Friday, March 1, 2013

#BookReview: Faceless - Amma Darko #BP2W (Ghana)

If I've learned nothing else in the first few months of this challenge, it's that women and girls around the world live difficult lives.  That's not to say that I didn't know that before, but it was never more obvious to me than when reading Amma Darko's Faceless.

Fourteen year old Fofo is a street child.  Like many children who live in an area referred to as Sodom and Gomorrah in Accra, Ghana, she's estranged from her family.  Unlike some of the children that have been put out on the streets to work, she voluntarily left home before she could be forced to.  Whether she left by force or her own volition is moot, because it's likely that the outcome would have been the same.

Growing up, Fofo saw her older brothers leave, and with them, most of the household income, and her older sister.  While her brothers left to pursue their own careers, Fofo's older sister, Baby T, left under cloudier circumstances.  And when Baby T is found murdered, Fofo is determined to help her new found friends find out what happened to her sister.

Amma Darko uses Faceless to touch on quite a few issues. The character Fofo deals with abandonment, while Baby T deals with molestation and prostitution.  Their mother, Maa Tsuru, the product of a single parent home seeks love and attention from men who use her.  With the character Kabria, the middle class agency worker who tries to assist Fofo, Darko highlights the difficulties in balancing the role of mother, wife and employee in a chauvinistic society.

The one thing that threw me was the way Darko interjected the AIDS conversation into the story line.  There was a missed opportunity for Kabria to have a conversation with her oldest daughter about AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases that was not fleshed out.  It was obvious that she wanted to get the message out, and I applaud her for that, but the ways in which she did it did not flow well with the story and instead of being well integrated, they read as commercial-like PSAs in the middle of a skit. 

Published: January 1996

Formed from the merger of the British colony of the Gold Coast and the Togoland trust territory, Ghana in 1957 became the first sub-Saharan country in colonial Africa to gain its independence.  Ghana's economy has been strengthened by a quarter century of relatively sound management, a competitive business environment, and sustained reductions in poverty levels.

Location: Western Africa, bordering the Gulf of Guinea, between Cote d'Ivoire and Togo
Size: 238,533 sq km; slightly smaller than Oregon
Population: 24,652,402 
Ethnic groups: Akan 47.5%, Mole-Dagbon 16.6%, Ewe 13.9%, Ga-Dangme 7.4%, Gurma 5.7%, Guan 3.7%, Grusi 2.5%, Mande-Busanga 1.1%, other 1.6%
Languages: Asante 14.8%, Ewe 12.7%, Fante 9.9%, Boron (Brong) 4.6%, Dagomba 4.3%, Dangme 4.3%, Dagarte (Dagaba) 3.7%, Akyem 3.4%, Ga 3.4%, Akuapem 2.9%, other (includes English (official)) 36.1%

Anthem: God Bless Our Homeland Ghana

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