In this historical novel of 19th century Gold Coast, two young Ashanti boys are introduced to the unfamiliar but fascinating world of the white man. Kwame and Kwabena Boaten are eager to learn the ways of their mentors, Tedlie and Bowdich, to become doctor and administrator respectively so they can come back and help their own people. Despite the curtailment of their government sponsorship in London, they get benefactors to help them continue their education. They however have to contend with racism and bullying from Hardwick as well as inordinate hatred from Dupuis, Under-Secretary and later His majesty’s Envoy to the Guinea Coast (whose machinations dog them all their lives). How do they survive? Kwabena reminds Kwame, ‘If they attack us – we can bear rough handling. [But] they cannot break our spirit; we are Ashanti remember; and afterwards we shall carefully plan our revenge.’ Do they succeed in the face of all the odds?
Noel Smith effortlessly weaves a brilliant tale of sheer determination, ambition, intrigue, love and altruism, through the treacherous terrain of the slave trade, missionary activities and disease ridden expeditions, and historical insight.
It Happened in Ghana carries a positive message. Conceived as a literary work, it demonstrates that racial prejudice based on skin colour is not a pervasive and unalterable human condition.
The principal characters who are both Black and White are embroiled in various encounters, notably wars, slave trade, colonialism and post colonial reconstruction. Regardless of their skin colour and cultural differences, they make friends or fall in love secretly during these encounters. When they are forced to part company by the cessation of hostilities or whatever brought them together, they serve in various capacities in new locations outside their original places of domicile. They are accepted or integrated into existing social structures because of the warmth oftheir personalities and the manner in which they are able to adjust themselves to the pressures and challenges of new environments.
Changes in the circumstances of the principal characters or their descendants enable them not only to restore broken relationships but also to identify themselves with the cause of freedom and justice or to reconnect in various ways with the development aspirations of Ghana where it all started.