Taiye Selasi is responsible for this title which is tied to history. According to urbandictionary.com Ghana must go refers to a phrase coined by Nigerians in an outcry when millions of Ghanaians fled to Nigeria in 1983 due to political unrest. Many Nigerians were averse to the influx of Ghananian refugees and thus the antagonistic phrase was born.
I also bumped into this blog Anne Chia’s Gringles, do check out her article on what happened many years ago and the story behind Ghana Must go- https://annechia.com/2015/04/20/ghana-must-go-nigerias-expulsion-of-immigrants/
Okay, Back to my review.
I know I have never said this before but I would have you know that Taiye Selasi’s Ghana Must Go pushed me to start this blog! But first, I have a confession.
The first time I picked up this book I judged the book by it’s name and it’s first sentence.
“Kweku dies barefoot on a Sunday before sunrise, his slippers by the doorway to the bedroom like dogs”.
So I put the book away for months and refused to read it. I said to myself, “who wants to read a book that has such a title and starts with a death”.
Well, several months later I was bored and I sighted the book. I picked it up with no expectations that I would come to enjoy it so much. It goes without saying that I have since changed my view and have some wonderful things to say about Taiye Selasi’s literary ingenuity.
What struck me was her style of narration the prose read like poetry in parts, the characters were all flawed which is a good thing. There wasn’t a single character that knew exactly what to do per time which for me makes the story more believable. There should be no perfect characters.
The whole family is cracked, not broken. Meeting Kweku Sai I got the impression of a man capable of love and fear and intensely so. His ability to love bore the family of five (wife and 4 children) that he left behind because of his fear. His fear was borne out of his disappointment at his failings.
That fear wasn’t unfounded- when one meets Fola, the wife and (the sacrifice). When it becomes apparent that”One dream’s enough for both of us” has woven itself around their existence and so a failure for the one who is meant to live the dream is simply unacceptable even though unspoken.
If Kweku Sai had maybe believed that his wife Fola would not berate him for losing his job perhaps he wouldn’t have left the family. His departure opened up events that we later find in the book to break each character, create self doubt in them and give them phases and moments in life where they are unsure and uncertain of the depth of love or the lack of it.
Kweku Sai for me is the character that decides the fate for the others by the singular act of walking away without saying enough. I believe at the time he did this he didn’t know how far the consequences of his actions would go and he comes to regret his actions only too late.
His death opens up the story and the narration then moves back and forth, in and out of the thoughts of each character until finally when all the facts are put together and told, intentions stated and actions defined, the family can begin to move slowly toward the tunnel of healing and love which in all ways had never died.
The book weaves love, lust, fear, uncertainty, anger, rage, pride into the chapters that keep the reader wanting to know how every puzzle falls in place.
The suspense is palpable, the descriptions move the account carefully, the words dance from page to page like poetry, like drama yet it is prose. Really and truly.
Taiye Selasi’s debut novel Ghana Must Go was a different (good) and sensitive story that strikes the reader deeply, especially if the reader is unassuming.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book.