Scrolls of the Living Night
Kobi the Magician is born to a Ghanaian woman within meager environs. Three midwives witness the astonishing and mystical birth, as well as the miraculous moment when the young king speaks of a twin. Against Mama Kopi’s wishes, the midwives spread the news throughout the town of their future monarch’s birth. But, a year later, in the same area, a wealthy family celebrate their son’s first birthday. The midwives, believing that the celebrated Paa Quartey is Kobi’s prophesied twin, make ardent plans for the brothers to come together, but their well-intended strategy falls flat. Nevertheless, the twins ultimately meetmuch to the chagrin of their parents. Although the brother’s vow “to each other that nothing would render them disunited,” they are unaware to what extent their promise will take them.
Multi award-winning novelist Benjamin Kwakye pens an incredible tale of good and evil in his fourth, and most recent, work. An epic poem, Kwakye’s third-person verse is replete with a wealth of characters set within Ghana. While Kobi and Paa are, in essence, the principal characters, a large portion of Kwakye’s plot focuses on the interactions and reflections of the parents, the boys’ learning environments as they are growing, and the behind-the-scene situations with the midwives before the story shifts to the twins and their incongruous relationship.
Divided into three books, and designed in chapters, Kwakye’s ballad follows over 300 pages of stunning un-metered ABAB scheme, laced with rich descriptive verbiage. Keeping his narrative constantly moving, Kwakye alternates between various character scenes, centered on the Kobis, the Quarteys, the three midwives, and of course, the twin brothers. Of particular interest is the way Kwakye incorporates traditional culture aspects within a modern-day scenario. This pronounced feature is especially captured in the three midwifes, who combine spiritualism in their passionate pursuit to bring the two families, as well as the brothers, together.
Filled with a flurry of twists and turns, Scrolls of the Living Night is not only a delightful welcome to African literature, but also a refreshing read for poetry aficionados.
Cissus World Press