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Nana Awere Damoah

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Through the Gates of Thought
by Nana Awere Damoah   

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Books by Nana Awere Damoah
· Excursions In My Mind
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Category: 

Action/Thriller

Publisher:  Athena Press ISBN-10:  1847486797
Pages: 

134

Copyright:  April 26, 2010 ISBN-13:  9781847486790

Once again, Nana Awere Damoah has a splendid achievement to his name in this, his second book of stories, articles, aphorisms and poetry. His style is graphic, entertaining and indisputably Ghanaian. Whether he is lauding the efforts of his countrymen, exhorting everyone to thoughtfulness and faith, deploring the politicisation of local issues or making astute comments on his schooldays, he is frank and 'in your face' Seriously funny, amusingly instructive and liberally Christian, Damoah offers insights from many sources and hope for the future for his pioneering homeland. He has, like some clever spider in folklore, spun a glittering web of words in our path, trapping many tasty ideas. These we can consume at our leisure, through the gates of thought.



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About the Author

Nana Awere Damoah is a reflective thinker and engineer, a passionate believer in the good of man, determined to leave his thoughts for posterity. He is a Ghanaian Chevening alumnus educated in Ghana and the UK, and author of Excursions in my Mind. Nana keeps a blog of his articles at www.excursionsinmymind.blogspot.com.




Professional Reviews

Review by Tony Williams
Nana Damoah is a chemical engineer who works for the Anglo-Dutch multinational corporation Unilever, makers of a myriad of food and home and personal care products. Previously he ran a factory in its Ghana subsidiary where he managed over 300 people. Currently he’s the Technical Manager of the company’s Research and Development Department. Married with three children, he also has two literary blogs, tweets regularly, interacts with fans on Facebook and is a contributing author to the online e-zine StoryTime which is dedicated to publishing authentic African fiction.
With so much on his plate, it says a lot about Damoah that he was still able to manage his time and marshal his thoughts to write and publish two books, including his latest Through the Gates of Thought.
Damoah’s rationale for penning his new book not only shows why he felt compelled to share his musings with the world, it reveals a man who, as a Ghanaian, is deeply proud of his African roots and cannot help being inspired by his culture where the thoughts, ideals and knowledge of the family, tribe or clan have been transmitted from one generation to the next by means of an oral tradition.
“I think of my descendants two, three or four generations from now; I think of my children forty, fifty years from now; I try to remember the stories my dad shared with me about his life’s experiences. Will my descendants know what I am going through today, what my wishes were for my generation and for them? Can the lessons I have picked up from the varied peregrinations in my life be crystallised for eternity, for the benefit of those yet unborn?” Damoah ponders.
In an effort to find answers, he embarked upon a pilgrimage through the gates of thought and contemplation, almost akin to the spiritual quest of King Solomon during which he sought to understand what was the whole point of man labouring endlessly under the sun, and what is to be gained from it all in the end.

Damoah’s journey resulted in the birth of his “Empower Series” which he started writing in 2004. The first compilation was titled Excursions in My Mind. Though the Gates of Thought is the second in the series.
In the opening chapter Bringing up Someone Else’s Child, Damoah muses over his upbringing in Ghana.
“I grew up in an environment where the responsibility for bringing up a child was not the responsibility of the parents alone, but the entire society, because the child belonged to the community. A child who became an armed robber will not rob only the parents!”
He then reminisces about his mother and recalls the valuable lesson he learnt from watching the way she treated strangers.
“Growing up, I observed my mum extend such kindness to many strangers, even to this day. Her philosophy, when I once queried her about her reasons, was that if she extended kindness to someone’s child who was living in an alien land, the same courtesy would be extended to her child when the situation was reversed.”
Viewed against the backdrop of the Western world with its pervasive, all-consuming culture which over time has become staunchly individualistic and impersonal, these statements are incredibly sobering. Even more so when you consider the unwelcome reception meted out to many Africans and other ‘Third World’ immigrants seeking economic opportunities in industrialised countries; countries from which came many millions in times past, all seeking a better life in those same ‘Third World’ countries where they were in truth treated with kindness most of the time.
In Damoah’s mind such homespun maxims, which he proffers liberally throughout the book, have not lost their power, notwithstanding his journeys through the halls of academia where their relevance would no doubt have been tried and tested. He holds a Masters in Chemical Engineering from the University of Nottingham, UK and a first degree in Chemical Engineering from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, Ghana
Nana Damoah also has a strong Christian background. He is an associate of Joyful Way Incorporated, a Christian Music ministry in Ghana, and was its National President from 2002 to 2004. As a result, he views life through the prisms of faith and cultural experiences which, together, yield fruits of wisdom that turn out to be complementary rather than contradictory.
In the chapter “When it is More Blessed to Use than to Give,’ the Bible serves as his guide on his mental excursions. He conjures the personalities of King Solomon and Job and revisits those aspects of their character which have endeared them to Christians all over the world – their wisdom and spiritual insights, and their knack for giving practical advice. Then he proceeds to pull the rug out from under them.
Recalling how Job had instructed many and “strengthened weak hands” and those with “feeble knees” yet faltered and gave in to despair when bad times befell him, Damoah reminds his readers of God’s words to the old sage. “Now it comes upon you, and you are weary; it touches you and you are troubled.”
Damoah drives the message home with a salient observation: “Words are cheap, but they gain greater worth when they first minister to the speaker of the same … Job, in this situation, was like the physician who couldn’t heal himself.”
As for Solomon who advised men to be content with the wife of their youth and to drink from their own cistern, Damoah ponders why the great philosopher failed to heed his own advice.
“He took exactly the opposite course, concluding his shopping bout in the feminine world with his basket full of 700 wives and 300 concubines.”
His conclusion and advice to others: “Be less generous with your advice: live it instead.”
Continuing to look inward, Damoah ruminates over the realities of daily life in the workplace where people are “excellent at mapping out extensive and elaborate action plans.”
“The problem is that most of these plans become … strategic plans on top shelves – left to accumulate dust, yielding no results,” he laments.
How does one overcome this perennial inertia which afflicts not just workplaces but, all too often, people’s personal lives?
Damoah found the answer watching his 1-year old son trying to walk around the house – graduating from crawling on his stomach and then on all fours, to the point where he was able to take up to five steps without holding onto anything. One month later he is finally able to walk unaided and even dance around.
“I believe in baby steps … No one strides by moving both feet at the same time.” says Damoah, adding, “The baby is not afraid that someone will say he/she is taking baby steps and not walking in the right way … Don’t wait to become an expert before you attempt converting your thought into action, for as Art Buck said, ‘Though good may come of practice, this primal truth endures: the first time anything is done, it is done by amateurs.”
Throughout the book the Eureka moment invariably comes from introspection and pondering over philosophical, cultural and religious tenets handed down through the ages. What is unique about Through the Gates of Thought is that Damoah serves them up with fresh perspectives and, in so doing, compels the reader to pause and think.
One of the most thought-provoking pieces is his reflection on the youths of Africa and the world. He is disturbed by the way so many young people “act as if they have all the time in the world.” He’s also baffled by older people who “think this attitude is right” and contribute to the wealth loss of a generation by perpetuating the notion that “life begins at 40 and life before that is non-scoring.”
“Young men and women are causing wealth loss to their generation because they are sitting on inert ideas, bottled-up potential energy and scratching the ground when they should be striding the skies and perambulating with the stars. Young people who proceed without any urgency in life … Do you hear the opinions of the young men and women under twenty-five? I don’t hear them very often.”
He turns to nature and Ghanaian culture for counsel and shares his insights with the youth.
“Don’t think you have a great deal of time to make a difference in this world. Recognise that both brown and green leaves fall to the ground. In the northern parts of Ghana, it is said that in the hide market, you can find pieces from both old and young animals.”
Each chapter concludes with quotations from world-renowned philosophers, writers and theologians pertinent to the thoughts being discussed. In addition, having provided his readers with a copious supply of intellectual and spiritual food for thought, he presents them with ‘Action Exercises” designed to motivate them to act upon whatever insights they acquire from accompanying him on the journey through his thoughts.
“I see myself as a distillation plant that takes issues around me – mundane, routine everyday occurrences – as my raw material; then reflects on and processes them, producing various fractions, fit for use by my readers,” says Damoah. And by and large, he succeeds admirably.
Through the Gates of Thought is well-written with a simple, flowing style and is, without doubt, an inspiring read. Moreover, it covers a broad range of spiritual, social and cultural topics, offering perspectives and practical suggestions that are relevant to daily life in virtually all nations and cultures.
Through the Gates of Thought is available on Amazon US, Amazon UK, and on other online outlets.
Check out Nana Damoah’s blog http://nanaaweredamoah.wordpress.com/

About the Reviewer
Tony Williams is a freelance journalist, a former editor of the Crusader newspaper in St Lucia and a Reuters Fellow (Green College, Oxford). He keeps a blog at www.caribbeanbookblog.wordpress.com.


Our Thoughts are Gates too
After reading Nana Awere Damoah’s short story in African Roar, a collection of short stories by different authors, I was certain about having a worthwhile reading of Through the Gates of Thought.

What I however never envisaged was the fact that the book will be an author’s reflection of his past and encounters in a pedagogic manner. A quick leafing through the book to the Contents page shows how our thoughts could be classified in gates that are opened when a need arises and shut when the desire had been satisfied. Though Through the Gates of Thought is a test-book of one’s deeds and characters, it is also a book that any reader could quickly associate with as thoughts are shared in written words.

This book is Nana Awere’s attempt at archiving histories, experiences, lessons and encounters in a more secured medium of communication – writing. This piece has indeed shown that aside the bible, it could still fit in as a book which could instruct, correct and bless. Just like a daily reading manual, Through the Gates of Thought’s reading is never exhaustible even when one gets to the last page. It is didactic in how it makes the reader sinks into his personal introspection. The step that Nana has taken through the writing of this thought-provoking book restates the fact that; if we were able to access the story of how our forebears rise, fall and get to the thrones that are willed to us, we wouldn’t have taken a strut induced by the euphoria of the little comfort that was of the striving and labouring of our ancestors. Little wonder successive generations become poorer. Had it been the ways by which our forefathers make their well armoured enemies to flee the battlefield are shown to us; men with only jackboots as implements of war wouldn’t have scared us from our homes.

With Through the Gates of Thought, the times when one’s problems proliferates because history is not available to help out is put a stop to. Nana Awere readily feeds the readers with past happenings as he leads us through the Gates in the way one would never rue passing through a previous Gate unsatisfactorily. A cursory summary of what are obtainable in the book that is paginated into ‘24 Gates’ in all will make you see the thin line that exists between this book and the one you have always dreamed of.

Read...

A Quick Read:

You might not know why it is necessary to be jumping around and singing for that little that you have got in your hands until Nana Awere unlocks ‘Gates 12: Bed Twelve – the Really Important Things’, a piece contributed by his friend, Dr Moses Ademola, and takes you through it. The write-up lucidly shows how important things we often trivialise can be one’s strong yearning when some circumstances deprive us of them. As the character in this ‘Gate’ relays his story on a sick bed labelled ‘Bed Twelve’, the reader start acknowledging that every opportunity, no matter how small it could be, is a blessing to be adored.

Though extending your hand to help others in need can be at times hurtful at this age when evil manifest through all manner of guises, but spitting at the rags of others can also be an inhuman thing to do too. Nana Awere opens ‘Gate 16: The Challenges of a Twenty-first-century Good Samaritan’ with the analogy of the biblical Samaritan who displays neighbourliness, and juxtaposing it with how people now turn blind ears to the shrieks of pains of the needy out of fear of being haunted down. It is like not wanting to rescue a palm-oil seller because you are clad in white robe. In ‘Gate 16’, Nana Awere confirms the fear everyone has towards offering hospitality to a stranger.

It is true that children are the blessings from the Lord, they could also become the bane of any family and society when they go wayward. ’Gate 2: Why we Have Kids’ Parties’ posits that while it is good to be dissatisfied with kids’ misdemeanour, one shouldn’t pound the head with a pestle just because it aches. The adroitness used in tacitly driving the piece’s message home is awesome. It started as a letter written by a strayed child to her mum and ends with a short note that informs you that the child only writes the letter to her mum that there are other worst things than the failure- riddled report card that had kept her from coming home.

When anger is given a chance to feed on one’s emotion and guide one’s action, unimaginable loss can be its prospect. ‘Gate 9: The Written Letter’ flings open and you learn from the costly mistake of Nana Awere Damoah when he is in Ghana National College in Cape Coast, Ghana. Nana perceives injustice at the way which the uniforms given to his set in school are not different from what are given to junior pupils. Nana vents his grief and anger in written words to the principal of the school. What causes trouble for him is how he allows his very strong anger to smudge the tone of his letter to the principal. This almost gets him an expulsion from the school. Nana Awere Damoah uses this experience of his to inform the reader that when anger drives a person in proffering solution to a problem, he would only succeed in adding more stones to the already-heavy-load.

Nana bewails the rate at which the combustion of oil laden tankers kills Africans whenever their contents are overturned on our roads in ‘Gate 23: Oil Tankers and Us’. But for the abject poverty that plagues Africans, the losses would have however been avoidable.

A Reader’s Seal:

The creative peculiarity of Through the Gates of Thought is seen at the artistic method the author adopts to give corrections through the recalling of his vivid past and present thoughts as ‘Action Exercise’ accompanies each story that is classified into ‘Gate’. The Action Exercise that comes at the tail-end of each Gate advises the reader to reflect on how his personality fares in comparison with the story told or thought shared. The stories featured in the book become more in-depth with citations from proverbs, words of past leaders and reasoning of great philosophers. One cannot help the literary awe this book commands than to keep nudging one’s head at the end of each story (which are in Gates). The messages in the book fulfil its aims; to instruct, correct and encourage. The book is multi-dimensional as each lesson is carefully unfolded. In the few books that I have read, Through the Gates of Thought will etch more on my memory because some ‘Gates’ leave my lower jaw lower, few make me tut-tut at what I have been doing, while the rest inspire my courage to keep forging ahead.



Reviewer’s Profile:



Joseph Omotayo is an analytical reviewer of the written works of art.
He has reviewed some African contemporary works, out of which are
Adunni Abimbola's Under The Brown Rusted Roofs, StoryTime's African
Roar (a collection of 11 short stories) and Igoni Barret's From Caves
Of Rotten Teeth. Some of his writings have been published on his blog
{www.josephomotayo.blogspot.com} and in 'The Punch', one of his country's national
newspaper.

He currently stays in Osun State, Nigeria; from where he
views the world and lives his dreams. He is the Head of Department for
short-story in ATE OGBON LITERARY CLUB, Osogbo. A club that promotes
creative and performing art.




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