Friday, July 02, 2010

30. My Thoughts on "Through the Gates of Thoughts"


Title: Through the Gates of Thought
Genre: Non-Fiction (Inspirational)
Publishers: Athena Press, London
Pages: 134 (e-copy)
Year of Publication: 2010
Country: Ghana

Through the Gates of Thought is a book of inspiration written by a Chemical Engineer whose passion for the arts has seen his works published in different media and collections. Nana Awere Damoah's second book, took me by surprise. When I first got the e-copy for review, I read the first chapter, referred to in the book as Gate 1 and nearly gave up continuing. I thought it was full of reminiscences and I am not one to brood over past events. However, I opened it again yesterday and read the Gate 2 and after the first two paragraphs I was hooked and I completed reading it in less than two hours. Whilst reading it I was encouraged to take two bold steps and one has bore fruits this morning. I had wanted to tell my boss that I don't feel involved in the research process and I would want to learn more as I have decided on pursuing a PhD sometime soon. Reading his book, I realised that I needed to take matters into my own hands, that if I don't move this thought forward, if I don't realise it or sow this seed by telling him what I have in mind he would not know or come to understand it (as he, my boss, is not telepathic to read my mind) and while doing so I needed to exercise tactfulness and circumspection in my writing. I did it and today the news I got from him was 'EXCELLENT, that's good news'. 

This is the sort of inspiration that Nana's work provides. It is practical. The book could be classified into three parts, though these are not distinct: Motivational, Reflections and Problem Solving. The Motivational pieces don't just state abstract things that you must do in order to achieve success but it gives you practical things that others have done and sometimes, that the author himself has done or gone through, which has the ability to lead one to success. Most of the chapters end with an activity that test where you stand on an issue or that try to encourage you to take a second look at yourself. Besides, there are a lot of aphorisms, quotes, proverbs related to the topic that is being discussed. The use of local stories, stories from the Bible and stories from many other sources make it easy for one to relate to it. For instance, most of us have been to the secondary school and have been bullied and humiliated. But how do you solve a problem that you have created and which, according to all, could lead to your dismissal? Through this story, one learns that the cause of the problem is not different from its solution and that with controlled emotions one can solve almost every problem.

To summarise some of the topics in the Gates (or Chapters): Gate 4 encourages us to put words into actions; Gate 5 inspires the youth to act young, and start now for procrastination does not help anyone except perhaps time itself. Gate 6 tells us that time waits for no one and Gate 9, never act in anger. My favourite topic is 'The Ghanaian @ 52'. Here interesting questions are posed; pertinent issues are raised and I hope every person the world over (not only Ghanaians) would, at least, read this Gate, Gate 15 that is. Whereas Nana praises the Ghanaian @ 52 (that is 52 years after independence) as being politically in tune and ability to vote for different political parties for presidential and parliamentary elections, he does not mince words about the way some Ghanaians @ 52 still see politics in the 'way ants walk'. There are other social issues raised in this chapter such as:
The Ghanaian @ 52 is still not sanitation-conscious. (S)he still throws rubbish out of the taxi (s)he is travelling in. (S)he dumps waste into the drain in front of his/her house, ... (S)he expects the Accra Metropolitan Authority (AMA) and the Kumasi Metropolitan Authority (KMA) to sort out her/his indiscriminate littering. (page 79, electronic copy).
And this observation couldn't have come at an opportune time as the infamous June/July floods have started washing away houses, properties, roads and bridges and the death toll has been escalating with it. Here, Nana tells us that we are or should be responsible for our actions; that one cannot expect to have a mosquito-free environment if one keeps dumping waste into gutters; one cannot expect the gutters to clean themselves or better still the floods to find their own appropriate course when it rains if we keep dumping the waste into the gutters, for 'action and reaction are always equal and opposite', aren't they?

Though the subject of politics was talked about, the book is not political as it deals with issues rather than personalities, as has become the new order for our radio stations. The subjects of the book deal with the substance that we all should be talking about. He is an observant and the words in this book have been talked about over and over again but the difference is that he has recorded it and has provided solutions to these problems, the Problem Solving part of the book. Let me be quick to say that, this PS part is not separate in itself for every issue raised is solved by itself. 

Interspersed with these writings are poems written with the motive to inspire. Though I love the pieces and they are inspirational, I think that he strove for a particular poetic device that I would wish he did away with, rhyming. Yet, the latter did nothing to dilute the content of the book, if anything at all, it probably provided a touch of variety as the poetry pieces were strategically placed in the book.

Nana's books have always targeted our mind and, hence, our thoughts. He feels and knows that by attacking the mind, and by so doing our thoughts, the attitudinal problems that have become the bane to development in Ghana would be overcome. For almost all the problems raised in this book are character and attitude base. Thus, it is no wonder that his first book was titled Excursions in my Mind. We need a mental revolution to change the course of our development.

Nana's writing is simple, devoid of dictionary-grabbing words, and written is such a way that every person with a minimal level of education would be able to read and understand and with this the book has a possibility of reaching people far and wide. 
It has been said that in a typical African country of two PhD holders, one is the president and the other is in exile. (page 123, Gate 24, Pro Patria, For the Sake of Africa).
With this quote from the book, I urge all individuals to get a copy, read and act according to its dictates. Nothing in it would lead you astray. I love this book as it has already helped me. Enjoy it. 

Nana contributed a story, Truth Floats, to the first edition African Roar, a collection of Short Stories published by StoryTime, a registered e-zine.

Look out for my interview with the author, Nana Awere Damoah, in the coming days.

ImageNations Rating: 5.0 out of 6.0

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