Akosua and Osman
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“Karatu, farkonka madaci, karshenka zuma.” (Study is difficult but the rewards are great.)
Akosua Annan is a confident and fiercely intelligent student at a posh girls’ school in Cape Coast, Ghana. There she comes under the influence of a charismatic feminist teacher.
Osman Said’s background is very different. Upon the death of his parents, a police sergeant and an unschooled market trader, immigrants to Accra from the North, he is adopted by a retired school teacher, Hajia Zainab. After a spell as an apprentice in an auto workshop, he returns to school. There, finding the teaching inadequate, he becomes an avid reader and educates himself.
Akosua and Osman are thrown together by chance in the course of a school visit to the slave dungeon at Cape Coast Castle. Their paths cross again as finalists in the national school debating competition where the subject is “The problem of poverty in Ghana is insoluble.” They meet for the third time as students at the University of Ghana and as we leave them, it looks as if their relationship might develop into something permanent.
“This fascinating novel tells the story of how these two young people from these disparate backgrounds are brought together as if by an unseen hand, in a process that teaches us about our history, our common humanity despite ethnic differences, the need to pursue our ambitions, the strength of human sexuality and the need for self-discipline, and, above all, the power of love.” The Judges, Burt Award for African Literature, 2011
Manu Herbstein (b. 1936 near Cape Town, South Africa) holds dual South African and Ghanaian citizenship. In the 1960s he worked as a civil and structural engineer in England, Nigeria, Ghana, India, Ghana again, Zambia and Scotland. He returned to Ghana in 1970 and has lived there since. He began writing seriously as he approached retirement. His first novel, Ama, a Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade, won the 2002 Commonwealth Writers Prize for the Best First Book. It has been published in South Africa and India and a new African edition was launched in Accra, Ghana in 2010. A new edition, published in 2016, is available from Amazon. A companion web-site, www.ama.africatoday.com, is a rich repository of primary and secondary texts and images related to the novel. Brave Music of a Distant Drum, published by Red Deer Press in Canada and the U.S. in 2011, and in an updated edition in 2016, is a sequel aimed at younger readers. Akosua and Osman won one of three 2011 Burt Awards for African Literature in Ghana. A new edition became available from Amazon in 2017. Ramseyer's Ghost is a dystopian/utopian political thriller set in Ghana in 2050. The author turned down an offer from an independent publisher in the U.S., choosing to self-publish with CreateSpace. President Michelle or Ten Days which Shook the World is a story every U.S. citizen should read, particularly after the election of Donald Trump as President. Manu's latest novel, The Boy who Spat in Sargrenti's Eye, received the U.S.-based African Literature Association's 2016 Book of the Year Award for Creative Writing, awarded for "an outstanding book of African literature, whether novel, non-fiction prose, play, or poetry collection, published in the preceding calendar year by an African writer."