No Sweetness Here and Other Stories by Ama Ata Aidoo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Aidoo does a great job of showing some of the current issues that are at the heart of modernization in Ghana today. These short stories have quite the range of perspectives to give a broad picture of what it looks like to be Ghanaian, whether you are living in a small village in the north or are living the city life of Accra. It also looks as the views of both men and women, elders and children, and this unique blend gives a very universal flavor to her themes and messages.
In "Everything Counts" there is a line that says "one did not really go to school to learn about Africa" (2). I had the opportunity to do research at a secondary school in Ghana and found that this was more true than not. The library shelves were full of donated copies of English Romantic Poets, European explorations of Africa, and outdated United States history textbooks. Although I think they are incorporating more African literature into the curriculum, there is definitely a shortage of literature appreciation in the Ghanaian community until reaching the university level (which is not an option for the vast majority of the population). I cannot help but think there is a lot of truth to what Aidoo is saying here.
Another thing I find refreshing about this collection of plays are the different variations on form that Aidoo plays with. Having a story about telling a story seems more organic and authentic than some of the other novels that have come out of Africa. The slang can be hard to keep up with, but for the most part this is very accessible to a Western audience unfamiliar with the context of these stories. This one of the best reads I have had yet in West African literature.
It is also nice to get a female voice out of Africa, particularly West Africa. I have a soft spot for her the themes and the subjects she takes on. It also probably helps that I love Ghana. :)
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