Cultural Heritage. History. Ancestry.
These are integral manifestations of a culture. They are what make up unique communities and their loss can be catastrophic to the generation ahead. Who or what do we become without our story? And by story, I mean how we became what we are today, how we came to be—the very core of what makes us “we”. How our communities, ethnic groups, cultures etc came to be. Definitely, we came from somewhere and history hasn’t forgotten, we have. We didn’t just become a country, a continent or a world. As heritage matters to society as a whole, there is an intense call for communities to be more engaged in their heritage decision-making and for heritage to serve their wellbeing. Losing our history and cultural heritage would mean losing a great part of ourselves…
Marcus Garvey knew this when he said,
“A people without the knowledge of their history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”
This idea of bringing back the past is one of the unique things that made me fall in love with the book, Blast To The Past, at first mention. It is grand and bold. It will help, not only this century’s young ones who through no fault of theirs, don’t know about their heritage and history but it will be a valid book (and a point of reference) for the next generation and the ones after that.
“We have to build a past for our children and not the future.”Ibrahim Mahama
The idea of bringing the historic events that make our continent—most of which might have been forgotten or isn’t known by the current generation—back in the form of the adventures these trios have is such a creative, innovative and well-thought-out initiative. I will recommend this book to all but most importantly, I will recommend it to parents. It will be a treasure to have in their homes to start their kids early on some of the vital histories of our country.
This book, Blast To The Past, scours the adventure of two siblings; Akosua and Kojo, their cousin; Gifty and dog, Rusty after they found themselves in a mysterious abandoned Trotro. They discovered an antique medallion in the Trotro and as they tried to find out what the medallion could be about, they got teleported to an ancient West Africa Kingdom. What happens after that? Well, I won’t talk about it. You must read to find out.
However, what I can talk more about is the writing prowess of the author, Ruby Yayra Goka. Writing a children’s book isn’t an easy feat to achieve but RYG does that so effortlessly. The book is a soothing read and never a dull moment as you are constantly being left at the edge of your seat trying to find out what will happen next. You find yourself teleported with the trio on their adventure, living every moment with them.
The characters are so real and relatable. I more than twice found myself laughing at something Gifty said or did because I knew someone like her as I grew up. Kojo has some similar traits with my junior brother who is also Kojo—curious, somewhat brave, yet, has a flare of innocence. And Akosua, the smart type with all the facts and, oh, brave and curious too. The characterization worked if you ask me.
Finally, to the narrative technique which I figured was “the omniscient narrator”. That bit worked as well. I loved how the narrator can get into Rusty’s thoughts on how he thinks some of these things that happen around him are games. It adds this sort of fresh air to the entire work—knowing the thinking of a dog. Also, I find it amazing how RYG made use of all items she mentioned—from the pins to Gifty’s headband, to the medallion, to the Trotro etc. That is a great manifestation of Chekhov’s gun theory which is a dramatic principle that declares that every element in a story must be necessary and irrelevant elements should be removed.
In a nutshell, a nation majorly exists because of its history and culture. People that comprise a nation should know what the basis of its formation is, as that is a duty they owe to their ancestors that made it possible to live the life they do today. If people were not to know their cultural heritage it would be a degradation of the endeavours of their forebears. The author knows that as well and through the adventures of the trio, she seeks to let the young ones know of their heritage. Grab a copy for yourself and your kids, siblings or the students you teach.
I give it a five-star rating.