November 26, 2014

The Clothes of Nakedness (by Benjamin Kwakye)

The Clothes of Nakedness (by Benjamin Kwakye)Benjamin Kwakye’s award winning novel, The Clothes of Nakedness, is a gripping story told with utter liveliness and candour and which reveals how corruption could subtly eat deep into the fabrics of men and women alike. It shows the relationship between the rich and the poor in urban Ghana and how the position of the rich could easily influence the poor in taking decisions. Kofi Ntim, Kofi Ansah and Gabriel Bukari are three jolly friends who usually meet at a night bar owned by a woman called Esi for bottles of drinks in order get rid of the stress and relive the memories of the day. Kofi Ntim is the ugly but intelligent one, vulgar yet witty thus he was nicknamed, `philosopher nonsense’. Kofi Ansah is the quiet one who takes note of everything in his surrounding with keen interest while Gabriel Bukari is the gullible but kind and gentle one. He is also a faithful husband – that is, until he meets Mystique Mysterious. Mystique Mysterious is a smart, wicked man and also an excellent judge of character, who aims to take away people’s sanity by introducing them to a world of booze, drugs, addiction and overall, corruption, thus, making them susceptible for exploitation. He has studied the three friends, and knows their weak points. He approaches Gabriel Bukari first, who quickly falls for his seeming kindness and his offer of a job. Bukari soon becomes shocked when he learns Mystique Mysterious would take twenty per cent of his monthly salary. Next, Mystique Mysterious approaches the others too with the same offer, and only Kofi Etim agrees but on his own terms. The story spirals down as Mystique Mysterious also involves Kofi Ntim’s son in his nefarious plans and introduces Bukari to the world of women and excessive booze, thus drawing him slowly away from his wife whom he had eyes for. Kofi Ntim, on the other hand accepts the job and improves himself from the proceeds. He also gets his way in his pursuit of Esi, whom he had always admired. The book ends on a grim note with an encounter between Mystique Mysterious and Bukari’s wife. Bukari dies later from an accident. Kofi Ansah is executed for a crime he did not commit. The book portrays the silly turbulent lives of men addicted to liquor and much more, how silently corruption invades an individual, a community and, hence a nation. Although, the pace of the book was unnecessarily slow, it still passed across its message loudly. Clothes of Nakedness is Benjamin Kwakye’s first novel, and received the 1999 Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for best first book in the Africa Region.

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