Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

The sleeping writers wake up (part 1)

A Touch Of Nokoko

by Kofi Akumanyi

I have always subscribed to the general observations made in literary circles that Ghana is yet to tap earnestly into a store of literary wealth available in the society, the commendable efforts of Ghana Association of Writers (GAW) notwithstanding. When people point to our neighbouring Nigeria and the numerous celebrated authors and poets with quite a few books to their names, I used to say to myself that there are perhaps a thousand and one Ghanaians bitten by the literary bug, shuffling pages of well-thumbed, dog-eared manuscripts from publisher to publisher hoping that they may one day read their names and works in print.

To be sure, there are a number of reputable Ghanaian authors whose works are widely circulated in Ghana and indeed, Africa. But economic conditions are such that most of these writers have no more than one or two books in print and are currently busy on pot-boilers to keep body and soul together. Apart from Noma award winner Meschek Asare the flow of current books is, to say the least, pathetic. OK, Peoplecracy is available if you are into constitutional matters, but it is hardly the sort of book people will rush to buy.

I was, therefore, highly elated when I received in the mail, five books, fresh from the press published by TULA PUBLICATIONS of Bolgatanga; Ghana. The books were scheduled to be released last December but due to perennial shortage of inputs for printing, a new release date had to be tentatively fixed for 1986.

Anyway, I am providing you with a sneak review of the books: "Heroes and Fallen Angels of the Ghana Revolution" by Dr A.K. Anyan; "Makola: Madam Akwele's success story", by Letitia Quaye; "Scientific preparation and preservation of Bankye Kakro (Cassava dough-nut)" by Dr Ezekiel Daniels; "From Axim to Paga - A geographical expedition" by Robert Soga and "The wise sayings of Gen. Kutu Acheampong," by Kutu Acheampong. HEROES AND FALLEN ANGELS OF THE GHANA REVOLUTION by K. Anyan.

The author's profile which begins on the jacket of the inside of the front cover runs onto the inside back cover and finally spills onto the outside of the back cover, in fact, tells more about the book than what the author wrote. We are told that the author, since his school days, had strong inclination to write poems and short stories, the only snag being that almost everybody flattered him in his presence and turned their noses up whenever he turned his back. Still burning with the desire to see his name up among the Chinua Achebes, Wole Soyinkas and Ngugi W'Thiongos of the African literary circles, he wrote a short story, "The confessions of Reverend Baidoo" which was a moderate success it sold 500 copies nationwide. Serialisation of the book in one of the local press did not go beyond two issues after the press gave it a thumbs-down.

Anyway "Heroes and Fallen Angels", asI understood it, is a story of how the architect of the great Ghana revolution planned and executed it under the noses of the security services of the civilian administration. The author, without malice aforethought, juxtaposed and contrasted the ambitions of the ultra-leftist in the early stages of the "revolution which will end all revolutions" in the country's chequered history, to the great vision of the great leaders. Without a shadow of doubt, a justification for cutting them down with the sickle and hammering them out of the scene is made obvious in the circum- stances. Ring of applause from the masses; more power to the people!

This book, the very first on the current politics in Ghana, is meant to be a handbook for the up-and-coming revolu-ionaries being trained in Cuba and the numerous committees for the Defence of the Revolution (CDR's) all over the country. However, if Karl Marx, Che Gueverra etc, and the other well-known revolutionaries have read anything that has been written about them, then they must surely be turning in their graves.

MAKOLA SCHOLARSHIP MADAM AKWELE'S STORY by Letitia Quaye. Every Ghanaian knows about Makola and the rotund, heavyweight women who operate from the crowded stalls right in the heart of Accra. However, the success stories of many women traders of Makola who have educated their children through secondary school, university and overseas on further studies, have never been properly documented except in a few research studies gathering dust in the University of Ghana's department of sociology.

Now, Letitia Quaye has stepped in to help all those curious Ghanaians, and of course, non-Ghanaians, who have always wanted a short to know what makes Makola women tick.

The story, a "faction", that is, fiction based on fact or real story, takes the reader through young Akwele Hammond's life as an aide to her mother who was one of the first traders to acquire a United African Company (UAC) passbook which entitled her to buy goods directly from UAC shops at wholesale prices for retailing. The story hots up when Akwele met Mr Thomas Quaidoo who worked in the ministries later Ministry of Trade where import licences are issued.

As the romance heightened so did business and the wedding bells united two whose lives together fed a business which split over makola into shop around the area. How did Madam Akwele deal with the rumours of the discovery of a puff adder which "vomits money in her stall", following the mysterious death of her second child?

Letitia Quaye's flowing dialogue and tightly knit plot romanticizes a popular phenomenon in the Ghana commercial scene and thereby helps keep the image alive, no matter how many times Makola is razed down by over-zealous individuals. Highly readable.


This book, I am sure, will shame all those who have been complaining about lack of scientific research from our university campuses. Now an active member of the Council for Scientific Research (CSIR) has dusted up one of the numerous research materials for publication and what a delicious topic- bankye kakro - loosely translated cassava dough nut. I have always wondered why this cheap food which millions of school kids have survived on for years has not as yet been transformed into a preservable food to help the starving millions.

This book, by Dr Daniels, written in readable English language, devoid of all scientific jargon, for the ordinary man and woman in the kitchen, takes the reader through a step-by-step recipe for preparing bankye kakro for immediate consumption.

The ultimate revelation in the book is the preservative which the author prepared in his laboratory that makes it possible to store the food forever. The gains in this are virtually limitless, which makes me wonder whether Dr Ezekiel Daniels did register his invention with the Ghana Patent Office to forestall commercial use of his ideas without any remuneration for him. But then the question arises: which Ghanaian businessman or woman would see any potential in the beloved bankye kakro and invest in it when imported bric-a-brac sell so fast and yeild quick profits? I pause for an answer.

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