Taiye Selasi’s GHANA MUST GO novel raises vital diaspora life issues
USAfricaBOOKS review by Nneka Ezenwa Chiazor
USAfrica, June 4, 2013: Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi presents a vivid and engaging story of a modern day African family in the United States of America grappling with the triple thorny issues that continue to beleaguer most Africans living in the diaspora: finding one’s identity in the valley of being neither fully
Western nor fully African; once finding it, learning to accept and embrace that reality of bifurcated existence, and dealing with the challenges and implications of economically-driven family separation and in some cases, outright abandonment.
As a London born, Massachusetts-raised Ghanaian-Nigerian, Ms. Selasi instinctively unveils her intriguing characters adorned in a silky swaddle of complex situations – abasement, lust, love and more. Scintillating, this page-turner and her debut novel, is sure to make you think about the complications of some of those issues.
The young writer tells the story of Dr. Kweku Sai, a general surgeon with a fetish for slippers, who meets his untimely end at his abode in Accra, Ghana. His death gives way to the story of his estranged family: Fola, his first wife, first love and domestic engineer (a.k.a housewife) who is holding down the fort in America with his four children – Olu, the eldest son, also a doctor and married to an Asian girl, the twins, Taiwo and Kehinde both reeling from their father’s absence and pressures of trying to fit into both African and American societies that don’t understand them, and Sadie, the last child saddled with being born after the twins and struggling to find her place in a family that was, but could no longer be whole. Kweku loses his prestigious job at the hospital and feels so much like a failure that he abandons his wife and children and moves back to his ancestral home, Ghana.
This leaves Fola, who sacrificed her career ambitions to become Kweku’s housewife, to care for four young children- Olu, Taiwo, Kehinde and Sadie.
Fola in her desperation and typical Nigerian fashion of wanting to keep up appearances sends Olu to a private school and ships the twins to her brother in Nigeria where they face shameful horrors. Sadie, the youngest is stuck to her mother’s side and never really gets a chance to bond with any of her older siblings. Fast forward sixteen years and Kweku dies, which reunites the family while reopening the wound resulting from his absence.
Selasi brings her scholastic aptitude to bear (Yale Bachelors and Oxford Masters) in this well written novel has been released in the U.S early summer 2013.
Evidently, the 25-years old Selasi who was selected by Granta as one of Britain’s Top Young Writers in 2013, is poised to be a leading writer for her generation.
•Nneka, a telecommunications executive and African creative arts specialist in the U.S., is a contributing editor of USAfricaonline.com and CLASSmagazine Houston.
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