Ghanaian scientists writing fiction

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.

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4 thoughts on “Ghanaian scientists writing fiction

  1. I don’t understand some individuals. I know of several scientists who double as writers. Fred McBangoluri is an engineer who worked at Siemens. He has several novels to his credit. And Kwei Quartey is a medical doctor.

  2. I believe writing is largely based on inspiration and thus irrespective of the field one is trained in, he/she can become a successful writer once he/she is open to the source of inspiration.

  3. That hit me too. Perhaps because we are not trained in literature formally, we are not afraid to express ourselves and also write from the heart. I met a young fantastic writer here in Nigeria who is a microbiologist, my friend Sylva Nze who just released his novel The Funeral Did Not End, is a vet officer and the author of Fine Boys, Imaseun Ighosa is a medical doctor. List goes on…

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