My First Coup dEtat: And Other True Stories from the Lost Decades of Africa

My First Coup dEtat: And Other True Stories from the Lost Decades of Africa

3.0 2
by John Dramani Mahama
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

MY FIRST COUP DETAT is a literary nonfiction account that charts the coming of age of John Dramani Mahama in Ghana during the dismal post-independence "lost decades" of Africa. He was seven years old when rumors of that first coup reached his boarding school in Accra. His father was suddenly missing. "It is sometimes incorrectly referred to in texts as a bloodless

Overview

MY FIRST COUP DETAT is a literary nonfiction account that charts the coming of age of John Dramani Mahama in Ghana during the dismal post-independence "lost decades" of Africa. He was seven years old when rumors of that first coup reached his boarding school in Accra. His father was suddenly missing. "It is sometimes incorrectly referred to in texts as a bloodless coup, yet it was anything but," Mahama writes. "They tried, as best they could, with smiles and toffee, to shield me from their rising anxiety but I could feel it bouncing off the quick sideways glances they shot one another and taking flight like some dark, winged creature." Johns father, a Minister of State, was in prison for more than a year. MY FIRST COUP DETAT offers a look at the country that has long been considered Africas success story--from its founding as the first sub-Saharan nation to gain independence, to its current status as the only nation on the continent to have, thus far, met the majority of targets on hunger, poverty, and education set by the U.N. But these stories work on many levels--as fables, as history, as cultural and political analysis, and of course as the memoir of a young man who, unbeknownst to him or anyone else, is destined to become a leader in his own land. These are stories that rise above their specific settings and transport the reader--much like the stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer and Nadine Gordimer--into a world all their own, one which straddles a time lost and explores the universal human emotions of love, fear, faith, despair, loss, longing, and hope despite all else.

Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
…a graceful memoir and striking literary debut…a collection of remarkable vignettes that blend a historian's sensibility with a novelist's prose…
—James McAuley
Publishers Weekly
Though the colonies of sub-Saharan Africa began to claim independence in the late 1950s and ’60s, autocratic and capricious leadership soon caused initial hope to fade, and Africa descended into its “lost decades,” a period of stagnation and despondency from which much of the continent has yet to recover. Mahama, vice president of the Republic of Ghana, grew up alongside his nascent country and experienced this roller-coaster of fortunes. In this memoir, Mahama, the son of a member of parliament, recounts how affairs of state became real in his young mind on the day in 1966 when no one came to collect him from boarding school—the government had been overthrown, his father arrested, and his house confiscated. In fluid, unpretentious style, Mahama unspools Ghana’s recent history via entertaining and enlightening personal anecdotes: spying on his uncle impersonating a deity in order to cajole offerings of soup from the villagers hints at the power of religion; discussions with his schoolmates about confronting a bully form the nucleus of his political awakening. As he writes: “The key to Africa’s survival has always been... in the story of its people, the paradoxical simplicity and complexity of our lives.” The book draws to a close as the author’s professional life begins, and one suspects the most interesting chapters have yet to be written. Agent: Emma Sweeney, Emma Sweeney Agency. (July)
Kirkus Reviews
From the vice president of Ghana, a series of sensitive, honest autobiographical essays on the "lost decades" in his homeland. Mahama employs the moving devices of fiction to convey these coming-of-age remembrances of how Ghana moved from dictatorship to thriving democracy during the last few decades. The author was 7 years old, attending an elite boarding school in Accra, when the 1966 coup d'etat of Ghana's first president after liberation from British colonialism, Kwame Nkrumah, occurred, and no one came to pick Mahama up from school. He had been living with his father since he was three, separated from his mother, who stayed in northern Ghana; his various siblings, 19 in all, by multiple marriages, were scattered throughout the country. The coup altered their lives irreversibly. In "Sankofa," meaning to "go back and get it," Mahama writes of the desire among the African diaspora to return to their homelands and reclaim their African names (once changed to Christian names), languages and heritages. A gifted student, Mahama stayed in school in Accra, his small world representing in microcosm what occurred on the larger African continent. The newly arrived "bush" boy at the school extorted snacks from the boys until young Mahama bravely resolved to defy him, while the others crumbled in fear. "Why hadn't I seen before that our strength, our key to victory, was in our numbers, our unity?" he writes. In other essays, the author examines his study of history, love of socialist ideology, endurance of another coup in 1981 and exile to Nigeria, and his travel to the Soviet Union. A wonderfully intimate look at the convulsive changes, and deep scarring, in post-colonial Africa.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781608198863
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
07/03/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
File size:
3 MB

Meet the Author

His Excellency John Dramani Mahama is a writer, historian, communications expert, former member of Parliament and Minister of State, and sitting President of the Republic of Ghana. He lives in Accra, Ghana.
John Dramani Mahama is a writer, historian, journalist, former member of Parliament and minister of state, and sitting vice president of the Republic of Ghana. This is his first book. He lives in Accra with his family and is currently at work on his second book.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

My First Coup d'Etat: And Other True Stories from the Lost Decades of Africa 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Un m. J