The book No Sweetness Here and Other Stories by Ama Atta Aidoo is an anthology of short stories heavily embedded in transliterations with varied thematic concerns. It is a book that needs higher minds to read, understand and appreciate. I was baffled when it was approved by the Ghana Education Service as a core text for the study of literature in senior high schools in Ghana; a core text! Not an elective text!
At first I thought I was paranoid until my colleague teachers and other English teachers I came into contact with complained about the fact that the text was not a readable text for core study and the students themselves brought their sad opinions. In their own words “The book’s title is an exact reflection of its content Madam” Students of core Literature are mostly students who need exciting books, straightforward books with searchable thematic concerns in order to understand the ways of literature and get familiar with the use of the literary terms.
From Everything Counts to The Message right through to Other Versions are punishment for these beginners. Many are those who suspect foul in the selection. This is no Grief Child or Ancestral Sacrifice?
I call for those who approved this text to read the content and come up with another book. They can make it an elective text as those students study deep into literature and can understand. As a core text, it is not only a punishment to students but to teachers as well as we have to find ways of getting weak readers interested in such a text. We are in Ghana where a teacher teaches over 250 students in a term. What can we do if we have to chase most of these students to read? Let’s put into consideration the fact that the prose text is just a little fraction of the things to be taught.
The Ghana Education Service must look seriously into this and rectify the error if it is. If it is not, then they should come out with the criteria they used in selecting this book in particular, that is, if it is not to give purchase to the known writer or a battle of publishers and bids. Let us consider the students who will be affected by the study of such a text. Let us also consider the fact that we do not have a reading generation and the many people trying to inculcate the habit of reading in today’s youth. At least, let the children read stories that will lead them to uncover the gateway to life’s beauties not stories which they will be coaxed or punished to read. Textbooks are read by sizes of the mind. God bless our homeland Ghana.
Amoafowaa Sefa Cecilia (c) 2016