45. The End of Skill by Mamle Kabu
Title: The End of Skill
Genre: Short Story
Publisher: Picador Africa
Published in: Dreams Miracles and Jazz
Editors: H. Habile and K. Sesay
This week is Ghanaian Literature week at Kinna Reads and I have joined her in bringing to light the gems of Ghanaian Literature. Amy at Amy Reads is also participating.
The End of Skill, which was shortlisted for the 10th Caine Prize in 2009, is a different kind of short story told by Mamle Kabu. The story unlike many others takes a path that lies untrodden. Most at times stories are told of change; of how wills must be asserted; of how parents force their children to tow a path, take a career, marry a given person, and how the children are affected by their parent's decisions. Always negatively affected. However, in The End of Skill, Mamle Kabu tells a story of how parent's decisions aren't all that colloquial.
Jimmy or Kweku, as known and called by his father, was tired of continuing the father's business of Kente weaving. According to him this work brings no financial rewards fitting enough of people of his age, this his father wouldn't listen to even if he conveys his thoughts in a not so bluntly a way.
However, Jimmy is only satisfied and fulfilled when he is weaving the Kente cloth and his father knows this. So Jimmy was to leave the village of Adanwomase to Accra with the aim of finding a different kind of job - one that would pay the bills and make him and his father live a financially-fulfilled life. But what if this dream could only be achieved through the only thing that Kweku or Jimmy has no peer - weaving? And what happens when he found that he shared his father's sentiment about the fate of the Adweneasa Kente cloth in the hands of expatriate and others alike who would treat this Kingly cloth just as another decorating piece? What happens when passion meets money?
This is a wonderful story, one that I have never believed could be told. It speaks of the wealth of stories in the country and how we need not stretch too far to gain ideas to write. The story is also not what people usually refer to as the 'typical' African story. It encompasses the village setting and the city setting and it is so true to life. We each have a story that begins not from the city, but somewhere remote.
This story together with the other shortlisted authors: Parselelo Kantai (Kenya) for You Wreck Her, Alistair Morgan (South Africa) for Icebergs, EC Osondu (Nigeria) for Waiting and Mukoma wa Ngugi (Kenya) for How Kamau wa Mwangi Escaped into Exile, together with the best from the Caine Writing Workshop were published as Work in Progress and Other Short Stories. Kabu is also the author of 'Human Mathematics' published in Mixed: An Anthology of Short Fiction on the Multi-racial Experience edited by Chandra Prasad, W.W. Norton (2006) and 'Story of Faith' in African Women Writing Resistance: Contemporary Voices, edited by Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez, University of Wisconsin (2010).
I recommend that you each read this story here. Or you can purchase the entire anthology, Dreams Miracles and Jazz, which include seasoned authors such as Binyavanga Wainana, Segun Afolabi, Sefi Atta, Brian Chikwava and Biram Mboob, here.
An interview with Mamle Kabu would be up on this blog soon. Keep watching.