Brave Music of a Distant Drum
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In Brave Music of a Distant Drum, a blind old slave woman, Ama, summons her son to come and write down her story so that her granddaughter and her granddaughter’s children can one day read it and know their history.
Ama’s son, Kwame Zumbi – named Zacharias Williams by the white Christians who raised him – considers her an ugly old pagan and has little interest in doing more than is necessary to fulfill his obligation to her. How he is changed by the acts of hearing and writing down the details of his mother’s story is as powerful and important a story as Ama’s.
The story of an African enslaved in Brazil, Ama’s story is violent – it includes murder, rape, and betrayal – and yet it is also a story of courage, hope, determination, and love.
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."