Akotowaa: Dead By 27

My name is Ivana Akotowaa Ofori, and, according to many people, I may be dead by the time I’m twenty-seven.

Right now, I am seventeen, and my aspiration is to have a full-time literary career. Depending on who you are and where you live, this might be difficult to believe, but the Ghanaian society I live in reacts very negatively to this aspiration. I’ve gotten everything from blatant disbelief to reprimands, to people getting downright offended at my decision.

According to them, it is inconceivable to think that I can make a living out of words. According to them, I will be starving before long. I cannot count how many times however many people have tried to convince me that my passion and career path will lead to me being broke. Money has never been a priority of mine, but their words have frequently made me cry.

Their certainty of my failure made me also start to believe that I will fail. But it has to stop.

People who have never heard me perform, nor read any of my work, are never afraid to jump right into projecting their curses of death and starvation onto me. I have no idea why people are confident enough to judge other people’s prospective success or failure in a vocational career regardless of whether or not they know how skilled the person is at what they do.

A long time ago, I began to convince myself that really and truly, I’ll be dead by age 27 – because I am so determined to produce quality work that I won’t compromise by pushing it all to the side and not giving it the attention it needs. There’s an explanation as to why I want to give it my full attention, but that has its own blog post. And I used to be scared to die at 27, but now, I’m perfectly comfortable with the thought, whether or not it’s going to actually happen.

Why 27? I don’t know. Apparently, a lot of famous people died at 27. The pinpointing of the age was pretty random. Maybe 27 just sounds like a cool number.

On 3rd July 2015, I tweeted these exact words: “I want Ivana Akotowaa Ofori to be the first name they think of when they mention Ghanaian novelists, in the next ten years.” Incidentally, in the next ten years, I will be 27.

As I said, I don’t fear dying at 27 if I can live my calling while I’m at it. In my mind, I’m already dead! There is a Sufi mystic ideology that is put aptly into words by the Turkish author, Elif Shafak. It goes like this: “There is only one way to be born into a new life: to die before death.” So I’m dead. Dead to other people’s discouragement, dead to their threats of failure, dead to their unbelief and lack of support. It can’t touch me anymore.

My personal Dead By 27 project is me letting go of the fear of death. It is being dead to the thoughts of death, dead to everything except obeying my Master’s command to practice my calling. This is a chronicling of my journey: #DeadBy27. And I hope it inspires people besides myself.

-Akotowaa

DB27 Instagram: @akotowaadeadby27

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14 thoughts on “Akotowaa: Dead By 27

  1. Sounds very courageous of you, Akotowaa. I pray your dream comes true of being among Ghana’s best novelists. I also pray for more than 10 years to your life so that many of your readers would call themselves privileged to have lived in your time.

  2. Somewhere in my young adult life, I learnt to be more self centered and selfish about my ambitions.
    I come from a family where 4 out of 6 of us are medical Doctors, one is a nurse and I’m the odd one. An Engineer.
    It rained sulfur and Brimstones when I decided to read something else.
    If you truly want something go for it. Just remember to do your darndest to prove yourself right. It’s more important than proving everyone else wrong.

    PS: you are an awesome writer and some famous people also died at 100, 80 and 14

  3. Amazing project to look forward to. The depth of its meaning gives me a lot to think about.
    The death here is not a physical death, per se, at least that is not how I see it. It’s more like ‘you’ll be nothing’ of no value, wasted, the list goes on, if you go down this lane.
    But we fight for our dreams, aspirations, and venture down barely trodden paths.
    1. I am proud of you.
    2. I love you this much!
    3. God bless you and give you strength for this journey.
    This is exciting. I almost want to say see you in ten years, there will be so much to show the world.
    Hugs and kisses!

  4. I have always admired your writings and watched a couple of your performances, thanks to Maame Ama Tuffet who sends me the link. To me, you are an amazing and savvy writer. You blossom and have a quintessential way in playing with words. At this age with this talent, I would encourage you to pursue this dream with undiluted potency. You have it. Let nothing distract you. There is nothing fulfilling than following your passion. I will be the first person to purchase your book. It’s going to be a rough and lonely journey but persevere. If you need help, speak to the Pros, like Nana Awere Damoa and co who I think will be willing to hold your hand.

    Go for it gentlewoman. The world is your pride.

  5. The world is a crazy place to be…but there are some good people in it. In the midst of all these discouragements, there are still windows of hope that misfits like us see in people like you. Trust me, I’ve decided to paint and draw with pen and earn a living from this, and no matter what people say…I’m always going to stick to it because I’m driven by passion. If you think being a novelist is what make this life worth living…go get it, at least I (one person) support you.
    In the near future if our paths cross physically, we are going to look back and have something to smile about. You’ve a gift, use it.
    God bless.

  6. Um. Don’t read Sydney Sheldon. He’s a hack, albeit a good one. There’s plenty of recognition for hacks. The tough road is reserved for innovators. Read serious people who dare to write things they mean.

    Also–practically speaking, the ’27 Club’ syndrome is likely due to unhealthy lifestyle, not genius. The deaths were sudden, but by no means inexplicable. Relax.

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