Settings of The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born will be discussed in this post, also the biography of the author and form of the literary work will be featured.
Biography of the Author “Ayi Kwei Armah”
Ayi Kwei Armah is a Miter from Ghana. He was born in 1939. After his University education at Havard, in America, he worked at various times as television broadcaster, French translator – editor of “Jeune Afrique” and a university lecturer. Indeed, he is a great writer and critic. So, by virtue of these experiences, Armah is a man who has lived in countries where their social order, people’s welfare, national pride and quality leadership are of great excellence, and very “beautiful”
In The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born, Armah tries to examine why Ghana’s development and growth dropped down, from the small height it had reached at the time Ghana became an independent nation from Britain, in spite of all the hopes with which every Ghanaian supported the move for independence. His conclusion is that Ghana experienced that problem because the leaders and citizens of Ghana allowed corruption to take over every part of their ways of life.
Finally, Ayi Kwei Armah uses the text of The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born to prophesy that Ghana can get to the promise land of “beautifulness”, if everyone takes note that ‘the practice of corruption” is the obstacle to the growth of Ghana. And to eradicate the problem, everyone in every Ghanaian home must “struggle for advancement and conquer poverty. Of course, poverty is an agent that forces people to practice corruption. All workers in private and government offices must always plan to live within their income. As such, bribe-taking will be avoided and the growth of their places of work will not face problems. Leaders must live honest and simple lives. There and then, they will be good models for the citizens to emulate.
Critical Analysis, Form, Setting and Points of View in The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born
Form in the Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born
In form, Ayi Kwei Amah’s The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Norn is an analytic novel. Primarily, the novel diagnosed the types of social economic, political and nationhood beliefs put into practice in Ghana between her 1957 date of independence with rule, and the 1966 date of first coup-de-tat with military rule. The diagnoses were worrisome because the people’s hope had been dashed. The people had hoped that independent governance by Ghanaian leaders would prosper them better than the British period of colonialism. The detail of the diagnoses said it all!
From social and economic angles, the citizens generally believed in laziness more than hard work. The youths believed in seeking after pleasure more than struggling for advancement. The workers and law enforcement agents believed in taking bribes and blocking the sources of income and growth of their employers. The politicians and people in authority believed in embezzling state fund and neglecting the good welfare of the entire citizens. Consequently, the masses of people were very poor, while the few leaders and the politicians were too rich.
From the political and nationhood angles, the few people of authority made themselves bigger than the general citizens. The citizens were not respected at all! Yet, politicians usually gained power from the votes cast by the people. Even the leaders were living too far away from the people. While their children were enrolled for nursery to university education in Europe; the children of the masses were given inadequate education locally. As such, the people were ignorant and sentimental. You would either find them worshiping their oppressive leaders, or aiding and abetting them to escape from hands of justice. These are the oppressive leaders they were supposed to confront and silence. Again, the masses of people were angry and directionless. They were ever wishful to destroy themselves. Hence, they were taking to crime, becoming drug addicts and running mad.
Finally, Ayi Kwei Armah had to draw the conclusion that Ghana had the above listed problems because of the lack of “beautyful ones”. That is: Ghana experienced problems because of a lack of hardworking citizens, youths with ambition for positive advancement, dedicated workers and businessmen that could grow the economy, selfless and fine law enforcement agents that would not have been aiding and abetting crime perpetrating, politicians that were faithful to the citizens, citizens that were only loyal to the country and not individuals, as well as leaders that were selfless, honest, moderate and excellent role models.
Analysis of the Settings of The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born
The setting includes the physical , social and psychological. which shall take a critical analysis of all aforementioned.
Physical settings of the Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born
Physically, Ayi Kwei Armah’s The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born was set at a time in Ghana when fellow Ghanaians were exploiting one another.
The case of Minister Joseph Koomson gave a due illustration. Minister Joseph Koomson was described as an exploiter because of “how he short changed the bank loan obtained in Oyo’s mother’s name” to buy a fishing boat for himself, instead of Oyo’s mother. So, upon all the monies he got as a minister and a popular politician, did he need to spoil Oyo’s mother’s chance of getting a fishing boat at all?
Equally, the novel was set at a time when Ghanaian workers were themselves sabotaging Ghana’s economic growth through sharp practices like bribe-taking, frauding, public property destructions to cover up frauds and negligence of duties. This could be clearly illustrated with the bribe-taking deal between Timber Contractor Amankwa and the Railway Wagon Space Allocation Clerk with his Supervisor.
Also, the Railway Wagon Space Allocation Supervisor was a fraudster and a vandal. He was formerly a school Bursar who burnt down his office after stealing school’s money.
Generally, the workers’ attitude of leaving their job desks before 4.30p.m. closing hour illustrated negligence of duty.
Thirdly, the novel was physically set at a time in Ghana when youths of Ghana prefer seeking after pleasure, instead of planning very well for their future.
This is illustrated with the case of “The Man’s” regret for his pre-ma-ture marriage to Oyo after secondary school education. In other words, “The Man” was of the opinion that his life would have been much better, if he had furthered his education up to the university level.
Again, the novel was physically set at a time when the elites of Ghana were growing their economy as import-based, instead of export based economy.
This was well illustrated by that taxi driver that took “The Man and Oyo to Minister Koomson’s residence at Esikafo Aba Estate. The taxi-driver had remarked that Africans were not making anything, except buying expensive things.
The novel was physically set when law enforcement agents were taking bribes to aid and abet lawlessness.
This could be illustrated with the policemen who took a bribe of 5 Cedi from the driver of the bus with “The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born” inscription.
The novel was physically set when Ghanaian’s placed much emphasis on personal interest, instead of national interest.
We could illustrate this with the way ” The Man” assisted Mr. Joseph Koomson (his classmate, but a wanted-corrupt politician) to escape arrest after the coup.
Social settings of the Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born
Socially, The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born was set when Ghana society was organised based on discrimination.
This was why the rich people lived separately from the poor people. The rich and influential men of Ghana lived in well-planned G.R.A’s (like Esikafo Aba Estate where Minister Joseph Koomson lived). The masses of people lived in un-planned slums and over-crowded houses as commonly found at Anafo Area. The children of the rich enrolled in Europe for nursery to university education. The children of the poor were inadequately educated in local schools with poor facilities. The leaders always shared state funds to live comfortably. The masses of people got nothing and no good job to live on.
The novel was socially set when the poor people of Ghana were not in any way critical of their exploitative leaders.
The poor people always accepted the ways their leaders exploited them.
Let us illustrate with the cases of Oyo and Oyo’s mother in the ways they always praised and adored Minister Joseph Koomson who was dishonest, corrupt and exploitative. For instance, long before Minister Koomson short changed Oyo’s mother’s bank loan for fishing boat purchase, Oyo had always wished her husband could be like Joseph Koomson. As such, Oyo always blamed her husband (i.e. “The Man”) for being an honest and conscientious person who hated bribery and corruption in his place of work. In her case, Oyo’s mother always nagged at “The Man” for being a poor son-in-law. Even when Minister Koomson short changed Oyo’s mother’s bank loan for fishing boat, the woman was still full of praises for him! She continuously abused her son-in-law as a never-do-well person.
Furthermore, the novel was socially set at a time when Ghana Radio was always used as a means of propaganda for President Kwame Nkurumah’s (alias Osagyyefo) rule which had already become uncomfortable for the masses of people.
This was why people like “The Man” always preferred to listen to radio commentary on sports, to propaganda news.
The novel was socially set when Ghana politicians never kept their manifesto promises.
This was why Minister Joseph Koomson went back on his promise to give fishing boats to Oyo’s mother, in spite Of getting a bank loan in her name to buy the boat!
The novel was socially set when Ghanaians leaders always regarded themselves as being above the law of the land.
This was well illustrated by Oyo’s remark to her husband (i.e. “The Man”) while they were preparing for the reception of Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Koomson. “The Man” had told Oyo that he could not find any contraband European alcohol for their visitors. And Oyo had replied that many a big man in Ghana would have gone to smuggle in such contraband alcohols. – The novel was socially set when colonial mentality was reigning supreme among Ghanaians on the names they bore.
That time rich and influential politicians in Ghana always bore European names as first names, second names and surnames. Minister Joseph Koomson was a good example of a colonial mentalist.
Psychological settings of the Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born
The psychological setting of The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born gave a detail of certain abnormal behaviours that were common to Ghanaian leaders and Ghanaian people in the period covered by the novel. And in Ayi Kwei Armah’s opinion, the abnormal behaviours were responsible for the ugly social order, self-centered leadership, badly impoverished people and bad sense of national pride experienced in Ghana.
Both the leaders and the led were guilty of dishonesty and selfishness.
The leaders were dishonest and selfish in this sense. While they shared the wealth of Ghana, they did not plan for how to reduce poverty to the barest minimum among the common Ghanaians. So the common people were daily becoming frustrated. And those that could not adapt like Sister Maanan just embraced hemp smoking. And they eventually ran mad.
The common man was equally guilty of dishonesty.
They were always looking for ways to either cheat themselves or cheat the government. The case of the bus conductor in Chapter 1 provided clear illustration. The conductor always gave incorrect balance to any passenger who did not pay the exact fare. Then he would smile or joke with the passenger involved until that one would forget his money. At the close of work in the evening, the conductor would deduct such balance for himself.
The case of Mr. Amankwa the timber contractor illustrated how ordinary Ghanaians cheated the government. He would give bribes to Railway Wagon Space Allocation Clerk and Supervisor, in order to carry his timber logs by train at an unusual low rate. There and then, government was denied of total revenue generation.
For instance, the leaders were guilty of power drunkenness.
That was why they were oppressing their people. We could illustrate with Minister Joseph Koomson’s behaviour to “The Man” on the day they first saw themselves along the road. “The Man” had admired Koomson as his secondary school mate. While Mr. Koomson was leaving in his limousine car along the same direction as “The Man”, one had expected Mr. Koomson to carry “The Man” in his car. But Mr. Koomson did not. He just waived him a good-bye.
The common people of Ghana were gullible.
Oyo’s mother provided a good illustration. After Mr. Joseph Koomson had shortchanged her bank loan for fishing boat purchase, the woman still put her hope in the minister. Possibly, Oyo’s mother stopped hoping for Koomson’s boat, after the coup-d’etat that removed Koomson as Minister. The common people’s gullibility could also be illustrated with the Workers Solidarity Rally for the coup- plotters, without even knowing them or the programme they wanted to carry out.
The leaders were guilty of recklessness.
This psychological setting note could well be illustrated with that Esikafo Aba Estates taxi driver’s comment. He had commented that the leaders were fond of buying expensive imported cars and other things, without making anything for export.