There was a terribly cold Cold War going on between Dede (my wife) and me. It was the type of cold war that will normally result in a man hopping into his car and heading to the spot for a shot (I am sure we all know that ‘spot’ in Ghana means bar. Yes?) Ah well, this cold war had ensued for two days now and from all indications it was going to break our personal Cold War record, that is, our longest Cold War spanning 3 long days and may I say, even colder nights. I had asked Nana Awere Damoah to send me a review copy of Tales from Different Tails but I had not started to read it yet. But on this night with an unfriendly breeze blowing, I grabbed my Galaxy Tab and began reading it.
First I smiled.
Then I smiled some more.
Then I began to giggle.
I giggled some more.
Then a little more.
Dede was getting curious and upset, but more of curious. I feel more comfortable thinking she was more curious than upset. She was wondering what I was smiling and giggling about. So when I began laughing out so loud that tears began streaming down my cheeks, VOILA! She involuntarily ended the two-day old Cold War.
‘What is it?’ she asked.
I handed the Tab to her and headed for a glass of water from the refrigerator across the hall. I needed a drink. Water seemed more appropriate. Good ol’ H2O. I had begun to kiss the tip of the glass when I heard her laugh out louder than I did.
Such was the effect Tales from Different Tails had on me moments after I began reading it. Right from the first paragraph in the first tale when he writes in October Rush that;
“Tina was a timid girl, the sort whose timidity enhanced her countenance. She looked stressed and it was clear she needed a listening ear. As a leader in our hall fellowship, I was an appropriate downloading site for her worries, one to offer the requisite comfort and advice. She had been to look for me in my room on three previous occasions, each time failing to meet me since I kept a busy schedule and hardly studied in my room. I braced myself for what she had to say. After a few minutes of hesitation, during which I sat looking at her, encouraging her in silence, she blurted: “It’s the boys! They are pestering me so, and I just can’t cope!”
Nana carries his reader to a typical scene within the four walls of a typical Ghanaian university and manages to walk you through each setting as though you were sitting around the fires our fathers used to sit to hear stories of our ancestors. In Nana Awere Damoah, we have a young old man who captivates our attention and manages not to confuse us whiles telling into our failing ears the stories that we all experienced at some point in time back in school, in our lantern-lit village squares, in our white-collared offices, in our prison-style barricaded homes, on the rickety trotro criss-crossing our heavily pot-holed roads with our nunu-scented drivers’ mates stretching their arms across our noses, and in the make-believe love lives that we live with.
Nana tells his tales in a crisp and simple manner such that it places the reader right in the middle of the narration. The sort of stories that our uncles and parents used to tell us about life in the village are re-told in a manner only a good old story teller with years of experience living in a palace and squatting at the feet of village historians could dare. If you have not tasted life in a Ghanaian university; or seen the travails of a long distance relationship on the face of a lover; or heard of the hassle of the illiterate village boy seeking greener pastures in the messed up big villages we call cities in Ghana, then Tales of Different Tails is a must-read for you. On the other hand, if you feel you have seen it all and heard it all, then perhaps a gentle reminder is in order, and my friend has done a good job in providing that. Nana Awere Damoah brings to life using simple yet pregnant words, phrases and paragraphs to say the things that you have seen before, thought about before, and even said before in a manner which puts the reader right in the midst of the action or within a proximity so close one seems to feel the heartbeat and each breath of the characters.
The story of Inte Gorang for instance, the second tale in this book reminds me so much of my days in the Vandal City at Legon. What particularly brings back memories is the encouraging song that heralded Inte Gorang’s sojourn for love;
Ma ensi wo yie
Inte Gorang eeei
Inte rebel leader eei
Fa nkunim die bra nne!
You know how creative students can get in re-composing even the most complex of music. In tracing the story of this legend, we are led in on some of the most prevailing happenings in our schools and how what seems is not always what is. The reader is led into the mind of the typical male as he strategizes to execute and how things planned do not always yield results to much the work put in. we are also made aware of the very different species of females we have strategically spread across the world as though the old man above wanted man to encounter a woman who would match him boots-for-heels, chests-to-breasts, natural hair-to-Brazilian wig.
I got totally entertained reading each tale. I must admit I do not have a favorite. From October Rush through Truth Floats, the mastery of Dribble de Zagidibogidi, the unyielding spirits contained in Hope Undeferred, the gentle love portrayed in Kojo Nkrabeah, the angelic presence captured in Guardian of the Rented Well, the challenges and humor-laden Face to Face tale of the Trotro Palaver to the wahala in executing Project Akoma, the reader is guaranteed wisdom, humor, a walk-through in the life of the Ghanaian in various facets of life, but above all, the reader is guaranteed that Tales of Different Tails will be worth the read.
PS: Copies can be purchased here: Amazon USA, Amazon.co.uk (UK), and Amazon (France) & (Germany). In Ghana, copies can be obtained from Silverbird Lifestyle Shop (Accra Mall) and Kingdom Books and Stationery Bookshop (KNUST campus, Kumasi).
Tales from Different Tails will be launched on 1 December 2011 at the Teacher’s Hall Complex near Workers’ College and Tigo Headoffice, Adabraka, Accra, at 6pm. This is Nana Awere Damoah’s third book, the first two being Excursions in My Mind (2008) and Through the Gates of Thought (2010).
About the Reviewer: