- The story is titled 'The Shimmer in the Photo Album', and it revolves around 4 children and their grandfather, and a series of time-porting adventures and mysteries they go through. The title was purely to create curiosity and thereby encourage anyone to pick up through book.
Golda Naa Adaku Addo (GA) is a Ghanaian fictional and non-fictional writer with a love for poetry, fantasy, fiction, African novels, and an activist.
Her activism spans into the social, political, and policy reform scenery. Particularly interesting to her, is her work in community development, transformative strategies in governance and leadership, and sustainable (environmentally friendly) initiatives.
She is also a consultant with niched expertise in Communications, Knowledge Production & Management, and Turn-around strategies in Monitoring & Evaluation, Gender-based issues, and Policy.
She was awarded a Future International Leader fellowship in 2015 by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom for being a promising and exemplary icon.
Her book, “The Shimmer in the Photo Album", written between 2010 and 2011, was recently published by Akpabli Publishers, and made available for purchase on Amazon in paperback and electronic form.
Myghanalinks.com reporter, Abena Alice (AA), recently reached out to her via email for an interview on the book, and a couple of other hot topic Ghanaian issues.
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Below is the full interview:
AA: First off, thanks for taking the time to interview with us. I believe there are several descriptions of you out there in the universe but for those who do not know you, how would you describe yourself to them?
GA: True. There are quite a number of things I do officially, and lots more that I carry on unofficially, but close scrutiny will show that majority of the things I do point to development-oriented communications, research, knowledge production, and strategisation. The rest will be in a grey area in-between that (development strategies) and environmental protection, where you will find me advocating, teaching, supporting with policy formulation or M&E. And of course, because of my record and chairmanship in some of these areas, I am also often accorded some recognition in the areas of Youth and Gender (especially gender). I hope this gives readers a clear and brief background as to who I am.
AA: Do tell us a bit about yourself: early childhood, love for reading, writing and poetry etc. and how it all translated into the writing of your first book.
GA: I grew up one of 4 children and the last of 3 girls (the only boy comes after me). I was a proper Mansa. My parents had a tough time parenting me because I questioned everything, and they were so prim and proper that it was hard for them to handle my blunt, unorthodox ways (which is all I've ever known myself to be growing up, so I feel I was born this way). But it's all love and flowers now. And now, I realise, I got my craziness from my father. Maybe it took him a while to accept me as I was because I came out a girl, and not a boy. Fathers worry more about their girls and how they fit into society's dictates, you know. But soon as he realised I could take care of myself, and I was inspiring other females, he stopped worrying (I think).
My father always brought books, comics, and family movies home from libraries and the British Council when we were children. By the time we were conscious of our surroundings, we were already used to books, reading, debates, enunciation, voice projection, poise, expression. He taught us all these. He also enjoyed hearing our mommy sing hymns (he would record her over and over again), and he reading very dramatically, poems and lines of biblical verse afterwards. Besides, he also loved music and we knew all genres of music by the time we were 7 years old! All these plus the power of imagination and the innate skill of creativity that we were gifted with, made writing very easy for me. And this book is not the first that I wrote, but in terms of it being published solo and marketed, then yes it is my first.
AA: Without giving much away, do give us a gist about the plot, and the reason for your choice of title.
GA: The story is titled 'The Shimmer in the Photo Album', and it revolves around 4 children and their grandfather, and a series of time-porting adventures and mysteries they go through. The title was purely to create curiosity and thereby encourage anyone to pick up through book. And of course, it is truly about a mysterious light in a mysterious photo album.
AA: There are lots of buoyant characters in the book, Jumi being one of them, close knit family, etc. Are they somehow centered on you and your family in real life?
GA: Yes, yes indeed. A large part of the characterisation is based on my son and my niece and nephews. And their grandfather (my Dad).
AA: Any relationship between you and Jumi’s character? Also, does she remind you of your prepubescent and early adolescent years?
GA: None at all. If any, it will be a subconscious creation of myself in her. Growing up, I was very tomboyish, so Jumi’s dramatic personality would have irritated me more than amused me if I'd met her during my prepubescent and early adolescent years.
AA: I have read occasional snippets from you about your father on some of your Facebook posts. Is the character of Grandpa tied in any way to him, especially the bit about working for Kwame Nkrumah?
GA: The character of Grandpa is STRONGLY that of my father. The bits about Nkrumah and the family history are fictional.
AA: I confess that I haven’t been much of a book reader lately, especially books by Ghanaian authors. I am working on changing that, but I have to admit that I find the level of grammar and your choice of diction very high. Can you give us the reason for that?
GA: It's simply for the reason that children are NOT mentally obtuse for which purpose we should therefore minimalise their experiences and utilisation of educational resources and opportunities around them. Especially, the current generation of children. Children ought to be inspired in everything they do to reach farther. My writing was therefore conscious of ensuring that I was not patronising them or their intelligence.
AA: Who is your target audience for the book, and how are you reaching them?
GA: The book is for everybody - age 8 years to age 80 or 800 years old. To reach as many people as possible, my publishers have it on many online stores with global market, and also promote it to many schools and individuals around the country. We hope to hold a few book readings and signings and performances starting in April this year.
AA: How about publication and marketing in stores and online avenues such as Amazon? What goes into that?
GA: My publisher handles all that, thankfully, because they are not easy to manage. They are worth the effort though.
AA: I was an avid reader growing up. I wrote imaginative books, and even entertained thoughts of being a writer one day, but like many, I have not been able to follow through. Can you tell us what goes into being a real author today, especially in Ghana?
GA: I think anyone who writes is a real author. When you publish yourself or get published, you're a published author. One is NOT more important than the other. The only difference is that one has been made more mainstream (even the level of mainstreaming varies - some little, some great). I don't know what you mean by "real author" - deliberate on your part - but to be an author in Ghana is just the same as anywhere in the world. What might discourage Ghanaian authors might be the fact that not many people can afford to purchase their books in their own country, and the quality of printing is 95% unappealing most of the time (which affects your confidence in selling the books); and the book reading and book signing culture is also not as vibrant and potent yet.
AA: What inspired you to write the book, given the time constraints and the fact that you wear multiple hats, and have a couple of ‘young commanders’ under your charge?
GA: I write to de-stress. And at the time I wrote "The Shimmer in the PhotoAlbum" (2010/2011), I had an entire year flexible with personal projects and lots of ideas. My first son was 3 or 4 years old and mostly away in school, and I had enough time to pour out this story and many other fictional and non-fictional pieces. Currently, I still write. But shorter pieces, and lots of non-fiction.
AA: How do you hope the book will affect readers?
GA: I hope it will make them smile; dream more; and encourage them to create their own fantasies. Life is dreary and short ... why not make it fun every now and then?
AA: Shifting gears into your political life, there is this picture of you sitting in the middle of the street with several others during the early days of ‘OccupyGhana’ with the police barging in on you. What was going through your mind at that time?
GA: It was Occupy FlagstaffHouse, NOT OccupyGhana. OG came afterwards, when a number of NPP-enthusiasts decided to appropriate the movement and tap fully into the momentum of the demonstration against the NDC Government. What did I feel? Anger, disappointment, frustration, horror. We have been disappointed so many times by people we have been forced to put our trust in (by a system that is already skewed) that on that day when the anti-mob police unit were unleashed on us in the rain, I reached my threshold and damned the rest.
AA: How have things been since with OccupyGhana, especially with a new government in power now?
GA: OG has been a farce. It has been challenging a lot of systemic flaws in the various arms of government and some Ministries, but we have not seen any real, trickle-down, impactful change. Most of the members of OG used the momentum to get into positions of power for NPP (as MPs and Ministers) and most of the members have now boldly declared their affiliation to NPP, so really ... OG was paving the way for the new government (NPP) to come to power. I think in that sense they have been amazingly strategic and awesomely successful. There is still a lot the government has left to do, and citizens are already very disgruntled, so I am wishing NPP a lot of luck and praying hard for them.
AA: Interesting, do you feel let down in any way by the developments you just described?
GA: I am disappointed in how things have panned out, but I wouldn't say I feel let down since I never felt boosted up anyway. I am very skeptical about the intentions for Ghana of the current crop of politicians in the NPP-NDC duopoly. They own and run the country (authority and resources), along with a heavy corp of foreign institutions and so they fear nobody and nothing. And why should they? They own almost all the citizens too.
AA: Any views on past and present issues of corruption in the country?
GA: Yes, but too much to write everything here.
AA: Any views on the recently introduced FreeSHS education in the country?
GA: Personally, I would have liked for them to start at the preschool and elementary level.
I think it was a way to win power; just like their promise to reduce fuel prices (which clearly is going in the opposite direction and infuriating Ghanaians). There is too much wrong in our educational system and too little funding to have started Free SHS on wholesale basis like this. And yes, they ought to start at the preschool level if they really want to ensure more children get into school!
AA: I agree with you on that, in most parts of the advanced world, free education starts from the elementary level, mainly as a way of roping the kids in before they fall through the cracks. Moving on, how would you grade the NPP after a year in office?
GA: 1% success. Too many loose ends and things not yet done.
AA: Any chance of you getting into politics soon?
GA: It's likely. In what form and manner? I'm still looking at things.
AA: Any question you would have liked to be asked that I missed? Please ask and answer.
GA: Not currently.
AA: Is there another book in the offing… If so, when can we expect it to be out?
GA: Many more. Fictional and non-fictional. Starting in the last quarter of this year.
AA: Given your schedule and time constraints, thanks a lot for doing this interview. I wish you the very best in all your endeavors.
GA: My pleasure.