Nana Agyemang Ofosu, born on February 3rd, 1985 in Kumasi, Ghana, is a young poet. He holds a degree in civil engineering from Kwame Nkrumah University of science and technology. As a student of science, he accidentally discovered his interest in poetry when he made a bad comment about a poetry piece of his younger brother. He is a member of an open mic poetry team in Kumasi and also a founding member of Unified Talents, the organizers of Open Mic Poetry.
Five Questions with Nana Agyemang Ofosu:
1. Was this poem written from personal experience? Assuming that it was, what took you to the small towns of the Upper West region?
June 14th, 2010, my eyes saw the vast lands of the Upper West. In an astonishing sight of the regional capital, my parochial thought of the land was soon written off. I have been here for six months and my job as a civil engineer takes me to the very remote areas of the Upper West. This poem was written the very day I returned from Yeero, a village about 18 km from Wa. A small town just like any other small village in the north.
2. If you had the ear of politicians, what would you say are the key actions that need to be taken to improve the lives of people living in the rural North?
The greed of some of the semi-elites is retarding development. I talk from my perspective as a civil engineer who sees most of the road construction and other developmental projects which are under the watch of our office. These politicians themselves have wormed into the civil service allowing rots to an extent that we will require the hand of a determined ruler to choke the menace.
The activities of politicians shall help to improve the lives of the rural folks in the North only if they can refrain from the selfish interests they seek. What I have witnessed here is that most of the people of the North do not come back home to invest. The politicians should find a way of channeling investment back home. Human resource development should be a prime agenda item of every government to help salve the mental slavery which these folks are in.
3. In the past we have discussed the phenomenon of "brain drain" of writers from rural Ghana to the major cities, particularly Accra. Obviously, a "drain" from any community isn't good, but perhaps gathering great minds in one place can be a positive thing, as well, allowing for more collaboration. What are you feelings on this issue?
From my personal experience on the Open Mic Poetry program, I concluded that support is minimal to creative works. But recent developments in Accra have given me a new thought that big cities enjoy much more support than rural communities. In this instance, I only imply that our Open Mic program could have received a bigger boost if the program was held in Accra rather than Kumasi. I can therefore not relegate the fact that young writers will always want to go to the big cities where appreciation of the arts is on the increase at the moment. Now in Accra, there is the Freedom Center, The Comedy Show at Citizen Kofi which gives platform for Spoken Word Artist, and more joints which all aim to highlights the works of writers.
I have been in Wa for all this time and I am yet to see any activity centered on writing and to be more specific poetry. There is no such activity to the best of knowledge.
4. You contributed a poem to our "Black Stars" series during the World Cup. Now that we've gained some distance from the event, what are your thoughts on the Black Stars performance?
The disappointment from the quarter finals took the joy from the joyful bowl of the continent. Indeed the glittering performance of the Black Stars has bargained for us a hope soon to be realized. What is expected of the team is huge in any other appearance in any other major tournament. We therefore should make efforts to go beyond what we have achieved now. I hope we will overcome this hurdle to reach the very top.
5. How is Unified Talents going these days?
We have in the last while been off the poetry road for the obvious reason of my current engagement. In the near future we hope to introduce something new in Kumasi, and we are working hard to make sure it survives this time. If help is not coming from anywhere, we in our little efforts will make sure that what we started in 2008 will not peter out.