Posted by: biblioglobal | January 15, 2015

Ghana: Changes: A Love Story (Book-from-every-country #64)

1191425Happy somewhat belated New Year. I haven’t found time to post yet, but I’ve been enjoying my reading so far this year. Completely unrelated to my book-from-every-country project, I read Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis. It’s a classic novel that, as a scientist, I particularly enjoyed since it tells the story of a microbiologist and his research. Obviously it has a lot of appeal to non-scientists too, since it was awarded the Pulizter Prize (which Sinclair Lewis declined).

The first book I read in 2015 was one for the book-from-every-country project and one I’ve been looking forward to reading for a long time- Changes: A Love Story by Ama Ata Aidoo. I read a lot of it on a long plane trip on January 1st. It worked well as plane reading (at least according to my tastes for plane reading)- easy to follow even with the inevitable interruptions and at the same time not the least bit fluffy.

I found the similarities between Changes and So Long a Letter, the book from Senegal I recently read, remarkable. Both feature a friendship between two educated women who are struggling to balance work and family. I like Changes better, I think because their friendship was written in the form of a lively dialogue rather than a long letter from one to the other. (Although I generally really enjoy epistolary books.) The friendship between Esi and Opokuya really came alive (in fact, I found myself wondering whether their friendship was really the “love story”” referred to in the title). I love stories with good friendships, so I was completely sold.

As with So Long a Letter, the role of the tradition of polygamous marriage was an important component of Changes. The take here was a bit different though. Polygamy itself was presented as not necessarily a bad thing. In fact maybe it could be the solution for a woman busy with her career who wanted a husband who demanded less of her time? Instead the book seems to argue that polygamy was okay in the past, but that it should be discarded because it doesn’t work in today’s world.

One interesting little detail that the book mentioned was that teacher’s colleges in Ghana were deliberately place in locations where they would draw equally from several ethnic groups within the country. I thought that was a very smart strategy for trying to promote interaction and acceptance between groups. Of course, the next sentence points out that the students still interacted largely within their own groups, but even so I like to think that the students would still have benefited from taking classes together.

The book also had fun with Ghanaian’s use of the English language. Apparently there is a tendency to create unique words, which I think is just how language should be.



  1. This is one of my favourites, very entertaining. Good to know you are a scientist. Interesting.

    • I enjoyed this one a lot.

      I had thought I had mentioned science in my “about” page, but looking at it now, apparently not!

  2. If you own this book would you save it for me to borrow to read ? Total silence on the Golden Name Day request….. Love, Mom

    • Unfortunately, this came from the library. I do think you would enjoy it though! And I don’t think it would be too hard for you to find, it’s a pretty well known book.

  3. I read this book some years ago and enjoyed it, too. Have you ever read the graphic novel Aya? It takes place in the Ivory Coast and also really helped me better understand polygamous marriages.

    • I did actually read the first book of Aya as my book for Ivory Coast. I don’t remember anything about polygamous marriages though. Maybe that came later? Or maybe my memory is just failing me. Polygamous marriage also played an important role in another book I enjoyed- Lyrics Alley by Leila Aboulela.

  4. I haven’t heard of this one, but it sounds very good! I will have to check it out. Ghana is still a country on my I-need-to-visit book list.

    • I think Changes would be a good fit for your desire for not-too-dark, but substantive global books. Also, congratulations!

      • Thank you so much! đŸ™‚

  5. I enjoyed this book, too. I read it when I just begun reading more globally and was surprised to discover that despite the differences, women in other cultures had the same problems combining a career and marriage and the same need for friendship with other women. A pattern I have seen frequently since.

    • I felt the same way! In both Changes and So Long a Letter, even though the details are different, so many of the points about balancing work and family are exactly the same.

  6. I’ve been reading a lot more books from Africa lately (I’m reading The Long Walk to Freedom right now actually) and this sounds like a good one. I think it could be interesting to read about work/life balance issues from a Ghanaian perspective.

    • I actually returned The Long Walk to Freedom to the library today without having gotten around to reading it! What do you think of it so far?

      • It’s great so far! I’ve been pretty busy lately (hence the 10 day lapse in my response) but reading all of the things he was juggling when he was my age (law school, a full-time job, young kids and a wife, getting involved in the freedom movement) really keeps things in perspective and makes me admire him all the more. It’s also just so inspiring that he keeps persevering and is willing to make so many sacrifices in the face of ever increasing adversity. I’m learning alot, but admittedly I only knew the highlights of his life before I started reading this.

      • Thanks for the update- I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying The Long Walk to Freedom. Maybe it will find itself making a return trip from the library to my home sometime.

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