MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Excerpt from My First Coup d'Etat by John Mahama, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

My First Coup d'Etat

And Other True Stories from the Lost Decades of Africa

by John Mahama

My First Coup d'Etat by John Mahama X
My First Coup d'Etat by John Mahama
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jul 2012, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2013, 288 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Beverly Melven
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

OF SILENCE AND SOLIDARITY

It was with much consternation that we came to realize that the brand-new member of our class 3 group was a bona fide bully. It took a while, at least the first few weeks of the term, for that truth to come to light because initially he tried to blend in. I think it was his way of studying us, taking note of our individual constitution and our collective consciousness, so that when he was ready, he would know how far he could go — because people will push you only as far and as hard as you allow them to. Feigning kindness and friendship was his due diligence.

The boy's name was Ezra, and despite his best efforts to fit in, it was apparent from the start that it would be a most difficult task. There were ten of us in our dormitory, and Ezra was the tallest. He was a couple of years older than us, and even though I'm sure the other kids were curious as to why he was even in our class, nobody asked. It would be impolite and in poor taste. And it would make no difference. After all, whatever the reasons, Ezra was in our class, wasn't he?

Something else that made Ezra stand out was that he was very muscular, which was quite strange for a child. His physique resembled those of the men we sometimes saw on the campus grounds clearing the underbrush with long, slightly curved cutlasses. Their skin, which was blacker even than a starless sky at midnight, would be glistening with sweat.

The rest of us were of average size. We weren't weaklings, nor did we look as though we had kwashiorkor, though standing next to Ezra, you might be inclined to wonder. I wasn't at all surprised to learn that his father was a farmer, though I would have guessed that it was an animal farm and not a cocoa farm, because Ezra looked as though he had been born, raised, and fed in much the same way as livestock.

His father, though uneducated, had made a lot of money for himself. He wanted his son to attend Achimota, the school where the doctors, lawyers, politicians, and other members of the upper echelon sent their kids. With good reason: Ezra was a bush boy; he was tactless and uncouth. Little by little as the days and weeks wore on, he revealed more of his true nature.

I believe that little children view difference as a motivation to be more inclusive, though as we grow older and become adults we begin to see it as the opposite, a reason to exclude. Since most of us in our group had been boarding together since we were six, we all got along wonderfully. We wanted Ezra to fit in and not feel like the odd one out.

We went out of our way to be nice to him. We would invite him to play with us. We would let him stand at the front of the queue in the dining hall. We did all of this to welcome him into our circle. It was a show of our hospitality. Ezra saw it as a deficiency, his invitation to crown himself king of us all.




Achimota's school motto is Ut Omnes Unum Sint, "That All May Be One." It fell in line with the statement of unity that the founders were trying to make. They wanted Achimota to be a leader in the practice of breaking down the walls that divided by gender, by race, by ethnic group, by religion, by political persuasion. By the mid-1920s, women in the United States had only just won their battle for suffrage. And women all across the world, from China to Guatemala to Great Britain, were waging their own battles for equality in matters of suffrage, ownership of property, and education. The idea of a school like Achimota, one that embraced and even advocated gender equality, was extremely revolutionary — especially in West Africa. The student population at Achimota seemed to be evenly divided between girls and boys, though some years there might be a few more of one than the other. Our dormitories were segregated by gender, but other than that, the boys and girls attended classes and did most everything else together.

  • 1
  • 2

Excerpted from My First Coup D'Etat by John Dramani Mahama. Copyright 2012 by John Dramani Mahama. Excerpted by permission of Bloomsbury.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for a year or $39 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Book of Longings
    The Book of Longings
    by Sue Monk Kidd
    The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd follows the life of Ana, a woman born in the Galilean city of ...
  • Book Jacket: Master Class
    Master Class
    by Christina Dalcher
    Christina Dalcher's Master Class shows America sleepwalking into a perfectionist eventuality not ...
  • Book Jacket: How to Pronounce Knife
    How to Pronounce Knife
    by Souvankham Thammavongsa
    Many examples of immigrant fiction dedicate a portion of their storytelling to exploring details of ...
  • Book Jacket: The Easy Part of Impossible
    The Easy Part of Impossible
    by Sarah Tomp
    Teenager Ria Williams is a skilled diver. She is on track to compete at the Olympic level, but ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Daughter of the Reich
    by Louise Fein

    A spellbinding story of impossible love set against the backdrop of the Nazi regime.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Prisoner's Wife
    by Maggie Brookes

    Inspired by the true story of a courageous young woman who enters a Nazi POW camp to be with the man she loves.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Paris Hours
by Alex George

One day in the City of Light. One night in search of lost time.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win The House on Fripp Island

The House on Fripp Island
by Rebecca Kauffman

A taut, page-turning novel of secrets and strife.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

B I T T Water

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.