where Ma sat, my gaze in line with her wig.  I concentrated on the line of her nape, the edge of the wig around her temples.  I placed my hand on her shoulder and she looked at me.  I gave her our signal, a lift of the eyebrows, meant not a single vagrant could be seen. 

            Ma put her hand over mine and squeezed my fingers then took out her handkerchief and blew her nose loudly.

 

 

Tanya Chan-Sam was born in South Africa.  She started her working life as a switchboard operator, moving to a brake and clutch factory, the night shift on radio control for ambulances, teaching in schools and colleges in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Sheffield UK and now works as a language teacher, writer and facilitator. 

She has performed and read at international literature festivals, amongst others, Spitlit (London); Off the Shelf (Sheffield);Sunday Salon (New York);George Washington University, Washington USA; Wan Tru Puwema, Suriname as well as in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Amsterdam.

In 2009, she was editor-in-chief for Matter, a creative writing journal at Sheffield Hallam University where she obtained a First for MA (Creative Writing).

On a late in life gap year in 2011, she participated in a public arts festival called Infecting the City in Cape Town, South Africa where she told wild tales to public audiences in the streets and squares of Cape Town. 

Tanya was a reader for Pen South Africa and read submissions for the 2011 prize for which JM Coetzee was on the final judge.  In November 2011 she attended a writers’ residential in Uganda on African literature. 

She is currently involved with Sunday Surgery, a writing-for-theatre development project based in London and writing scripts for Tell Theatre.

Tanya has participated in theatre making workshops at The Actor’s Space in Catalunya, Spain, collaborating with actors, writers and directors.

 

 

Other Duties ~By Kobinna Ulzen

Yaw Owusu sat at his desk at the head office of Freedom Investments Ltd. at  Osu RE Accra.  His cell phone rang.  He pulled it out of his pocket and noticed his father’s number displayed.

            “Yes I am here….Everything is fine…You don’t need to worry. Just enjoy yourself at        Aburi… Later.”

            There was a knock on his office door.

            “Papa I have to go. Someone is at the door. You have now retired. I’ll make you proud of me.”

            There was a harder knock on the door.

            “Come in!” Yaw yelled.

            Mariam Mensah walked in. She was a slim woman in her twenties. She was wearing a close fitting dress that showed her full bosom. Mariam walked past the sofa and coffee table to the large table thatYaw sat behind.

            “Good morning Mr. Owusu,” She said in a sensual voice.

            “Please, please. Enough of this formalness. You don’t need to call me Mr. Owusu,” Yaw Owusu said. “Just call me Yaw.”

            “Sir, I have to call you Mister. When your father sat in that chair, he insisted on our being respectful. I want to give you the same respect now that you are the Managing Director of this company.”

            “That was my father. I’m different. It’s been a month now,” Yaw said.

            “I know but it may take a while for me to change,” Mariam said.

            Mariam sat on one of the chairs in front of the table and handed Yaw the folder she had brought in.

            “What have you brought me to look at?” Yaw asked.

            “These are the minutes from the share holders meeting we had last week. The normal procedure is for you to review them,” Mariam said.

            “Yes, you are right….” Yaw began.

            “And you had told me that you preferred that I bring them in person as opposed to emailing them to you,” Mariam interrupted.

            “Yes I had said that.” Yaw opened the folder and began to read.

            “Can I leave now?” Mariam asked.

            “No, can you come around to this side of the table? I need you to explain something to me.”

            Mariam went round and stood beside Yaw who remained seated. He opened the folder and pointed to the names of the board members in the minutes.

            “Dr. Ampofo. Which man was he?” Yaw asked.

            “He was the man in the dark brown suit,” Mariam answered.

            “Wearing glasses?”

            “Yes, that’s the man. Anything else sir?”

            Yaw gently placed his hand on Mariam’s lower back. She flinched a bit then let his and settle even lover down her back.

            “Yes, I have one more question,” Yaw said.

            “Business related or personal?”

            Yaw looked up from the folder and up at Mariam’s face. He reached for her hand.

            “Your hand feels soft,” he said.

            “Thank you. What was your question sir? I have a lot of work to do.”

Yaw stroked the palm of Mariam’s hand.

            “Can you stay behind after work today? I need some help with a report I am drafting.”

            “Sure I can.”

            “No husband or boyfriend to go home to?”

Mariam giggled.

            “No sir. I’m single and stay at home with my mother. I’ll text her that I’ll be late. She’ll understand.” Yaw got up from the chair.

            “You know Mariam, I think you have the potential to be upwardly mobile in this company.”

Mariam smiled. “I hope so,” she said.

            “See you at 5.30 p.m. then.”

Mariam walked away towards the door making sure to swing her waist just a little bit more. When she got to the door she cast a last glance back at Yaw whose gaze was transfixed on her. She smiled then left.

 

            Efua Konadu took one last look at the numbers on the Excel Spreadsheet on her computer. She looked at Mariam who sat next to her in the office they shared with two other administrative staff at Freedom Investments Ltd.

            “I don’t like going in to see Mr. Owusu,” Efua said to Mariam.

            “Why I find him very friendly,” Mariam said.

            “Maybe you do. He always seems to flirting with me.”

            “Isn’t that what most friendly men do?”

            “I know they do, but I’m a Christian and I don’t want to be a part of that.”

            “You Christians. Always so rigid. You need to be more flexible. If you did, you would get some overtime, like I have been getting.”

            “Yes, I’ve seen that. You have been staying late for two weeks now. What exactly are you working on?”

            “It has to do with Human Resources so it’s confidential.”

            “Well, wish me luck. I have to explain these numbers to Mr. Owusu. He has no clue about this business. Sometimes I wonder how he got the job.”

            “Don’t you know? His father gave him the job. His father built this company from scratch.”

            “Rumour has it that Yaw Owusu almost failed at GIMPA,” Philomena Nsiah one of the other secretaries piped up.

            “Really?”  Efua said

            “We shouldn’t start rumours in the workplace” Efua said.

            “I’m just saying what I heard.” Philomena said.

            Efua stood up and went to the printer.

            “Sister, I hope you have been watching what you eat.” Mariam said.

            “Not every man likes a skinny woman like you. Some men like me this way. They say there’s more of me to love. I’m a true full bodied African beauty.” Efua responded.

All three women laughed. Efua grabbed the printed spreadsheets and headed down the corridor to Yaw Owusu’s office. As she approached the office Christina Mensah, another secretary with the company, came out the door looking dishevelled. She bolted past Efua.

            “Christina, is everything okay?” Efua asked.

Christina glanced back and yelled, “Yes everything is fine. I just need to use the washroom. Mr. Owusu is expecting you.”

            Efua knocked and walked into the office. As she walked in she noticed Yaw buttoning up his shirt and tie.

            “Sir, did I come at a bad time?” Efua said. “I can come back later on.”

            “No, no, Efua. This is a time as good as any other. There is a deadline for that Annual Financial Report anyway. My father called to say we may have a new partner for the company.”

            “That’s great news,” Efua said.

            “Yes it is. Why don’t we sit in the couch and discuss the figures? I’m not good with numbers so I need you to go over everything with me.”

            As Efua took a seat, Yaw Owusu came and took a seat beside Efua. Efua began explaining. “What I want us to look at today is the income the company generated as opposed to the expenses. Once you grasp those two concepts, the rest will be easy.”

            As Efua continued talking, Yaw’s eyes were fixed on her lips.

            “Efua, can you stop for a minute?” Yaw interrupted.

            “Did I say something wrong?” Efua asked.

            “No no…I just wanted to say you have very lovely lips.”

            “You’ve told me that before and I told you I am a Christian. I’m engaged and do not engage in those kinds of things.”

            “What kinds of things?”

            “I come to work to do my job. Nothing else.”

            “I understand, but don’t you know that sometimes to go ahead, you have to give up something?”

            “Then maybe I have no place in this company.”Efua stood up.

            “Where are you going? We haven’t finished our meeting yet!” Yaw said angrily.

            “I think we have. You seem to be more concerned about my physical features than on what we were discussing.”

            “You are being very disrespectful. Can’t a boss compliment his employee?”

            “You and I both know that you were doing way more than that. Why don’t we continue tomorrow? Maybe by then we both would have cooled down.”

            “That seems like a good idea. We should meet first thing in the morning as this report has be finalized for my meeting in the afternoon.”

            “I’ll see you at 8.00 a.m. tomorrow morning then.”

            “Efua, I have to say this before you go. I am the new boss in this company and if you are going to advance here, you are going to have to be like all the other administrative staff.”

            “What do you mean by that?”

            “What I’m saying is that if you can’t do the other duties as I ask you do, you may have to find another job. Think about that overnight and tomorrow we’ll talk.”

            Efua stormed out the Yaw Owusu’s office, went to her desk and grabbed her bag without saying a word to anyone.

 

            Yaw Owusu sat at his desk dressed in a dark blue business suit. He was wearing a white shirt and woven kente tie. He glanced at his watch. In a few minutes his father would be coming in the door. This was going to be one of their routine monthly meetings to make sure that Freedom Enterprises was being run properly.  Mariam knocked on the door and came in with a tray of tea and cookies.

            “Thanks Mariam,” Yaw said. “Please set it near the sofa.”

            “Okay Yaw,” Mariam said.

            “So no news from Efua since she left without a word yesterday?”

            “Not a word. I have called but I hear she’s unavailable. I hope she’s okay. We knew very little about her. Good thing you knew as much about the Financial Report as she did.”

            “As you know, I’m talented in many many areas.”

            “Yes, I know…and we’ll talk more about that at my place later tonight.”

            “For sure.”

            As Mariam was about to leave Mr Yaw Owusu Senior walked in. he was a man in his eighties and used a cane to walk.

            “Good morning Mr. Owusu Senior. Good to see you,” Mariam said.

            “Get out of my way Mariam. I didn’t come out here to see you.”

            Yaw got up from his chair and came towards his father.

            “Papa, why are you so angry?” Yaw asked.

            Mr Owusu Senior turned to the door, “Come in!” he yelled.

            Efua came.

            “Father, you know Efua? I bet you she told lies about me.”

            “She recorded most of her conversations with you including yesterdays’.”

            Mr. Owusu Senior pulled out a digital audio recorder that was shaped like a pen. Yaw Owusu grabbed it from him before the recording began.

            “How could you do that? I thought you trusted me!”

            “Trust you? You earn trust and over the years, you have never done that. I have had to bail you out of so many situations. How can I trust you when you are always so irresponsible?”

            “Then why did you hire me for this job?”

            “Because I wanted to give you another chance to prove yourself to me. I’d rather have my own flesh and blood run my company than give it to another person. Yaw Owusu, I’m relieving you of your duties immediately. Efua will now run this company. Her father is Professor Kofi Konadu who will be joining this company as partner/investor”

            Yaw got on one knee in front of his father.

            “Papa, I beg you. You can’t do this to me. I’m your first born son.”

            “And a very irresponsible one at that. This is my company. I do I please. Efua are you ready to start your new assignment?”

            Efua stepped forward, “Yes, I am Mr. Owusu Senior. Am I allowed to hire or fire anyone?”

            “Of course you can you are the boss.”

            “Mariam!” Efua yelled.

            Mariam came in the door.

            “This company no longer requires your services for regular or other duties.”

            Mariam and Yaw left the office. Efua sat next to Mr. Owusu Senior and began discussing the next steps for Freedom Investments Ltd.

 

 

 

 

About Kobinna Ulzen

Kobinna Ulzen is a Ghanaian born writer, poet, and playwright. He has called Toronto home for the past two decades.  Kobinna first had his work published in Ghana, Kenya and English speaking Africa.  This included poetry, articles and short stories in Viva Magazine, Step Magazine, Ghana’s Weekly Mirror as well as other publications.

 

In Canada, Kobinna Ulzen has had his poetry published in Accra! Accra! Poems About Modern Afrikans and Akwantu, Thoughts of a New Canadian. His work also appeared in T-Dot Griots, Anthology of Black Storytell­ers in Toronto, The African Drum, and Toronto World Arts Review amongst other publications.

Kobinna has performed his poetry at various locations in the greater Toronto area. Kobinna has facilitated an interactive educational event called Postcards from Af­rica for over a decade.

Kobinna Ulzen is a skilled facilitator, producer, and com­munity organizer who has also been involved with numerous community groups in Toronto. Kobinna’s has written/produced several theatrical short plays including Karibuni Canada, Malaika, Bus Stop, Lunch Time, Lunch Time Again.  Kobinna Ulzen is currently working on his first African themed feature length play Ekua na Kamau. This is a love story set in Accra.

 

In April 2011 Kobinna Ulzen was the featured guest at the Writer’s Project’s monthly reading at Accra’s Goethe Institute and on their radio show Writers Project on Citi 97.3 FM. He has also written several short stories for Worldreader.com.

 

Kobinna Ulzen’s website is www.kobinna.com. He can be reached by email at kobinna@rogers.com

Self Discovery, the Education System and Owning one’s Feelings

You need to stop being what you think people need you to be. You learned this as a child.” ~Rita Nketiah

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This is an extract from a Skype chat (February 6th 2013) between Rita Nketiah and a friend (name withheld, but we shall call her Ama for the purposes of this post), Ama was deflated and was considering relocating from Ghana.

Rita responds: 

You are an African womon…anywhere you go will be a struggle…but go, definitely go for the experience”

Rita believes young people are disempowered when they are not taken seriously and considers having mentors helpful in the struggle for self discovery.

 “Do you have any mentor?  I think if I had had more mentors while I was there, (in Ghana) it would have made a huge difference in the outcome.” She writes.

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Implications of trying to fit in:

“Truth: You need to stop being what you think people need you to be. You learned this as a child. You wanted to make everyone happy. You thought that was your responsibility. And whenever you failed in this department (which was often), you felt completely dejected. When you were unable to perform at a maximum level, you threw up your hands. You quit. You spiraled downward. You have always hated disappointing people. You felt like your own worth, your intrinsic value had to come from other people. Other people had to tell you how and why to love you. And when they didn’t, you didn’t. Not truthfully. You may have said you did, but you weren’t actually affirming all of the good things about you. The quintessential Virgo that you are, you scrutinized everything you were not and could not be, because it just wasn’t you.”

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Classrooms and what you won’t get there:

“Man, I wish this self-discovery process counted for some damn marks in the classroom. School is such a constrictive experience. It is meant to discipline you. It is meant to value and validate you by very arbitrary measures. And that is a hard pill to swallow as someone who has always prided herself on “excelling” in school, has always loved learning, has always loved the comfort those structured walls gave her. School is where I first fell in love with words. It has nurtured me in particular ways that I will always be grateful for, and will encourage and pass down to my nieces and nephews, when given the chance. But school is also the site of a lot of trauma, abuse and oppression. School evaluations are great when you are getting consistent A’s. But when this becomes the primary way to assess a child’s capabilities, it becomes difficult when she enters adult life, and her grades are not there to validate her. And then, when grades turn into grants and bursaries awarded (which have a direct influence on your career) it’s even more difficult to see your self-worth outside of this. Capitalism makes us believe that we are only valuable when we are productive members of society. And when those grants and bursaries do not come (because, let’s face it, there are only so many awards that are given out, and how many of those goes to funding second-generation Ghanaian-Canadian identity and home-making?), it is difficult not to feel dejected, worthless, less intelligent, less interesting, whatever.”

Oprah Winfrey says, “Why are you trying so hard to fit in when you were born to stand out?” I guess the real question is, how do you set out to stand out without falling flat on your face without clean air to breath?

Rita Nketiah is an Anti-racist Feminist Scholar-Activist and PhD Candidate at Western University, where she is currently studying in the Women’s Studies and Feminist Research Department. Her research interests include Second-Generation African-Canadian identity, gender and sexuality, and Diaspora in (African) Development. When she is not bombarded with loads of reading and writing, she wastes copious amounts of time on the Internet, reading feminist and/or African blogs.