I use the Mummy, read one last time series to highlight books that my preschooler is enjoying. It’s been awhile since I did one of these so I thought I couldn’t pass on the opportunity, presented by this this week’s focus on Ghanaian literature, to talk one of my favorite books for children. It’s impossible to discuss Ghanaian children’s literature without talking about Meshack Asare and his award-winning Sosu’s Call.
Sosu lives in a small Ghanaian village, on the shores of a lagoon, with his family and his dog, Fusa. Sosu is disabled, he cannot walk. He spends most of his days with Fusa, the dog:
The dog was always back puffing and its eyes shining with the satisfaction of having been outside! It was this more than anything else, that made him envious. What good is a boy without a pair of good, strong legs?
Sosu stays at home while his siblings attend to school. His fisherman father used to take Sosu with him on fishing trips but the other fishermen objected so his father stopped. Sosu is left to observe life in his village from his parents’ compound. But he is a boy who likes to be of use to his family. He likes to prepare lunch for his siblings, Fafa and Bubu, when they return home from school. In turn, his siblings will regal Sosu with the day’s activities and will also teach him everything that they had learnt at school. In this way, Sosu learns how to read and write. But generally, he feels that he was of no use to his family and community as it seems to him that people with good legs do everything, including looking after him.
One day, when most adults were away working, a storm hits his small village. Huge tidal waves threaten the inhabitants. Sosu senses the impending danger and he knows that he has to alert people. He summons enough strength to crawl from his house to the chief’s house, where he finds some drums. Sosu raises the alarm by beating on the drums loud enough so that people working on the far side of the lagoon hear him and come running to the village. They manage to rescue the old, the infirm and the young from the rising waters. In the aftermath of the rescue, Sosu is hailed as the hero of the village. He is given gifts including a wheelchair. He is then able to attend school and he becomes “just one of the boys of the small village, somewhere between the sea and the lagoon!”
Sosu’s Call is a wonderful book. The language is engaging and the illustrations vividly depict life in a village by the sea. Its message is profound. African societies are generally intolerant of any kind of disability. There is an assumption that physically handicapped people are of no use to society so they are often ignored and mistreated. Sosu rises above all that and shows immense courage and selflessness. A great example and lesson for all children. The book is one of four children’s books that were included in the list of Africa’s best 100 books of the twentieth century. It also won first prize for UNESCO’s Children’s and Youth’s Literature in the Service of Tolerance. Sosu is very much a part of my household at the moment. When my preschooler saw me writing this post, he asked why I was putting Sosu on my computer. It seems I have to be careful with his copy of the book!