Review: Through the Gates of Thought – by Sylva Nze Ifedigbo

Through the Gates of Thought
Author: Nana Awere Damoah
Publisher: Athena Press UK, 2010.
Pages: 134
Non-fiction books, especially those intended to motivate are often over-rated, sometimes drab and filled with too good to be true tales and experiences an ordinary reader might not relate with. But when such a book comes garnished with true stories, live experiences, memoirs, history, poems and dozens of quotations, it becomes an entirely different experience.
It is this special experience that Nana Awere Damoah offers readers in Through the Gates of Thought, the second in the author’s ‘Empower’ series which he began writing in 2004 as an effort to record his life experiences and lessons learnt for the unborn generation.
Presented in chapters which are aptly titled ‘Gates’, the author brings the reader into his thought on various issues and by implication strikes up a thought process in the reader culminating in Action Exercises which seek to task the reader to re-examine his or her current disposition in relation to the particular issues thrown up by the ‘Gates’.
Like balanced diet, the reflections cover a wide range of issues ranging from proper parenting to treatment of strangers, issues of nationality and of Africa’s integration. The topics are randomly selected, each bearing imprints of the author’s life experiences, that of those he knows and others from existing literature. Two of the ‘Gates’ are however entries by friends of the author which, much like those written by the author, touch on a principal human condition or life experience which should provoke some thought in the mind of the reader.
The language is simple. Its simplicity makes the heavy message in every chapter easy to swallow and understand. The story-telling prowess of the author comes to bear beautifully on each page, but it is the way he effortlessly combines many otherwise opposing genres that is even more admirable. The author weaves his thoughts exceptionally well, employing an array of images and illustrations to provide the reader with seamless understanding. For every issues examined, there are a set of carefully selected and well researched quotations which like a glass of water after a meal, aid the digestion of the message.
On many occasions, the author draws analogies from his life as a postgraduate student in the UK and of his early life in Ghana. He shares with us memoirs both of his successes and his goofs.
One very interesting story stood out from the pack. The author had led the protest against the new school policy which provided that sixth formers who hitherto wore trousers (an experience the author had looked forward to) were now to wear shorts. Enraged, he had written a letter to the Head Master, a letter that nearly got him expelled but which ironically gave him a story to tell, one which he excellently chronicled to win the first prize in the Step Magazine National story writing competition years after.
The many bible quotations and overt references to the author’s strong Christian upbringing take more than they give to the book. Perhaps the author should have paid a little more attention on his non-Christian readers who might find it a bit discomfiting. These references make the book seem like something that should be found only in Christian bookshops when in truth it is a beautiful all-encompassing work of literature.
And perhaps to show how generous he is with knowledge, the author shares with readers, reviews of Excursion in My Mind, the first in the ‘Empower’ series. The reviews provide a snippets into what he had earlier served and convinces the readers to go in search of it, for both books in the series provides a full dose that is sure to empower the open mind.
Sylva Nze Ifedigbo an award winning fiction writer and essayist reside in Abuja, Nigeria.

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