“EDƆ” by Ivana Akoto Ofori.

Flash Fiction From GHANA

Maya had been my best friend ever since we were in Primary 6. That made seventeen years now. Apart for a few quickly-resolved arguments, we got along swimmingly, even to the extent of having a double wedding last year — she to her man, Kwaku, and me to mine, Aaron. Maya had always been an amazing, steadfast friend. I couldn’t ask for anyone better.

There was just one thing… it irked me time and time again: Maya criticized my food all the time; not what I ate, but what I cooked. Every time she came over and I made any local meal for her, she’d snidely comment, “Ah, Shika! As for this one, it’s like there’s no pepper inside. Ei! Are you sure you are Ga?”

What audacity! What right had she to judge my meals, when I made them just the way I wanted to eat them? And for…

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My thoughts: “Ghana Must Go”

General Impression: This book is extraordinary.

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Taiye Selasi’s “Ghana Must Go” got hype. It’s the first result I got when I searched “Ghana” in the Kindle store. So I got it from the school’s library and read it.
It was hard to start, and when I started, it was hard to understand and follow, so it was hard to continue. The reason for this is Taiye Selasi’s writing style. The words, sentence structure, paragraphing and narration are set in a way I’d never seen before, giving ample details from multiple perspectives and generally baffling me so much that I had to constantly stop and re-read or pause and absorb. Her prose sounds like poetry, and every literature teacher I know would describe her diction as “powerful” and her imagery as “vivid.” If any other authors write like her, I’m yet to read from them. Anyway, needless to say, it took me rather a longer time than usual to complete this book.
The characters, all of them, were what got me hooked. (For reasons I don’t even know, Kehinde was my favorite.) One thing I am certain of is this: these are more than just book characters. They are substantial; they have essence. It doesn’t matter who or what they were meant to represent- somewhere in this world, they surely exist: everything from their mixed, conflicting-culture appearances, tot heir unmatched African brilliance to their reactions and emotions towards those they know and are related to. I’d be extremely shocked if, after reading this book, someone told me they couldn’t identify with a single character.
Taiye Selasi raised themes and questions about the African stereotype, indigenous culture and identity that I hadn’t deeply thought about before. Who, for example, is the classical African man, intelligent to the core, who walks out on his family without a word? I thought I didn’t know anyone like that. Then I realized that I know, and am related to, someone worse. And when it inevitably happens resultantly that our habits and reputations where we come from get into the non-Africans and the idea becomes set in stone in their heads, what do we do? And what can we do but to prove them wrong, while others elsewhere continue to prove them right?
What is the root of the pure African who has never been to Africa and knows zilch of his history beyond his parents? What does it feel like to know your relatives but not feel like part of a family?
I believe it is impossible for an author to manufacture characters from his/her head without putting a little bit of himself into them. Taiye Selasi feels to me as if she has BEEN all the characters before, maybe in an alternate universe. She knows her characters; every blessed one of them. Note that she achieved this without the help of a first-person narration.
Hard to read, impossible to stop. My heart cried in every situation someone battled with the demons around and within himself.
For me, the book represented life. The shocks, the love, jealousy, pursuit and hate, the insane way Selasi describes everything…what can I even say? Reading “Ghana Must Go” was making a long, insightful, mental journey. No major spoilers given. I don’t think I’m done, but here, I’ll stop.

Also, Taiye Selasi is gorgeous.

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-Your favourite blogger, (why do you deny it?)
Ivana