Book review of “A Silent Heritage” by Letitia E. Obeng
I love biographies and autobiographies! For me, they represent an opportunity to see another’s life in technicolour/3D view or whatever you want to call it. And I love “girl power”! So when I came across Letitia E. Obeng’s autobiography in Legon bookshop, it was attractive for three main reasons: autobiography (check), about a woman (check) and it was affordable (double check). So I grabbed it! Yay!
The book was absolutely amazing! It chronicles the life of Letitia E. Obeng who was the first Ghanaian woman to obtain both a Bachelor’s degree and a PhD in Science! Talk about impressive….even more impressive was the fact that she did this while raising three children as a single parent. (Ikr).
One of the things I loved most about the book was the fact that she put her story within a context. So she started from the origins of her ethnic group, talked about her parents and siblings and even gave biographies of her children. As a book lover, this was a gourmet buffet for me. She comes from a very large and illustrious Ghanaian family with her father being a former Presbyterian Moderator and her sister Theodosia Okoh, the designer of Ghana’s national flag. One of her sons, Ernest Kwasi Obeng, was a world famous athlete. It was impressive how all of her children went to achieve great academic and professional laurels.
In addition, I appreciated the detail she put into the book about her upbringing in a large family, her education, her marriage and the death of her husband, her professional life and the various experiences she had. This book was really an eye opener in terms of teaching about times past. (Bear in mind this woman is 93 years old now). I loved the pictures and the way they showed how fashions have changed. I particularly fell in love with her description of her love for African prints and how she actively promoted them. As a lover of African prints, I’m very appreciative of her efforts.
I also loved the conversational style she used for the novel. It’s almost as if she’s your favourite grandmother telling you a story. I felt the love, warmth, pride and humour in the book. Even in the parts where she had to recount instances of disappointment or unfair treatment, you could tell it was more about setting the record straight rather than out of malice. I was teary when she described how her husband died. It all happened too suddenly.
And yeah, I enjoyed her practicality in having people assist with child care and house chores so she could focus on other equally important things. This always seems to come up with some people acting as if a woman has to be superwoman and do everything by herself to be considered a complete woman.
So in sum, thank you Madam Letitia Obeng for sharing your life with us!
Angela Azumah Alu