Author: Nana Awere Damoah
Year of Publication: 2016
Number of pages: 96
Publisher: DAkpabli & Associates
Reviewer: Chris Worla Essikpe
Many many many Nkroful market days ago, when Kwame Francis Odi-nkruma and his retinue of local palm wine tappers assembled the people and announced at the village square, that Sikafuta had come of age and that she was ready to go to the riverside and fetch her own water, go to the bush and collect her own firewood, and even speak the white man’s language and write telegraph messages to the Oheema in Englisi-blotsi, the ecstatic crowd of citizens chanted and danced in frenzy. They made merry and prayed to the heavens for rainfall. The gods listened. The rains came, and with the rains, many matters. The matters have come aplenty. Matters yesterday, matters today, matters tomorrow.
Nsempii. Ɛyɛ nsɛm Pii. Nsɛm hyehyɛ adakamu, nneɛma hyehyɛ sum ase.
My mouth has just arisen.
Nsempiisms is not your quintessential non-fiction book. It has no central theme, no traceable plot, no constant setting. It is everything but your regular book. Nana Awere Damoah LP (Lagos Pilgrim) uses a very unorthodox style to document an anthology of everything and anything that makes you want to “laugh till you cry, or cry till you laugh”. The same things you see, hear, feel and live on daily basis; issues that send your pulse racing as though against Usain Bolt, these same matters that make you shake your head in disbelief and nod in agreement in quick succession.
From education to health, politics to science, trade to sports and anything in-between, Nsempiisms brings to life the varied and, sometimes, surreal landscape of the 21st century Ghanaian social discourse and the hassle for survival herein. Nsempiisms is the observation of an on-looker from close range, taking apart fibre by fibre, every single element of subject he touches on.
In the mould of his previous books, Nsempiisms is compelling and gripping. Nana Damoah’s style is non-judgemental. He describes his experiences as he lays on the table consequences of our collective actions or inactions.
Perhaps, what makes this book a breezy read that keeps you devouring the pages and yearning for more, is the courage of conviction, strength of character and love for motherland that ooze from the author’s quill. Nana, the Lagos Pilgrim, affirms life while admitting its turbulence, melodramas and misfiring passions.
The chapters in Nsempiisms are terse, the language simple and the structure easy to read. Each chapter opens with an anecdote that makes you smile, then your smile fades into despair, hopelessness, anger and frustration as you delve into the meaty substance of each story. What Nana Awere writes about are usually the familiar issues you bump into on the streets of Accra and in the alleyways of Anyako. They are issues you probably raved and ranted about until eventually something more annoying hits the media sphere. Nsempiisms is a solid tale of different tails that does not disappoint; it is dramatic, suspenseful. The smooth reading makes it easy to forget the time and keep flipping the pages.
Our Lagos Pilgrim simply knows how to wring the emotions out of the briefest scene.
Going through this book, it is difficult not to like the unpretentious style of the author. To be sure, there are some weaknesses in the book, quite negligible actually. By his very style, a casual reader may have to read again and again to catch most of Nana Damoah’s drift. Ardent followers of the Damoah style, however, will find no difficulties in decoding the Wasaman’s lingo as captured in Nsempiisms. Also, even though Nsempiisms is being launched in 2017, some of the issues touched on, have happened as far back as 2014, meaning a first time Damoah reader or anyone for that matter, who is not abreast of socio-political issues in Ghana, may have to take a trip back into time in order to relate to the content.
Having said that, it is apt to add, nonetheless, that Nsempiisms provides a valuable and absorbing window into Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana, your Ghana, our Ghana. Whichever way one looks at it, there is something almost archetypal about Nana Awere Damoah’s courage to speak his own truth.
Magana yakare (hausa, to wit, the matter has ended). My mouth has fallen.
Nsempiisms was launched on Saturday, February 25, 2017. Pictures from the launch can be found here. You can order copies of the book from Storefoundry or Amazon.