Manasseh Azure Awuni

The launch of Letters to My Future Wife, a book written by award-winning Ghanaian journalist Manasseh Azure Awuni, was scheduled to start at 5.30pm on Wednesday. At that time, I was impatiently waiting for my company’s shuttle driver to come and move the bus. The ride to the Christ the King Parish, the venue for the program, was uneventful. I alighted at Shiashie and boarded an Accra-bound car. Again, there was nothing worth reporting about the trip apart from the fact that there is no bus stop around the Flagstaff House area and so I could only alight 500 meters farther from my destination.

The walk back was annoying and painful. So, annoying that it affected my bladder. When I finally arrived at the Christ the King Parish, the first thing I asked the ushers was to be shown the washroom. The time was 6.55pm.

From the washroom, I could hear the MC, Abdul Hayi Moomen of GTV (that’s how his name was written on the program outline) introduce dignitaries. The mention of each person and his profile was received with a thunderous applause from the audience. It was obvious from the way Moomen did his introduction that he was preparing the dignitaries for the depletion he would cause their pockets.

When I finally entered the hall, Gramophone Ghana, a chorale group, was treating the audience to a song. My first impression about the half-full room answered the question that sat on my mind the whole day: “Would people patronize a book launch on a weekday?”

I avoided eye contact with all the ushers who were dressed in yellow branded shirts because I wanted to pick my own seat, preferably sit with a familiar person. However, when one of the beautiful dark ushers beckoned me, I could not resist her smile. I followed her like a metal after a magnet until I spotted Nana Awere Damoah in one of the seats. That broke the lady’s enchantment over me. I took a detour and found myself comfortably beside my mentor.

Three successive readings were done by three news anchors at Joys News: Beatrice Adu, Bernice Abu-Baidoo and Fiifi Koomson in that order. Except for Koomson’s reading, the other two were quite lengthy. Instead of the ladies reading full chapters, they could have selected excerpts. Although their voices were nice to hear and their experience as anchors made them read impeccably, the readings got boring along the line. They could have also avoided reading the chapters as if they were reading the news. My experience with DAkpabli Readathons tells me that there is a way to read which makes it pleasurable for your audiences. All reading no be reading. Difference yε mi.

Rebecca Eduafo-Abraham, wife of Manasseh, who was referred to as “the true future wife” throughout the event was one of two people who stole the show for me that night. The way she told the story of how she became the “Serwaa” she envied was captivating. A writer herself, she had the interest of the audience from start to finish. The journey through her impressions of Manasseh’s letters from when they were written to a fictional character to when they became letters to her was worth taking with her. She revealed the verity of the letters and the person of Manasseh. The sincerity in her speech (if I can call it that) with regards to how she did not agree with everything her husband wrote, how she has challenged some of them and how they have both had to realign their thoughts about relationships and their intricacies to live together was remarkable. I do not know what Manasseh expected in his “Serwaa” as he wrote those letters but my impression of Rebecca yesterday is that she fit the bill and exceeded it.

It was a moment of double gladness as the next person after Rebecca was my friend, Maukeni Padiki Kodjo. Adbul Hayi Moomen of GTV almost failed at his job as MC when he introduced her as a man. He tried to save himself the embarrassment by opening the book of explanations where it read, “I know her! She is even my friend”. Yeah, and he blamed the pressure of the stage for that. Abdul Hayi Moomen of GTV had stage pressure in the middle of the program. Only the legendary Padiki could cause that.

Padiki never disappoints! Her review of the book was succinct and sweet. Interspersing her impression of the book with her own stories and how she relates to some of the chapters was inviting. She gave the audience enough of the book to want to have it all. Honeyed, scented and alluring are the adjectives I would use to describe her review. My only reservation about the review was that for someone who praised Manasseh for his admirable and annoying straightforwardness, she could not be as admiringly and annoyingly straightforward and point out some flaws in the book. Maybe, I was too excited to hear her say them. Or, maybe the book is perfect.

It was a night for women. The next person to take the podium was the Special Guest of Honour, Mrs. Samira Bawumia, the wife of the Vice President of Ghana. Note that already I have mentioned four ladies who mounted the stage. Did I tell you the chairperson for the occasion was Rev. Dr. Joyce Aryee? It was women everywhere. Mrs. Bawumia, looking ever pretty, delivered her speech in which she lauded Manasseh for his contribution to Ghanaian literature and his works which inspire young people. She went ahead to launch the book. I liked how briefly she did everything.

Manasseh Azure Awuni
Mrs. Bawumiah launches “Letters to My Future Wife”

Now, let me borrow a phrase from Nana Awere Damoah and say, you know you are in Ghana when a person billed to perform an important role at an event does not show up. Kwami Sefa-Kayi who was billed to auction the books could not show. Ghanaian MCs should start finding better excuses to give us when things like this happen because that line of “an equally important event made it impossible for him to show” is almost becoming akin to an obsolete pick-up line – annoying, predictable and often fails.

When something like this happens, it provides the opportunity for someone to take up the responsibility and shine. I bet Dr. Joyce Aryee was coveting that opportunity. However, it was not her time. It was the time for Abdul Hayi Moomen of GTV to shine. I was not impressed with his MCing the whole night but he wowed with his auctioning skills. He had the right jokes and was persuading and forceful at the right times. It is my hope that all the pledges will be redeemed, especially from the politicians. LOL.

Manasseh Azure Awuni
Ushers during the auction and sales of the book

A review of a book launch without a paragraph or two about the author, is that one too a book review? When I entered the hall, I looked out for the award-winning journalist but I could not see him. I guessed he was sitting on the high table since of the five people seated there, one person’s face was blocked by a bouquet of flowers that was meant for decoration. Or, was it my height impediment which prevented me from seeing him? On the program outline, he was scheduled to speak once; render the vote of thanks. Strange, right? I suppose that’s why his paragraph comes last in this review. Well, somewhere along the line, they saw the need to bring him to speak before Mrs. Bawumia launched the book.

Manasseh Azure Awuni
Manasseh Azure Awuni and Mrs. Samira Bawumia

When he stood up, someone screamed, “Manasseh needs a wardrobe advisor”. Oh, it was me in my head. Manasseh wore one of the yellow branded shirts the ushers wore and put a smock on it. It did not do it for me at all. The smock alone or the shirt alone would have been fine. But, who went to the book launch to see Manasseh’s dressing?

The senior broadcast journalist with JOY 99.7 FM sounded humbled in his speech. It was a big day for him and anyone would have been overwhelmed by the number of people who were in attendance. Did I say the number? Sorry, I meant the caliber. Politicians, lecturers, lawyers, writers and journalists who conspired with Abdul Hayi Moomen of GTV to make them purchase the book at an auctioned price of GHC 50.00.

Manasseh completed his speech by saying he was convinced that he was loved, not tolerated. Indeed, Manasseh is loved. On his literary and journalist works have we built our love for him and no comment by Nana Kwame shall prevail against it.

Read some of Manasseh’s works here.

***All pictures were sourced from Mr. Awuni’s Facebook Timeline

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