At a recent reading held at the Goethe Institut, one of the members of the audience asked Ruby Goka, author of several children’s books and some adult novels, why she as a dentist who was medically trained didn’t write in the medical field. As I remember correctly Goka replied that she wouldn’t be a good medical writer.
However, the question kind of stuck with me. Mainly because of the assumption on the part of the questionner that someone trained in medicine would not be interested in literature. Yet a does a scientific bent or interest preclude a humanistic one?
And it also struck me because there are other contemporary writers here in Ghana whose training, background and even profession are in the sciences. Yet they write fiction.
I mention a few:
- Manu Herbstein, author of Ama, Brave music of a distant drum and Akosua and Osman, is an engineer by training
- Martin Eglewogbe, author of Mr Happy and the hammer of God, and other stories , and co-founder of the Ghana Writers Project, is a Physics lecturer
- Elizabeth-Irene Baitie, author of The twelfth heart, as well as other books for children is a microbiologist
- Nana Awere Damoah, author of Tales from different tails, and other books, is a chemical engineer
I don’t feel able to take this phenomenon further, or even explain it, but I did find it interesting nonetheless. I suppose many of us who are not science trained feel that those who are are practically in a different category from the rest of the us. Yet their ability to “put pen to paper” rather proves that a scientific background does not mean one cannot be creative as well.