Happy Independence Day to all Ghanaians! Ghana is 60 years old today.
After about 113 years of British rule, Ghana gained independence on this day – March 6th, 1957. Our independence pioneered and encouraged other African nations to also fight for their independence from colonial rule. We’ve come a long way and still have a ways to go, but I’m proud to be a Ghanaian.
As a person of Ghanaian heritage, I enjoy discovering new Ghanaian writers and learning about our pioneer writers. Being a lover of African literature and literature of the diaspora, I find that Ghanaian authors and their work aren’t as popular as Kenyan, South African, Nigerian or Zimbabwean literature.
GH at 60 | Our Writers & Their Books is a series that highlights and celebrates various Ghanaian writers and their work. If we don’t celebrate our own, who will? I hope your TBR lists grow once you take the time to appreciate these writers and their work through the series. This is part 1 of a 3-part series and it’s NOT exhaustive by any means. The list is arranged in alphabetical order, of last names.
I think Sophia Acheampong’s books have the cutest book covers, ever! Acheampong is a Ghanaian-British author of YA (young adult) fiction. Growing Yams in London (2006) and iPods in Accra (2009) follow fourteen year old British-born Makeeda who’s trying to balance both Ghanaian and British identities in the ultra-modern world of social media and instant messaging.
Dr. Gheysika Adombire Agambila is a native of Bolgatanga (in the Upper East Region of Ghana) and is the author of two novels – Journey (2006) and Emigrant (2016). I’m not really crazy about the cover art for Journey, but I’ve seen the book in quite a few bookshops here in Accra. Ann Morgan of blog – A Year of Reading the World chose to read Journey for her Ghana pick and her book review made me add it to my TBR.
Mohammed Naseehu Ali
Mohammed Nasheehu Ali is a Ghanaian writer based in New York City. I read a book review of Ali’s short stories collection – The Prophet of Zongo Street (2006) last year and was determined to purchase it once I spotted it in bookstores. If you would like to get a feel of his writing, check out two short stories: Mallam Sile & My Name is Not Cool Anymore, published in The New Yorker & The New York Times respectively.
Asabea Ashun is the pseudonym of Dr. Mary Ashun who has published a good number of YA (young adult) fiction and adventure stories for children. Last year, I purchased her latest novel, Serwa Akoto’s Diary (2013) which follows a young lady, Serwa Akoto on her quest to blend her Ghanaian heritage and Canadian lifestyle.
Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond
Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond is a Ghanaian-American writer who is the author of Powder Necklace (2010). Powder Necklace is a coming-of-age tale that follows Lila, who was born and raised in England. She’s later sent to Ghana to attend a local boarding school (mirrored off Mfantsiman Girls’ High School in Cape Coast, Ghana) and life takes a 360 degree turn for Lila with respect to her identity and the concept of home. I read the novel back in 2013 and deeply appreciated it as I could relate to the story on many levels. I hope Nana Ekua’s second novel is in the works!
If you’ve seen the film The Color Purple, Akosua Busia may look familiar as she played Nettie in it! Akosua Busia is an actress, author, song-writer and film director. The Seasons of Beento Blackbird: A Novel (1997) is Busia’s debut.
Nana Awere Damoah
Nana Awere Damoah is a chemical engineer and author of four non-fiction books. I’ve spotted his most recent book – Sebitically Speaking (2015) in bookshops here in Accra. His other works include I Speak of Ghana (2013), Through the Gates of Thought (2010), Excursions in my Mind (2008) and a collection of short stories called Tales from Different Tails (2011). Damoah’s writing draws readers’ attention to issues that plague the nation and its citizens, with a satirical flavor that will kick anyone into questioning their priorities. Damoah’s work will be reviewed on this platform soon!
Meri Nana-Ama Danquah
Meri Nana-Ama Danquah is a Ghanaian-American writer, editor and journalist. I purchased an anthology edited by Danquah – The Black Body, back in 2009 and found it compelling. Meri Nana-Ama Danquah is best known for her 1998 memoir Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman’s Journey Through Depression, which I MUST get my hands on soon. In these tumultuous times, her memoir would definitely be a timely read with discourse on mental health and self-care.
Amma Darko is one of my favorite Ghanaian writers and I feel she is SERIOUSLY underrated. Her 1995 debut, Beyond the Horizon is a tragic masterpiece that I think all book lovers need to read! It’s an uncomfortable read, but important work of art on feminism, immigration, racism, chauvinism and so much more. I plan on reading her 2003 novel, Faceless at some point this year.
Amu Djoleto is a writer and educator who’s novels are quite popular in Ghanaian primary and secondary schools (elementary, middle and high schools). He’s best known for his debut novel – The Strange Man, which is part of the African Writers Series.
I met Boakyewaa Glover early last year and she was gracious enough to gift me with two of her novels – Tendai: Nature and Science Unleashed and The Justice: A Political Thriller! I finished reading Tendai last year and the novel was a good blend of sci-fi and mystery. Her latest novel – The Justice was published back in 2013 and is very high up on my TBR list. Apparently the sex scenes in The Justice are pretty spicy, which is rare for Africa fiction. I love that Glover’s books are available in many boutiques and shops, including Shell service station shops, making her work accessible to all Ghanaians.
Mamle Kabu or Mamle Wolo are the pseudonyms of Martina Odonkor, who is a writer of Ghanaian and German ancestry. I was pleasantly surprised to find that her short story ‘The End of Skill’ was shortlisted for the Caine Prize in 2009 (the year E.C Osondu won!). Kabu’s YA (young adult) novel The Kaya-Girl won the Burt Award for African Literature in 2011. The cover art for The Kaya-Girl is stunning.
Benjamin Kwakye is a lawyer and novelist with a couple of book awards under his belt. His debut novel, The Clothes of Nakedness (1998) won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. Kwakye’s sophomore novel, The Sun By Night (which has awesomely eccentric cover art) rightfully won the 2006 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book (Africa Region). Out of Kwakye’s books catalogue, I think his debut and sophomore books have the best book covers!
Nana Prah is a Ghanaian multicultural romance writer. She has about 8 books that have been published and most of them are available for purchase online. Does anyone know if her books are sold here in Accra? Last year I read 2 romance novels and I can’t wait to grab a book from Nana Prah’s collection next! Check out her blog: http://nanaprah.blogspot.com/
Dr. Kwei Quartey is a Ghanaian crime fiction writer. His Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery series is pretty popular, and I love the cover art work for all the books in this series! Late 2014, I really enjoyed his reading that was held here in Accra. He currently resides in California and juggles being a physician and a writer. Book 5 of the series, Death by His Grace will be released August of this year.
Frances Mensah Williams
Frances Mensah Williams is an award-winning Ghanaian-British author of women’s fiction. If you’ve read any books published by the independent publishing house based in London – Jacaranda Books, Williams’s name and her books may look familiar. She created the light-hearted, contemporary series – From Pasta to Pigfoot (2015), which follows London born and bred Faye Bonsu, on her journey to understanding her native Ghanaian culture.
Are you familiar with any of these Ghanaian authors? Have you read any of the books mentioned above?
The month of March will be dedicated to honoring Ghanaian authors as it is Ghana’s month of independence. Many more writers will be highlighted in this series! Stay tuned for Part 2 of GH at 60 | Our Writers & Their Books.
Note: Images were taken from Goodreads and the respective writers’ websites.