Born in Ghana, Prince Mensah has twenty-five stage plays to his credit. Some of them have been acted at the Accra Arts Center and at several locations in Accra. His articles and stories have been published in the STEP magazine, P & P, Ghanadot.com and The Free Press. His poetry has been published in the Munyori Journal, UNESCO's Other Voices International Project, The Muse Literary Magazine and the Dublin Writer's Workshop.
Prince Mensah has published seventeen books of poetry. They are Memoirs of A Native Son, I Shall, I Will, I Can (Poetry Inspired by Barack Obama), Afrocentric, ecclesiastes, State of An Abstract Mind, The Griot Metropolitan, The Land of Broken Mirrors, Coronation, Enough is Enough, World War-Free, in praise of the calabash, Prophylaxis, Via Dolorosa, Tabula Rasa, Eclectic, Situational Hazard and Chronology.
Prince is a Consultant in Workplace Mediation, an HIV/AID Treatment Advocate and an Eligible Translator/Interpreter in Twi & Fante for the Judicial Consortium of 40 American States. He lives in the United States with his wife, Charisse.
Prince is the head of North American promotions for One Ghana, One Voice.
Five questions with Prince Mensah:
1. As a child, what was your reaction to the coming of the Harmattan? Has that changed now that you are an adult?
As a child, I dreaded the Harmattan because it made my life miserable. I had itchy skin and could not play soccer, because I was running out of breath every time. Day time in Harmattan was always a period of respiratory torture. However, night time was splendid because the wind was cool and calming. This gave Harmattan a ying-yang effect to it.
As an adult, I have come to understand the Harmattan and how it affects mood and skin. I have now grasped the nature of this interesting West African season because of the marriage of good and bad elements – the cruelty of the wind at day and its calming effects at night. I see that the lessons to life are hidden in nature.
2. Living in the U.S. now, do you miss the Harmattan season at all? And how does it compare to an American winter?
Yes, I miss Harmattan nights – those nights of soothing, playful breeze that gave me the comfort to sleep well. You know, people usually stay up late during the Harmattan season because it occurs around major religious festivities for Muslims and Christians. Eid-al-Fitr and Christmas are both celebrated during Harmattan.
As compared to American winters, like the one we just experienced in the Maryland/DC/Virginia area, Harmattan feels like summer. At least, homeless people can sleep in Harmattan but you do not want to be caught outside in a snow blizzard.
3. Is there any way you can compare Harmattan to life?
Harmattan is life. Life has good and bad sides. Yet we love life and try to do the best we can with it. Harmattan creates angry folks at day but inspires lovers at night. Same season, differing results. There is something to be learned from that.
4. As a poet, what do you think is the best way to get people in Ghana more interested in talking and writing about the nuances of living in Ghana?
Ghanaians love a good show. However, poetry and prose have been neglected because of an artistic and social over-dependence on drama. In Ghana, poetry is not the most lucrative artistic venture and you write poetry because your mind keeps getting flooded with beautiful descriptions of simple things. Prose can be difficult because you have a thousand editors trying to tell you what to do. Writing drama has more potential than the first two because it has the chance to be performed or adapted into a screenplay. The balance is wanting because the three arms of literature work hand in hand. This situation is most unfortunate.
I hope the high schools and universities will find a way to enable students to become original scribes of their own experiences through poetry and prose. I have always held the belief that after 50 years of independence, our beloved country should be able to market her literature to the world. Not only through movies. Not only through music. But through written accounts by the sons and daughters of the motherland.
5. How is life going these days, and how is Mensa Press doing?
Life is interesting, like the Harmattan. Sometimes, it sucks the moisture of hope from one’s existence. Sometimes, it soothes the deepest ache. All these make us all the wiser.
Mensa Press is looking forward to a big year, in terms of promoting Ghanaian and global poetry. We have Foster Toppar’s "By The Rivers of Our Dreams" in the works. We have received spectacular entries of our five soon-to-be published anthologies – "Defiled Sacredness," "The War Against War," "Visions of the Motherland," "We Come From One Place" and "Whispers in the Whirlwind."
We are still asking for more entries because we have not reached the minimum yet. If you have a poet friend, please tell them about this opportunity to market their poetry to the world. I can promise that the poetry we have received so far oozes with originality and we cannot wait to publish the books later on this year. Our website should be functional soon and we seek to become the outlet for original poetry and prose from Ghana.