“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.
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