This book by Abena Antwi tells the stories of 12 women, who we are told have been imprisoned in Ghana. We are told too that the stories, though true, have been touched with fiction, “To keep the reader continuously engaged to the point of falling off their seat, in shock”.
Again, we are told that “Each narration is unique with regard to the storyline, and draws out intricate details of how the crimes were perpetuated by the imprisoned women, some of who still profess their innocence.”
I am convinced that Abena put these stories together because, as she said in the Preface, “one day, we will all have a story to tell about our lives. In our narration to generations born and unborn, I am sure the stories of our lives will be told to amuse, educate, enlighten, and most importantly, to impact the lives of those who will hear our stories.”
What makes the reason for writing these stories more meaningful is the fact that the stories are gathered from experiences documented, while the author undertook humanitarian work with prisoners and abused children.
There is no doubt that there would be enough education and information to tutor many, as they tread the rough roads of this life with its many ups and downs as they read the stories of 12 women from seven prisons in Ghana.
The first of the stories, titled “Haunted”, is about an old woman, 80 years-old, who butchered her 84-year-old husband and later burnt the body at night when they went to bed. The short but gripping story is an apt opener for the 12 stories.
Why will an old woman suddenly wake up in the night and murder her husband of 50 years? Perhaps you may be able to answer the many questions that Abena posed in her thoughts after her narration.
“Addition” is the next story, and it is another sad story of a young naïve girl from a poor home, who went wayward despite efforts by her mother and grandmother to keep her straight.
She eventually fell into bad company, became addicted to marijuana, married the first man who she came into contact with, got bored along the way and eventually landed in prison following her addiction.
However, in prison, the scales fell off her eyes, she learns a trade to tide her over in her new life.
In “A tale of friendship gone awry”, another young girl, extremely trusting, is ditched by her childhood friend who had been jealous of her.
It was a question of bad choices. A wicked accusation lands her in prison, together with her accuser. However, by the time her term in prison was served, she had become a born again Christian and forgiven her wicked friend who at that time had still not come to terms with her wicked behaviour.
Women can be such loving and trusting individuals and would sometimes go to any length to support their loved ones, especially their children and husbands.
I am not surprised therefore, that in “Supportive wife”, a man manipulates his wife to join him in his narcotics trade.
Not aware that there was a stash of the stuff in their room, she was arrested and eventually imprisoned when the police searched their room. The husband never showed up.
A well-educated woman decides to forge the signatures of men she dates and readers would be well advised to be careful who they date, as they may end up being robbed of their hard-earned money. “Penmanship”, is an alert to you to know what to look out for.
“Beauty Robs” and “Human Trafficking, My Business”, were two stories of criminals who were also incarcerated due to the wrong choices they made.
Then there was also the lady in “Burdened With Guilt”, who, having swallowed pellets of cocaine, felt so guilty and scared that she confessed loudly that she had cocaine on her at the airport.
Killing a child by accident joining a stampede without reason and being caught by the police who thought a foreign woman was a drug dealer, as well as the young woman who became an unwilling accessory to armed robbery, are all sad but entertaining stories which, as the author expects, would shock you.
The book ends with the story of Nabil, titled “Beauty And The Beast”, in which this woman suffered all kinds of indignities because she is a hermaphrodite (Intersex) and ended up in prison because she was accused of stealing with no real evidence against her.
This is a truly entertaining book with short stories which simply flows because of the simple language and the feelings the stories evoke, especially when Abena shares her thoughts with the reader to open a discussion or prompt a sort of analysis to the various occurrences in the stories, enabling the reader to better assess the situation(s) in the story.
It is obvious that the author expects the beautifully narrated stories to engender relevant thoughts and lessons so the reader would also have the opportunity to make his/her own judgement after immersing themselves in a particular story, all of which though different, run on one theme, Crime.
The author, Abena Asomaning-Antwi, a Management and Gender Consultant in both public and private sectors in Ghana, is the Executive Director of the Angel-Zoe Foundation, a Civil Society Organisation with focus on issues of women and juveniles in prison. She has done well in putting together this book.
The offer of references for further reading on the subject of intersex, etc., is also cool. Kudos! Abena. I doff off my hat to this wonderful effort.
This book is informative, educative, as well as entertaining, and has numerous lessons running through the different stories. It is recommended for both young and old readers, but more especially for the young, for them to learn early, the pitfalls on the path to a fulfilling life. Old boys and girls, please buy a bunch for your alma mater. Cheers!
Title: The Side We Choose To See
Author: Abena Antwi (Angel-Zoe Foundation)
Publisher: AuthorHouse UK Ltd. 1633 Liberty Drive
Price: GH ¢50
Reviewer: Nii Addokwei Moffatt