LETTER TO EFO KODZO MAWUGBE
"It is our duty to understand our place in the history of humanity. An African Literature can not exist unless we liberate ourselves from the arrogant criticisms of the West". This is a quote in the novel 'As the Crow Flies' by Veronique Tadjo. Efo Mawugbe the Ewes have the proverb that, 'an old faeces does not have any smell' but this faeces no matter how long it takes will still maintain its smell. This faeces is nothing but messages of congratulation which I am sending to you. No matter how your achievement of understanding your duty in history of humanity is old it still values.
Efo Mawugbe I listened to your play on BBC on Saturday(November 29, 2009) evening and in the early hours of Monday(December 1, 2009). As a lover of literary works I listened with rapt attention taking note of the humour and applying my literature knowledge to get your intention of the subject matter and theme of the play. You really deserve to be honoured. You really presented the seriouse problems of Africa in such satyrical manner.
My main aim of writing this letter is to ask that this play be acted in Ghana and translated to our local languages. I also think that it should be translated in other African languaged such as Swahili, Zulu, Ibo, Yoruba just to mention but a few. As an upcoming journalist who knows about communication theories such as the hypodermic theory or the bullet theory, this message of yours should use this theory to concientise Africans both educated and uneducated and assimilliated and non assimilliated. This theory states that the media shoots into the head of the public to think as how the media wants to. The translation and adoption of it as into local languages will help Ghanaians think confidently of themselves and open our eyes to the flaws of our system
I have seen the translated version of 'Macbeth' in Ewe so what prevents 'Prison Graduates' from been translated into Ewe, Akan, Fante, Walewale, Dagbani, Frafra, Sissala, Mampruli, Kusasi, Guan and all the other languages without even leaving one out. The youth must have your concept shot into their heads and African leaders and all the Africans who struggle to travell across the desert all in the name of looking for green pastures.
We are the cause of our own problems and we are the only ones who can solve these problems. When one of the inmates asked the question about the problems of Sub-Saharan Africa, the answer given alone should be heard by our politicians who are always interested in their allowances and the car loans that come every four years. How can we produce what we donot consume and consume what we donot produce, for example we donot eat our local rice but eat the foreign rice. Even when ministers and parliamentarians and other Ghanaians claim to propagate the message of consuming made in Ghana goods they do not consume themselves. c'est dommage! the French will say.
If this play is written in local languages and our radio stations play it constantly it will do us a lot of GOOD! The rural folk will listen to it and not think of going to any embassy to make money for one Westen country or the other. Rather the youth living in rural and urban Ghana will think of taking the opportunities that come their way like 'Kuenyega Entreprise' dealers in coffins and caskets.
We can liberate ourselves because there exists an African Literary artist like YOU! Lest I forget about the African leaders who take the sligtest opportunity to travel outside Ghana to be treated by foriegn doctors of simple sicknesses like malaria which can be cured here in Ghana. Our hospitals are not well equipped but a parliamentarian has his furniture in his bungallow changed frequently like underpants and all we do is to make it look like the politician does not deserve to go through hard times. It amazes me how there are people in the rural part of Ghana who attend schools under trees and the roads to their constituencies have remained untarred for only God knows how long but parliamentarians of such areas still ask that ex-gratia been given them after serving their own nation. These politicians will make sure that their car loans are given to them but will find it difficult and appalling when teachers, doctors and other civil servants ask for an increament in their salaries. Likewise these same parliamentarians and politicians claim of getting for us a better Ghana by setting up educational policies yet take their children to foreign countries. C'est dommage encore!
With the issue of travelling outside the country, where the foreign embassies make a lot of money out of us through our own ignorance the translation of this book will disabuse the minds of the youth who believe grass is not green at their at their feet but greener at their neighbour's feet.
The African has always thought of working for our colonial masters or the skin mate of our colonial masters and not think of working for themselves. There are opportunities in Ghana which could be tapped to enrich ourselves and our motherland.
A lot of the things that are African are termed as evil and every thing from the foreign west is good. We have copied blindly not like the cat who copies well even to the extent of accepting alien systems of governance and swallowing every thing hook, line and sinker. Our constitution for example does not make room for the respect of traditonal leaders and the constitution talks of systems that work else where. The African had her own traditions before the coming of the whiteman. We have picked a system that is so alien to us that we do not even understand.
I urge that this play be given the maximum translation in almost all the local languages of Africa and Ghana as a whole for us to concientise ourselves to change Africa and the problems of Mother Ghana. Martin Luther's dream has been fulfilled in Obama. In who will Nkrumah's dream of uniting Africa be fulfilled. It is matter to be thought of by all Africans each time they go to bed.
ALEX BLEGE, GHANA INSTITUTE OF JOURNALISM, ACCRA.
Development / Accra / Ghana / Africa / Modernghana.com