Have you come across the anthology, “Made in Ghana”? If yes, then you have read some of the works of Fui Can-Tamakloe. Fui is a writer and a poet and also one of the contributors of “The Nami Podcast.” He is currently making valuable contibutions to Ghanaian literature and through this interview, we get to know the man behind the riveting short stories and poetry.
Photo of Fui Can-Tamakloe
Ayeyi: Hey Fui. Thank you for agreeing to this interview. How have you been doing?
Fui: Hi, don’t mention it. I’ve been good. Staying home and practicing a whole lot of social distancing.
Ayeyi: (laughs) Very essential. Let’s delve straight into the questions. You write poetry and short stories. As a writer, where do you get your inspiration from?
Fui: Lots of places to be honest. Some of my inspiration comes from my environment. If I see something that I have never read about before, I want to capture it in writing. Sometimes too, I hear a story and it inspires another. But I think mainly, my inspiration comes from an instrinsic need to write about ordinary Ghanaians in ways that make them not-so-ordinary.
Ayeyi: Are there any Ghanaian poets or authors you admire?
Fui: Plenty actually. Ama Ata Aidoo, Ayikwei Armah, Kobena Eyi Acquah and Elizabeth Ohene from the older generation inspire me a lot. Contemporary writers like Ni Ayikwei Parkes and Martin Egblewogbe are also among a list of people I admire a lot.
Ayeyi: Love that you are a fan of both the old and new generation of Ghanian literature. Now, when you are writing, who is your targeted audience?
Fui: I’m currently dabbling with different genres, so I don’t have a specific group I write for. But in all things, I make sure my stories are relatable to anyone who has lived in any part of West Africa. To me, that’s the most important part of my storytelling.
Ayeyi: A unique aspect of your writing is that you write some your short stories in pidgin. Why did you choose this style?
Fui: It was an experiment that I thought worked really well, and I’ve never looked back since. In 2016, I read a Marlon James book titled, “A Brief History of Seven Killings.” Large sections of that book was written in Jamaican Patois. I wanted to see what a short story would look like only written in Ghanaian pidgin. I’d seen different art forms experiment with pidgin. FOKN Bois had the first pidgin musical out in 2009, and continued to make a lot of pidgin music. Spoken word acts in Accra also use pidgin in performing. One of my inspirations was Poetyk Prynx, who I saw performing a pidgin spoken word piece around the time I was toying with this idea. And since I had never seen that energy translate to writing fiction in Ghana, I decided to give it a try.
Ayeyi: That is truly innovative. You have an anthology with Rodney Assan titled, “Made in Ghana.” How did this come about?
Fui: (laughs) Funny story, you know. Rodney comes to me one day and says, “You’ve got stories, I’ve got stories. Let’s compile them and publish?” Very out of the blue, very random. And I said, “I’m down.” The two of us didn’t know a thing about self-publishing then, and it was a very fun, educative, even nerve-wrecking experience. There was a moment when we thought we wouldn’t get print copies before the launch. We had to literally camp outside the printer’s shop in the dead of the night waiting for some of the copies to send home for the launch (which was the next day). But the result was worth it. Every single bit of the journey was worth it and it has been uphill ever since.
Ayeyi: Wow! Camping outside the printer’s shop? That’s some determination right there.
Fui: We didn’t want to go to a launch empty handed (laughs)
Photo of Fui Can-Tamakloe
Ayeyi: (laughs) How has the reception been so far?
Fui: It was pretty good the first couple of months, I have to admit. We didn’t even expect to sell so many copies but it died down after a bit. And the lack of infrastructure for self-published print copies of books too hasn’t helped. It’s a struggle getting your books into bookshops because they prefer dealing with publishing companies. We weren’t also prepared for all the legwork involved in selling books but we were able to get our books into a few and I guess it’s been good since.
Ayeyi: Where can interested persons get copies of the anthology?
Fui: In Accra, we’re stocked at Vidya in Osu and Sytris in East Legon. I don’t think both are open because of the pandemic, though. But you can get the books delivered to you (in and out of Accra) if you order it online from booknook.store
Ayeyi: Let’s talk about another project you are part of, “The Nami Podcast.” How did that also come into fruition?
Fui: Nami was my brother’s idea. He’s a voice actor and we had a conversation in 2018 about him wanting to read my stories and ‘bring them to life.’ And then, we expanded on the idea to bring the stories of different writers from across Africa to life. It’s been a success so far; people are in love with the idea. It’s also a pretty important idea because in our cultures (West Africa) we consider oral storytelling very important, and yet it is something we seem to be leaving behind. The Nami podcast is an attempt to bring that back to the fore of the arts scene.
Ayeyi: Yes, oral storytelling is embedded in the Ghanaian culture. Speaking of Ghana, how do you view the future of Ghanaian literature?
Fui: I’m very optimistic that Ghana is going to produce a host of writers of international repute very soon (we are already doing a good job). But it will take a lot more than individual effort to produce a generation that reads. I’d like to see the government, through the Ghana Education Service and Ministry of Education, put some emphasis on creating a leisure reading culture among Ghanaian students.
Ayeyi: Apart from the future of Ghanaian literature, how does the future look like for you?
Fui: Bright! I don’t think anyone ever wants to look into the future and see darkenss. But I’m definitely going to keep producing more work relevant to the Ghanaian situation, and work hard at making it across platforms that matter. I think that’s what’s most important to me.
Ayeyi: Before I let you go, please tell us what your social media handles are for those interested in following you.
Fui: @afadjato on Twitter and Instagram
Ayeyi: Fui, thank you once agian for granting this interview. I am a fan of Ghanaian literature and so, it has been an honour to conversate with you. I wish you the best in everything you do.
Fui: Thank you for this too, it means a lot to me.
Fui’s blog: inkmagician.wordpress.com
Platforms hosting the Nami Podcast: Google Podcast, Spotify and SoundCloud
Photo of Fui Can-Tamakloe