“Six Strings and a Note” by E. Obeng-Amoako Edwards
So my first book review finally decides to be written on a day when I need to review a report for my boss and I have to prepare for class. Shaking my head at such capriciousness. But here goes.
This morning, my friend Esther passed a comment about how important it is to focus on one thing. That when we try to focus on too many things we end up mediocre at everything. Well, I was still trying to think of a response for that when Agya Koo Nimo came to mind.
So honestly, I’d heard of him but had never really listened to his music…but I’m a reader who likes to browse in bookshops. And thanks to my dad, this year we’ve been buying a lot of books to read. So every time I walked into Legon bookshop to buy a book this year, I saw Agya Koo Nimo’s biography. However, it just looked too expensive (that’s a blog post for another day). Finally, I told my dad about it and he agreed that we get it. I’d read a few pages and I liked what I read. So I was up for it.
I enjoyed the book! So I loved how he traced life from his village, to the palace, through to senior high school, how he learnt to play the guitar, his working life and the various performances, to his time as president of MUSIGA, to the international trips and his family life. I was impressed at how he profiled some of his friends and at the various shenanigans he got up to. I really laughed hard when he talked about the time he played the guitar to some monkeys and the effect of that. I also loved the style the book was written in. Though biographical, it is written in the first person which makes it unique and somewhat autobiographical.
Agya Koo Nimo comes off as very traditional, dedicated, a man of faith and a very disciplined person. I also really admire his humility and the way he acknowledged the various people who made a difference in his life. Even though guitar doesn’t seem to be a “traditional Ghanaian musical instrument”, he made it a great fit. As a lover of proverbs, ballads, songs which teach lessons and traditional Ghanaian culture, I fell in love over and over again. I also loved the fact that he is actively impacting the next generation in music.
I was very impressed by the fact that without ever studying music formally, he became a teacher of music and was even a visiting professor in several universities in Ghana and in the USA. A google search even showed that a PhD thesis has been written on his music at the University of Columbia! And he did all of this while serving as a scientist of all things!
There comes my major criticism of the book. While I admired the philosophical ramblings, at a point I got lost because I never got a clear cut idea of his professional life and when it ended. That is a flaw especially for those of us who didn’t know much about him before reading the book.
However, I thank him for the reminder that it is possible to excel in two professions, be a family man and generally make a difference in your country as evidenced by the many awards he’s received both in Ghana and other countries.