Review of I Speak of Ghana by Kwame Gyan

The thing about Nana Awere Damoah, AKA NAD, is that, he patiently puts together the very normal, everyday thoughts that we say in our chit-chats (in much the same way as a Victoria did which cost her gifted job and other giveaways courtesy the state of Ghana), smile at in our thoughts, and occasionally rave and rant about, in a way that every Kofi and Ama will appreciate and align to fluidly.

This he does so well, and he is humble enough to tap into other people’s thoughts and to have them contribute in helping him tell stories that last. There have been lots of things that have happened with and in our country, and I feel people like NAD are God-sent to serve as historians for the future. If Kwabena Gyan were to pick “I Speak of Ghana” in 20 years when he will be 21 years, he would have had a vivid description of how his Ghana was when Daddy was 33. In my mind, Nana Awere Damoah is to our social setting, what Kwaku Baako ought to be in politics if he were to open a page on his laptop to type away.

I was honoured to have read the review of NAD’s last book at the launch on December 1, 2011. It was at the launch that I met NAD for the very first time. We had become acquainted on Facebook and it turned out we shared similar thoughts on a lot of issues. As a matter of fact I had been encouraged to ‘write my own book some’. I still have not found time to. One advice I will seek from him when I meet him at his launch will be, “how do I start”. Because for a chemical engineer and with the sort of schedule he runs, it is impressive to see how he manages to compile these thought-provoking yet humour-laden books that will serve as everlasting evidences on the various facets of Ghanaian live at various points in history. One thing is almost assured though – before Nana Awere Damoah launches his next book in a December…the one after “I Speak of Ghana”, I would have written my first.

In “I Speak of Ghana”, NAD takes a deep look at the habits and nature (or ‘mis-nature’ if you may) of the average Ghanaian who is barely able to feed his family, to the Presidency and leadership of our land whose general inactions have seen as match time over the past 50 years. The content page of “I Speak of Ghana” will excite anyone who has lived in Ghana, lives in Ghana, intend to visit or live in Ghana.

There is a lot of wisdom carefully and joyfully strewn in subtle sarcasm, blunt expression, and matured expression. NAD captures the many relevant experiences he goes through on a daily basis at work, during his sojourns, and wherever he finds himself. For me, I “I Speak of Ghana” is in part, a life story of NAD, and in another, a compilation of his frustrations as a native of Sikaman, and in yet another part, a historical collation of the everyday Ghanaian.

It is easy to sense NAD’s disappointment and indeed my annoyance when he says in “The Future started yesterday and we are already late”, that;

“As my friend Qouphy Obirikorang puts it, “we need a rude awakening from our mediocrity and self pity.” Nkrumah declared that there was a new African, but frankly isn’t that African old now, as we are not thinking ahead of the game that much anymore? Recently, the drilling of the world’s longest transport tunnel was completed, which connects Switzerland to Italy under the Alps. The 57km (35 mile) rail tunnel has taken 14 years to build and is not likely to open before the end of 2016. [The distance from Tema Oil refinery to Korle-bu Teaching hospital via the Motorway is 41.3km, so this tunnel is about one-and-a-half time that; from the Refinery to Nsawam via the Motorway and Achimota is 56.3 km] It is expected to revolutionise transport across Europe, providing a high-speed link between the north and south of the continent. Eventually, trains will travel through it at speeds of up to 250km/h (155mph), slashing journey times between Zurich and Milan by as much as one-and-a-half hours. It has taken 14 yrs to get to this point and will take 6 years to open it; this project is taking 20 yrs, how many of our leaders think with 20 years from now in mind? Isn’t 4 years long-term here?

“I Speak of Ghana” is not merely a must-read. It is a must-have.

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