The title of this book evokes the image of the eponymous red and blue striped waterproof plastic bags ubiquitous in Ghanaian households. They are so called because in 1983 Nigeria sacked a couple hundred thousand West Africans from their country, the majority being Ghanaian, giving them only a couple weeks to make their exist and these bags were used to gather all that they could.
So I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book. It ended up being very different from what I expected, a bit difficult to keep the various story lines right, a bit tedious, but overall I liked the book. It tells the life stories, secrets and lies included, of Folasadé Savage, a Nigerian woman, and Kweku Sai, a Ghanaian man who meet in college in the United States and get married. He ends up becoming a brilliant surgeon and she gives up her dream of going to law school to support him and raise their four children whose stories are also told. The family splinters for reasons I will not expose and the children grow up together but in parallel worlds with limited communication betwixt them until many years later, when their father who has relocated to Ghana dies and there’s a bittersweet reunion in his homeland. And so thus the book opens, wth Kweku Sai in his dying performance, “Kweku dies barefoot on a Sunday before sunrise, his slippers by the doorway to the bedroom like dogs”, as the opening sentence.
Ghana Must Go is the debut novel of Taiye Selasi, who herself is a twin of Nigerian-Ghanaian parentage, a child of physicians, whose life has been lived on several continents. In fact it is she who coined
the term “Afropolitan” that some have come to hate to describe those – like herself – who are cultural and geographical hybrids who can shape-shift
fearlessly yet constantly feel the need to define themselves. Thus, I feel a certain kinship with her, naturally, even if we did not share friends in common which we do.