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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

'Through the Gates of Thought' by Nana Awere Damoah

Staring excitedly at Nana Awere Damoah's title in my hand, I am filled with feeling of utmost fulfilment and mutual connection to a friend (Nana) of strong letters and powerful reasoning.  I can't say more than that I now have, firstly, on my hand and on my bookshelf, a hard copy of Through the Gates of Thought. What follows below is my review of the book after I've read the author-sent-soft-copy on my computer last year. The review was also published HERE and HERE. Out of the tender generosity of the author has he thought it good that I have the hard copy which I'm now a proud owner of. To Nana Awere Damoah, I'm grateful! Though Nigerian Postal Delivery never got it to me since it was sent more than six months ago, Nana's insistence that I must have a copy, no matter what it would cost, delivers it to my doorstep yesterday at last. Now I can show off my copy of Through the Gates of Thought on my shelf and proudly flip through its pages once again as I guzzle its contents once more. If you haven't got this title, your library is incomplete. Read this review and you will surely see reason why your previous must-read list was imbalanced.


Here is the REVIEW:



Our Thoughts Are Gates Too

After reading Nana Awere Damoah's short story in African Roar, a collection of short stories by different authors, I was certain about having a worthwhile reading of Through the Gates of Thought. What I however never envisaged was the fact that the book will be an author's reflection of his past and encounters in a pedagogic manner. A quick leafing through the book to the Contents page shows how our thoughts could be classified in gates that are opened when a need arises and shut when the desire had been satisfied. Though Through the Gates of Thought is a test-book of one's deeds and characters, it is also a book that any reader could quickly associate with as thoughts are shared in written words. This book is Nana Awere's attempt at archiving histories, experiences, lessons and encounters in a more secured medium of communication – writing. This piece has indeed shown that aside the bible, it could still fit in as a book which could instruct, correct and bless. Just like a daily reading manual, Through the Gates of Thought's reading is never exhaustible even when one gets to the last page. It is didactic in how it makes the reader sinks into his personal introspection. The step that Nana has taken through the writing of this thought-provoking book restates the fact that; if we were able to access the story of how our forebears rise, fall and get to the thrones that are willed to us, we wouldn't have taken a strut induced by the euphoria of the little comfort that was of the striving and labouring of our ancestors. Little wonder successive generations become poorer. Had it been the ways by which our forefathers make their well armoured enemies to flee the battlefield are shown to us; men with only jackboots as implements of war wouldn't have scared us from our homes. With Through the Gates of Thought, the times when one's problems proliferates because history is not available to help out is put a stop to. Nana Awere readily feeds the readers with past happenings as he leads us through the Gates in the way one would never rue passing through a previous Gate unsatisfactorily.  A cursory summary of what are obtainable in the book that is paginated into '24 Gates' in all will make you see the thin line that exists between this book and the one you have always dreamed of.


A Quick Read:

You might not know why it is necessary to be jumping around and singing for that little that you have got in your hands until Nana Awere unlocks 'Gates 12: Bed Twelve – the Really Important Things', a piece contributed by his friend, Dr Moses Ademola, and takes you through it. The write-up lucidly shows how important things we often trivialise can be one's strong yearning when some circumstances deprive us of them. As the character in this 'Gate' relays his story on a sick bed labelled 'Bed Twelve', the reader start acknowledging that every opportunity, no matter how small it could be, is a blessing to be adored.

Though extending your hand to help others in need can be at times hurtful at this age when evil manifest through all manner of guises, but spitting at the rags of others can also be an inhuman thing to do too. Nana Awere opens 'Gate 16: The Challenges of a Twenty-first-century Good Samaritan' with the analogy of the biblical Samaritan who displays neighbourliness, and juxtaposing it with how people now turn blind ears to the shrieks of pains of the needy out of fear of being haunted down. It is like not wanting to rescue a palm-oil seller because you are clad in white robe. In 'Gate 16', Nana Awere confirms the fear everyone has towards offering hospitality to a stranger.

It is true that children are the blessings from the Lord, they could also become the bane of any family and society when they go wayward. 'Gate 2: Why we Have Kids' Parties' posits that while it is good to be dissatisfied with kids' misdemeanour, one shouldn't pound the head with a pestle just because it aches. The adroitness used in tacitly driving the piece's message home is awesome. It started as a letter written by a strayed child to her mum and ends with a short note that informs you that the child only writes the letter to her mum that there are other worst things than the failure- riddled report card that had kept her from coming home.

When anger is given a chance to feed on one's emotion and guide one's action, unimaginable loss can be its prospect. 'Gate 9: The Written Letter' flings open and you learn from the costly mistake of Nana Awere Damoah when he is in Ghana National College in Cape Coast, Ghana. Nana perceives injustice at the way which the uniforms given to his set in school are not different from what are given to junior pupils. Nana vents his grief and anger in written words to the principal of the school. What causes trouble for him is how he allows his very strong anger to smudge the tone of his letter to the principal. This almost gets him an expulsion from the school. Nana Awere Damoah uses this experience of his to inform the reader that when anger drives a person in proffering solution to a problem, he would only succeed in adding more stones to the already-heavy-load.

Nana bewails the rate at which the combustion of oil laden tankers kills Africans whenever their contents are overturned on our roads in 'Gate 23: Oil Tankers and Us'. But for the abject poverty that plagues Africans, the losses would have however been avoidable.

A Reader's Seal:                                                                                         

The creative peculiarity of Through the Gates of Thought is seen at the artistic method the author adopts to give corrections through the recalling of his vivid past and present thoughts as 'Action Exercise' accompanies each story that is classified into 'Gate'. The Action Exercise that comes at the tail-end of each Gate advises the reader to reflect on how his personality fares in comparison with the story told or thought shared. The stories featured in the book become more in-depth with citations from proverbs, words of past leaders and reasoning of great philosophers. One cannot help the literary awe this book commands than to keep nudging one's head at the end of each story (which are in Gates). The messages in the book fulfil its aims; to instruct, correct and encourage. The book is multi-dimensional as each lesson is carefully unfolded. In the few books that I have read, Through the Gates of Thought will etch more on my memory because some 'Gates' leave my lower jaw lower, few make me tut-tut at what I have been doing, while the rest inspire my courage to keep forging ahead.


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