Title: Excursions in My Mind
Author: Nana Awere Damoah
Publishers: Athena Press
Year of First Publication: 2008
Reviewer: Nana Fredua Agyeman (ImageNations, http://freduagyeman.blogspot.com/)
Nana Awere Damoah’s book Excursions in my Mind began that which was continued in Through the Gates of Thought. As in the latter, this book of inspiration used examples from the author’s own life and from varied sources; prominent figures and books like the bible were not spared. The book was written in simple language and unlike many other books on motivation and inspiration, here the reader – perhaps the Ghanaian or African reader – could be able to relate quite well with most of the examples cited.
Each series – as a chapter is referred to in this 134-page book – begins with a short story or an exposition of the theme or subject matter. The author then goes on to give ‘Action Exercise’ in an attempt to encouraging the reader implement that which he had read. Most at times this is followed by quotes and on few occasions by a poem that gives further expatiation on the said theme.
In all there are thirty-six series with a bonus one, ranging from Books and Knowledge to The Mountain Story covering themes like, goal-setting, financial prudence, dreams, friendship, responsibility, learning, faithfulness, shyness, fear, forgiveness, learning from a loss, waiting and or working for what we want and more. These are themes that are applicable to our lives. Most of my favourite series are those taken directly from the author’s life. Nana discusses his family openly, showing us what goes on within – the dynamics, the challenges, the sacrifices that his parents had to make to send him through school, making him the person he is now. Appreciation comes when one realises that the cost of education requires a willing and able parents to see their children through to the end. Thus, unlike, perhaps, in other places, education is a privilege when it comes one way; that achieved through the sacrifice of parents, especially those in the middle and lower economic class. The author does not back away from the negatives but more importantly he shows us that there are positives even within a negative life, which is what we should concentrate on. Though the author does not shy away from his Christian affiliation, which is seen by his outright declaration, his use of language and quotes from the bible, he also does not dissociate himself from his traditions. And like all themes, he looks at the positive side of this too. He agrees to the proverb ‘if your parents look after you for your teeth to grow, you must look after them for their teeth to fall out’. He demonstrates this using personal examples from his life. Even when Nana Damoah lost his two brothers and a father in a year, he was able to learn from this, realising how ephemeral our life in this world is and how fast we reduce to zero when death comes knocking.
With short chapters and precise language, Nana Damoah has crafted a book that would resonate with a lot of readers, both on this side of the globe with his personal examples, and with everyone through his expositions and quotes. Could this book be the beginning of a memoir? Could this be the beginning of something bigger? Reading every series and the references to his family giving precise years – sometimes to the exact date and day – one is bound to believe that these series would coalesce into a memoir sometime to come. For don’t we all have something to say from our lives? And here Nana’s eidetic memory that seems to make the words come alive on the page would serve him excellently. And when it does, I would be here to read and review it.
This book is recommended and even those for whom any mention of the biblical texts is toxic to their health, there is something to learn from this book if such individuals choose to take the content but not its associated source.
Brief Bio: Nana Awere Damoah was born in Accra, Ghana. He holds a Masters in Chemical Engineering from the University of Nottingham, UK, a first degree in Chemical Engineering from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana. A British Council Chevening alumnus, Nana works with Unilever Ghana Limited. Nana started serious writing in 1993 when he was in sixth form and has had a number of his short stories published in the Mirror and the Spectator. In 1997, he won first prize in the Step magazine National Story Writing Competition. His short story Truth Floats was published in the first edition of African Roar Anthology. He is the creator and editor of Story Loom.