“Whoever you are, there is some younger person who thinks you are perfect.
There is some work that will never be done if you don’t do it.
There is someone who would miss you if you were gone.
There is a place that you alone can fill.”…Jacob M. Braude

I got visited a few months ago by one of my old students. It was a visit made almost after 21 yrs because he passed out of PASS TUTORIAL COLLEGE in 1995. Since then he attended Yaba Tech, Unilag and did his Masters in England. Today he runs his own oil and gas company based around the Ikeja-Berger axis.

So what was special about the visit? He said since he came back from England he had intended to look for me to say thank you for the way his life was changed at the Tutorial School. He said before he came to the school his father had lost hope on him because of his careless attitude towards education.

He said they were living at Olodi – Apapa and that it was a friend of his father who told him about PASS in Festac. He said despite that his old man was not interested but that it was his mother who brought him to PASS and that he remembered me from the first day he was registered.

He said that even when he changed the father still suspected him of pretense till the day of his graduation from Unilag. He said it was at the end of the ceremony after the father saw his name on the list of graduating students that he stretched out his hands to shake him and told him that he should read further.

He said when he got to England was when he saw the practical demonstration of similar methods used by teachers for them as was done in PASS. He said Unilag lecturers acted like demi-gods but he experienced life coaching again in England the way PASS TUTORIAL COLLEGE did it for them in those days.

So he decided that one day he would leave his workers behind in the office and tell them he was going to look for one Mr. Odumosu in Festac Town. He did not get the address in full but he knew it was somewhere on 5th Avenue so he decided to check me up by going into each close on the avenue asking residents if they knew my close! He was lucky someone in the second close he entered told him my exact address and he came directly.

When we met I could not really recognize him. You can imagine the changes after 21 yrs that would have come upon a boy who was 16 or 17 years old. He was well-dressed, with nicely cut hair and trimmed beard. Nice car too. He told me the methods used for them at PASS were completely different from what was used for them throughout his six years in his secondary school.

And me? I marveled at the strength of the bond a teacher can create with students if he is truly interested in their lives. Many tutors do not seem to know the existence or power of this bond. It was the same bond that made me call my secondary school Mason College almost 27 yrs after I met Revered Donald Mason at Christ’s School Ado-Ekiti. It is the same bond that makes me still posting articles till tomorrow about Reverend Ogunlade (Otura) who took over from Rev Mason after his retirement.

I thanked him for his decision to seek me out and the sacrifice to leave his work and workers behind just to pay me a visit. I also thanked God for what PASS did in his life. As usual my remark was that nothing could have been achieved by me or the school if God had not put the ability in him to “come to himself”through his DNA.

I also told him as I wish to remind any teacher reading this today that we teachers are specially anointed gardeners in God’s garden. No pastor or reverend or shepherd can keep students in the same place from 8 am to 3 pm daily,Monday to Friday. It is only a school and its group of teachers who can.

As a teacher you would have completely missed the road if you think your only concern is to teach subjects allocated to you through the school’s time table. In most schools there are many interfaces for interaction with students outside boxes called classrooms. No matter how short a time you spend with students in any school make sure they can remember your work in their lives 21 years later. My visitor spent only 9 months in PASS from October 94 to June 95 but he came looking for the “Director” in 2016!

This is another experience of mine as as a life coach. Please look closely at yourselves now and what you think you can do for those children who are with you today before it’s too late.All the so-called small children with me in those days have grown up to be papas and mamas too.Those small eyes in your classrooms today,sometimes excited and sometimes afraid, will remember u someday and will decide whether u are worth remembering at all not to talk about leaving their work behind to plod through Lagos traffic just to greet you.

But in the case i just narrated was it greetings with an ordinary handshake?…Lets leave that one out for now….hahaha!

This is my 4th story of the series meant to encourage teachers.The other 3 are on my FB wall.Please have a nice day and thanks for reading



Inter house sports competition is one of the outside classroom activities that is found in schools curriculum; both at the primary and secondary levels. In spite of the fact that inter house sport tournaments focuses on showcasing students athletic talents (among other things); it can also be a very funny and laughter inducing event.

Here are few of the funny or comical races that you can find in an inter-house sport tournament which normally make spectators laugh their ribs out.

1) Staff Race: This is a race which involves all the staff of an institution coming to the track to run. The funny part of this race is that both slim and fat both fit and unfit are involved.

2) Old Boys/Girls Race: This is a race which involves all the alumni of a particular school coming to the track to run. The funny part of this race is that it is similar to the Staff Race.

3) Threading The Needle: This is also another event at an inter-house sport that can turn out to be very funny; it has to do with contestants passing some certain amount of thread through needles.

4) Wheeling The Tyre: Okay, seriously, this always turns out to be very funny, most especially when contestants tyres run into each other’s tracks causing obstructions. Abandoned vehicle tyre or that of motorcycle are used in such race; very funny though.

5) Catching The Train: It is still very hard to conclude which is the funniest between Catching The Train and The Skipping Race.

6) The Skipping Race: It involves each contestant with skipping rope in hand, skipping towards the finished line.

7) The three Legged Race: In this kind of race, two contestants belonging to the same team have one person’s right leg tied to the other person’s left leg, other teams to participate in the three legged race must do the same that the contestants can run with three legs.

8) The Lime and Spoon Race: In this funny race, each contestant will run to the finished line with a lime placed in a spoon.

9) The Sack Race: Contestants stand in a sack and once they hear the shot of the starting gun, they begin to run while in the sack and funny part of it is that the lack room in the sack to pace the leg makes many contestants fall many times before the end of the race.

10) The Candle Race: Here, the contestants walk rather than run. They hold a lit candle in hand and guard it from the breeze while they walk carefully to the finished line because a blown off candle disqualifies a contestant from the race.

Posted by Naija Samuel on Nairaland



1.That government is doing something about revival of a reading culture

2.That just having libraries in schools will improve educational standards without a deliberate program of use.

3.That the internet has created a phobia for reading by students.Big lie they now read more through their phones even if what they read is Facebook and Twitter.

4.That importation of foreign educational systems by Nigerian governments is bad

5.That there is a real class of “stakeholders” in Education in Nigeria

6.That teachers were good because they were better trained.

7That educational standards of today’s graduates is nothing to write home about.

8.That educating children is an investment for parents’ rainy days

9.That students were more serious in the past than today.

10.Many feel the goals/objectives of teaching are still the same as those of many years ago.



Most misspellings can be categorized in one of seven groups. Here are some examples for each of those types.

  1. Incorrectly Repeated Consonants

In some words, consonants are awarded extraneous twins, such as a doubling of the first t in commitment or of the r in harass (the latter perhaps from confusion with embarrass, in which r is doubled. Other common erroneous doublings including the n in inoculate (perhaps because of innovation and other words in which n is doubled), the s in occasion (many words, like expression, do have a double s), and the c in recommend. Note that in many of these words, there’s already a twin double consonant, which may also confuse writers. (One word that does have two twin consonant pairs, accommodate, is often misspelled with only one m.)

  1. Wrong Vowel

Using an incorrect vowel is a common problem, leading to such misspellings as definately (or the bizarre variant definatly), dependant, privelege, rediculous (a heretofore virtually unknown mistake, prompted by emphatic pronunciation of the first syllable, that has gone viral as more people are exposed to it online), and seperate. The correct spellings are definitely, dependent, privilege, ridiculous, and separate.

  1. Wrong Consonant

This type of error is less common than those of the vowel variety, but two of the most commonly misspelled words in this category are consensus (in which the first s is replaced with a c) and supersede (in which the second s is replaced with a c).

  1. Reversed Order of Double Vowels

Many words with two consecutive vowels, especially those with a pairing of e and i, look odd no matter which order the vowels appear in, so for many writers, it’s a toss-up as to which is correct. These words are all spelled correctly: gauge, niece, pharaoh, receive, weird.

  1. Extra Letters

One word that is often given an extra vowel is mischievous, perhaps because it is often mispronounced as if it were spelled mischievious. Some words ending in -ly, such as publicly, are often erroneously given an -ally ending. Judgment and acknowledgment, spelled in British English (and, well into the twentieth century in the United States) with an e after the g, omit the e in American English.

  1. Missing Letters

Coolly and woolly are often misspelled with only one l. Incidentally and other words with the -ally ending, in a reversal of the problem commonly seen with misspelling of publicly and the like, are frequently mistakenly spelled with -ly endings. Liaison often lacks its second i, prerogative is sometimes seen without the first r, and rhythm may lack the first h.

  1. Confusion with a Similar Word

The most common type of misspelling, perhaps, is that in which the wrong word in a homophonic duo or trio is employed, such as forward in place of foreword or site (or, rarely, sight) instead of cite.

By Mark Nichol

7 Types of Misspellings


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The importance of a well-equipped school library to quality education was recently underscored when a Lagos-based organisation donated new library to Ikeja Senior High School, Ikeja. Olaseni Durojaiye writes

The school library is not integral to learning; it is the heart of the school as it aides both teaching and learning which explains why it is pivotal to developing the 21st Century learners as it provides a model for inquiry learning and building knowledge and confidence in seeking and processing information. Interestingly, there is a growing body of proofs showing the impact of the school library on students’ academic development and achievement.

Besides benefits to students, a well-equipped library is a fundamental resource centre that also provides support for the teaching staff. Scholars hold the view that a school library reflects and encourages collaborative learning and sharing of ideas just as research shows that the reading scores for students in schools that focus on improving their library programmes are, on average of eight to 21 per cent, higher than similar schools with no such programmes.

As important as school libraries are to learning and teaching, the state of libraries in public school leaves much to be desired. While some schools lack well-equipped libraries, others simply do not have. Many schools boast of reading room in the name of library as many of the libraries are too small and often congested making them not conducive for learning.

This was the case with the school library at Ikeja Senior High School, Ikeja, Lagos before the intervention by X3M Ideas, a Lagos-based advertising agency which decided to donate a well-equipped library to the school as part of its yearly corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme.

THISDAY gathered that, before the new library was renovated, equipped and handed over to the school management for the use of the school community, the school shared a single room library with Ikeja Junior High School. It was further gathered that the former library was too small to adequately serve the two schools and lacked enough text book resources to cater for the study needs of the students from the two schools that it was meant for.

That has however become history with the donation of the new library by X3M Ideas.
The new library comes with comfortable, four student apiece workstation-like study desks. Each unit has spacious leg room and wide enough table-top that affords convenient reading. Besides, the demarcation at the top of the table forecloses distraction, interferences from other users on the unit and, affords personal space and some measure of privacy.

A tour of the library revealed well stocked book shelves and well arranged seating arrangement. The books and text books on display cut across different subjects from arts, commercial and science subjects. The books bore subjects like agriculture, biology, chemistry, additional mathematics, commercial studies, home economics, integrated science, literature and physics among others.

The Librarian’s table is strategically positioned directly opposite the entrance to the library. A desktop computer monitor and keyboards seat on the table while the Central Processing Unit sits below the table top. From the vantage position, the librarian is able to monitor goings on inside the hall.

A staff of the Ad agency who craved anonymity told THISDAY that “We always put our CSR project in the budget every year, and then we begin to save towards it from the beginning of the year. It’s a tough choice especially at this moment of technical recession and when other agencies are cutting cost and downsizing; but our CEO believes that it’s a choice that must be made. Whenever he talks about the projects he’ll ask us which is the better choice; should people consider how hard it is to spend the money on such laudable project or how harder the future of those children will be without quality education.”

While performing the official tape cutting to declare the library open for use, Tutor-General and Permanent Secretary, District Six, Lagos State Ministry of Education, Mrs. Amidat Anifowoshe, commended the donor company and praised its courage to commit to the project at a time the nation’s economy was experiencing a downturn and businesses are cutting costs as against incurring more cost.

But it was the narratives of the school’s Principal, Mrs. Ibidun Olawuyi that best captured the mood of the school community. Her narration recalled how the library came to be:

“Since I was posted to this school as the Principal, having a befitting library has been a burden in my heart. The school shares the existing so called library with junior school and this had made it difficult for an effective use of the library by both the students and staff of the school. Today, I thank God; that burden has been lifted and we now have a well furnished library for the school, all courtesy of X3M Ideas Company,” she stated.

Continuing, Mrs. Olawuyi recalled how the project came about thus: “It all started in June upon my resumption from a casual leave when the Vice Principal Academics came to brief me that a young man named Nnamdi Okeke came to the school and asked what the school lacked with a view to assisting. According to her, she told him of the needs for computers and a school library. I immediately took the offer of a school library.

“Nnamdi came back as promised and we got talking. Like a dream come true here we are today, inaugurating the library. I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to God Almighty, who sees and grants hearts desires as He has by this granted one of my desires for the school. I also want to express my profound appreciation to the management and owners of X3M Ideas for promising and fulfilling the promises so promptly that it seem like a dream. The whole project took about two months to complete and I am aware it costs millions of naira,” the Principal recounted.

Speaking with THISDAY shortly after a tour of the newly inaugurated library, Chief Executive Officer of X3M Ideas, Steve Baba-Eko, explained that the project was borne out of the conviction that providing the students with quality education is the best way of guiding them to become good citizens and leaders in future.

“We are doing this because providing quality education for the children is the best way to groom quality future leaders. Education saved people like me. Why I am able to be where I am today or do what we’re doing today is because I am educated.

“Today, anybody can get educated. However; it’s not just about education but the quality of the education. That was why we decided that in our own little way we will meet the government of Lagos State or any other state halfway in the provision of quality education for our youth, especially those in secondary schools because if we fail to do so the quality of leaders that we will have in future may not be what we will be proud of,” he explained.

Speaking further, he stressed “Last year we went to the boys’ reformatory home, we looked at their sanitary system, you cannot reform anybody in those conditions, so we provided them with a brand new toilets system, new bathrooms complete with lighting systems. We are not just talking to children from well off home or school, we are also talking to children from indigent homes and who are in conflict with the society. So we shall continue to find new ways of engaging with them from different backgrounds,“ he concluded.

Some of the students who braved the ongoing end of session holiday to grace the inauguration could not hide their elation. The joy they exuded can be likened to that of a traveler in the desert – travel weary, tired and thirsty – then came upon an oasis.

One of the students, Elizabeth Ayodele, captured the mood of her colleagues in her vote of thanks. “On behalf of the students of Ikeja Senior High School, I say a big thank you our donor, X3M Ideas for the new school library. The well-equipped library will be of immense benefits to the student population. It will enhance our reading culture and have great impact on the academic performance of the students. I promise that we are going to make effective use of the library. Once again, thank you X3M Ideas, and may God Almighty in His infinite mercies continue to bless the company,” she said.

The teachers were not left out in the gale of excitement in the schools. One of them told THISDAY that “Students and their teachers need library resources and the expertise of a librarian to succeed. School libraries help teachers teach the children better because we are able to go in there to research; sometimes too we ask the students to go in there and read up some topic then return to the class room to engage in interactive session.

A school library functions like a resource centre that supports school programmes as well as the teaching and learning process. School libraries serve students by providing materials to meet their various needs and encouraging independent reading and the use of libraries,” she stressed, adding that “That’s why we are so delighted. We’re indeed grateful to XTM Ideas for this donation; it will certainly impact our work and the performances of the students going forward,” she stated.

Source: Ikeja Senior High School Gets New Library | THISDAYLIVE





The National Examination Council, NECO, has released the 2016 June/July Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) results. This year’s results show a new exam record of 88.51 per cent pass level…..

Source: NECO releases 2016 SSCE results as students set exams record – Daily Post Nigeria



Amma Darko’s Faceless tackles a society’s neglect of its future leaders, the irresponsibility of fathers, the importance of the media in solving problems and the importance of determination in our lives. It blatantly portrays how a larger ‘section’ of the society is living and dealing with life as if there is no one looking after them. So difficult is life to such individuals that what to eat is as problematic as where to ease; what to wear and where to sleep and even waking up to the morning sun are seen as miracles. It clearly shows the effect of streetism on the society and how decayed and corrupt society has become. The axiom that ‘each one for himself God for us all’ can clearly summarise the content of this novel, and to some extent, without taking anything from the author, can act as its second title.

Fofo was forced out from home by her mother, Maa Tsuru, to fend for herself and to allow her mother raise her younger sister Baby T. However, later Baby T was also given away to to fend for herself in one of the most difficult slums in Ghana, Agbogbloshie. Baby T gets brutally murdered and all fingers point to Poison. Besides, her elder sister, Fofo, was almost raped and later beaten by Poison to prevent her from divulging any information to MUTE, a group of four women dedicated to the idea of providing what they refer to as ‘alternate’ library which would act as a respository of local knowledge not found in everyday books. Poison, the boss of the streets, cowed all the kayayos (head-porters) from disclosing the identity of the Baby T, yet the real person responsible for Baby T’s death is one of society’s innocent.

Amma Darko’s display of tradition becomes clear in this novel also. According Maa Tsuru she has been cursed and it is this curse that has rendered her useless, poor, crippled and husbandless. She has become an outcast in the family house and always lives indoors crying. Faceless is one woman’s account of life on the streets of Accra: the struggle, the peril, the survival, the near-death experiences, the deaths and the births. However, behind all these problems, all these complex issues, Amma Darko finds ways to inject humour into her prose, such as Kabria thinking that her son wanted to say Lord the King, when he asked for Lord Kenya’s album.

The writing is simple and brilliant; the diction, good. One need not carry a dictionary or a thesaurus. The simplicity of her writing is similar to that of J.K. Rowling. To me, Amma Darko has arrived and one needs to pay her more attention. This book serve as the basis for her latest novel Not Without Flowers. If you want to read Amma Darko, start from Faceless and you would never regret it. For those who are passionate about child delinquency, societal decadence, survival mechanisms, this book, and in fact all of Amma Darko’s books, is for you.

By Nana Fredua-Agyeman



1.what a touching novel, paving light on the many abused females, whose vulnerability, poverty & lack of support never allow them to even defend themselves.. the worst crime to a person is treating her body as a mere object.. but still, our society or laws are not grown to end this forever.. the plight of a female left in the street, regardless of her age or state of affairs, is worse than that of a street dog. thanks for the fine review, dear, as it will reach many who could not get to read i…aquaturtleme

2.Celestine that was an excellent book review, definitely a book I’m interested in reading. For the author, Amma to point out the horrors that current exist on our planet and your country in particular is admirable and inspirational. Indeed it is people like her that make others around the world more aware, and we need lots and lots more awareness going on to tackle societal sickness, for so it must be. Thank you for bringing Amma Darko to my attention…Penny

3.Thanks Celestine, I am buying it, please know that for all the lightness and sensual direction that my blog is taking at the moment I really do have a hidden motive which is for people to be more comfortable with opening up about things which, I hope will in turn allow them to not be socially blinded by the injustice that is flourishing in your country and in other places. My approach I admit is unorthodox but when I was in the marketing world of business I learned that first you have to capture the audience before they will engage with you. I really enjoy your poetry as well as your reviews, thank you my friend…Penny surprises me that, even in America, there is still so much prejudice against women-in pay, in the jobs they are still rather limited to,in their general worth. We suffers to carry men for 9 months, agonizes to give birth to them, loves them as if they were made of gold, spoils them, cleans them, teaches them. Of course this goes for female children too. Then I lok at my son making 50.00 for a mechanical job while teachers are paid insulting salaries…We have a long way to go. Sounds like a heart warming story. beebee

5.Street life in the slums of Accra is realistically portrayed in this socially-commited, subtle novel about four educated women who are inspired by the plight of a 14-year old girl, Fofo. As the main characters convert their library center into a practical street initiative, the novel invokes the squalor, health risks, and vicious cycles of poverty and violence that drive children to the streets and women to prostitution; and, from which, ultimately, no one in the society is free.

6.Amma Darko’s ‘Faceless’, realistically pictures a faceless and bleak African society. Such settings as Agbogbloshie market, Sodom and Gomorrah etc in Ghana are symbolic of typical African ghettos doomed for imprisonment, criminality, torture, hunger and utter neglect by the Superstructure. The tale is that of a futureless society that, out of sheer foolishness, abandones its very essence, core values, beauty, pride, hopes, represented by the divine gifts-children-in pursuit of shadows and materialism. The novelette, therefore, presents a tragic vision for the continent, hoping that parents and governments will look inward and backward to discover where rain began to beat them and where water is leaking from their roofs!…Umoekah, Ekemini

7.This novel is the critical analysis of tribulations, agony, pain and disregarding women go through in their life. anybody that read that novel must deeply have compassion for women. but the questions here is that should our traditional leaders, government and other top ranking class of people proof their leadership power in finding solution to such problem? seriously it is government obligations to find out the reason and cousing of such problem. if that should be done our dear nation will really turn to a new Jerusalem!!!! please, but that prose writing it’s satire, tragedy or both?? answer please!…Amos Augustine

8.Right from onset (i.e. from the creation of Adam & Eve) woman is being regarded as help-mate to man, Not a servant neither a slave. The State of Nature has deprived most women if not all the rights and freedom to participate on issues that matters to them and their environs. The word FACELESS can mean ‘deprivation, poverty, illiteracy, ignorance, oppression, and lack of expression etc. In my own view, all women should be treated as QUEENS, catered and care for, and most of all be LOVED. GOD help us all to love one another…N.J. OluwaSeun

9.Good work but I think you need to check Baby T and Fofo. From what i read i deduced that B aby T is the oldest daughter of Maa Tsuru. Her name is actually Baby Tsuru because her father was unknown. Fofo is the youngest.Anonymous6 to Nana Fredua-Agyeman



Faceless (2003), Amma Darko’s gendered text about the tragic experiences of children on the mean streets of Accra, opens with a wrenching rape scene at the Agbogbloshie market. In shocking and lurid details, Darko’s narrative captures the horrid reality females, especially young teenage girls, endure and cannot escape. The almost surrealistic scenery of the rape act translates as vicious and relentless violations of the female body and desperate efforts of very young girls to defend their feminine space. The opening scene marks an attempt to crush the female body. This startling opening narrative signifies Darko’s artistic predilections. Darko will not rein in her voice as the issues confronting her subjects are urgent and alarming. There is no taboo subject in Darko’s artistic disposition. Her unbridled language measures the seriousness of her subject.

Darko’s emergent voice gives a new feminist perspective on the issues of gender and class in contemporary African writing. She explores a recurrent theme of sexual exploitation of the most vulnerable members of society. Throughout her fictional works (Beyond the Horizon, 1995; Housemaid, 1998; Faceless, 2003; and Not Without Flowers, 2007, sexuality becomes an overarching metaphor to examine the values of Ghanaian society. Faceless surpasses the other works in artistic intensity and complexity. In this novel, Darko defines feminine sexuality in terms of a complex trope of transformation from voicelessness to voice and movement beyond facelessness to attain face or personhood.

Darko’s writing about the experience of African women constitutes a clear departure from its expression in early African literature as a symbol for pristine beauty In contrast to Leopold Senghor (Chants d’ombre, 1945- Shadow Songs. Edition du Seuil, 1945; Nocturnes (1961), translated by John 0. Reed and Clive Wake, 1969; Leopold Sédar Senghor- Selected Poems, translated by Reed and Wake, 1964), and Camara Laye’s L’Enfant Noir, 1954-The Dark Child, translated by James Kirkup, Ernest Jones, and Elaine Gottlieb, 1954, Darko dispenses with tendencies to beatify the African woman, as such essentialist constructs of the African woman are paternalistic. Her female characters do not play peripheral roles in narratives about their own experience. Rather, the women in Darko’s fiction are assertive in seizing narrative threads and in weaving stories about their own lives.

In Darko’s novels, women burst through the veil of tradition to establish their voice and identity. Quite similar to her female compatriots, Efua Sutherland (The Marriage ofAnansewa and Edufa, 1967); and Ama Ata Aidoo (Anowa, a play based on a Ghanaian legend, 1970; Our Sister Killjoy, 1977, Darko gives a realistic account of the daily struggle of the Ghanaian woman. However, unlike Aidoo and Sutherland, who maintain propriety and guarded stance, Darko writes graphically and explicitly about sexual matters. Darko sets aside the conventions of traditional African society, which often calls for decorum, to speak about issues that unsettle her audience. She wades into such controversial subjects as AIDS, child rape, prostitution, and polygamy.

Consistent with the general trend in contemporary Ghanaian writing, Darko focuses on the social malaise in Ghana since independence. However, while her predecessors, Ayi Kwei Armah {The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, 1968) and Kofi Awoonor {This Earth My Brother, 1971), represent in broad terms the frustrations, emptiness, and ennui in Ghana, Darko depicts these same issues at deeply felt individual levels. In another marked distinction, Darko seeks a way out of this prolonged nightmare by rendering women visible and by creating feminine voice and space. She urges women to revive their voice to sustain their lives. The women in Faceless are stigmatized, yet they engage in courageous acts to throw off the yoke of oppression in a male-dominated society.

In Faceless, Darko writes with urgency about the predicament of a cadre of very young children who eke out a living on the streets of Accra. ……By Awuyah, Chris Kwame


It’s taken me so long to post this book review because I struggled to find the right words to summarise what I deem a message about the neglected and rejected in society. I cannot give a brief summary to this insightful novel, so here is my review of Amma Darko’s Faceless…

When Maa Tsuru tells Fofo that Baby T’s mutilated body has been found at Agbogbloshie, Fofo sets out to find justice for her sister’s murder. In a twist of fate, she runs into Kabria who works with a non-governmental organization called MUTE which functions as an interventionist and alternative library for every social, gender and child issues.

Kabria takes an interest in Fofo’s case and determines to find out what led to Baby T’s death. With the help of Sylv Po, the reporter from Harvest FM, they work their way into a syndicate led by Poison, the street lord, that trades in child prostitutes, drugs and is linked to all manner of street crime.

In one of the most hostile parts of Accra, Fofo’s story draws Kabria and her colleagues’ attention to the socioeconomic menace that comprises a community of drifters and hustlers in a slam called Sodom and Gomorrah, so named after the Biblical city that God destroyed because of its numerous sins.

Amma Darko’s quest to find out how Accra’s squalid Sodom and Gomorrah sprung up out of her old neighbourhood at Old Fadama led to a series of revelations that inspired Faceless, her third novel.

Although the author uses ficticious names, she narrates what can possibly be described as real-life events at venues that really exist. Agbogbloshie, Makola Market, Korle-Gonno, Kaneshie, Abossey-Okai, Abeka and the all-notorious Sodom and Gomorrah can really be found in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana.


In making up the various characters and narrating their stories, Darko enlightens her reader about the information she amassed after nearly two years of research into street children, life in Sodom and Gomorrah, Agbogbloshie and its environs.

Fofo would have spent the Sunday night into Monday dawn with her friends across the road at the squatters enclave in Sodom and Gomorrah watching adult films her fourteen years required her to stay away from, and drinking directly from bottles of akpeteshie, or at best, some slightly milder locally produced gin. Ultimately, she would have found herself waking up Monday morning beside one of her age group friends, both of them naked, hazy and disconcerted; and oblivious to what time during the night they had stripped off their clothes and what exactly they had done with their nakedness. Sucked into a life on the streets and reaching out to each new day with an ever-increasing hopelessness, such were the ways they employed to escape their pain.

Darko draws her audience’s attention to the AIDS prevention campaign versus the situation prevailing in such communities:

Sylv Po’s female studio guest was on and complaining about the AIDS prevention programme not driving home the message of abstinence and faithfulness with the same intensity as the use of condoms. Then she touched on the AIDS issue versus the street-children phenomenon…

“During a recent survey we conducted for a programme, all the girls we talked to out there were already sexually active. And we also established that, for many of them, rape was their first sexual experience. And I am talking about girls as young as seven. Many were child prostitutes. They had no idea at all about the extent of self-damage to themselves. Sex to them was just a convenient means of survival. Many were roaming about, oblivious to whether or not they were HIV positive, so…”

In the course of her narration, Darko compares and contrasts Kabria’s family life with that of Fofo and her street companions. She outlines the benefits of family planning, especially in communities where womanhood is proven by having many children and barrenness is abhorred, and mentions some old wives’ tales about the correlation between how a baby is born and its behavioral pattern.

Kabria is the backbone of her family. She multitasks as a mother, wife and social worker. Adade, Kabria’s architect husband, contents himself with his work, joining co-workers to drinking spots to release tension, and returning home for dinner. Their constant argument about Creamy, Kabria’s stubborn hand-me-down VW Beetle, does not get in the way of a stable marriage because Kabria handles the situation tactfully. Their children – Obea, Essie and Ottu – are all in school. Each child’s character is a force to reckon with, but their parents take care of their needs. In a chaotic, but stable environment, the family is able to get along.

What of Fofo and the other street-children? How did they end up on the streets in the first place?

Darko uses the story of Maa Tsuru’s curse to unravel the process of birth to street life.

When a teenage girl is betrayed by the young man who impregnated her, she rains curses on him and all his descendants as life drains out of her in giving birth to the baby who will later be known as Maa Tsuru. Maa Tsuru grows up labelled as a cursed person. People distance themselves from her in her family house, where she also resides. After having two sons and two daughters with Kwei, he abandons them. Fofo and Baby T’s older brothers leave as soon as they are able to fend for themselves.

Then a new man worms his way into Maa Tsuru’s bed and connives with Maami Broni, who promises to find work for Baby T through Mama Abidjan’s questionable recruitment agency, in exchange for periodic payments to feed Maa Tsuru’s new family. Fofo too is forced to leave home because there are two new mouths to feed. Baby T is later found dead behind a hairdressing salon.

Fofo’s best friend, Odarley, share’s a similar story. Odarley’s mother also has a new husband and children she’d had by him. She resents Odarley because her father abandoned them and constantly accuses her daughter of stealing from her. So she drives Odarley out to live on the streets.

Then there is the story of the innocent boy who ran away from home to escape the constant abuse of a drunken stepfather. He ended up as a messenger in a brothel, worked his way up by bullying, raping and murdering and is now known as Poison the street lord.

A boy and a girl of about Fofo’s age and making their home on the streets of Accra like her were once asked by a reporter from one of the private FM stations during a survey about their most passionate dreams…

“My dream,” began the boy, “is to be able to go home one day to visit my mother and see a look of joy on her face at the sight of me. I want to be able to sleep beside her. I wish her to tell me she was happy I came to visit her. Whenever I visit her, she doesn’t let me stay long before she asks me politely to leave. She never has a smile for me. She is always in a hurry to see my back. Sometimes I cannot help thinking that maybe she never has a smile for me because the man she made me with that is my father probably also never had a smile for her too. One day she said to me, ‘Go. You do not belong here.’ If I don’t belong to where she is, where do I belong? But I know that it is not just that she doesn’t want to see me. She worries about the food that she has. It is never enough. So she worries that it may not suffice for her two new children if I joined. The ones she has with the man who is their father and who is her new husband. He hates to see my face. I often wonder what it is I remind him of so much.”

The girl said, “One day a kind woman I met at a centre made me very happy. Before I went there, I knew that by all means she would give me food. But this woman gave me more. She hugged me. I was dirty. I smelled bad. But she hugged me. That night I slept well. I had a good dream. Sometimes I wish to be hugged even if I am smelling of the streets.”

In an introductory essay by Kofi Anyidoho, Amma Darko is described as a major female Ghanaian writer whose works are akin to the likes of Efua T. Sutherland and Ama Ata Aidoo. Both her first and second novels, Beyond the Horizon and The Housemaid, focus on the plight of women and young girls in a merciless world dominated by greedy, irresponsible and often cruel men in their life. Faceless adds up to the other two novels to form what Anyidoho calls an important trilogy. Her stories revolve around feminism and abused women and children in society.

In using what I call simple ‘Ghanaian English’ to narrate the epic tale in Faceless, she gives her reader a feel of Ghanaian urban culture and idiosyncratic transliterations Ghanaians use as we blend our native dialects with English. Her narrative style may be a bit unusual, but she puts her message across well.

Faceless is about the children who have been long forgotten in the rush for modernisation and development in most countries. These young people can be an immense asset to the economy, but are lost to the machinations of poverty and illiteracy, losing their identities in the process.

In writing this book, Amma Darko reminds us…

“The future promise of any nation can be directly measured by the present prospects of its youth.”

– John F. Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22,1963



Faceless, Amma Darko’s third novel after Beyond the Horizon and The Housemaid, is the tragic story of street children in Accra, Ghana told through a chaotic urban fabric where pressing social issues like the gap between rich and poor, HIV/AIDS, broken families and the role of women in society are all-pervasive.

The story is an investigation of the death of Baby T, a child prostitute whose body is found dumped behind a marketplace, naked, beaten and mutilated. Darko skilfully reveals details about Baby T during the progression of the novel through her younger sister Fofo, herself a street child who comes into contact with group of women who run a documentation NGO called MUTE.

Baby T’s story is heartbreaking and entirely believable, not only in relation to Accra, but also in a global context. She is the third child of Ma Tsumu, born after a brutal beating intended to fulfil the ambitions of an abortion because the father believes that Ma Tsumu is “too fertile”. Kwei, the father, disappears after fathering Fofo, leaving Ma Tsumu to fend for herself with four children. The family manage alone with the two sons bringing home money from fish-related activities. But Faceless is a novel where things only go very wrong when men are involved and when Ma Tsumu takes a lover into her bed in the form of Kpakpo, who earns his keep by “dubious” means, the stage is set for tragedy.

The first consequence of the new lover is that the brothers, unable to stand the new nightly sounds of the shared bedroom, pack their bags and disappear. This leaves Baby T at the mercy of Kpakpo, who sexually abuses her. Hurt and confused, she confides in a family friend, Onko, who brutally rapes her. Ma Tsumu, a tragic figure destroyed by the men in her life, is unable to do anything but take money from Onko, who then continues to live in the same compound as Baby T. Clearly the situation is untenable and Kpakpo has the answer. Baby T can be sent away to a distant relative of his who is actually a Madame – in reality Baby T is sold into prostitution.

Discrimination against women is a constant theme of the novel and symbolically Baby T is representative of the sins visited upon all women in a society where from birth women are discriminated against and made responsible not only for their sins, but for those of men in society. As mentioned earlier, nothing goes right when men are involved and many of the male characters in the novel are murderers, child abuses, rapists – or simply good for nothings.

Even those not presented in this light are trapped in their perceptions of women as caregivers and housewives, such as NGO worker Kabria’s husband, who expects her to be waiting at the door to take his briefcase when he returns from work. Despite the fact that Kabria works a long day, she is still expected to manage the household, cook and take care of the children. Darko is keen to highlight this hypocrisy.

The response of women to their experience at the hands of men varies from Ma Tsumu’s “Because they are animals, They know no mercy…” to the positive engagement of the NGO MUTE, which is made up entirely of women as if to suggest that it is women who must be in control of their response to a warped male world.

But if the fate of women in society is a major theme of the novel, it plays itself out through a street children narrative which allows Darko the scope for powerful social commentary that demonstrates the personal tragedy of each and every child that ends up on the streets. As one of the characters says in quoting assassinated US president John F. Kennedy: “The future promise of any nation can be directly measured by the present prospects of its youth.” What is the hope, Darko seems to be asking, if societies can allow the conditions that result in the fate of Baby T?

Darko’s landscape is not entirely bleak: she does offer hope in the form of Fofo, who by the end of the novel looks set on the right road, and in the form of MUTE, whose members are the positive role models of the novel.

It might be said that the solutions offered by the novel are too simple, but Darko does leave enough in the air to suggest that nothing is certain. Indeed, the story is told with just enough skill to keep the reader guessing. While it is true that some of the characters sometimes feel a bit stereotyped, Darko is also capable of demonstrating some character complexity and contradictions, as in the case of the pimp Poison, who is also shown to be a victim through is own abuse as a child, but who now “no longer suffered the pain, he inflicted it.”

These criticisms aside, Darko succeeds in hammering home a powerful message that it is children and the way they are treated that are the true measure of how societies are judged. It is through their eyes that the answers to the myriad moral predicaments that society finds itself in, are to be found.

* Reviewed by Patrick Burnett…


Faceless is the third novel written by Amma Darko, with an introductory essay by Prof. Kofi Anyhidoho. It tells of the death of Baby T, a child prostitute whose naked, beaten and mutilated body is found dumped behind a marketplace in Agbogbloshie, a slum area in Accra, the capital of Ghana. Details of the murder and Baby T’s life, are skilfully revealed by the author through two sources: one, Baby T’s younger sister Fofo, herself a street child; and through the rehabilitative intervention of an NGO, known as MUTE whose efforts through one of its Programme Officers, Kabria, unearth’s the proverbial can of worms that is the whole story of Faceless

Baby T’s story is heartbreaking. The third child of Ma Tsuru, Baby T is sexually abused by her mother’s live-in lover, Kpakpo. Confused and betrayed, she confides in a family friend and co-tenant, Onko, who takes advantage of her trust and rapes her. Baby T’s mother, Ma Tsuru, a tragic figure destroyed by the men in her life, is helpless to do anything. Weighed down by poverty, illiteracy and shame, she takes money from Onko, and matters take a drastic turn when Kpakpo, always on the loose for fast money manipulates Maa Tsuru and Baby T is sold into prostitution, to also appease his ‘guilt’. It seemed a nasty situation has been tidied up. But has it? Subsequent events, leading to the tragic death of Baby T proves otherwise.

Discrimination against women is a pervasive theme in the novel. Symbolically Baby T carries the sins of her parents, as well as those visited upon women in a society where culturally men are the masters and women bear the brunt of injustice; Maa Tsuru, Baby T’s mother whose husband abandons her penniless, as a result of a ‘curse’ is also a victim of discrimination whose hapless predicament is made more poignant by superstition, poverty and illiteracy. Thus though we have most of the male characters in the novel being murderers, rapists and irresponsible fathers, yet it is the female characters that suffer in a community of drifters and hustlers where characters like Poison, the local thug and Kingpin reign supreme.

Faceless is also the tragic, unfortunate story of a social canker in Ghana and indeed, the bane of developing countries, streetism in a metropolitan and urban environment; and a powerful social commentary and insight into the multifaceted issues underlying streetism, that is broken homes, rape, poverty, illiteracy AIDS, etc. She leaves no stone unturned in exposing and analysing the characters for their various behaviours and at the end, people like Maa Tsuru would receive thee sympathy of the reader and well some disgust, while Fofo would earn admiration for her brevity and courage in wanting to seek the truth and nothing but the truth behind her sister’s murder despite threats on her life from shady characters like Poison, who bring up only abhorrence. I do believe also that Kabria’and her children from the ‘urban posh’ environment are a foil to Fofo and her gang, the contrast created presenting a cruel view of the two worlds.

The fate of Baby T only strengthens her sister Fofo who, through the interventions of MUTE is given a new lease of life, so to speak. And the author seems to buttress this point further by quoting: “The future promise of any nation can be directly measured by the present prospects of its youth.” John F. Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963)

Faceless is a well-researched novel, with the narration drawing on real-life events and places/slums like Agbogbloshie, Market, Makola Market, Korle-Gonno, and the all-notorious Sodom and Gomorrah (named after the Biblical city that God destroyed because of its numerous sins) of all which are in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana. The characters are real and believable enough and though some, like Poison are stereotyped I do believe the portrayal of such characters highlight the predominant truth and nastiness of the whole streetism and gang phenomena

The writing is brilliant, with simple easy to understand Ghanaian English, interspersed with the vernacular, giving the reader a feel of the Ghanaian culture and what makes her tick. I particularly like the narrative style, which though straight forward draws the reader in, building tension as the author takes us through dizzying moments of intrigue and suspense to reveal the hidden truth behind Baby T’s murder.

I believe Amma Darko is a force to reckon with and I recommend this book wholeheartedly.




1. Discrimination Against Women

The women in this novel bore the hardship inflicted on them by the male characters who were mostly absent fathers, murderers and rapists. For instance, Kwei, Maa Tsuru’s lover and the father of her first four children abandoned her simply because of the superstitious belief that she was cursed. Poison the street lord brutally assaulted Baby T and even attempted to rape Fofo. Kpakpo and Onko took advantage of Baby T and defiled her. In fact, Kpapkpo masterminded Baby T’s venture into prostitution.

2. Streetism

Another important theme that runs through the novel is streetism chiefly represented by the life in Sodom and Gomorrah, a slum in Accra. Faceless portrays the rising menace of street life and its many underlying issues namely, rape, violence, broken home, theft, dirt, poverty, AIDS and illiteracy.

3. Parental Neglect

The theme of parental neglect runs through the novel. All the child characters on the street in Faceless were neglected by their parents. Fofo, Baby T, Odarley, Poison were all victims of parental neglect.

4. Superstition

The novel shows how strongly held superstitious beliefs affect society’s perception. It was believed that Maa Tsuru’s predicament was as a result of the curse placed on her at birth. Maa Tsuru herself believed this. Faceless illustrates the fact that superstitious beliefs often becloud people’s sense of judgment.

5. Failed Governance

The author portrays the weakness of government institutions and lack of confidence in the system. MUTE had to open investigations into Baby T’s case because the police authorities were not interested in the matter. The police authorities lacked basic work tools due to years of neglect by the government.


The author’s narration is straightforward. She tells Baby T’s story mainly through Fofo and investigations by MUTE. Her style of writing is simple and easy to understand. In unravelling the mystery behind Baby T’s death, the author builds tension in her story line thus creating suspense and intrigue.


The author uses simple, everyday English language with some Ghanaian vernacular to portray the culture of her people. Examples are words like Kayayoo (porter), akpeteshie etc.

By Dayo Okubule…




Fofo is the fourth child of Maa Tsuru. She is fourteen years old and lives on the street. She is a dreamer and would often drift away in her own world of fantasy. She is quite brave and intelligent. She tactfully resists Poison’s rape attempt and disguises as boy to protect herself from further assault by Poison and his gang. Through her character, the reader gets more insight into the circumstances surrounding Baby T’s death.

Baby T

Faceless revolves mostly around Baby T and the circumstances leading to her death. She was Maa Tsuru’s third child and Fofo’s elder sister. She got defiled early by Kpakpo and thereafter by Onko whom she trusted. She was sold into prostitution through Kpakpo’s gimmicks. A victim of parental neglect like her sister Fofo, Baby T’s badly beaten and mutilated body was found behind a kiosk in Agbogbloshie market.

Maa Tsuru

Maa Tsuru is the mother of Fofo and Baby T. She was born under very grave circumstances and like everyone around her, she believed that she suffered from a curse stemming from the circumstances of her birth. Her two lovers (Kwei and Kpakpo) were absent fathers. They walked out on her leaving her to take care of the children, a responsibility she performed very poorly. Ravaged by poverty and being a victim of neglect herself, she craved for love but got entangled with irresponsible men.


Poison is a street lord and leader of a prostitution ring to which Baby T was sold. Feared by all, Poison assaulted Baby T before her death and almost raped Fofo. He also tried to interfere with MUTE’s investigations as he did not want Baby T’s true identity to be revealed. A victim of abuse and neglect, Poison enjoyed inflicting pain on others. The author uses his character to show that with male children, streetism takes a different twist as it makes them almost irredeemable.


The wife of Adade and mother of three energetic children, Kabria worked with MUTE, a non-governmental agency and lived in a decent neighbourhood in Accra which contrasted sharply to the situation in Sodom and Gomorrah. With a problematic car called Creamy, she tried to combine career with her responsibilities as wife and mother. She was instrumental to Fofo’s rehabilitation and contributed in no small measure to unraveling the mystery surrounding Baby T’s death.


Odarley was Fofo’s friend and confidant. Like Fofo, she lived on the street having been neglected and sent out of the house by her mother.


Onko lived in the same compound as Maa Tsuru. In a compound that reeked of poverty, Onko was portrayed as a man of means who gave generously. He took advantage of Baby T and defiled her. He bribed Maa Tsuru who kept quiet over the issue. His business suffered a downturn thereafter. He committed suicide after Baby T’s death. The author uses his character to buttress the fact that children are mostly defiled by adults who are close to them.


Kpakpo was Maa Tsuru’s dubious, jobless and unscrupulous lover. He deceived Maa Tsuru and masterminded Baby T’s sale into prostitution. He also aided Onko’s visit to Baby T leading to the latter’s death.

By Dayo Okubule…


Characters 2

This is the list of characters (dramatis personae) in Faceless which could be divided into major and minor characters.

* Fofo
* Kabria
* Maa Tsuru
* Baby T
* Dina
* Kwei
* Kpakpo
* Adade
* Macho
* Poison
* Maami Broni
* Mama Abidjan
* Sylv Po
* Aggie
* Vickie
* Odarley
* Obea
* Essie
* Ottu
* Ms. Kamame

Characterization 1

1. Fofo

She is the 14 year old daughter of Maa Tsuru and sister to the deceased Baby T. she stopped schooling at a very tender age due to lack of finance. She could be termed as the heroine of the novel. Fofo is very outspoken, kind, caring and hardworking. Despite the fact that she is compelled to go onto the streets by the mere presence of Kpakpo, she perseveres by finding a menial job to do. Her life at a point in time is paralyzed by the fear of the thick-set leader Macho and Poison the street lord. It is through the courage of Fofo that the mystery behind baby t’s death is unleashed. After she experiences the harsh ups and downs of a street child, she undergoes rehabilitation.

2. Kabria

Kabria is a married woman who has to shoulder her responsibility of caring for her home together with being competent at her workplace. She faces the difficulties of managing her career with her first responsibility of being a mother and Adade. She has three children namely : Obea ,Essie And Ottu. Kabria is very loving, patient and sympathetic. Saves Fofo from being lynched at Agbogbloshie market when she tries picking her. She works at MUTE organization and in collaboration with Harvest Fm, they go on an adventure to unravel the mystery surrounding sssBaby T’s death. She treats everyone as part of her family even ‘creamy’ her battered old VW beetle car.

3. Maa Tsuru
of Fofo and siblings. It is believed that she is cursed by her mother when she was being given birth to. She herself is a product of the streets and cares less if her offsprings become a nuisance to society. Maa Tsuru is a “free for all”, easily deceived, and makes her children go onto the devouring jaws of the streets. She sells Baby T indirectly into prostitution. Very quick-tempered. However, Maa Tsuru is remorseful and caring.

4. Baby T

Daughter of Maa Tsuru,16 years of age. She is very kind and lovely. A great teacher she is as Fofo learns to pick-pocket from her. She is an innocent girl who is raped by her uncle Onko and her step-father Kpakpo. She is killed as a result of the connivance between Onko, Poison and Maami Broni.




Attempted Rape

The novel opens with fourteen year old Fofo sleeping on an old cardboard at the Agbogbloshie market. Except for her new job of washing carrots at the vegetable market in Agbogbloshie, her life in Sodom and Gomorrah, a slum close to the market consisted mainly of watching adult movies and taking alcohol. In her sleep, she dreamt of living in a home with a roof and a toilet, a dream shared by other street children like her.

She was woken up suddenly by Poison, a street lord who attempted to rape her. Fofo resisted him and ran to Odarley, her best friend who lived in a rented wooden shack. She told Odarley about Poison’s attempted rape and her intention to see her mother whom she believed had some connections with Poison. Fofo’s mother, Maa Tsuru informed Fofo, that her elder sister, Baby T was dead and Poison had threatened her into silence over Baby T’s death. She therefore urged Fofo to leave for her safety.

Kabria’s Encounter with Fofo

In sharp contrast to the life in Sodom and Gomorrah is Kabria’s life with her family. A mother of three lively children- Obea, Essie and Ottu, she lived in a decent neighbourhood in Accra, worked with MUTE a non-governmental agency and drove a problematic old car nick-named Creamy. She ran into Fofo at the Agbloghoshie market while shopping for vegetables. Kabria was standing with other spectators at the spot where Baby T’s body was found when Fofo, disguising as a boy tried to steal her purse. Kabria rescued her from the angry mob. Fofo revealed her female identity and told Kabria that Baby T was her sister. Meanwhile, a lot of people had been made to believe that the dead girl (Baby T) was a kayayoo(a market porter from the north) to conceal her true identity and discourage further enquiry into her death. MUTE (the non-governmental organisation where Kabria worked) got interested in Baby T’s matter and granted Fofo protection by taking her into custody temporarily while conducting investigations into the circumstances surrounding Baby T’s death.

The circumstances surrounding Baby T’s death was revealed through two main sources: Fofo and investigations by MUTE.

How Baby T became a prostitute

Baby T was the third child of Maa Tsuru while Fofo was fourth. Their jobless father, Kwei had abandoned them mainly as a result of the superstitious belief that Maa Tsuru had been cursed from birth. Baby T was sexually abused by her mother’s second lover, Kpakpo and was further defiled by Onko, a generous uncle who lived in the same compound with them and in whom she tried to confide.

Through Kpapkpo’s gimmicks, Baby T was sold to a prostitution ring consisting of Madam Abidjan, Maami Brooni and Poison, the street lord and ring leader. She was made to work as a child prostitute in Maami Brooni’s brothel with her earnings sent to Maa Tsuru who simply turned a blind eye.

Meanwhile, Onko’s welding business had suffered great setback after defiling Baby T. A witchdoctor made him believe that his misfortune was caused by the defilement of Baby T whom he said was a cursed child. As a form of remedy, the witch doctor asked Onko to bring some sacrificial items which would include Baby T’s pubic hair.

How Baby T died

Kpakpo helped Onko to connect with Baby T once again. Poison eventually led Kpakpo to Maami Brooni’s brothel where Baby T worked as a prostitute. Baby T remembered what Onko did to her in the past and totally declined to sleep with him. Enraged at her refusal, Poison slapped and tried to beat her into submission. Baby T was found dead on the concrete floor with her head split open. She was alone with Onko in the room at the time of her death. Onko committed suicide thereafter.


The novel is set in Accra with locations in Agbogbloshie market and the notorious slum, Sodom and Gomorrah. However, the events in the novel happen everywhere in Africa including Nigeria.

By Dayo Okubule…


Sometimes it is better to tell the story of a street child than to look for his murderer. We learn this definitively from Henning Mankell’s book. Amma Darko tells the opposite story: searching for the murderer makes for a better life for those who survive in the streets.

14-year-old Fofo is a street child living in a part of Accra named “Sodom and Gomorrha,” a place that is not good for anybody, least of all to children. Fofo has made it her task to find out what happened to her sister, Baby T, who was found dumped behind a marketplace, beaten and mutilated. Baby T. was the third child of Ma Tsumu, and was born after a brutal beating intended to abort the baby. Her father disappeared, leaving Ma Tsumu to fend for herself with four children. Soon Ma Tsumu found a new lover to share her bed, Kpakpo, who is good-for-nothing and earns his keep by “dubious” means.

Not willing to accept the presence of the new lover, the two brothers leave home. Soon after, Baby T. is sexually abused by Kpakpo. Hurt and confused, the twelve year old girl doesn’t confide in her mother, but instead in a family friend, Onko, who in turn rapes her. Ma Tsumu who then learns about the tragedy finds herself unable to do anything but take money from Onko, who continues to live in the same compound as Baby T. The situation is untenable. Kpakpo suggests that Baby T be sold into prostitution. The theme of discrimination against women is always present in this story. Baby T is representative of the sins visited upon all women in a society where they are discriminated against from birth. There is a note of home in the landscape of the story, when Baby T’s sister Fofo meets with a group of women who run an institution that documents issues called MUTE. The four women are inspired by the plight of Fofo and convert their library center into a practical street initiative.

Author Amma Darko has lived in Accra, near the marketplace where the crime happened. She evokes the vicious cycles of poverty and violence that drive children to the streets and women to prostitution. Her powerful message says that the way children are treated is the true measure of how societies are judged. When life is viewed through children’s eyes, it becomes clear that societies must find the answers to the moral predicaments that they finds themselves in.

“ FACELESS must be compulsory reading for all those who claim to be interested in the plight of street children…[who] cease to be mere statistics or a point of reference for media hysteria, academic discourse, or political rhetoric.” Kofi Anydoho




Amma Darko is a Ghanian writer and researcher. She studied Industrial Design and worked for a year in a center for technological counselling at the University of Kumasi. Afterwards, she travelled to Germany where she stayed from 1981 until 1987 and wrote her first novel, Beyond the Horizon which was published in German. Faceless is her third novel. Amma Darko enjoys research and spends a lot of time with interviews and in archives. For the novel Faceless, she put on dingy clothes and mingled with the inhabitants of the suburb “Sodom and Gomorrha” in Accra. In 2008, she received the most important literary prize in her country, the Ghana Book Award. Faceless has been selected for the official literature list of the West African Examination Council for Senior Secondary Schools and belongs now to the West African school canon.

By Dayo Okubule…


ModernGhana Online Radio Center…Personality Profiles | 25 January 2008

Ghanaian Novelist – Amma Darko…By awuraba

I am first and foremost a storyteller who feels inspired to create stories out of pertinent issues. As an African woman also, I feel inclined toward working around female issues. I don’t know where that places me in the writing world’s classifications, but I definitely do have some reservations about carrying the tag of ‘feminist writer’. The context in which the Western world perceives the term does not prevail here. Feminism is sort of placed in a tight and narrow square box. One perceived or labeled as a feminist whatever, is judged to be this aggressive man-hater who at best is a lesbian and who can be as worse as a butcher of masculinity. I tell stories and comment on situations. I would be completely satisfied to be perceived simply as a voice.

About Amma

The name “Amma” means Saturday born. It is common in Ghana to name a child after the day it was born. Amma Darko was born in Tamale in 1956. From Northern Ghana, she moved years later to the Ashanti Region. She studied at the university of Kumasi, where she received her diploma in 1980. Afterwards she worked for the Technology Consultancy Centre.
Then, in 1981, she travelled to Germany. Now she is living in Accra, the Ghanaian capital. She is working as tax inspector. This work gives her a of inspiration because she deals with interesting cases and people. She is married and has three children, so all together there is not as much time for writing as she would like to have.

On Her Writing

Darko had always loved books, but books were hard to find when she was growing up. She especially missed books about the experience of ordinary people living in contemporary Ghana. She chose a radical solution to her problem – to write those books.

Her first novel was published in Germany under the title Der Verkaufte Traum (Schmetterling Verlag, 1991) and consequently in English as Beyond the Horizon (Heinemann, 1995). It is the story of a Ghanaian woman who finds herself in a German brothel through a marriage fraud. The book was ranked among the Top Twelve of the 1995 Feminist Book Festival in Britain. Her second novel, The Housemaid (Heinemann, 1998), explores the complex relationships in contemporary rural Ghana where modernity, delivered through the media, increasingly penetrates tradition, but finds little nurturing soil for lack of education.
Her third novel, Faceless (Sub-Saharan Publishers, 2003) tells the story of street children in contemporary Accra. With a sense for naturalistic detail and humour, Darko explores the vicious circle created by the worst injustice while placing the story into a larger socio-political context.



1. Beyond the Horizon (Der verkaufte Traum), 1991
2. Spinnweben, 1996 (“Cobwebs”; no English version)
3. Verirrtes Herz, 2000 (“Stray heart”; no English version)
4. Faceless (Die Gesichtslosen), 2003
5. Film based on ‘Faceless’ gets award
6. Roaming Around, Germany 2007, 53 min – A German team produced a film based on the novel “Faceless”. Eva Maschke (camera) and Dominique Geisler (cut) were awarded the German Camera Prize 2007.
7. Not without Flowers (Das Lächeln der Nemesis), 2006

“Not without Flowers” is now available in English. If you are interested, please contact Sub-Saharan publishers:

Sub-Saharan Publishers, P.O.Box LG 358, Legon-Accra, Ghana, West Africa, Tel: 233-21-233371, Fax: 233-21-234251


The Housemaid (Das Hausmädchen), 1998

Reading Session
Watch Amma Darko in a Reading Session



Amma Darko

Amma Darko (born 1956) is a Ghanaain novelist.

Life and writing

She was born in Tamale, Ghana, and grew up in Accra. She studied in Kumasi, where she received her diploma in 1980. Then she worked for the Science and Technology Center in Kumasi. During the 1980s, she lived and worked for some time in Germany. She has since returned to Accra.

Her novels illustrate everyday life in Ghana. Her first novel, Beyond the Horizon, was originally published in German. Her most recent novels, Faceless and Not without flowers, were published in Ghana.

Her work has been discussed in Vincent O. Odamtten’s book Broadening the Horizon: Critical Introductions to Amma Darko,[1] in the 2001 doctoral thesis by Louise Allen Zak “Writing her way: a study of Ghanaian novelist Amma Darko”,[2] and in several academic journals.[3]


1991] 1995: Beyond the Horizon (Der verkaufte Traum). Heinemann/Schmetterling-Verl. ISBN 978-0-435-90990-1.

Darko’s first novel is influenced by her impressions of Germany, observing the interaction between Germans and Ghanaian immigrants. The book is about a young woman, Mara, who follows her husband to Germany, not knowing that he has married a German in the meantime. Though the book deals with serious topics such as illegal immigration, illegitimate marriage and prostitution, there is never any bitter morality in it.

1996: Spinnweben (“Cobwebs”; no English edition). Schmetterling-Verl. ISBN 978-3-926369-17-8.

Her second novel is a reflection about roots. There are dialogues between a Ghanaian living in German and the German friends around her.

2000: Verirrtes Herz (“Stray heart”; no English edition). Schmetterling-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-89657-119-9.

This is the first book that is completely set in Ghana. The young protagonist, Kesewa, is illiterate. She has to work hard for her parents and brothers and is unable to attend school regularly. In her adult life, she becomes distrustful and envious and causes a lot of trouble.

2003: Faceless (Die Gesichtslosen). Sub-Saharan Publishers/Schmetterling-Verl. ISBN 978-9988-550-50-9.

A novel about a middle-class woman coming into contact with street children who are living in a part of Accra known as “Sodom and Gomorrhah”.

2007: Not Without Flowers. Sub-Saharan Publishers. ISBN 978-9988-647-13-1.

In this book, the reader encounters some figures and institutions from the preceding novel. One of the central characters, Aggie, works for the NGO MUTE, which aims to create an archive and an alternative library. Aggie’s mother has a mental disorder and is kept in a prayer camp. Idan, Aggie’s husband, starts an affair with the very young Randa.

2015: Between Two Worlds. Sub-Saharan Publishers. ISBN 978-9988647933.

In this novel, two worlds converge: A Ghanaian man and a German woman fall in love in Germany, in the 1960s. Many years later, their grown-up twin daughters are confronted with information about the collapse of their parents’ marriage. The reader sees the situation from both angles. He gets to know how the man grows up in the British colony Gold Coast and the woman in post-war Germany. The novel also has a spiritual dimension. The topic of twins is very important as well as the natural religion of the Akan people in Ghana with their fetish and clan priests, libations and drumming. As in her previous novels, Darko’s humour shines through the serious topic.

2015: The Necklace of Tales. ASIN B00YVNNH9I.

This young readers’ book brings the charm of the traditional Kweku Ananse stories into the context of our modern world. For centuries, the stories of this African folktale character were handed down orally through storytelling. The stories originated from the Ashantis, who form part of the Akan tribe of Ghana. Kweku is the day name of a Wednesday-born male and Ananse is Akan for spiders. In this story, which is the first of a series, the Kweku Ananse tales are recounted through the experiences of an orphan girl named Obiba and by virtue of a mysterious set of beads. “The Necklace of Tales”, as the bead necklace is known, is as old as the universe. Inside it are captured the Kweku Ananse stories. It comes into the possession of the orphan Obiba, who is living a difficult life with her unkind aunt in Ghana’s capital Accra. The Kweku Ananse character is a spider with human characteristics. His eight limbs are often depicted as four arms and four legs. His special relationship with the Creator goes back to the time of creation. He is wise and cunning and a trickster. Every Kweku Ananse tale bears some subtle advice and words of wisdom. Told and retold by the captives from the Ashanti tribe during the trans-Atlantic slave trade, the Kweku Ananse stories spread to other parts of the world. They have evolved in places such as the southern parts of the USA, the West Indies and the Caribbean.[4]

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Ghanaian author Amma Darko tours Germany, her second home

Living astride two cultures, exploitation and the quest for happiness. These are some of the themes in the novels of the internationally acclaimed Ghanaian novelist.

The hall in the German city of Cologne is filled with people who have come to see and listen to one woman. The 57 -year-old author from Ghana Amma Darko.

Her braided hair and colorful blouse gives a young and cheerful impression as she keenly listens to an actor reading from her fifth novel which bears the title “Faceless.” It is about the street life of Fofo, a 14 -year-old girl in the slums of Ghana’s capital Accra. The main theme of the story is the vicious cycle of poverty and violence that drives children to streets and women to prostitution.

The novel was published in 2003.

Four years later, “Faceless” was the inspiration behind the award-winning documentary “Roaming Around.”

Amma Darko told the Cologne audience she discovered her talent for writing in the mid-1970s. “In my time writing was not acknowledged as something someone does, so if you were a writer and had a passion for it, you did it in private for fear of being laughed at,” the novelist said.

The reluctance to talk about her passion for writing changed when Amma Darko began studying at the University of Kumasi. She met a professor who encouraged her to keep on writing. However, she graduated in sociology. You could not study creative writing in Ghana in those days, she explained.

Life in Germany

After acquiring her sociology degree, Darko worked as a technical consultant. She then took a weighty decision. She was going to emigrate – to Germany! “I had the drive for adventure and wanted to simply break out,” Darko said, adding that “I was restless. I think the whole country was restless. Everybody was going away.”

The political upheaval in Ghana was at least partly to blame. In 13 years, the country went through five military coups.On 4 June, 1979, Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings seized power as chairman of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC). He had three previous leaders of military coups executed – Lieutenant General Fred Akuffo, General Ignatius Kutu Acheampong and Lieutenant General Akwasi Afrifa.

Many people left Ghana because they did not feel safe. With the help of a pen pal Amma Darko obtained a visa for Germany and moved to the city of Hildesheim in 1981.

“If I had not come to Germany, I would not have developed my writing,” Darko told DW in an interview. “I was able to focus, it takes a lot of passion and determination especially if you have never published before.”

The breakthrough

Despite her prolific output, Amma Darko found it hard to get her works published. She couldn’t find a publisher.But with the help of temporary jobs, she managed to stay afloat until her return to Ghana in 1987.

From then on, it was success. In 1991, Darko’s first novel, “Beyond the horizon,” was first published in German under the title “Der verkaufte Traum”. It is about a Ghanaian woman who follows her husband to Germany, believing she will earn money and win happiness. Instead, she is exploited by her husband and forced into prostitution. It became Germany’s best-selling novel by a black African writer.

“The book came out at a time when migration, prostitution and exploitation was a hot topic,” Darko said.

The book helped Darko to establish herself internationally. Since then, she has published five more novels.
In 2008 she won “Ghana’s Book Award”, the country’s highest literary accolade. “Faceless” is on the curriculum of many schools in West Africa.

Darko is just about to complete her latest book “Between two worlds.” It is also set in Ghana and Germany. “Whenever I bring out a new book, I go on tour,” she explains with a smile. “Germany is my second home.”








Faceless is the pathetic and gripping story of children plunged into the streets by poverty and parental neglect. Amma Darko in very graphic details presents mind-boggling sociological issues of child-neglect, child abuse, defilement of girls, gender, child-trafficking, child-labour, absent fathers, reproductive health risks, violence and failed governance through the grim experiences of street children.

Amma Darko tells the world that every street child has a story, though rarely told. The common denominator in all of these stories is parental neglect. In Accra, MUTE, a non-governmental organisation seeks to unravel the mysterious death of Baby T, a child prostitute whose battered body was found in a slum behind a rasta hair salon kiosk. MUTE’s encounter with Fofo, Baby T’s sister opens an investigative trail into the lives of neglected children. Where do street children come from? Why are they on the street? Who are their parents? These are some of the questions answered unequivocally in Faceless.

Firmly embedded in Faceless is the loud and clear message that parents should take responsibility for their children. More pronounced is the message that no child should be brought into the world without visible means of providing for him physically, financially, psychologically and emotionally. Amma Darko’s Faceless is a well-researched story and a really good read.

By Dayo Okubule /



The novel Faceless is an attempt to identify how Amma Darko uses prose fiction * as a vehicle to cross-examine the complexities of the Ghanaian women’s lives in relation to culture and gender.
This novel explores feminist insight into Amma Darko’s philosophical reflection on the plight of women and girls in Ghana. The novel plays on the theory assumption that literature is the mirror of society * which tenders different perspectives or viewpoints of problems and their solutions.
Amma darko’s novels reflect the nature, causes and possible solutions to myriad feminist issues confronting Ghanaian females. Darko’s novel provides lenses through which we better understand some of the core cultural contest on feminist issues in Africa as a whole.




By NigerianScholar

I am strongly in support of this…i know most of you arent. But to make this post simple to understand i’ll number all my points

1. The scrapping of the post utme favours those that scored high marks in jamb and dosent favoured those that had technical problems

2. This would strongly reduce the ‘egunje’ in many universities. Meaning buying admission. As the scores that will be used to produce your cut off will come from your utme

3. It will save students a lot of stress for travelling all the way to a place just to write another exam and prevent extortion of money from parents by the university (******* university charge 6500 for their p utme)

4. There are many concerns about most people not gaining admission into their preferred institutions. Yes, this may be bad. But it would be a good thing in the long run. As it would let the enrollment into all institutions balanced. Everyone wants to go to unilag. Ui. Oau or whatsoever…..they should encourage people to try other universities

5. It doesnt make sense to write 2 exams for the same purpose. And if the university organises its exams. Like I said before….there would be ojoro

6. Jamb is going to shuffle canditates across different tertiary institutions


As far as am concerned, scrapping post utme is the best.

Modified: imagine thousands of student spending another money to obtain post utme forms, after expenses on jamb forms including logistics. And expect you to spend another money to travel down for one inconsequential post-utme exams.
Is it a job interview?
And the annoying thing, most of them end up becoming preys to predators such in area of accommodation. after many stress in passing through jamb.
The funny thing; these schools don’t care about their welfare. All they care about is getting their forms bought when you’re not even sure of the admission.
Surprising thing, someone you wrote the test with, will have same or low score and will gain admission while you are left to wonder in your fate.
To some point they tell you ‘go follow do runz’ to secure admission when you knew the high score in jamb is enough to neatly secure your admission without stress.
Post utme is fraud. It only gives those with connection, an opportunity to be what they want.
If I had my chance I’ll destroy the world and allow and wish for a restart. The oppressing is too much too bear.
Common bricklayer job in Nigeria needs connection.
Same thing in the so called post utme.
Abeg where the button make I press for Nigeria restart.



Post UTME Will Soon Be Scrapped – Prof. Dibu Ojerinde…05/07/2015
 The Registrar of Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof. Dibu Ojerinde, said that the post-UTME exams conducted by Tertiary Higher Institution will soon be scrapped off due to the introduction of Computer-Based Test, (CBT) Mode in Jamb-UTME.While speaking with newsmen, Prof. Dibu Ojerinde mentioned that following the introduction of the Computer Based Test Mode examination, malpractice will be completely wiped out with time.

Post-UTME test was introduced because of the level of malpractice that swept through the UTME examinations in the past.

However, the JAMB registrar is of the opinion that when examination malpractice in UTME is completely eradicated with the introduction of CBT there will definitely be no need for post-UTME in higher institutions.

Prof. Dibu Ojerinde, further stressed that the Computer-Based Test, CBT Mode was also introduced to prepare candidates to face the academic challenges in higher institutions.



1. In what ways are mystery and suspense created in The Castle of Otranto?

2. What are the literary devices used in The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole?

3. What are the supernatural elements in The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole?

4. What are the themes in Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto?

5. Point out 20 examples of symbolism in The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole

6. In what ways do the settings used in The Castle of Otranto reflect the emotional states of the characters?

7. Provide an analysis of The Castle of Otranto, by Horace Walpole, as a gothic novel.


In what ways are mystery and suspense created in The Castle of Otranto?

The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole is considered one of the classics of Gothic fiction. The story has many of the melodramatic elements typical of Gothic fiction, including a setting in a remote castle, characters who are members of the nobility, supernatural events and portents, mistaken or mysterious identity, and somewhat flat characters, either purely good or purely evil. This is not a novel of character, but of plot, and the suspense and mystery in the story are advanced in two ways.

The first is by supernatural events and portents, such as the giant helmet, the skeletal hermit, the giant sword, and the giants. The second way the author creates suspense is by withholding information from readers and from characters in the novel, such as the identity of Theodore and the evil past of Manfred. The final method the author uses to create suspense is by putting sympathetic characters, Theodore and Isabella, in jeopardy.

What are the literary devices used in The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole?

The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole uses several literary devices to create his tale of horror and suspense.

The author uses sensory details (details that appeal to the senses) to create the mood of this dark tale. In the following excerpt, the temperature of Isabella’s hand clarifies in the reader’s mind not only her unstable emotional condition, but also draws a comparison to death, something with which cold is closely associated:

At those words he seized the cold hand of Isabella, who was half dead with fright and horror.

The following example uses personification.

…he saw [the portrait] quit its panel, and descend on the floor with a grave and melancholy air.

Personification is a literary device that gives human characteristics to non-human things. “Air” is used to refer to attitude or mood, which a painting (not the subject of it) cannot have.

Another example of personification is:

An awful silence reigned throughout those subterraneous regions…

A king reigns over people under his power. However, silence is not human but a thing, and cannot reign. This is a use of figurative language, not to be taken literally.

The literary device diction effectively applies “word choice to create a specific effect.” Details that create a sense of darkness and doom are found in the words “grave” and “melancholy.” Diction is of particular importance in sustaining the mood, once it has been established:

…[her father’s] obscure menace to the Princess his wife, accompanied by the most furious behaviour, had filled her gentle mind with terror and alarm.

The words that create a sense of foreboding are menace, furious, terror, and alarm.

Imagery creates a vivid picture in the reader’s mind. Nearly hysterical, Jaquez says…

…we heard a violent motion and the rattling of armour, as if the giant was rising…

The author uses onomatopoeia to advance the fearful mood of his tale. “Rattling” is a word that often brings to mind the image of bones shaking, the hollow sound they make—or even, as is the case here, the hollowness that would be heard in empty armor. And if the armor is also moving, this promotes a sense of fright as well.

Using ominous words, imagery, sensory details, and personification, and even onomatopoeia, the author creates a dark and frightening mood of terror in this story of the earliest origins, a predecessor to other classic tales of horror such as Shelley’s Frankenstein and Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Telltale Heart” and “The Black Cat.

What are the supernatural elements in The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole?

If you are a fan of gothic literature, you might be interested to know that Horace Walpole’s 18th Century novel is the precursor for all future Gothic fiction. Walpole influenced a slew of Gothic authors, including Bram Stoker, Edgar Allen Poe, and Daphne du Maurier.

In his novel, Walpole attempts to combine Old Romance with New Romance. Old Romance greatly focuses on the supernatural and the fantastic. New Romance is more down to earth. In combining the two, Walpole is able to present ordinary characters working amidst extraordinary circumstances. 18th Century England saw the reign of Henry VIII, who started the Anglican Church in order to circumvent Catholic Church rules about marriage. The king wanted to marry Anne Boleyn but the Church was not keen on dissolving his first marriage to the Catholic queen, Catherine of Aragon. All Gothic architecture at the time was almost always religious in structure: they were churches, cathedrals or monasteries. Henry VIII had many of these Gothic (Catholic) churches dismantled or turned over to the state. In due time, the destruction of a religious heritage, the fascination with the unknown, and the religious struggle between Catholic and Protestant England came to embody Gothic literature. The persecuted woman of Gothic fiction paralleled the persecution of the Catholic Church by Henry VIII.

Walpole’s Gothic novel is filled with fantastic occurrences: whether it is a giant helmet falling out of nowhere and crushing a lord’s son to death, or the ghost of Manfred’s grandfather stepping out of a portrait, or a gigantic foot suddenly appearing out of thin air and another gigantic hand resting on the bannister. Walpole seems to want to tap into his readers’ fascination with the world of the unknown and the terrifying. The question of inheritances, of successors and of marriage is heightened through Walpole’s sometimes surrealistically supernatural elements.

Remember that the 18th Century ushered in the Age of Reason. Science, the art of deductive logic and observation were all openly lauded by Enlightenment thinkers. However, the everyday person did not cease to be fascinated and enthralled with the exotic world of magic and superstition. Walpole’s familiar and sometimes farcical supernatural elements allowed his readers to relate to his story. They allowed his readers room to contemplate their own changing world: Manfred’s fight to marry Isabella and secure his heir mirrors Henry VIII’s bold move to create a new Church, exempt from the power of the Catholic Church.

What are the themes in Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Ortranto?

The Castle of Ortranto is widely recognized as the first gothic novel; in fact, some literary experts call it the first novel, while others still hold with Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. Here are themes in this imaginative tale:

Legacy/Burden of the Past

The story revolves around an ancient prophecy. Prince Manfred’s one unhealthy son Conrad hastily marries Isabella in order to maintain the family line because he fears an ancient prophesy:

That the castle and lordship of Ortranto should pass from the present family whenever the real owner should be grown too large to inhabit it.

When Manfred’s son dies because a huge helmet, much like the one on a statue of Prince Alfonso in the church, mysteriously falls on him in the castle’s courtyard, Manfred decides that he will marry Isabella and divorce his wife who can bear no more children. But Isabella does not want to marry Prince Manfred, and instead escapes with the true heir, Theodore. Manfred, then, tries to have him killed, but when a mark near his shoulder identifies him to Father Jerome, the priest begs the prince to spare his life. Eventually, after Manfred is forced to abdicate Theodore is restored as Prince.


There are a number of supernatural occurrences as pictures move, doors suddenly close on their own, along with fantastical situations and exaggerated human emotions.

Tragedies of Blood

The next generation, Theodore and Isabella fight with the patriarchal order and must forge something different and meaningful in their lives. Tragically, Prince Manfred later mistakenly slays his own daughter Matilda.

In the morning Manfred signed his abdication of the principality, with the approbation of Hippolita…Frederic offered his daughter to the new prince…but Theodore’s grief was too fresh…and it was not till after frequent discourses with isabella…that he was persuaded h could know no happiness but in the society of one with whom he could forever indulge the melancholy that had taken possession of his soul.

Point out 20 examples of symbolism in The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole

Here are some examples of symbolism split up by category.

Metaphors: A metaphor is a figure of speech that uses symbolism.

Time is money

Life is a roller-coaster

He is a rock

Love is a jewel

Allegory as symbolism: Allegory is an extended use of symbolism and metaphors.

“All the world’s a stage,And all the men and women merely players;they have their exits and their entrances;And one man in his time plays many parts,” -Shakespeare

Symbolism in poetry

“Ah Sunflower, weary of time, Who countest the steps of the sun; Seeking after that sweet golden clime Where the traveler’s journey is done;”

Everyday Symbolism

Black is used to represent death or evil.

White stands for life and purity.

Red can symbolize blood, passion, danger, or immoral character.

Purple is a royal color.

Yellow stands for violence or decay.

Blue represents peacefulness and calm.

*colors have different connotations in different cultures*

Objects as symbolism

A chain can symbolize the coming together of two things.

A ladder can represent the relationship between heaven and earth or ascension.

A mirror can denote the sun but when it is broken, it can represent an unhappy union or a separation.

In what ways do the settings used in The Castle of Otranto reflect the emotional states of the characters?

This novel is widely recognised as being one of the most famous Gothic novels in the English language, as it contains all of the critical ingredients necessary for a Gothic novel. Gothic novels normally contained naive and innocent heroines who were entrapped by evil and dastardly males who had sexual designs on them. A young, brave and upright hero battles to save her and the setting is normally based in a ruined castle, an abandoned abbey or a place that is far away from civilisation and the rest of humanity.

The setting is a key aspect of Gothic fiction, as it highlights the way that Gothic literature exaggerates human emotions. Being so far away from the restraining influence of civilisation, the responses of the characters–the hysteria of the damsel in distress, for example– is that much more acute. It highlights the way in which Gothic novels are psychological novels, and the responses of the characters are extreme emotional and passionate responses that move them beyond the realms of normal experience and into the hinterland of the unconscious and psychological realm of emotions and passions. You might find this a useful way of examining the range of extreme emotions as expressed in this novel, perhaps especially the hysteria of Isabella.

Provide an analysis of The Castle of Otranto, by Horace Walpole, as a gothic novel.

With regard to The Castle of Ortranto: A Gothic Story, and the Gothic horror genre:

Gothic fiction (sometimes referred to as Gothic horror) is a genre of literature that combines elements of both horror and romance. As a genre, it is generally believed to have been invented by the English author Horace Walpole, with his 1764 novel The Castle of Otranto…

It is generally regarded as the first gothic novel, initiating a literary genre which would become extremely popular in the later 18th century and early 19th century.

It was presented as a translation from the Italian, believed to be based on an earlier version from the 1500s, which was said to have been based on an even earlier story dating to the Crusades (details which were all created by Walpole).

The novel predates other Gothic horror writers that would follow, such as Bram Stoker (Dracula) and Mary Shelley (Frankenstein). Romantic writers also contributed to this genre with works such as Coleridge’s The Rime of an Ancient Mariner.

There are many characteristics of Gothic horror (or fiction). Generally speaking (among others), look for:

a remote, foreign or mysterious location (often in a castle)
elements of the supernatural (ghosts, hauntings, etc.)
a tormented protagonist and/or a damsel in distress (i.e., Jane Eyre)

Based on a summary of the plot, the elements that support the story as a Gothic piece of literature include a possible hereditary curse against the Otranto family (the supernatural), the setting in a remote location (castle), as well as a tormented antagonist (Manfred) and a damsel in distress (Isabella). As with other stories of this kind, there was also death (when Manfred loses his son at the beginning, and later when he kills Matilda by accident).

Based upon the plot developments of the story and the elements of the Gothic horror genre, The Castle of Otranto is an example of Gothic fiction.



The Castle of Otranto, the Gothic Novel and the Origins of Fantasy Posted by Scott Lazerus

Scott Lazerus is a Professor of Economics at Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado, and has been a science fiction fan since the 1970s. Recently, he began branching out into fantasy, and was surprised by the diversity of the genre. It’s not all wizards, elves, and dragons! Scott’s new blog series, Forays into Fantasy, is an SF fan’s exploration of the various threads of fantastic literature that have led to the wide variety of fantasy found today. FiF will examine some of the most interesting landmark books of the past, along with a few of today’s most acclaimed fantasies, building up an understanding of the connections between fantasy’s origins, its touchstones, and its many strands of influence.

The Castle of OtrantoAs my interest in science fiction was revived over the last couple of years, and I decided to expand my reading into fantasy as well, I went in search of context. Looking for a guide to some superior and important examples of fantasy, beyond the usual suspects, I pulled David Pringle’s Modern Fantasy: The Hundred Best Novels off the shelf (and examples of some of these novels will continue to show up in this series of posts), but Pringle begins in 1946, and I wanted to start at the beginning. Fantasy: The 100 Best Books, by James Cawthorn and Michael Moorcock, published in 1988, starts in the eighteenth century. Specifically, the first book listed is Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift (1726) — no surprise there. The other three examples from the 1700s, though, I had never heard of before: The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole, Vathek by William Beckford, and The Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis. Upon reading Cawthorn and Moorcock’s essays, it became clear that these were all examples of early Gothic novels, which make up one of the earliest strands of the fantasy genre.

So, did fantasy as a genre really begin in the 1700s (clearly, there was fantastic literature prior to that), and what role did these Gothic novels play in those beginnings? During this eighteenth century, poets and philosophers debated the nature of imagination, and there was a new and rising view that the imagination was not merely a repository of memory and observation, but was a faculty capable of the visionary illumination of the unknown, as Samuel Coleridge and William Blake tried to do in their poetry. In literature, these ideas led to the ongoing distinction between the realistic and the fantastic. As Gary K. Wolfe writes in “Fantasy from Dryden to Dunsany,” in The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature (2012):

“The modern fantasy novel, and to an arguable extent the modern novel itself, is in part an outgrowth of this debate. While we can reasonably argue that the fantastic in the broadest sense had been a dominant characteristic of most world literature for centuries prior to the rise of the novel, we can also begin to discern that the fantasy genre may well have had its origins in these eighteenth- and nineteenth-century discussions of fancy vs. imagination, history vs. romance…”

In particular, Wolfe sees the fantasy genre as arising from three sources during the 1700s and 1800s: “private history” novels such as Robinson Crusoe, a revival of interest in old folk tales and fairy tales, and the vogue for Gothic novels, all three of which required the use of imagination to envision what we now think of as “the fantastic.”

Horace WalpoleWhere, then, did this Gothic strand of literature arise from, and what does it entail? Our story begins during the latter stages of the Roman Empire, when the Goths pillaged their way south from Scandinavia, ultimately sacking Rome in 410. After gaining control of the Italian peninsula, they eventually lost power later in the Middle Ages, after sundry violent run-ins with the Huns, the Franks, and the Moors. Due to its association with the decline of the Classical world, the term “Gothic” came into use during the 1500s as a pejorative term for a medieval style in art and architecture, from the twelfth — through the sixteenth — centuries, which was considered during the Renaissance to be ugly and barbaric when compared to the Classical art and architecture it supplanted. It is best represented by the intricate and sculpturally adorned Medieval cathedrals with their soaring pointed arches, which took advantage of advances in structural design to achieve previously unprecedented height, with correspondingly tall windows and, of course, lots of gargoyles.

As pointed out by Adam Roberts in his essay on “Gothic and Horror Fiction” also in The Cambridge Companion, by the time the term “Gothic” was first used to describe a form of literature, in the mid-eighteenth century, its “primary signification… was that of barbarous anti-enlightenment.” At the same time, a revival of interest in Gothic aesthetics would result in the term becoming more complimentary in the eyes of those who began to bring the now old-fashioned medieval styles back into fashion. Among these was Horace Walpole, who rebuilt his London mansion in what he considered to be a “Gothic” style, and wrote what is generally agreed to be the first Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto: A Story, published in 1764. (Subsequent editions would be subtitled A Gothic Story.)

Walpole originally published The Castle of Otranto under a pseudonym, claiming in the preface that it was a translation of a recently discovered manuscript printed in 1529 and most likely written between 1095 and 1243, thus pretending to establish it as an actual work of the Middle Ages. He speculates that it was written by a priest in order to “avail himself of his abilities as an author to confirm the populace in their ancient errors and superstitions” at a time when such superstitions were being challenged by the Italian intelligentsia. Although presented by the translator as a mere entertainment:

“Some apology for it is necessary. Miracles, visions, necromancy, dreams, and other preternatural events, are exploded now even from romances. That was not the case when our author wrote; much less when the story itself is supposed to have happened. Belief in every kind of prodigy was so established in those dark ages, that an author would not be faithful to the manners of the times, who should omit all mention of them. He is not bound to believe them himself, but he must represent his actors as believing them. If this air of the miraculous is excused, the reader will find nothing else unworthy of his perusal. Allow the possibility of the facts, and all the actors comport themselves as persons would do in their situation… Terror, the author’s principal engine, prevents the story from ever languishing; and it is so often contrasted by pity, that the mind is kept up in a constant vicissitude of interesting passions.”

Clearly, Walpole was aware of the debate over the role of imagination in literature described above by Wolfe, and was attempting to combine the virtues of the modern novel with the fanciful content of ancient stories and myths. Ironically, while claiming to apologize to the reader for the old-fashioned fantastical elements in the story, what Walpole was really doing, by bringing these elements into a novel, was to create something entirely new. In the Middle Ages, people really were superstitious, and such stories would not have been considered “fantastic” in the modern sense. By the 1700s, by which time the Enlightenment had banished superstition from the educated mind, bringing back the fantastic required a new use of imagination for both writers and their audience.

Clearly, people were ready for it. In a popular and commercial sense, his experiment was very successful, unleashing a sea of imitators. Despite Walpole’s apology for it, it is that very “air of the miraculous” that makes the novel intriguing. The plot itself is quite ludicrous, but individual incidents, and the overall mood, keep things interesting. Manfred, lord of the Castle of Otranto, while overseeing the wedding of his sickly son Conrad to Isabella, is shocked and dismayed when a giant helmet appears and crushes Conrad to death, leaving Manfred without an heir. The enormous helmet is otherwise identical to that once worn by Alfonso the Good, who is supposed to have granted the castle to Manfred’s grandfather many years before. Clearly concerned about the implications of this strange event, and determined to maintain his family’s succession, he announces his intention to divorce his wife Hippolita, who has been incapable of providing him with another son, and marry Isabella himself. Neither woman is pleased. Isabella escapes with the help of Theodore, whom Manfred sentences to death. Chasing Theodore and Isabella into the vaults beneath the castle, Manfred encounters an apparition of his grandfather, as well as manifestations of giant armored body parts and weapons, presumably arising from the same source as the helmet. As Manfred had feared, these visions herald the fulfillment of a prophecy that foretold the end of his family’s usurpation of the castle, and the return of its rightful heir, who turns out to be Theodore. Isabella ends up Queen of the castle after all.

The genre ushered in by Walpole’s story remained very popular until about 1820, and continued to evolve thereafter (think of Frankenstein, Wuthering Heights, Dracula, and Rebecca). Very few of the novels from the original flowering of the Gothic are still read, but they represented an unleashing of imaginative literature that would ultimately lead to the development of the modern genres of horror (which still maintains an explicitly gothic strand), fantasy, and even science fiction, whose readers are often looking for the same “sense of wonder” as was the original audience for gothic fiction.

The characteristic feeling evoked by the Gothic story is the combination of the familiar and the foreign — the simultaneous attraction and repulsion that Freud wrote about as “the uncanny.” This characteristic of the Gothic has to do with the mood rather than the well-known trappings of the stories — the feeling of mysteriousness, that there are things happening that we can’t quite understand and that may ultimately remain obscure; that important realizations are just out of reach in the shadows and gloom. The reader wants to find out what horrors (usually evils from the past returning to haunt the present) underlie the events in the story, but at the same time is afraid to find out.

The typical elements of the settings in which these strange stories play out have become iconic. As Adam Roberts explains:

“In Otranto we find, in nascent form, many of the props and conventions that were to reappear in the scores of novels published at the height of the Gothic vogue…: moody atmospherics, picturesque and sublime scenery, darkness, buried crimes (especially murderous and incestuous crimes) revealed, and most of all a spectral supernatural focus. Many imitators tried to follow Walpole’s commercial success by littering their novels with similar props, settings and conventions — the haunted castle, the night-time graveyard, the Byronic villain and so on,”

Horace WalpoleBut the elements that make the works successful are not these outward trappings, but rather their ability to invoke the uncanny and the transgressive, and to fire the reader’s imagination.

As for Otranto in particular, it is the first, but not the very best. Fantasy readers today will have no problem with the fantastic elements, but may struggle with the improbable plot twists, many of which hinge on mistaken or hidden identity, and with the overwrought dialogue. Those willing to make allowances, however, will be carried along by the onrushing events and the feverish intensity of the characters’ emotions and actions, until the situation they are caught up in is finally resolved. These events, manifested through supernatural interventions into the real world, were precipitated by past injustice, a pattern which will play out again in subsequent Gothic novels, often within some variation on Walpole’s shadowy castle and subterranean vaults, literary images that have never ceased to haunt readers of the fantastic.









Literary elements

In the preface of the second edition, Walpole creates a heuristic for reading Castle which irrevocably changes the way readers are to view the novel until its end. He claims to blend the new and old styles of romance. The “old” romance is what we would consider pre-novel prose – a main tenet of such writings is their fantastic nature. There is magic, the supernatural abounds and they are wholly unbelievable. The style of the “new” romance is what the novels of the 18th century, when Walpole was writing, would generally have looked like. These novels were realistic: they purported to depict events and people as they truly were.

Walpole then, by attempting to blend these two genres, creates something new – something truly “novel”. He creates fantastic situations (helmets falling from the sky, walking portraits, etc.) and places supposedly real people into these situations and allows them to act in a “real” manner. In doing so, he effectively allows fiction to evolve in ways that it would otherwise have not been able to. However, readers then may question to what extent did Walpole succeed in his attempt. Do readers view these characters’ reactions as truly realistic, or do they merely seem so because of the heuristic that we are given at the outset of the novel?

An additional note: Walpole, in Castle, introduces many set-pieces that the Gothic novel will become famous for. These includes mysterious sounds, doors opening independently of a person, and the fleeing of a beautiful heroine from a licentious male figure.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Language of Gothic in Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (1764)

Gothic language in any form depends upon reactions to what in Gothic, critic Frank Botting called ‘the poetic and visionary power’ (p. 4) of the sublime to achieve its purpose; to terrorise and horrify. While some contemporary readers may find the excessive language and stock imagery in Horace Walpole’s early Gothic work The Castle of Otranto contrived, it is important to consider modern Gothic as a mode gilded by the moving image; it is arguably the same antiquated excess beneath the contemporary veneer. The language of Gothic then is essentially a visual language as Botting concurs, inspiring contemporary images and anticipating emotive and sensual reactions in order to develop and sustain atmosphere. The mutuality of language and imagery in defining Gothic atmosphere can be illustrated by close reading of an extended extract from the novel:

‘Theodore and the monks besought her earnestly to suffer … Manfred, plunged into the deepest affliction, followed in despair’ (p. 110).

The language in this extract exemplifies both the clarity of Gothic imagery and the excess of Gothic language as the reader is overwhelmed by religious connotations as Walpole’s words become brush-strokes illustrating a Gothicised Renaissance masterpiece. To create atmosphere, Walpole establishes character and setting by placing the dying Matilda, Theodore, Father Jerome, Manfred and the monks in the tomb of Alonso, a symbolic threshold between the convent and Manfred’s castle. Despite the movement inferred in the passage by ‘they carried her thither’, Walpole’s language does not inspire a moving image. Instead, the reader reacts to a scene which is moving emotionally.

It is a scene in which Matilda is central, surrounded by the others, but it is the language which subverts the scene into a Gothicised Passage of the Cross in which the Catholic Virgin is crucified upon a wooden litter amid the relics of the grave. Walpole only illuminates the scene enough to reveal grieving Theodore on one side, lifelessly ‘hanging’ over Matilda like a shroud ‘in an agony of despairing love’, and on the other side, the pious Father Jerome, his crucifix ‘bathed’ by Matilda’s ‘innocent tears’, comforts her with ‘discourses of heaven’.

The effect is to realize stock imagery with such clarity and compositional consideration, that literary ambiguity can interpreted visually, as shown by Walpole’s use of ‘the other side’. Here, ambiguity is not only a compositional aid for the reader imagining the scene, literally placing the priest on the other side of Matilda; it also dwells upon death and ‘the passage to immortality’, underlining the priest’s solemn purpose. But where there is symmetry within this distorted Gothic trinity, there is also conflict, at its most visible when Matilda rejects the convent, turning instead toward the castle and the unholy presence of her father.

What Walpole achieves in The Castle of Otranto is a subtle yet critical balance between conveying character and setting, and effecting emotion, sensation and atmosphere. It can be seen from the visual interpretation of the passage that Walpole presents scenes of such graphic detail, that the work of the great Gothic artists is visualized within the text. These bold impressions occur with such frequency, dictated by the pace of the narrative, that the reader is prevented from producing what Botting described as ‘a rational and properly cultivated response’ (p. 4). Before their respective contemporary audiences, both early Gothic literature and modern Gothic cinema demonstrate that exciting irrationalism is the key to rendering the power of the sublime into imagery which terrorizes and horrifies as Botting suggests. What sustains Walpole’s effectiveness in actualising these aims is the realisation that these clear visual elements already being present within the text, his work would not be diminished by contemporary revision in the form of the modern graphic novel.


Writers of Gothic tales and writers about them use many of the same terms, but they often assign different meanings and values to them. Or they may assign the same Gothic-ficiton-writers to different categories, e.g., the weird tale or the occult tale or the tale of terror . For instance, Glen St. John Barclay identifies Le Fanu, Stoker, and Lovecraft as masters of “occult fiction”; for Edward Wagenknect, LeFanu, Machen, and Blackwood are masters of “supernatural fiction”; and S.L. Vernado discusses Stoker, Machen, Blackwood, and Lovecraft was writers of the “numinous tale.”

For these reasons, it is important to be aware of the meanings a word may have in general and to determine the specific way a writer is using it, as well as know exactly what you mean when you use the word. I have grouped words which have similar, overlapping, or associated meanings together, to highlight their similarities, differences, and connections.

Mysterium Tremendum, Numinous, Occult, Paranormal, Preternatural, and Supernatural
“mysterium tremendum”:

The numinous is the divine and the spiritual, or it may be the revelation or suggestion that a god is present; always, it inspires awe and reverence. This meaning was in use by 1647. The adjective derives from the noun numen, meaning deity, divinity; divine or presiding power or spirit.
Writers exploring occult and supernatural fiction frequently quote Rudolf Otto, who “defined numinous as the non-rational mystery behind religion, which is both awesome and fascinating. It is, he asserted, the permanent and essential feature of all religion, including Christianity” (S. W. Sykes).

The occult is what is kept secret or is told only to the initiated (this meaning appeared in writing in 1533). Later in the same century, it came to mean something not understood by the mind or not capable of being understood by the mind; it was, in other words, mysterious. The final meaning relevant to our course refers to ancient and medieval sciences or their modern equivalents, like magic, alchemy, astrology, and theosophy; these occult sciences used agencies of a secret and mysterious nature, for example, divination, incantation, magical formulas. Thus, the occult may mean magical or mystical. This last set of meanings was in use by 1633.

A modern word appearing in 1920, the paranormal functions according to natural laws which are not yet known and so cannot now be explained, but the paranormal, it is assumed, can be explained.

Since the sixteenth century, the word preternatural has described happenings or powers which, it is assumed, follow natural laws not yet known. With the eighteenth century, the word came to be used as a synonym for supernatural. The preternatural, though sometimes mistaken for the miraculous, is merely strange and inexplicable.

Of things in nature and art: Affecting the mind with a sense of overwhelming grandeur or irresistible power; calculated to inspire awe, deep reverence, or lofty emotion, by reason of its beauty, vastness, or grandeur.

The supernatural is, as its name literally indicates, above nature; it belongs to a higher level than nature and transcends nature; these meanings were current in 1526. So Calvin said, “Of nature is giltinesse, and sanctification is of supernaturall grace.” Later in the century, the word was extended to mean relating to, dealing with, or characterized by what is above nature.
Eerie, Uncanny, and Weird

From 1300 on, eerie meant fearful and timid; today, the word has narrowed to a specific kind of fear–a vague superstitious uneasiness. It is used as a synonym for weird and uncanny, as well as for gloomy and strange; the eerie arouses fear.

The usual meaning of uncanny is having a supernatural character or being mysterious, weird, uncomfortably strange or unfamiliar. According to the OED, the first recorded use of this meaning occurred in 1843, and by 1850 it was common. The word may also mean mysterious, eerie, or ghostly. An uncanny person is not quite safe to trust to or be involved with, because of having some connection with supernatural arts or powers; this meaning appeared in 1773.
Freud offers his own definition and theory about the uncanny.

This word has a long lineage, its first recorded use being in the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf, where it means fate or destiny. A stock phrase using this meaning is “to dree one’s weird,” that is, to suffer one’s fate. A narrowing of this meaning, dating from 1300, is an evil fate which is inflicted by supernatural power, often in retribution. By the fifteenth century, the word also meant events which are fated or predestined to happen; by the eighteenth, a prophecy or prediction of someone’s fate. Not until 1814 is weird used to describe a story about the supernatural or the marvelous.
In the 1930s and 40s a magazine called Weird Tales catered to readers with a taste for the Gothic and published several of H.P. Lovecraft’s stories.

Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary distinguishes among these three words:

Weird, eerie, uncanny mean mysteriously strange or fantastic. Weird, in stricter use, often implies an unearthly or preternatural mysteriousness; eerie, a vague consciousness that unearthly or mysterious and, often, malign powers or influences are at work; uncanny, in its prevailing but looser sense, unpleasant mysteriousness or strangeness, as of persons, places, sensations, thought, etc.