Celestine Nudanu is one of our newer Friday Fictioneers. She’s from Ghana, now living in West Africa. She has a strong interest in African women writers.
I asked her to be my guest here today because she’s very passionate about her interests and I wanted her to share some of that with us. She preferred that I come up with questions for her, rather than her blog a post blindly.
MW: Thank you for joining me today, Celestine.
CN: Thank you, Madison, I’m priviledged to be a guest on your wonderful blog; considering that I’ve been blogging for barely three months, this is really a feather in my cap. I take this opportunity to say that the Friday Fictioneers is an amazing concept and super way of unearthing talents and boosting one’s creativity towards the development of fine full length stories. I am deeply grateful.
MW: You’re welcome and I’m glad you’re enjoying the Fictioneers!
It seems no matter where we are from, regardless of how urban or rural our abodes, there are still common themes that run through our fiction.
What would you say is your common theme?
Have you identified one, or is more than one theme that calls for you to explore it through your writing? If not in your own writing, perhaps you have noticed what it is about other writing that calls you to it.
CN: I would say that themes for writers vary as a result of our peculiar history as a country. Post-colonial Ghana saw writers like Aye Kwei Armah, exploring the filth and corruption and the disappointment of the Ghanaian with the government of the day which had only carried on neo-colonialist tendencies under the guise of freedom, in his book Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born.
The theme of love/romance is not particularly alien, but this is culturally relative. We in Ghana see romance in a cultural perspective. Kissing in public is frowned upon and so is nudity; and even with the infiltration of western culture via the media, Ghanaians are squeamish to see nudity displaced on our screens. For us, as is elsewhere, marriage is sacrosanct and romance/love, is squarely placed there. In the olden days when marriages were arranged we believed that love would grow in the marriage and so a couple not being in love was neither here nor there. Again, how do you explain the concept of love in a polygamous marriage where a man has multiple wives as opposed to one wife in Western culture? Could he love all wives equally? But such marriages were known to have worked very well. I am not advocating polygamy, I must add, but these are some of the issues that come up in discussing the concept of love in the African context.
Iconic female writer, Ama Ata Aidoo who set the tone and pace for female writers in Ghana explored love in her novel Changes; where an educated career woman is unhappy with her marriage because she has no ‘space’ and her husband demands too much of her time, so that when he ‘rapes’ her she divorces him. Does having sex with your wife, albeit against her wishes constitute rape in the traditional African setting? She finds love but as a second wife and even then, happiness eludes her. A review of Changes is on my blog http://readinpleasure.wordpress.com for your perusal.
Now, contemporary writers like Empi Baryeh have come out with pure romance novels Most Eligible Bachelor, and Chancing Faith, based on the western concept but with an African flavour and I think that the myth is being shattered.
Amma Darko is another contemporary female Ghanaian writer who explores Streetism, (children who live on the streets) poverty, child labour and the house-help in her novels, Faceless, The House help and Not Without Flowers. Streetism and Child labour are issues facing the governments with little or no solution is sight and Darko does poignant justice to these in her novels.
For me as a writer, I love romance mixed with a dose of haunting sadness, a recurrent theme in my writings and poems. I am yet to publish a full novel and when I do the genre will be mainly eclectic, though with underlying romance. I have a lot stories in draft form and some in the writing process dealing with themes like incest and poverty.
MW: When you seek to publish your novels or stories, will your audience be at-large, or do you think your stories are going to appeal also to the women of Ghana?
CN: I do believe my audience will cut across cultures, at-large, because the themes are universal. However, Ghanaians are not comfortable with an issue like incest, though it is taboo in our culture. Until recently, It had been a topic with little or no media attention. Families where incest occurs also were reluctant to come out because of stigmatisation. Poverty also played a part where even when cases of incest come out in the open, victims are made to keep quiet because the perpetrator is the bread winner. Incest is indeed dicey in Ghana, and has been an issue that I am very passionate about. Now I dare say, that media reportage is improving.
MW:Are you considering the method of publishing you’ll take – indendent or traditonal?
CN: I would like to go traditional; for financial reasons, I would like to get a publisher so we can come to some sort of arrangements.
MW:Thanks! These are great and interesting answers and I’m so glad you were game to do it