Sunday, January 22, 2012

When the Vice President of Ghana Writes

The only Ghanaian president I know of who wrote was Kwame Nkrumah. Much has been said, and on this blog too, about the importance of Nkrumah's writings. This is a man who shared his vision, his aspirations and more about our world through his writings. When leaders show interest in reading and writing it tends to have a trickle down effect. I read Obama's Dreams from my Father when he decided to come to Ghana. I have not as yet got a copy of Bush's Decision Point and I have Jimmy Carter's  Our Endangered Values. In fact, I read how the Obamas went to a small bookshop on Small Business Saturday to buy books for his children. Whereas in the US and elsewhere past presidents spends quality time to write and share with the people their lives before, during, and after office and what made them take certain decisions, it is not so in Ghana. In Ghana, other people writes about them. A memoir that is not written by the person himself still lacks something even if it is an authorised version.

Dedicated book bloggers are few in Ghana and anytime we discover ourselves we talk of how reading is declining and the quality of writing too. Most of the young Ghanaian writers aren't living in the country, showing the difficulty of getting your work published.

Kinna of Kinna Reads, Celestine Nudanu of Reading Pleasure and I decided that we would have to SCREAM for the government to hear in order to arrest the rapid deceleration of our reading culture - Reading Maketh Man. If knowledge is power, then we are gradually losing ours. Extra effort needs to be taken. Publishers of fiction, memoirs, autobiographies by authors living in Ghana could be supported - tax cuts? tax holidays? or free (or reduced-cost) importation of printing materials. Something concrete has to be done. Writing programmes could be organised at the universities. Reading Clubs could be formed in schools and in this direction the Writers Project of Ghana is doing enough but it needs to be supported.

It is in this thinking mood that I was when I saw a picture of the Vice President of Ghana at a book reading in Ghana with such authors as Ama Ata Aidoo, Kofi Akpabli, Nana Awere Damoah. Last year I read that he was writing a book, which scheduled to be launched in July of this year. However, the book has been published and from his twitter conversation (yes he is on twitter) it would be available in Ghana in August. With a literary enthusiast as a Vice President, I think that if readers and writers scream we would have a listening ear.

My First Coup d'Etat by John Dramani Mahama
FROM BLOOMSBURY: An important literary debut from the Vice President of Ghana, a fable-like memoir that offers a shimmering microcosm of post-colonial Africa.

My First Coup D'Etat chronicles the coming-of-age of John Dramani Mahama in Ghana during the dismal post-independence "lost decades" of Africa. He was seven years old when rumors of a coup reached his boarding school in Accra. His father, a minister of state, was suddenly missing, then imprisoned for more than a year.

My First Coup D'Etat offers a look at the country that has long been considered Africa's success story. This is a one-of-a-kind book: Mahama's is a rare literary voice from a political leader, and his stories work on many levels--as fables, as history, as cultural and political analysis, and, of course, as the memoir of a young man who, unbeknownst to him or anyone else, would grow up to be vice president of his nation. Though non-fiction, these are stories that rise above their specific settings and transport the reader--much like the fiction of Isaac Bashevis Singer and Nadine Gordimer--into a world all their own, one which straddles a time lost and explores the universal human emotions of love, fear, faith, despair, loss, longing, and hope despite all else.

16 comments:

  1. Beautiful. We need to do more. Which is why I'm excited that the VP is writing a lot. To your list of past presidents of Ghana who wrote, let's add Busia too.

    Back to business: when the government announced money for the creative arts, only musicians were jumping about. I didn't hear any literary organisation!!!!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the addition.

      Kinna and I were talking about that. Looks like it went only for Musicians or? Because if we talk of creative arts then that's huge and literary organisations are definitely included.

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  2. I admire how the Vice President,Hon. John Dramani Mahama,carries himself about.
    My admiration just increased with news of his book.

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  3. Thanks for posting this. Mahama is joining quite a select club for Ghana, as you pointed out.

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    Replies
    1. I believe so and if he continues he will leave quite cherished legacy.

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  4. How interesting to consider the positive or negative example that politicians set as literary figures and readers. Hope this book helps to encourage and promote reading!

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  5. I agree with The Bard Boy. The Veep draws a lot of admiration. I'm really looking forward to his book.

    He's GhanaveepJDM on Twitter, and he does reply his mentions.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I realised that. It was through that that I got to know of when it might get to Ghana.

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  6. Well, he attended the best primary school in the whole world. Can't expect less. :-)

    On a serious note, I'd consider this a valuable book. I hope he writes about his time serving the nation, when he retires from politics. Both books would be gems for futire leaders.
    You echoed my thought on the importance of leaders writing about their vision.

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    1. Exactly. It would be through that that we can get to know them properly though some have used it as damage controls, when you read between the lines you can really find their identity. Rumsfeld has a book titled Unknown Knowns (or Known Unknowns?, something like that) from his famous Newspeak.

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  7. This looks like a book worth reading. I'm glad our own VP has set an example. I look forward to picking it up at a point in time.

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    Replies
    1. Perhaps it might get to SA before GH since the former has a wider distributional networks.

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  8. That's really neat that he's written a book. I'm interesting to see how it is!

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