It was James Baldwin that once said “I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”

I bring this quote into the conversation because for some reason the idea of love or of pride, has often come with the caveat that one cannot criticize or reveal the cracks and the faults of the places and people we love or take pride in.

Ghana Must Go, in the spirit of Baldwin, reveals what it is to love in the face of faults and criticism. The very book is set around the casting of what one might call a fallen man. He is a man who in all appearances has failed his family, and it is at the foot of this betrayal we begin the novel. In the novel we follow the tragic line of characters:

Fola, the matriarch , who wields strength out of despair

Olu, the oldest son, whose silence traces hurt

Taiwo, the fierce daughter, whose spirit wanders

Kehinde, the reclusive son, whose paintings free him

Sadie, the baby of the family, whose body becomes the site of her unhappiness

It is through the death of Kweku, father and husband, that this fragmented family finds itself coming together to heal from wounds they had never let breathe.

The strength of the novel comes in the acknowledgement of the broken and jagged pieces that come together to create love. In the case of the Sai family, it is the process by which each of them comes to a place of peace with Kweku, the father and husband who abandoned them. In the novel each of the children goes through a process of healing and forgiveness that allows them to bury their pride and hurt in favor of accepting a flawed and complicated love. In so many ways the novel becomes a meditation on how to find love and pride in the face of faults, a lesson that translates from the personal to the level of community. When we think of loving our countries it is to love a flawed space. And in the end it is to have pride in a place that does not always easily love us or let us easily love it.

By Jasmine Kumalah | Co-director of Narrate Africa

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