ISBN 9789964701536
Pages 96
Dimensions 203 x 127 mm
Published 2013
Publisher Afram Publications, Ghana
Format Paperback

Once Upon a Time in Ghana

by Anna Cottrell, Agbotadua Togbi Kumassah

Once Upon a Time in Ghana was named a Children's Africana Book Award Best Book 2014.

Recorded on location in the Volta Region in Ghana in 2006-07, these stories are the result of collaboration between Anna Cottrell and Agbotadua Togbi Kumassah. Agbotadua Togbi Kumassah translated the Ewe stories into English and Anna Cottrell has retold them in contemporary English for the wider European market. This edition presents the 24 stories in their original form for the Ghanian market.

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"This collection of original and traditional stories really is by the people, for the people. Imagine trekking across field after field under an intense African sun following a group of total strangers and hoping against hope that your old fashioned recording machine will work. Imagine then the joy when it all happens even though you do not understand a word of what is being said. This book gives an insight into each unique storyteller. Two and a half awe-inspiring hours spent with 84 year old Mr Nutsugah where one story flowed seamlessly into another. A day recording the fishermen in Anyako, as goats jumped up to eat bananas on the table, wide-eyed children wandered in and out, cocks crowed, men sawed and hammered just a few feet away. In Have, a wonderful and unexpected reception was given as the storytellers moved towards us, singing a welcome. Equally unexpected was the gift of bananas,"

About the Authors

Anna Cottrell

Anna Cottrell had nursed the ambition to visit Africa since early childhood and was able to realise this dream when she retired in 2005; spending three months as a volunteer in Woe, near Keta, from January to March 2006. Towards the end of this period, Anna realised she wanted to understand the traditions and experiences which had helped shape the people.  It was at this point that she was introduced to Agbotadua Kumassah who talked about oral storytelling and took her to visit a group of storytellers in Klikor.  She used an old cassette recorder to record the six stories they told. Learning that the stories were dying out with the death of the storytellers, Anna returned to Keta as a guest at Togbi's house in 2007 and recorded 60 more stories in Dzelukope, Anyako and Have Domefe.  During a visit to Anyako, Anna saw two boys looking in a bottle which they had taken out of the lagoon and Togbi explained that they were seeing if it contained a fish for their dinner; no fish meant no dinner.  Anna then decided to use the stories to broadcast the African wisdom to the Western world, and at the same time raise funds to help the storytellers and their communities.

Agbotadua Togbi Kumassah

Agbotadua Kumassah was born at Anyako, in the Keta Municipality of the Volta Region of Ghana in 1943. He holds a Post Graduate Certificate in Education from the University of Cape Cost, Bachelor of Arts in Geography and Sociology from the University of Ghana, and a Specialist Certificate in Geography from Advanced Teacher Training College (University of Education) Winneba. Agbotadua Kumassah taught in many schools, including Nifa, Adukrom, and Keta Secondary Schools, and was the headmaster of Anlo-Afiadenyigba Secondary School from 2000-2003. He retired from the Ghana Education Service in 2003. Agbotadua Kumassah held and holds many positions in religious, educational, social and political arches in his community and outside. He is the current Secretary of Anlo Agbotaduawo Traditional Council and the Agave Clan Union of Anlo.  He was government appointee to the first Keta District Assembly and was the chairman of Social Services and Culture Sub-committee and member of the Executive Committee. Agbotadua Kumassah was installed Agbotadua to Togbi Tay Abgozo stool in 1979. He combines his traditional responsibilities and Christian duties well to the admiration of many. He was a member of the Ministry of Health sponsored team that visited Israel in 2008. He was also guest lecturer in Barcelona, Spain in 2008, courtesy of the La Ceixa Foundation.