The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born (by Ayi Kwei Armah)

The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born

The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born

In The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born,this deeply symbolic book published in 1968, Ayi Kwei Amar vividly captures the seemingly endless spiral of corruption, moral decadence and spiritual death in post-colonial Ghana.

The book tells the story of a nameless man who struggles to reconcile himself with the reality of post-independence Ghana. Referred to throughout the book, as simply, “The Man”, he refuses to take a bribe, something that angers his wife.

The Man keeps a humble job, and despite the constant naggings of his wife, he lives an honest life, even if that condemns him to a life of poverty. He represents the lot of the common man in Ghana – who has no choice but to reside in the poorest slums and live from hand to mouth.

On the other hand are Ghana’s new leaders, “the black masters” who prove to be worse than the colonialists. They partake of corruption and other vices with such impunity that it has become the way of life for some. Koomson, The Man’s friend, is one such politician. His immense wealth results from his corrupt activities.

Similar stories of corruption and moral decadence abound throughout the book. In another incident, we are told of a bus conductor who is abusive to his passengers and other road users, including a pedestrian crossing the road. The abusive conductor and his derelict bus are symbolic of the newly independent Ghana, heavily ridden by corruption and indigence.

Other notable characters in the book include “the teacher”. Like “the man” he abhors the corrupt society that Ghana has become. He chooses to stay away from it all by becoming a recluse. He has given up hope that society will ever shake off corruption, hence his symbolic exit from the society.

When a military coup occurs, there is some hope that things might change, but sadly, life continues as usual. The military officers join in and start to take bribes too.

The Man helps Koomson, the politician escape from the country through a faeces-ridden toilet-bucket crevice. Ironically, The Man also follows Koomson through the ‘shit-hole’ implying that even those who have avoided corruption are affected by those who engage in it.

Although The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born focuses on post independence Ghanaian society, it is symbolic of many other developing countries, where corruption remains a major problem at all levels.

For the common man, there seems to be no end to the scourges of corruption and moral decadence. Indeed, it appears the saviors or the “beautiful ones” as Amar calls them, are not yet born”


  1. Simone says

    Wonderful book…a bit slow in the beginning but it picks up after chapter 7. The sad part is as I was reading the book I got a strange sense of deja vu of the corruption in South Africa.

    The metaphors of ‘shit’ and ‘rot’ are very strong in this book, and that one scene at the end was…really reaallllly gross. Good book, nonetheless =)

  2. mai says

    this was my novel report. and i have to make a paper for this. i’m actually having problem on how to relate the negritude movement on this stance that it is not about the clash between the Africans and the whites but African versus themselves. could someone pls help me. thank you!

  3. says

    Doing a review on This Buk,initially wen i startd it was obscure and i cudnt link d storyline buh along d Narration i found out that it is a realistic story of some Africans under developed countries especiali Nigeria as a case study……Contrey d Hero of d story refuses to indulge in corruption surrounding him and he was being abused by both his wife nd his mother in law,his friend Koomson d Minister is part of the affluence in the Socialist Party…

  4. Arma makes good use of symbolism in an embelished language making the piece please all, all the time. (Opoku amponsah joseph) valley view. says

    Armah makes good use of symbolism in an embelished form making his work please all, all the time. (opoku amponsah joseph) valley view

  5. hermenegilde gahimbarn says

    this book is so educative ,africans may learn from the behaviour of the man toward corruption and bribe,i m sure that this book will help many people

  6. portia Abena Dokyi says

    Very good book to study as students of english .and almost all African students should read could help make changes.

  7. says

    it is with pleasure that I recommend this book to be given to the current politicians who are grandmasters of corruption and economic monsters actually this the right book for them

  8. Enang God's will says

    Indeed,”The Beautyful Ones”,according to Armah,”Are Not Yet Born”. If we could all inculcate the characters portrayed by “The Man” and the “Teacher” in this novella;then,I know that “The Beautyful Ones Would Be Born.” And I will the author of the revolutionary book yet to be born.

  9. latif says

    corruption still prevails even after this lash from Ayikwei. Different forms of it and that is the main cause of our problems as Africans. Are we ready to change? We have to expose all corrupt ones among us or we pass through faeces and rotten shit holding that soiled banister ! May God help Africa…

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