A memoir of an African childhood, a tourist guide to Ghana, and an inspirational Adventist tract combine in Kwarteng’s debut work of nonfiction, written with MacLaren (Faith into Miracles, 2012).
In his youth, Kwarteng lived in conditions that he modestly calls “very primitive by western standards,” in the Ashanti region of Ghana. Although he dreamed of being a postal worker, his home “was not a country where you could apply for a job, pass a test, and be accepted.” The local government, he says, provided no aid and little guidance for schoolchildren—a point for which he chides them repeatedly. His parents immigrated to America in 1996 and, years later, he was able to join them. There, he says, he was aided by his strong faith in God in achieving his dream: he became a worker for the U.S. Postal Service. “Without God,” he frequently tells readers, “there is nothing you can do on this earth.” This story of the author’s childhood in Ghana also serves as a travel manual and a grab-bag of photographs, philosophical reflections, and parables. The book’s structure, though, is curious: chapters begin in autobiography but turn into collections of self-described “random ideas.” Sometimes they’re inspirational perorations on the faith of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (of which Kwarteng is a member), but most often, he offers a travel guide to modern Ghana, briefly addressing such subtopics as Ghanaian medical care, the wisdom of retiring to that country, local currencies, and so on. The book is credited to two authors, but the text doesn’t always clarify who’s speaking. It always uses a first-person perspective, but sometimes it refers to Kwarteng in the third person. Also, the mother of Kwarteng’s children is named “Gloria” in the text, but he thanks “Maybell for giving birth to my lovely children” in the acknowledgements. Still, much of the information here is worth knowing, and Kwarteng is surely to be commended on a life well-lived and for having the courage to follow his dreams.
An intriguing, if disjointed, guide to Ghana and to one man’s life of faith.