30.09.2023 Article

Cry, My Beloved Country

By Ike Tandoh, Ph.D
Cry, My Beloved Country
30.09.2023 LISTEN

Let me tell you my story. My readers say I'm one of the best novelists in Africa! Do I believe that? No! I'm a modest man. Was I born with the gift of telling stories? I don't think so! In 1993, as a bright student at State Experimental School in Kumasi, I returned from School to see my grandmother and my famous Uncle E. K. Kwarteng, a popular writer and founder of Garden City Commercial College (Great Gadeco) carrying my mother into a car with her face all covered with cloth. My heart missed a beat on seeing what was going on. I asked my grandmother what was wrong; all I was told was my mother was not feeling well. Ah, how? I talked and had a little fight with her before I left for school. Hmmmmmm. To make things more bizarre, I started hearing voices... My uncles and aunts arrived, and they started crying. Ah, why? My mother was dead. Woosh. This blow was heavier than the one Mike Tyson used to hit his opponents with. I fell flat and started wailing. The breadwinner of the family of 10, my mentor, my motivator, was just gone. Just like that!!! I was very young; I was a teenager. I was a junior high student. My little brother, Felix, my mother's last baby, was just about 2 or 3 years old. He barely knew his mother. Things appeared bleak. My world and that of my 8 siblings were utterly shattered. All of us were still wired to my mother's apron strings. Things became hard after my mother's passing because my Dad was not financially sound. No job for him!!

I got angry with God and had my fights with God in my prayers. Things became bad as the days went by. I worried about my only sister, Loretta Tandoh, because I feared someone could lure her into bed and make her pregnant because of cash. My eyes were red. Huh!!! I became a by-force writer and a novelist by accident. I wanted to get out of poverty. I wanted to make a mark. I wanted to lift my mother's name and make her proud. I channelled all this pain into writing. I wrote my first book, Dear. Mama, why so soon, a tribute to my mother in 1998. Hmmmm. God was just at the corner to surprise me. I sold 20,000 pieces of Dear Mama in 1999. I became known. I became a sought-after conference speaker, moving from one secondary school to another, sharing and inspiring young adults. I was still not 20 years old. I went on to write I told you so, Friends, etc. Now, I have 27 novels in total to my name.

Yesterday, I sat in my office talking to a student who feels Ghana has become.

hell, and all her hopes were lost. I reflected on my struggles, and before I could realise it, tears trickled from my eyes to my chest. I put myself together, encouraged her not to give up hope, and still soldier on with Faith. I know times are hard, and all seems lost. Ghana ay3 hye. I can imagine I write 5/10 recommendation letters a week for my students. Everybody wants to leave Ghana for the USA, Canada etc. There is no hope in Ghana. I think you are also thinking the same. What saddened my heart was hearing that some of my young students are now abusing drugs, smoking their hearts out because they seemed frustrated. This group are supposed to be the future of Ghana, and if this is what frustration and hardships in Ghana are turning them into, then our God must intervene.

My friends, times are hard and Yes, Cry, Shout etc. Cry, my beloved country, but don't give up. Do not lose control of the power God has put in you. Dig deep into your inner soul and personally encounter your maker. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Cry, my beloved country, but don't break or die. There is HOPE, and God is still in the miracle business. Today, I am a PhD holder, and my sister, whom I worried so much about when my mother passed, is also a Ph.D. holder and a successful banker. We still live in Ghana. I see your story turning out better than mine. Don't give up!!!! We will rise again!!!

The author is a brand communication specialist and a lecturer at UNIMAC-GIJ

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