Fiction: Lingerings by Ama Akuamoah

 

IMG-20170323-WA0020
Ama Akuamoah

Kesewa peeped through the trap door again at the man lying on her bed, eyes closed in a cocktail of pain and exhaustion. After all these years and now Yaw Adjei is alive and 2 feet away from her touch. The ramblings of the thunder brought her back to the present as she made a mad dash for Aunty’s room. Her innate fear of thunder and lightning was as old as time and even in adulthood this fear plagued her.

“Our elders say a strong wind heralds a mighty event. l wonder what news they are bringing us this time.” Aunty murmured as the curtains flapped furiously. She looked absentmindedly at the TV. Her room had the air of comfort etched into its walls. The single chair positioned adjacent to the bed ensured whoever walked in and chose to sit down had to look right into her eyes. Perched on the edge of the bed, until a gust of wind startled her, Aunty walked gingerly to the window and closed it gently as the wind sprayed rain into the room.

This room, with its four rickety items- wardrobe, TV, bed and chair – was the unofficial seat of government in the household. Being summoned there could mean anything. It was always the meeting space for all feuds and celebrations alike. All announcements and decrees emanated from her here and in her usual style, long and winding-, but eventually the decree was passed. And if it was gossip, she repeated the now famous lines, “If the person who told me this was lying then l am also lying.”

“Kesewaa,” Aunty whispered, “How is your friend, when was the last you say you saw him again?” The gushing afternoon torrent made it almost impossible to hear. “About two years ago,” Kesewa retorted drearily, hoping that will deter Aunty from asking more questions she did not have the answers to.

Author’s Bio

Ama Akuamoah is a lover of words. She lives vicariously through the characters she reads and writes about. When she’s not hopscotching around continents, she’s people watching and sourcing personalities for her next story. Read more of her work on her website: www.amaakuamoah.com . She is on twitter and instagram as @amaakuamoah

 

Five Unacceptable Moves In Business Writing?

This week, we provide answers to some frequently asked questions at our business writing workshops.

black-woman-thinking

Question 1: Is it right to use “I” and “we” in the same message?

Answer: Yes, it is okay to include both pronouns in one message. Use “I”, when you are speaking for yourself and use “we” when you speak for the organization. For example, “I will email you tomorrow morning with the details. We look forward to meeting you this Friday.”

Question 2: Are contractions acceptable in business writing?

Answer: Yes, it’s acceptable to use contractions, however use them sparingly. Contractions such as “can’t, won’t, don’t, it’s, and didn’t” are considered somewhat informal. In formal documents, it is better to avoid them.

Question 3: Is it okay to end a sentence with a preposition?

Answer: Yes, it is, however sentences ending with prepositions are often considered less formal. Depending on the tone you want to project, an end of sentence preposition may or may not be suitable. For example, “These are the terms and conditions we would like you to think of.” Or “These are the terms and conditions we would like you to consider.”

Question 4: Can I start a sentence with “and or but”?

Answer: Yes and yes. Here also, it really is a matter of tone. If you want to sound formal, you can use other words like “in addition, furthermore or additionally” in place of and. Similarly, use “however, nevertheless or nonetheless” in place of but. Here is an example, “But, we hope to start the training this Wednesday. Or “Nevertheless, we hope to start the training this Wednesday.”

Question 5: Is it okay to begin a sentence with, “because”?

Answer: Yes, it is, however, beginning a sentence with “because” is often discouraged. Here is why, you may end up with sentence fragments if it is not done right. For example, “I did not sign the contract. Because the money was less than I asked for.” Here is A correct way to use because to begin a sentence, “Because we appreciate your business, please enjoy this 30% discount.”

Works From Gird Writing Camp 2016: “Secret Ceremonials” By Maame Adwoa Amoa Marfo

 

gird-writing-camp-2016-fiction-workshop-2

This week’s featured piece from Gird Writing Camp 2016 is a short story by Maame Adwoa Amoa Marfo. Maame attended the Fiction Workshop with Prof. Ama Ata Aidoo and Dr. Martin Egblewogbe. And now, to Maame’s Secret Ceremonials.

 

Secret Ceremonials

By Maame Adwoa Amoa Marfo

Seffy, we did cartwheels in your honour.

We sat for a long, silent moment after the solemn service was over with our fingers intertwined, a chain of misty-eyed, sixteen-year-old girls, unable to look away from the pile of fresh dirt. We couldn’t leave you just yet. We couldn’t move. So we sat there in those ridiculously uncomfortable plastic chairs and tried to find some trace of you somewhere, some sign that you were somewhere better, somewhere other than 6 feet deep in the earth.
___ Linda stood up first. She slipped her feet out of her shoes, raised her hands to the dying sun and turned her first perfect circle. We didn’t need any more prompting than that. One by one, we left a cluster of discarded high heels underneath the lone canopy and followed suit. We turned and turned and turned, repeating the dizzying circles until the entire cemetery was covered by darkness and we could barely tell the difference between the sky above and the ground below.
___ We collapsed in an inelegant heap next to a crumbling headstone rows away from where we’d started and waited for the world around us to settle. We laughed then, and in the near-hysterical sound of it I heard the endless patter of our six-year-old feet against the ground of the hopscotch court, the shushed tones of our ten-year-old voices over phone lines during group conversations long past our bedtimes and the thick sounds we made as we tried to speak around the lumps in our throats moments ago, reading out our wholly inadequate words to a mourning crowd, trying to show them all that you were – all that you would always be – to us. We swore we could all hear you in the whistling of the wind and something about the hollowness of that sound dissolved our laughter into tears.
___ We’re a little bit older now, all of us somewhere around 22, and even though it feels like almost everything has changed. One thing hasn’t. Our form isn’t quite as perfect and we don’t do it for quite as long as we used to but we’ve never stopped. Every year ends in cartwheels and laughter and your spirit calling to us on the wind.

 

About Maame Adwoa Amoa Marfo:

maampictureCurrently a teaching assistant at the English Department of the University of Ghana, Maame Adwoa Amoa Marfo was born in London and raised in Accra. She is the last of seven children and a member of a remarkably large extended family. Her childhood was characterized by a love of the written word and a need to consume as much reading material as possible. Her work is informed by her lived experiences and the literary pieces that she herself has read and loved. She hopes to continue in her growth and development as a writer and an appreciator of literature.

10 Redundant Words to Avoid In Business Writing

black-businesswoman

In business writing being concise is incredibly important. So, once you are done with your first draft, take another look and eliminate needless repetitions and redundancies. Check whether the expressions you’ve used add any value to your message. If you feel that you can take something out and your message will retain its meaning then do so. Most often redundant expressions only make writing longer, not better. Here are some of the common redundancies in business writing.

1. Group together. A thing that is grouped implies that it is together. So instead of saying, “let us group last year’s reports together” say, “let us group last year’s reports.”

2. Past experience. If it is an experience, it has already happened. Therefore, it is in the past. So, “In my past experience with the client, he has always been punctual” should be “In my experience with the client he has always been punctual.”

3. Future plans. If it is a plan, then it is yet to occur, therefore it is expected to happen in the future.

4. Repeat again. When you repeat something, you are doing or saying it again.

5. Sum total. The sum is the total. The total is the sum, get it? You only need one.

6. Might possibly. Might indicates possibility. So, instead of saying, “It might possibly rain,” say “It might rain” or “it possibly will rain.”

7. End results. Again, the end is the results, the results is the end. You only need one.

8. Postpone until later. To postpone something means to defer it for a later time. If you can be specific say for example, the meeting is postponed until Monday. If you can’t be specific simply say the meeting has been postponed.

9. Advance warning. To warn someone is to tell them something before it occurs. It cannot be a warning if it is not given in advance; therefore the word advance is redundant.

10. Unintentional mistake. For a thing to count as a mistake, it has to be unintentional. Unintentional, is therefore unnecessary.

12 Simpler and Effective Words to Use in Business Writing

woman-working-computer-173417197

Creating a professional business image has nothing to do with big words. Many people get caught up in high-level vocabulary in an attempt to impress the reader in their business communication. Unfortunately, this shows that you don’t care much about your reader’s time and effort. At all times, if there is a simpler word, use that instead. Here is a list of simpler alternatives to some commonly used words in business writing:

Commonly used words:    Much simpler alternatives:  
1.     Optimum 1.     Best
2.     Formulate 2.     Make/Develop
3.     Adequate (number) 3.     Enough
4.     Fundamental 4.     Basic
5.     Terminate 5.     End
6.     Endeavour 6.     Try
7.     Disseminate 7.     Send Out/Distribute
8.     Customary 8.     Usual
9.     Implement 9.     Do/Carry Out
10.   Expedite 10.   Speed Up
11.    Obtain 11.    Get
12.   Ascertain 12.   Find Out/Check

Always remember this, good business communication, among other things, is concise and easy to understand.

 

Four Types of Business Communication You Must Know

black-businesswoman

Last week, we established that the tone of all forms of business writing, from emails to business plans, must remain professional. Click here to read that article.

While keeping a professional tone at all times, it is important to identify the goal of each business communication. What exactly are you trying to achieve? Once you answer this question, you should be able to communicate your ideas clearly and effectively.

All forms of business communication fall under one of the following types. Make sure you goal aligns with your choice of words.

 

  • Actionable Communication. This type of communication encourages people to take actions or follow specific instructions. For example, one can send an email asking colleagues to complete an optional online survey. Actionable communication gives the reader something to do. It is expected that this kind of writing is motivational so that the reader is egged on to take the desired action. 
  • Informational Communication. This kind of business writing simply informs an audience. For example, an Ad announcing the re-branding of a product or service of a company. Informational communication is expected to be clear and easy to understand so as to avoid misinterpretation.
  • Negative Communication. This type of communication is inevitable in the corporate world. Sometimes an appointment has to be terminated or a deal has to be cancelled. Whatever the situation that calls for negative communication, care must be taken when writing any document of this nature. It’s important to be empathetic but firm and direct in this type of communication.
  • Persuasive Communication. This refers to proposals or applications for funding, a government grant, or partnership. The tone and style of the writing should be convincing and positive. The document has to hook the recipient so they consider or act on the plan.

 

 

WORKS FROM GIRD WRITING CAMP 2016: “BABOON BLUES” BY NANA AKOSUA HANSON

gird-writing-camp-2016-fiction-workshop-3

We bring you more featured work from participants of Gird Writing Camp 2016. Today, we have a short story from Nana Akosua Hanson. This work of fiction was written at the Fiction Workshop with Prof. Ama Ata Aidoo and Dr. Martin Egblewogbe.

BABOON BLUES

We bathed in the sun, near the glistening pool. It was a sunny, dusty afternoon in Mole National Park spent with the baboons, hogs and the over-promised elephants, which were the main attraction.

A bottle of chilled Star beer was at my elbow, winking at the sun from time to time and shedding tears unto the red and white chequered tablecloth. The Love of my Life lay with his head on my laps, lazily daydreaming, his eyes half closed in a dream behind his sunglasses. We were the only Ghanaians, and black people for that matter. There was a medley of British, Swiss, Dutch, and French skins, the harmonious cacophony of their different tongues hinted at a Tower of Babel. As I watched three French girls and a guy jump into the pool, chattering away in accents my Togolese French teacher in high school could only dream to have, I felt like I was in a page of a very old French storybook about the wealthy French aristocracy and their summer revels.

I took a sip of my refreshingly chilled beer, rolling it around on my tongue for a bit to squeeze out all its sweet juices before swallowing, and wondered at my boredom.

We had paid an arm and a leg, and then some to experience ‘a historical animal reserve like never before’ just to find that it was only a club for the holiday-ing expats who wished to discover ‘Africa’. I wondered at my place. I wondered at my role in this discovery of ‘Africa’. Was I also an interesting, ‘exotic’ specie to be observed and scrutinized? Was my holidaying African self which was currently covered in dust and the kisses of recent lovemaking another interesting sideshow? From the poor naked African children, to the holidaying, dusty African. I heard somewhere that tours were running in a nearby village, ‘to give you a taste of how the locals live’. What role would I be playing, my Ghanaian self walking through a Ghanaian village square with a camera, taking a tour into people’s lives for an exorbitant price of $80? Am I the monkey in the cage observing being observed? Or am I the pet monkey out of the cage observing my observed caged brothers and sisters.

‘To give you a taste of how the locals live’.

A group of beautiful half-naked girls danced into the village square, as is routine with the visitation of so many white faces and strange tongues that spoke big pockets, and treated us with a vigorous shaking of arms and feet and waists and quite a lot of yodelling. For $80 dollars per person it had to be the perfect pitch and nothing less. The money was given to the development of the village that saw no development because, it had to remain a village to make more money out of these tourists. One of those dusty crooks, an inhabitant too, with crooked teeth, eager to sell his sister for the quick buck, grinned at me and said, ‘We can show you more things, madam, so many, many more things. The villagers life happy.’

What was my role in this stream of consciousness a mystery writer writes lazily in the sky? What was the spectacle? Was I the spectacle? Were they the spectacle? Two dark Ghanaians mottled the cream white background of ‘Africa discoverers’.  Was I the dusty tourist looking to find a much more intriguing story than myself?  Or was I the monkey who mistook herself for a tourist and then toured with tourists too benevolent to tell me my truth to my face? Or was I the monkey who was the sideshow and knew she was the sideshow?

I gulped down the contents of my glass and poured a refill. Droplets of water dripped onto the Love of my Life’s eyebrows but he made no move. He was asleep now. Lucky him.

A big baboon skulked by, his shiny red buttocks hanging in the air with a foolhardy pride. Did baboons feel the silliest of all the primates having their innards hung out for all to see? I think not. They had this conviction with their buttocks, as though telling you ‘that’s the way it should be. Hang that ass for all to see. How silly you are to hide it in clothes’. And silly I did feel sometimes. Maybe I should title my next blog piece ‘Baboon Blues’ and I would question what gave me the conviction that I was a higher class of animal than the baboon.

I watched the baboon intently as it walked towards a group of baboons on the outskirts of the pool area, who in turn watched us intently – the human baboons with their buttocks in swimming trunks. And I wondered again, what the true spectacle was, who the true spectacle was. The humans or the baboon? The Ghanaians or the holidaying expats? The villagers or the tourists?

By the way, where were those damned elephants they promised?

 

pic-me

AKOSUA’S BIO: Nana Akosua Hanson is a writer, an actress and an activist who believes in the power of art and artistic expression in changing the world.

Should My Business Emails Be Friendly or Formal?

black-woman-thinking

When composing a business email, setting the right tone can be tricky.

Let’s say your client or boss receives hundreds of emails in a day. With so many emails, he or she must choose which ones to read in a matter of seconds. If your email address isn’t familiar or your subject line is generic it may be deleted or ignored. However, an informal subject line or email may be viewed as unprofessional or even disrespectful.

So, how do you set the right tone in a business email? When composing an email, it is good to consider some of the following questions. How do you know this person? What, if any, contact have you had in the past? Is the person a superior at work or a client? Is the person family or a friend?

Generally, if this is the first contact between you and the person, you might want to use a formal tone. First impressions are important.

Avoid contractions and use the passive voice where appropriate for a more formal tone. You may consider using the recipient’s full name or their title. Also don’t forget to add your contact information.

If you have already engaged in correspondence with the person and they have replied in an informal tone, perhaps using “Hi” and your first name as a greeting, don’t feel uneasy about matching their informal tone.

One thing to keep in mind is that formal isn’t always the same as professional. In a work environment, it’s important to always remain professional, even when the tone is informal. Inappropriate jokes, negative comments and gossips have no place in business emails. Remember emails can easily be forwarded and once you send an email you can never take it back. Don’t get too comfortable, keep things professional at all times.

5 Things Every Business Proposal Should Have

woman-working-computer-173417197

A business proposal is one of the most important documents you need to learn how to write. An effective business proposal does not get ignored.  After spending hours to put together a business proposal, why do some people get no results after submitting to potential clients while others seem to get a positive response? Successful business proposals include these five things:

 

A hook

First of all, your proposal must be able to catch the reader’s attention. To be effective, you must explain what your idea is and what it will mean for the reader. The reader will quickly lose interest if they don’t see how your proposal will benefit them. Put yourself in the reader’s shoes and imagine what they would want to hear. Be careful not to exaggerate as this may undermine the trust you are trying to build with your reader.

 

A problem

Here, you tell your reader why they need your services. You identify issues or flaws with their business or a niche in the market that could be exploited. You’ll need to show that you completely understand the nature of the problem for your reader to trust you.

 

A plan

Your plan will show the reader just how you will solve the problem with your product or service. There’s a balance here to be found though. If you’re too specific and detailed, your idea may be taken and copied. If you’re too vague, you may not be taken seriously.

 

Your qualifications

It’s important that your reader knows what makes you qualified to solve a problem or help his or her business. Perhaps you may have academic qualifications in that area or you may have had years of experience working in that field. You must communicate this clearly to the reader so they can be convinced that you are the right person for the job.

 

Cost

Include all the costs involved in implementing your proposal. This will help the reader determine if they will be able to afford your services. It also helps the reader to determine how much they would benefit from doing business with you. The more ambiguous the costs involved, the less likely they are to accept your proposal.

 

 

WORKS FROM GIRD WRITING CAMP 2016: “ODDINARY INDIFFERENCE” BY DANIEL KOJO APPIAH

cxnpdglxeaaj59l

We bring you more featured work from participants of Gird Writing Camp 2016. Today, we have a poem from Daniel Kojo Appiah, also known as O’Zionn. This poem was written at the Poetry Workshop with Prof. Kofi Anyidoho and Nana Nyarko Boateng.

 

Oddinary Indifference

There are those who do not realize

That being extraordinary

Isn’t for everyone

 

For there are those

Who choose

Not to have anything to do

With their potential

 

Being ordinary is

What we are by default

And I have met those that

Choose to stay that way

 

 

img-20160914-wa0011

Bio: Daniel Kojo Appiah is a literary enthusiast, poet and lexivist. He enjoys interacting with literary works and sharing his thoughts on them as much as possible. He spends much of his time promoting literary arts in the motherland. He is known on the literary scene by his stage name O’Zionn.