First off, I owe all of you an apology. I missed my Friday post, accidentally auto-posted a tiny portion of this post, and otherwise let you down. I’ve been very busy with family issues since Sunday the 3rd, a family member is declining with dementia quite rapidly and I’ve been juggling that and some makeup work. I’ll be sharing a post Friday about freelancing and the struggle that trying to become established entails, so you can look forward to that (it’s already written and scheduled, no worries).
On to the book!
Maya Angelou is my favorite author. It took me until now to figure that out definitively. When I hear her name, something inside of me screams “Mama” about a woman who I have only met on the pages of her books. Perhaps that has everything to do with Letter to My Daughter and the fact that I read it when I was craving motherly advice and needed it more than I knew, perhaps it is because I absolutely love everything that I’ve read from her to date.
I picked this book up around Christmas, another gift from my Mother, as it was the only Angelou work at our BAM that I didn’t already own. Later, when I read the summary on the back, I knew that it was going to be a stunning work. One of my best friends had the opportunity to study abroad in Ghana last Summer, and I immediately added it to my long list of travel goals. The land is beautiful, the food is wonderful, and the culture is richer than anything I’ve experienced. Hearing those stories made getting excited for this book that much easier.
These are a few of my favorite things.
In the beginning of the story, Angelou has plans to travel to Liberia, which are soon dashed when her son is in a serious accident during his first week of University in Ghana. Angelou is very downtrodden for the beginning of the memoir, but quickly finds a group of friends, the “Revolutionist Returnees,” and shares great experiences with them. Thankfully, her son heals and continues his time at University. Though her stay in Ghana was unplanned, Angelou makes the best of it.
I’d like to take a moment to address Angelou’s brief interactions with fury; I won’t ever live her experiences, but I experience fury in the same way. Unfortunately, my fury often takes place on the internet. If a younger me had read her works, maybe I’d have a little less of an inclination to the quick tongued fury that seeps out all too often.
Sisterhood is well defined in Angelou’s relationship with Efua. She got Angelou her job, looked out for her, read with her to help her pick up Fanti, and otherwise worked towards helping her to become comfortable and happy in Ghana.
Angelou’s stories from Ghana show how extensive her journey was, and the complexity of her search for home in the continent. Her frequent mention of President Nkrumah has me deeply interested in Ghanaian politics, something that I never would have considered otherwise. I especially enjoyed the insight on his tendency to rebel from the single narrative that many people tell of the African continent, something that writers like Chimamanda Adichie have also spoken on, and something that I definitely think needs to be discussed more often. Her pride in the country, her joy at sharing in Ghanaian culture, and her interactions with people from other African countries were intimate and stunning. Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to any fans of Angelou’s writing, anyone interested in Ghana, and other non-fiction buffs.
I give this book a 9.5/10.
I have a book of Angelou’s poetry sitting on my shelf for later. I’ll be reading it sometime this year, I’m sure.