Our Guest Post for today is Oppong Benjamin Clifford, an engineer and writer. You are welcome to amoafowaa.com.
CF: Thank you, dear. I’ve been following the good works you’ve been doing in the literary circles of Ghana. And I give it to you in strong terms of recommendation ever to continue as such.
AMOAFOWAA: Thank you. Please tell us about yourself from parents to what you do now. Briefly though
CF: Well, Oppong Clifford Benjamin was born with a twin sister to Mr. and Mrs. Oppong in a small town called Prestea in the Western Region. I had a normal upbringing like most Ghanaians. I’m now a Civil Engineer and Postgraduate Student at both the Moscow State University of Civil Engineering and University of Education, Kumasi campus.
AMOAFOWAA: So how and when did you start writing?
CF: When! How! Honestly, I don’t even know how it all started but I will try hard to put a when to it all. I should think in Junior Secondary School, we had an amazing English Language teacher called A. G. Osei (may his gentle soul rest in perfect peace) who insisted we wrote a lot of essays and poems each week. He extolled the best essayist or poet in the strongest of praising words at the time. And it was always pleasing and honouring for me whenever I came first. This practice yielded creative writers in our class. However, I never gave writing a serious look until much later in 2012 when I met Sir Kukogho Iruesiri Samson, the founder of WRR (the largest poetry sharing platform in Africa based in Nigeria) and multiple awards winning poet. He mentored, taught and coached me in poetry writing. In December 2013, the WRR awarded me the Ghana poet of the year in Nigeria during the annual WRR contemporary African poetry festival held at the University of Ibadan. And in December 2016, the WRR invited me again to the annual poetry festival, this time, to give the guest lecture on my academic paper Noetic Sciences: the power of our intentions as writers. However, I have still not had the courage to call myself a writer. Maybe, we can say I am a student of creative writing.
AMOAFOWAA: The engineering you, does he practise or aims to?
CF: I practise engineering. I’m currently working with the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG). What I’m rather aiming at is to be a lecturer of a civil engineering course in a technical university in the near future.
AMOAFOWAA: How many publications do you have now?
CF: Number of publications! *surprised face* Erhmm…… I’ve written a cute book which is a collection of short stories titled The Virgin Mother and Other Short Stories. It’s my debut book and it was published by Forte publishing house in Monrovia, Liberia. My poems have appeared in some anthologies across the continent, the very celebrated one is Portor Portor edited by the Liberian poet Forte Othniel, an educator based in Thailand. It brought together only twelve poets across the world, and I was humbled to have had the opportunity to be featured alongside seasoned poets like Prof. Althea Romeo-Mark, lecturer of creative writing at a university in Switzerland and Jack Kolkmeyer in the USA. Also, my poems have been published in the KWEE magazine. In case online publications do count then we are looking at quite a number. Notable among those are the ones published by WRR, Nigeria, Poetry bits, India, Brittle paper, Nigeria, My joy online, Ghana, The African Dream, USA, The UK poetry library, UK. Maybe I can also add that I have an upcoming poetry chapbook titled Poems From A Womanizer’s Wife, a completed manuscript of erotic series called The Making of Orgiastic Cyprian, a completed manuscript of a novel titled The Freemason and The Boy and also sitting on my laptop is another collection of short stories waiting to be edited.
AMOAFOWAA: Who do you read and which writers do you take inspiration from?
CF: I read novels mostly but write poetry often. Strange huh! Once awhile I read some few poetry books I have in my personal library which includes Poetry Excursion on an African Mind by your cute self. Cecilia, your book has really been resourceful in my poetry journey so far. Honestly, I’m glad you wrote those poems. Well, talking of writers who inspire my art, I will put Paulo Coelho first on a long list. That man’s The Alchemist had a great influence on me, it made me set off to write The Freemason and The Boy, and so are many other of his books which I have read. He’s my role model, actually. He will be followed by Dan Brown whose Da Vinci Code and The Lost Symbol shaped my narrative and descriptive writing in a way. Kukogho Iruesiri Samson’s I said these words and What Can Words do are both very intriguing poetry books that have influenced my style of poetry. Another poet I have fallen in love with recently is Romeo Oriogun, the Brunel International African Poetry Prize winner for 2017. His award-winning chapbook Burnt Men just blows my mind away. He is just a perfect poet for me.
Cecilia, please, don’t let me continue, the list is endless in truth. Tell me to shut up, please.
AMOAFOWAA: Lol. What is the correlation between engineering and writing?
CF: You are about the hundredth person to ask me this question. And each time, I only smile and walk away. So forgive my manners, bye. Kill me!
AMOAFOWAA: Tempted to ask why but won’t. Are you a feminist? If yes why? If no why?
CF: The word is now disgusting to some of us. So I would rather say a bitter No! And watch the many young girls who have taken social media as a medium to besmirch the honourable cause of feminism. Allow me to drink my beer in peace joor.
AMOAFOWAA: Single, married or attached?
CF: I’ve been waiting for this question like a pregnant woman. Please, I am single and happy. Not searching, not mingling. There’ve been times I contemplated on sologamy – marriage to oneself. So I even wrote a poem about it in my upcoming chapbook.
AMOAFOWAA: Wow! Define a writer in a sentence.
CF: A writer is a creator of a universe.
AMOAFOWAA: Cool. What are your hobbies?
CF: Reading and having sex with myself. No! Not masturbation. It’s called sex.
AMOAFOWAA: Interesting. If you are given the chance to be the Togo president, with the ongoing chaos, what would you have done?
CF: I would have accepted a reform of the constitution to allow fair democracy to prevail. Thus, if I were Faure Gnassingbe, I would be ashamed of myself and my family for redefining fair governance to be a dynasty and step down peacefully. I don’t know the thing with some African leaders and greed. Well, I don’t like talking politics too much in public.
AMOAFOWAA: Choose between love and occupational success and justify your choice.
CF: “Who love epp?” Who has been helped by love? It is always an occupational success for me, dear. I don’t even need to justify my stance. I don’t care about love, period. Beer, please.
AMOAFOWAA: Religion is a trap of human extinction. Do you agree?
CF: I don’t want to answer this question. I hope you will forgive me, but for now, you’re right to frown at me.
AMOAFOWAA: What makes you proud as a Ghanaian?
CF: Many things. I tell you what; Ghanaians have some intellectual image abroad, especially in other African countries because of names like Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Kofi Annan and quite a number of others too. So I’m really proud of the respect foreigners have for me whenever I tell them I’m from Ghana. Another thing is our peaceful and hospital nature. Ghana has been an epitome of democracy for other African countries.
AMOAFOWAA: Any challenges you face as a writer?
CF: Yes….yes. Too many challenges like procrastination, laziness, inability to write even a sentence after sitting behind my laptop for hours. Also, there are those difficulties with finding a value for your work, getting even a publisher and other personal challenges.
AMOAFOWAA: What are your innermost desires, list three.
CF: My holiest prayer to God has always been ‘Dear God, please keep me alive. Amen.’ Therefore my desirous desires are: to live long enough to own a countryside house in a forest, a house overlooking a calm river; to own a laptop in my sixties to write all the stories life has given me over the past sixty years; to own a small teapot with a white ceramic cup in my sixties and finally to have a lot of beer to keep me.
AMOAFOWAA: May you live long! Your favourite song of all times.
CF: My favourite song is also my ringtone. Titanium by David Guetta feat Sia.
AMOAFOWAA: What is your best line in Ghana’s National Anthem?
CF: And help us to resist oppressors’ rule
With all our will and might forever more.
AMOAFOWAA: Your advice to followers of amoafowaa.com
CF: This will mean I would have to advise myself and others. Hahahaa. Keep reading and patronizing the best of literature. Mum C as some of us like to call her is one great inspiration for many young Ghanaian writers and has been consistent in bringing the very best of Ghanaian literature.
AMOAFOWAA: Well, flattered. Where can we get your books to buy?
CF: You can buy soft copies on Amazon. For print copies, you can contact me via mobile phone number +233243129401, I’m on facebook as Oppong Clifford Benjamin, Instagram as oppcliffben and twitter handle @glencliffben. Thank you.
THE STRONG HEARTED
There are many in this struggle
This struggle which many with death wishes juggle
But you consider every challenge wealth
Even if doors of hope are shut
You own the scissors which sulking cuts
One pushed from the cliff of good health
To start from the dungeons of death
Right back to the mountain of health
One whose words resonate in satiric sarcasms
With a heart conflicted in healing many afflicted
One whose mind is a need of most
Your ink sure will get noisy soles
And will surely walk on big stages
As years wear clothes of ages
Oh Oppong upon whose shoulders sit buckets of ink!
Amoafowaa Sefa Cecilia © October 30, 2017