Sunday, July 12, 2009

4. African Agenda—A Reader's Review

Title: African Agenda
Author: Camynta Baezie
Genre: Novel
Pages: 503
ISBN: 9781419618987
Year: 2008
Publishers: Book Surge
Country: Ghana


Camynta Baezie was born in Ghana and has travelled all over the world. After being awarded the Ridley Fellowship in Transport in 1996 to pursue his Ph.D. research work, he obtained a Ph.D. in transport engineering from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. He has presented and published papers for international conferences in Antwerp, Cape Town, Dublin and Bournemouth. The author currently lives in the Kingdom of Bahrain.


Are you an Africanist? Do you believe in the unity of Africa? Dr. Camynta Baezie’s first novel, ‘African Agenda’ is as ambitious in scope and content as the man himself. As a crossover between Tom Clancy, David Baldacci, Robert Ludlum and Craig Thomas, Camynta’s first novel would rock you and shock you at the same time. The novel will cause the doubting Thomases to revise their notes, whilst at the same time challenging the seekers of Africa’s unity to pursue it through an innovative and novel path and to not waver in their belief that it shall be achieved. It caused me to think that there should be new ways of pursuing this dream, besides it shouldn’t take every soul on the continent to agree to such an ideology before the revolution begins. At least, the unwavering willingness of a few reasonable men backed by conviction and a call to action could and would stir the revolutionary spirits of the youth whose zeal and will is to live in a continent free of wars, diseases, negative perception and hunger; whose zeal and will is to have a united Africa, an Africa with a common destiny, an Africa with a common aspiration and hope, an Africa that can stand on its feet and speak for itself, an African whose voice can be heard over the tropical storms and shake the world, an African whose presence at world gatherings would not be to add to the numbers or to hover around the periphery of the World Council, but an Africa that would be at the heart of world events, solving conflicts, donating monies for charitable courses, deciding our common interest, an Africa that is part of the world. If you ever doubt that this is possible and achievable, if you ever think or thought that this idea is not tenable and that Africa has been doomed to a life of perpetual poverty as constant and always visible as the Tropical morning sun, a life of doom and gloom without a sliver of light, then this book is not for you and definitely you do not belong to the new Africa. This is a dream so ambitious and so overpowering that its subtle and imperceptible call to action will either overpower you and make you part of the few whose belief would remain unshaken and who would come to believe that they are the new hope of Africa or it would virtually break you apart and force you to give up with the belief that if this is what it would take for Africa to unite, then definitely, without a doubt, there is no hope and that this unity we all dream would remain just that—a dream—hibernating within the conscience of a few men who have pampered their nerves with alcohol and buoyed their minds with hemp. Let’s gird up our loins and harness our youthful exuberance to agitate for a brighter future for Mother Africa. We need it and we deserve. But to those who think it is not possible, think again. For whoever thought that South Africa would today be free, that both Whites and Blacks would unite and share a common destiny. For whoever thought that in just over three decades after the defeat of segregation in the United States of America, a Black person, not even of African-American origins, but of purely Kenyan father who used to herd goats in his village of Alego-Kogelo and a grandfather who used to be a ‘boy’ to the White Superiority during the Darker Days of Kenya’s colonisation would become the first Black President of that Great Nation. Think again that even with America’s numerous affirmative actions, there has been on only two occasions that a woman has campaigned as a vice-presidential candidate on the ticket of any political party, yet we have made progress in Africa to have the first woman president in Liberia. Ghana has had the first woman speaker of parliament and, from the look of things, has come to appreciate the role of women in the society, implying that soon there can be a female head-of-state. Africa has come of age, viva Africa. This call to action by Dr Baezie is one that is directed to each and every soul in Africa.

The Review

African Agenda opens with three students—from different parts of the country—who had been offered admission to pursue higher education at the University of Science and Technology. There were the independent Kutini who was coming from the Upper West Region and Mike Zinbalan whose military father was bringing him to the school from Accra. On their way they, Mike met Kofi Mensah and the three by twist of fate became roommates. Their closeness earned them the sobriquet the three musketeers. Kutini’s natural leadership borne out of his independence and struggle through life showed itself when he quelled what would have otherwise turned out to be a nasty hostage situation into one of reason and call to action. His fame quickly spread like wild harmattan fire in his native land of Takpo.

It was during their first semester vacation that Mike’s family (father and mother) was brutally murdered by Amankwa Amofa during one of the military takeovers in the country. Amofa being a rogue and having committed numerous atrocious crimes, mainly murders, during other military juntas was being secretly investigated by Colonel Zinbalan. However, Amofa saw his files in a folder marked ‘X-files’ and realised that he did nothing about the situation soon enough the law would catch up with him. Hence, he eagerly accepted Binda’s coup proposal so that he would use the ensuing melee, lawlessness and chaos to exact his pound of flesh on the Colonel’s family. The coup proved successful and he exacted his revenge on not only the Colonel but on the entire household leaving only Mike, who was only saved by a twist of fate and a mother’s motherly love, which is instinctive in nature.

Mike came back to school with a condition: his dreams are haunted by the murder of his family and through that he became insomniac. However, he took advantage of the situation and embarked on an academic long journey. As fate would have it, he won a scholarship after school to the United States to read a master’s programme whilst his friend Kutini went to United Kingdom to pursue a master’s and a Ph.D. in computer science. Unsatisfied with his Chemistry background and the boring nature of his work, Kutini advised Mike to branch in computer programming and there Mike found his calling. He lived a lonely life and made his name by winning numerous awards, patents and recognitions for his pioneering role in that sector. 

Kutini’s vision of seeing a united Africa, which was one of the major arguments he carried out whilst at UST, took shape after the plane carrying him and some delegates from different countries was shot down by rebels in the forest of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Kutini had been invited by the Foreign Minister and one of the Three Musketeers, Kofi Mensah as Ghana’s representative to the delegation. There again his leadership skills brought peace to the DRC even after they had been captured by rebels. Kutini was never the same after meeting Yaro Tunde the Nigerian representative of the group. 

Kutini, Frank (a friend of Kutini), Mike and Yaro, set out to unite Africa with each playing an unknown part in the wider scheme of things. Mike’s involvement was enormous and revolutionary, developing the computer programme that took control over an American Plane and later their nuclear missiles, even when he wasn’t around. Frank, an astute hacker, also wrote the programme that helped in the payments of Africa’s debt through some dubious ways. Yaro, the no nonsense man, and Kutini sought out to unite Africa after they took control of America’s nuclear arsenals, working from a village in the Upper West Region about two kilometres from Takpo (Kutini’s hometown). Kutini was later arrested at his Farm by a joint action-force between the elite Skyhawks of Ghana’s BNI unit and America’s FBI. But his negotiation skills, backed by the intelligence of Mike and Frank and his own boldness, brought America to its knees agreeing to the total denuclearisation of their military and to pursue world peace using the strategy of peaceful co-existence and the respect for countries irrespective of where they are located.

This story would bring a lot of ahs! And you would be surprised with the research and intelligence that went into its writing. The story provokes the axiom of Africa as a dark continent and challenges Africans to act. The narration is fast-paced and cross country. From Ghana to Congo to London to Washington, the author exhibits trait of a well-read and well-researched individual. This story is pioneering and different from all other books by Africans or Ghanaians. It looks as if the writer is making a bold statement in which he is telling us that... “this has never been done before, my type of writing challenges the Ludlum’s the same way Africa must challenge the West.” From the brewing of Pito (a local beer indigenous to the people of Northern Ghana) at Takpo to the programming of phones using the Global Positioning System (GPS) to control planes and nuclear arsenals, the author showed that he is well read and well researched. There were the occasional humour such as the fight between the wife and the girlfriend of a dead policeman.
“Oh, my dear Yankey, what have you done to me?” Theresa Amole was crying, “My dear Yankey, who will look after me?”
“Do you know Yankey?” a woman’s voice asked from behind her. Without thinking, and still very emotional, she replied, “Oh Yankey, my boyfriend, who will take care...” trying to hold on to the person asking in a sympathetic embrace. The slap that brought her to reality was enough to tell her it came from no ordinary hand.
Corporal Okumi was the wife of Yankey and they had lived in the police barracks together. She had always suspected her husband had a mistress but she had had no evidence. (Page 230)

The story also had tinges of real events that happened in Ghana and elsewhere. For instance there is the coup and the military takeover, which later turned into a civilian government, there is the National Reconciliation Committee (NRC), the International Financial Consortium (IFC) saga, the poor road networks in the country, the control of minerals in the DRC by international consortiums and corporations and many others. What makes this book interesting is the seamless interplay of facts and fiction. The dates alone would tell you that this is a work of fiction but as one reads through it one realises that there are events that are as real as the sun. To the uninitiated mind everything would sound fictitious; otherwise one is bound to see the parallelism between the book and Africa’s past, present and future. 

The power of the story lies in its character development. It would be seen, as one reads, that each character is fully formed. The reader can relate to each character’s past, present and future. It becomes easy to understand why an individual is behaving the way he or she is, if one understands his or her background and this the author did with perfection. The detailed description of events and equipment—including those foreign to this land—is redolent of a master storyteller in the league of Ludlum, Clancy, Baldacci and the rest and to think that this is his first novel speaks volumes for itself.

In the end Kutini and Yaro saw to the unification of the African continent and the repatriation of African Americans, African British and all other Africans in the diaspora to Africa, the majority of these coming by their free will, thus fulfilling Marcus Garvey’s prophecy of moving to the motherland and Bob Marley’s song ‘Exodus’. However, Kutini achieved this by letting go some important things in his life. He lost his friend, albeit through suicide, his one-year old son was murdered and his wife left him. Yet, Kutini did not sway from his vision. He kept his eyes steadily on his vision, without a shiver or a blink and if anything at all, it emboldened him, making him want to succeed and break the chains that has gripped and crippled Africa. It tells us that if we don’t let go of what we have we cannot take up what we don’t have. The sheer audacity with which the story was written gives me hope that at least there are people out there who haven’t given up on the vision of Ghana’s first president Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah. 

A copy of this book could be obtained at the Silverbird Bookshop located within the Accra Mall for about 12 Ghana Cedis (as at the time of writing).

ImageNations' Rating: 4.5 out of 6.0

PS: Please suggest some titles of African authors you would want me to review on this blog.


  1. Again, an interesting book that my library does not have. But then I am expecting too much I think. I enjoyed rading your thoughts on it though.

  2. Thanks Sandra, however, I believe that you would not be disappointed should you get yourself a copy. It's an interesting read and a bold novel.

  3. You see, this book is one of the best i ever read.There was some incredible bravery there that i think would never exist.the friends were pan-Africanist who used what they had to get what they wanted.All they wanted was to redeem the image of Africa and show people that there could be a UNITED AFRICA.You see, i think knowledge is really POWER because...

  4. @Anonymous, yes this novel is very different from most of the other African novels. It shows how far we have gone and how best we can use knowledge, technological knowledge, to improve upon ourselves.

  5. Nana, I can tell you I've never forgotten about the pages of this book since I read. My Fav so far.


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