Prince Mensah was born in August 1977 to Dr. Louis and Rose Mensah. He attended Adisadel College, Extra Mural Academy, African-American HIV University(USA) and Mediation Training Institute(USA). He has written an extensive body of work including plays that have been staged at the Arts Center in Accra. "Beach" is from his soon to be released anthology, entitled, "Memoirs of A Son of Ghana".
Five Questions with Prince Mensah:
1. What inspired you to write "Keta Stories"?
I have always held a fascination for the Anlo & Ewe people. Kofi Awoonor and Kofi Anyidoho are literary inspirations. Some of my best friends are Ewe and I have enjoyed their culture through cultural practises and history. My maternal grandparents used to live in Hohoe and I traveled the Volta region quite a bit.
"Keta Stories" is actually born out my concern for the future of this historic town. I got the little stories from conversations I had had over the years with family friends from Keta. I realize the sea is ruthless in taking over and man is helpless in keeping what is his. This scenario presents the robbery of a tribe's history and dreams. The best action, maybe the weakest one at that, is to make Keta a fresh memory no one wants to forget about.
2. Have you ever been to Keta? If so, when was your last visit?
Once, but I was too young to grasp lasting memories. I, however, remember through subsequent visits to other parts of the Volta Region, how fondly people spoke about Keta. I transposed those experiences to that of a young boy in Keta to create the sense of nostalgia in the poem.
3. What comes to your mind when you first think of Keta, or hear someone mention it?
A fading history. Only God knows how much history has been erased by the sea. It is like having the Elmina or Cape Coast castles being taken away by the sea. If the Netherlands can reclaim land from the sea, I do not see why we cannot get help to fix this problem once and for all.
4. Do you think it is possible for people to understand Keta without having personally visited?
Yes and no. Beauty is partially appreciated in pictures and lectures but the experience of facing it face to face is phenomenal. To understand, you have to undertake a visit to this town. It will help the local economy as well.
5. "We had had images of owners / chasing thieves who jumped / into the arms of the sea for safety." This is such a powerful portion of the poem. Where did you derive this image from? Was it inspired by a real image you have heard of or experienced?
To the Ewe, the sea represents justice and sustenance. However, the sea robs Keta of land and is ready to shelter thieves from justice. Nature can be ambiguous in definition and this is an attempt to ignite that thought. I have had experiences where wrongdoers were sheltered by the law but the same law made the lives of the law-abiding citizens harsher than necessary. This is just my take on these themes. Every reader is welcome to reach their own conclusions.
Prince's Past Profiles:
Issue 1.28, September 29th - October 5th, 2007
Issue 1.18, July 21st - 28th, 2007