John Acquah, Manager, Accra has been with the GBT since 1997. He is the Coordinator of the Book Program and responsible for procurement of local and donated imported books.
RECOMMENDATION FOR WINNING ENTRANT MANUSCRIPTS
BILL BURT AWARD FOR AFRICAN LITERATURE 2009 COMPETITION
At their three-day workshop held at Miklin Hotel, Accra from 23rd – 25th June, the Jurors for the Bill Burt Award for African Literature 2009 Competition, recommended the following as the winning manuscripts arranged in descending order of quality:
- “The Twelfth Heart” (073)
- “The Deliverer” (021)
- “The Mystery of the Haunted House” (059)
Just beneath the titles above in quality are the following manuscripts which also have merit:
- “Changing Destinies” (051)
- “Brave Music of a Distant Drum” (017)
Please find enclosed also, separate comments on each of the entrant manuscripts in A and B above, based on the following criteria agreed upon by the Jurors at their meeting of 5th March, 2010:
- English (Language correctness and suitability)
- Originality / Creativity
- Story – Strength and interesting nature
- Organisation of the story / structure; presence and otherwise of sub-plots
- Characterisation: Strong main character, and other believable ones
- Place / Setting
- Time /Period
- Theme: (Statement of it, and its relevance to the Ghanaian society)
We recommend that manuscripts in B above together with others we have identified (C List), should be brought to the knowledge of local publishers. The manuscripts have the potential of arousing local acceptance, and interest.
COMMON COMMENTS ON THE UNSUCCESSFUL ENTRANT MANUSCRIPTS
Many of the unsuccessful entrant manuscripts suffered from inconsequential plot, storyline and theme. Some of them had the folktale ring about them which defied time and place.
The standard of English in some of them was poor, suffering from grammatical, spelling and expression mistakes. Characterisation in many of them was either weak or unbelievable. Place of action or event was either static or shifted too constantly to be real.
“THE TWELFTH HEART” (073)
The story has a boarding school setting. It is about the lives of twelve form one students in one dormitory of a boarding school. Catherine, who is not physically strong, proves to be the strongest character and helps to bring twelve different teenage girls with different temperaments together. Anyone who has been to a boarding school will identify with the characters in the story until the poignant ending.
Language: It is a well-written story. The language reflects the vivacity of the girls and is literate. The author knows how to write.
Originality: The transformation of Mercy, a character who is not very likeable to a person who is admirable, makes it original. The characters are true to life. A lot of creativity is brought to bear on the story.
Story: The story is good and interesting.
Organisation: All the major characters grow in the story. The gradual development of the lives of the girls is interwoven and the disparate lives of the girls come together believably at the end.
Characters: Even though Mercy is the main character, Catherine is the strongest. All the characters, from the teachers, to the parents to the girls themselves are very believable.
Setting: School, Urban
Theme: The pressures and cost of growing up.
“THE DELIVERER” (021)
This is a historical novel about King Osei Tutu I of Asante and Okomfo Anokye. It chronicles the life of Osei Tutu from his birth until he ascends the throne as the first king of a unified Asante nation. We are given unusual insights into his early years with his foster family, his enslavement by the Denkyira as well as the relationship between his mother and the great priest Okomfo Anokye. The story makes very interesting reading.
Language: The language is simple, strong and suitable for the intended age group.
Originality: It is a historical faction, that is, fiction, based on fact.
Creativity: There is a high level of creativity, and we are given new insights into the Komfo Anokye story.
Organisation: There is detailed narration. There are no sub-plots however. The story is complicated yet it is absorbing and fascinating
Characters: Osei Tutu is the main character, and he is a strong character. Other equally strong characters are Ama, Komfo Anokye and Papa Bonsu, Osei Tutu’s foster father.
Setting: Central Ghana (Ashanti, Denkyira, Akim, and Akwamu).
Time: 18th Century.
Theme: When you are destined for greatness, you should not waste your time and effort on trifles. (“When you have to kill an elephant, you don’t go bruising your knees chasing rats.”)
“THE MYSTERY OF THE HAUNTED HOUSE” (059)
This is the story of three young boys who accidentally bust a child trafficking gang. It is also a story about the various ways children are kidnapped and the different uses to which they are put after they have been caught. It again tells us how children can react when pressure is put on them to excel academically.
Language: The language is suitable for the intended readership.
Originality: The author creatively uses the concept of criminals using a haunted house to get people to avoid the building so that the criminals can continue using the place for their nefarious activities.
Story: It is an inventive story.
Organisation: There are various sub-plots depicting the various methods employed by the criminals to lure their victims.
Characters: Koku is the main character. Sena, the twins, and Koku’s father are all realistically portrayed.
Setting: The setting is urban.
Theme: Child trafficking.
“BRAVE MUSIC OF DISTANT DRUMS” (017)
This is the story of the Slave Trade. It is about Ama, who is captured from her home in northern Ghana and taken as a slave to Ashanti. After a brief stay there, she is later transported to the coast where she becomes the mistress of one of the slave traders from Europe. She learns how to read and write, however, when her benefactor dies she is transported as a slave to Brazil. This is another faction.
Language: The language is simple and highly appropriate.
Originality: A lot has been written about the Slave Trade, but this is an original treatment of a known story. It is highly creative, and there is wonderful use of flashback.
Story: The story is unique, moving and gripping.
Organisation: The narration makes history come alive. It portrays an epic journey. Flashback is brilliantly and effectively used. The character whose perspective is being told is identified in the sections of the story.
Characters: Ama the core character is very strong and so is her husband Joao. Other characters are believable.
Setting: Ghana, a slave ship, and Brazil.
Time: A historical novel set in the period of the Slave Trade.
Theme: Survival of the human spirit.
“CHANGING DESTINIES” (51)
This is the story of Aranna who lives with her mother in the poor part of town just across the street from a community of rich people. She becomes friends with Selma and Nana who live in well off part of the estates. It is also the story of Lalas a street boy who is recruited by a gang of robbers to help them rob the rich people living across the street from Aranna’s home. With the help of her friends Selma and Nana, they are able to help the police arrest the thieves after they had made away with some jewels belonging to Selma’s mother’s business partners.
Language: The language is accomplished and fluent with very vivid descriptions. The writer is confident with the language.
Originality: The story is original, and shows a lot of creativity.
Story: The story is captivating.
Organisation: It is a well-organized story with every character getting their point of view across. There are several sub-plots which connect with the main story like a piece of tapestry.
Characters: The characters are strong and believable, especially Aranna who is the main character. Other characters like Lalas, Wadada, Aranna’s mother, Selma and Nana are also strong and credible.
Theme: Friendship across social barriers.
- “New Desire” by Agamasu Hubert
- “Sorrow at Dust” by Chalaa Doku
- “Who I Wanted to Be” by Josephine Awiadem
- “Sissain Bridge” by Silva Lumor
- “In Search of Destiny” by Ida-Fyn Thompson
- “Barracks Boy” by Ebenezer Odoi
- “Dark Waters” by Eric C. Howard
- “Diary” by Claudia Mary Donkor
- “Lami’s Nightmare” by Isaac Osei-Bonsu
- “The Abhorrent News” by Peter Nii Dan-Okine
- “Misty Highway” by David Kwakye