September 26, 2018

We Want More Scientists Writing Children Books

On 23rd February, the 2018 Komla Dumor Award which seeks to identify and provide experience for a rising African journalist was launched in Ghana. This event occurs annually since Komla’s passing in 2014 to honour his contributions to journalism. Komla left us all with a powerful message in his famous TEDxEuston talk on ‘Telling the African Story’ in December 2012. With remnants of the futuristic Wakanda from the movie Black Panther on my mind coupled with the recent narrative of the medical work experience student from Yale whose account after four weeks in Ghana was typical of the white saviour narrative. It is the time for us to consider why scientists writing children books is a good idea. World book day is an ideal occasion to emphasise the need for telling our own stories and better still documenting these in books for the generations to come. 

This was the aim behind the GhScientifc science book tour which launched in 2014 to get science themed children books to primary schools across the country. In the book library are stories about space, light, microscopy and simple science activities which encourages kids to explore the world around them through a scientific lens. Admittedly, these books were donated from our friends in the west and the content will predominantly be tailored to the western audience. This is not to say that, we do not have the talent or resources to produce our own as Ghana and African at large has a pool of literacy legends. Perhaps we have not considered our options in the children science literature space.  

I’ll like to see a publication of 365 science activities to do at home using locally sourced items, a story about Naa and Nii’s adventure to space inspired by the GHANA SAT-1 satellite launch or how a young 13 year old went on an adventure to discover technology which brought us Wakanda. Let’s have our children reading autobiographies about the late profressor Allotey, the late Professor Ewurama Addy, Regina Agyare, Lucy quist, Chinery Hesse, Dr. Elsie kauffman, Charles Ofori and other people like you and I whom they can relate to and be inspired by.    

As we continue our conversations on harnessing Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) for Ghana’s development, let us consider documenting STEM stories through literature which our children can pick up for inspiration along their educational journey. Books such as ‘Definition of a Miracle’ by Software Engineer, Farida Bedwai and ‘Uncompromising passion’ by game developer, Eyram Tawiah of Leti Arts have started the library and on this world book day, we call on fellow science professionals to consider documenting science through stories our children can read, can relate and can aspire to.

Here are my reviews of three recommended books by Ghanaian Authors with a science element.

Definition of a Miracle by Farida Bedwai

Farida is a software engineer by profession and suffers from cerebral palsy, a childhood neurological condition that affects movement, posture and coordination. The writer invites you into the home of Zaara, an 8 year old girl with cerebral palsy in a country where the condition is misunderstood. She shares her daily experience after the family relocated from the UK and the quest to heal her disability via spiritual means.  Its easy to read, has lots of humor and it brings back memories of a typical day in a family from sibling rivalry and unwelcome relatives, to parents pickering and community scandals.

I could read a few chapters over and over again on a gloomy day and it’ll surely bring back laughter. Highly Recommended. 

Uncompromising passion by Eyram Tawiah

This is a book every primary school child should be reading

The title conveys just what the book is. The uncompromising passion of a young Ghanaian game enthusiast on his journey to realising his (unusual) dream. It’s real, honest and inspiring with lessons on believing and staying focussed on your dream. 
It’s a story of love, unwavering dedication, hard work and discipline with several lessons to be learnt.
Highly recommended for all primary school kids starting out on life’s journey and the perfect ‘pick me up’ for adults.

I speak of Ghana by Nana Awere Damoah

There’s trouble in Sikaman (referring to Ghana). Through citing real life experiences both past and present Nana Damoah addresses the current state of affairs in the nation, saying it as it is – lots of talk with minimal action! He tasks all Ghanaians at home and in the diaspora to contribute to building the better Ghana. Packed with rich quotes and amusing humor, you will want to flip the pages. He concludes beautifully with a taste of Ghana’s beautiful tourist sites in the Volta region and yet sadly how the industry seems neglected. I Speak of Ghana is the book all Ghanaians should be “speaking” about.

 

 

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