Ghana must go was recommended based on my past purchasing history on Amazon. I do have a number of books from Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda Adichie so I was excited to read a book similar in nature to their books. I read the reviews and a number of them indicated that the story was good but a bit complicated to follow. I would definitely agree with that assessment. I started this book a few weeks ago and it requires a bit of concentration to follow the details of the story. The authors writing and thought patterns are very deep, intricate and lovely in one sense. But they are also quite confusing and difficult to follow.
When I saw the title, I assumed this book would be about the travails of folks having to leave Nigeria after the infamous Ghana must go ordeal (Click here for more details), but it had nothing to do with that.
The book starts out with a family tree which proves useful as you read the book as there are so many names/characters to follow. You would have to refer back to this chart several times to remember who is who.
Here are a few details about major characters in the book
Kweku Sai – Kweku is a Ghanian, trained as a doctor in the US. The story starts with his passing and the details his life story in reverse chronological order. He is a man chained to societal ideals of who he should be as a man. Once, he isn’t able to provide for his family, he falls into despair and depression.
Fola Savage – Wife to Kweku, originally from Nigeria. She met Kweku in the states and abandoned her career aspirations to pursue his goals of becoming a doctor.
Olukayode Sai – First son of Kweku & Fola. Followed in his fathers footsteps and became a doctor. He is married to an Asian, Ling Wei. They have a rather interesting relationship and seem distant from family and friends. They seem to be in their own world.
Taiwo Sai – Twin daughter of Kweku & Fola. She seems to have a bit of an attitude. A bit sour in nature. The distance between her parents and abuse she suffered, have made her tough and self reliant.
Kehinde Sai – Twin son of Kweku and Fola. He has a strong bond with his twin sister. Bond can almost be seen as unhealthy. He is extremely creative but seems to be plagued with some form of inner disturbance.
Sadie Sai – The last daughter. She feels lost within her family and is bulimic.
Overall, a family suffering from lack of love and honesty. Not that they hate each other, its just that they do not know how to love freely.They are ill with sicknesses that cannot be described. This story brings to light the emotional effects of familial bonds and how important they are. The characters didn’t quite know how to show affection treating affection as though it was a bad thing.
The story is quite deep and there are very many nuances which I didn’t quite catch. A lot of them involved some knowledge of a particular culture or history.
After reading this book, I wanted to know more about the author. Taiye Selasi was born in London to Nigerian and Ghanaian parents but was raised in Massachusetts. She was therefore exposed to several different cultures. This explains her ability to inflect nuances from different cultures as her identity flows through all of them.
New York Times Review: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/10/books/review/ghana-must-go-by-taiye-selasi.html
Check out this video of the author reading from Ghana Must Go