John Powell - Books on Ghana

Grassroots economic development in the Third World - How a university of science and technology can help.


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Return to the Garden City - Kwame's Dilemma

Posted by John Powell on September 11, 2013 at 7:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Once again, as in The Colonial Gentleman's Son, Kwame Mainu is faced with deciding whether or not to help the British authorities combat Kumasi-based drugs traders. It takes him some time to make up his mind.

Page 40

Kwame was surprised, confused and angry all at once. ‘Why should I need to be tested?’ he protested. ‘I’ve come here to live peacefully and do honest work to keep my family safe. I came here today of my own free will. I can’t see that I’ve done anything to justify being put to a test and I must protest most strongly at the way I’ve been treated.’

‘We found cocaine in the live snails,’ said Leon quietly.

Page 47

The problem, mused Kwame, as Akosua went off to attend to her homework, is finding the right pachyderm to follow, then making sure you’re not around when the fight comes. Was Leon Thornet the elephant of choice? Was he powerful enough to defeat the next terrible sasabonsam to emerge from the West African jungle?

Recent EzineArticles by John Powell

Posted by John Powell on March 4, 2013 at 6:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Ghana Life: Sex in Accra in the 1980s

Hanoi Life: Ho Hoan Kiem

Hanoi Life: Hang Dao Park

Ghana Life: Coming of Age

Ghana Life: Dark Matter and Black Magic

Ghana Life: Sex in Kumasi in the 1970s

Ghana Life: Men From Abidjan Seek Sex in Kumasi

Ghana Life: Trees, Fairies and Mmoatia

Ghana Life: Return of the Devil

Ghana Life: The Religious Revolution

Ghana Life: Appreciating the Female Form

Book Review: Black Holes in the Dead Sea Scrolls

The Survival of the Fitter

Posted by John Powell on March 25, 2012 at 4:10 AM Comments comments (0)

· A.J. Sutter - September 28, 2011 at 4:58 am

A short, lovely book about appropriate technology, and about how international agencies can screw things up, is John Powell’s The Survival of the Fitter (where “fitter” is a Ghanian term for auto mechanic).


International Development: The Role of Fiction in Training and Public Awareness

Posted by John Powell on March 11, 2012 at 2:30 PM Comments comments (2)

The effort by industrialised countries to assist in the development of newly independent and less advanced countries has now been underway for half a century. Much has been learned that will be of use to future technical experts and consultants with an ambition to work in this field, and universities in the USA, UK and elsewhere have set up training courses to prepare these people for the task ahead. Most of the materials used on these courses are dry technical reports that impart the facts but do not always convey the human interest. Here is where fiction written against an accurate technical and historical background has much to offer in sweetening the pill of studying and conveying the total human milieu in which socio-economic progress must be achieved. Fiction can also serve a purpose in providing the layperson and general reader, whose taxes and charitable donations fund the work, but who does not read the technical reports, with a palatable insight into the vast field of international development.

For the full article on this topic please go to EzineArticles.:

No Spare Parts

Posted by John Powell on December 15, 2011 at 9:25 AM Comments comments (0)

You can learn more about Suame Magazine and the work of the fitters by viewing the videofilm 'No Spare Parts' released in 1990 by Asterisk Films. The film is available from Bullfrogfilms. It is narated by David Suzuki and lasts 22 minutes. The film has won two awards and is recommended for schools and colleges in the USA with programs in development economics, technology transfer and recycling.

The Colonial Gentleman's Son - An Absolute Must!

Posted by John Powell on September 21, 2011 at 4:10 AM Comments comments (0)

This is the story of the life and career of Kwame Mainu, born in Ghana in 1957. I found that it vividly portrayed the feelings and experiences of a principled individual as he battled his way through life's temptations and dilemmas. The interpersonal relationships are intriguing. My only criticism was that some of the engineering technical detail went over my head.

Set against and skilfully intertwined with the political and economic development of an emerging African nation it is a broad ranging and full blooded novel which would provide a rewarding read for any avid story lover like myself.

To anyone with a particular interest in Ghana (or Africa for that matter), the fact that it is packed with fascinating insight into its history, economy, culture and, most of all, its people, it is an absolute must.

David T Preece


The Colonial Gentleman's Son - Call for a Sequel

Posted by John Powell on September 21, 2011 at 4:05 AM Comments comments (0)

From the beginning, the author's love and understanding of Ghanaian Culture is apparent. So much so that I feel this story is fact intermingled with fiction.

We follow the life and career of Kwame Mainu, born in 1957, four days before Ghana gained its independence. In spite of many changes in his family's circumstances, leaving them in relative poverty, his energy, intelligence and persistence enabled him to survive and progress. We learn much of the problems, both political and economic of the new Ghana. Through this, Kwame struggles to maintain his early principles.

The relationships between characters are warmly and skilfully portrayed. I found the engineering technical details difficult, but my curiosity to follow this intriguing story kept me reading.

To readers with little knowledge of Ghana, this book will stimulate their interest in this fascinating country. I feel many readers, like myself, will hope there is to be a sequel to this informative and skilfully written story.

Anthea Purnell


Will Kwame join the Drugs Trade?

Posted by John Powell on April 4, 2011 at 12:20 PM Comments comments (0)

“So you can provide the wee, er weed,” prompted Kwame. “It’s good to start with that,” said Peter, “but we should soon move on to coke and smack, that’s what really brings in the big bucks.” “Can you supply all that!” gasped Kwame, unable to contain his surprise at this unguarded statement, “Where does it all come from?” “Need to know, I’m afraid, Old Boy,” said Peter, tapping the side of his nose.

This remark and gesture set a bell ringing in Kwame’s head. It was completely out of character for Peter. Where had he picked it up? Where had Kwame heard someone speaking like that before? He searched his memory in vain. Peter was asking him to confirm his interest; maybe he feared that he had said too much. In his confusion Kwame wanted time to sort through all he had learned. “I’ll let you know by the end of the vacation,” he said.

After Peter left, Kwame went over all that had been said. He had learned that Peter could supply cannabis, cocaine and heroin and was interested in Kwame helping to expand the local market with particular emphasis on recruiting more West African helpers and promoting sales to the youth. Helping with the marketing in Coventry would not involve carrying contraband through customs at the airport and appeared to be less risky than acting as a courier. It could also be done without Comfort being aware of his involvement and so she would raise no objection. Now he had to decide if he wanted to build his house in Kumasi on this activity, as Peter and Bra Yaw seemed to be doing, or whether to leave it well alone as he knew his father would wish.

The Colonial Gentleman's Son Page, 208

Kwame Loses His Wife

Posted by John Powell on March 4, 2011 at 6:30 AM Comments comments (0)

'Look at yourself, Kwame Mainu! You’re thirty one years old and you still don’t have a house or a good job. You’ve no ambition for your family. You talk about pursuing your education but you still don’t have even a first degree. You can never make up your mind about anything. I’m tired of making excuses for you to my family and friends. You’re a disgrace to us all. I’ve been talking to your mother and she says you’re just like your father. He was the laughing stock of this town, an opinionated colonial gentleman who never went to church but acted as though he thought himself better and wiser than everyone else. She was forced to give up on such a useless person and I must do the same. So next time you come back, don’t expect to find me waiting patiently in this hovel. I’ve got better things to do.'

This bitter outburst froze Kwame’s brain. He rose to his feet in a wave of dizziness that was much more than he usually experienced in rising abruptly from a low stool. He groped for the door as the room swung around drunkenly. Pulling it ajar, he lurched out into the bright sunlight and stumbled across the broken ground of the compound. He was deaf to the calls of women pounding fufu and blind to the old men under the mango tree pulling pipes from open mouths as he passed. Somehow he avoided treading on infants crawling on the bare earth and passed out of the compound and onto the busy trunk road outside.

The Colonial Gentleman's Son, Page 247

A Hot Afternoon in Suame Magazine

Posted by John Powell on March 2, 2011 at 7:35 PM Comments comments (0)

The rest of the afternoon was spent walking around the extensive maze of dirt roads that wound irregularly between the thousands of concrete-block workshops and wooden shacks that composed this greatest of Ghana’s industrial assets. Walking was difficult, as the ground underfoot was rendered irregular by pot holes, stony outcrops and half buried vehicle parts. Vehicles in all states of disrepair lurched past in clouds of black smoke and choking red dust. Everywhere was red earth, rusting iron and black oil stains with an occasional stunted tree to remind the stumbling adventurers that they were in the heart of a tropical forest. Through a haze induced by heat, humidity and dust beyond his past experience, the Magazine became for Tom a kaleidoscope of half-focussed images of men hammering, sawing, watching and waiting, accompanied by ringing blows, violet flashes and the roar of tortured engines.

The Colonial Gentleman's Son, Page 112