The Chemical Engineer and Author from Wassa.

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Who is Nana Awere Damoah
Nana is a thinker, writer, Christian, engineer and author. My background is in Chemical Engineering, trained in KNUST (UST then) and Nottingham  University. In my spare time, I love to spend time with my family and friends, read, do some movies and visit pals. I love speaking to young people too.
Which books will make it into your top ten list?
Here you are….okay, I cheated and gave you my top eleven!
1. How to Make Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
2. Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell
3. Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe
4. The Potter’s Wheel – Chukwuemeka Ike
5. Captain from Castile – Samuel Shellabarger
6. Long Walk to Freedom – Nelson Mandela
7. There Was A Country – Chinua Achebe
8. From Third World to First World: Singapore and the Asian Economic Boom – Kuan Yew Lee
9. Tickling the Ghanaian – Kofi Akpabli
10. The Godfather – Mario Puzo
11. The Audacity of Hope – Barack Obama

Who is your favourite African writer
A tie of Chinua Achebe and Chukwuemeka Ike (for fiction), and Kofi Akpabli (for non-fiction). Sorry, I couldn’t drop any of them.

 Why do you write?
My Nigerian writer friend, Joseph Omotayo, in reviewing my second book Through the Gates of Thought in 2011, wrote: “This book is Nana Awere’s attempt at archiving histories, experiences, lessons and encounters in a more secured medium of communication – writing…The step that Nana has taken through the writing of this thought-provoking book restates the fact that; if we were able to access the story of how our forebears rise, fall and get to the thrones that are willed to us, we wouldn’t have taken a strut induced by the euphoria of the little comfort that was of the striving and labouring of our ancestors. Little wonder successive generations become poorer. Had it been the ways by which our forefathers make their well armoured enemies to flee the battlefield are shown to us; men with only jackboots as implements of war wouldn’t have scared us from our homes.”

Omotayo captured the essence of what I write most succinctly. I write primarily because I want my kids and their generation to know my experiences; perhaps it will help them avoid some of our mistakes. Furthermore, I write because I want to affect minds with my thoughts. For fiction writing, it is to entertain and educate. Finally, I write because it is like therapy for me. I usually go back to my non-fiction pieces when I am going through similar experiences, just to advise myself. I believe firmly in the adage ‘physician, heal thyself’ and I am of the opinion that a writer’s works must first minister to him or her.

Who is your all-time favourite author
Hmm, difficult choice to make. I always put my influences in fiction and non-fiction. So allow me…Achebe and Dale Carnegie, respectively.

 Is reading a catalyst for development?
Yes, indeed. By reading, we travel through the pages of the book in other worlds. We get to know how others think and how they built. We get challenged. We also read about the bad and know what to avoid. How else can we know about the dreams Nkrumah had if you didn’t read about him in school or don’t read now about his thoughts? A reading nation should lead to a thinking nation and a forward-looking one.

Which is your best literary work?
Tough one…just like asking which my favourite child is. Each of the books has a unique character which the others may not have and every one of them reflected a particular stage of my development, as a writer, career professional or individual.

 Are you addicted to Social media?
No. I use Social media most especially to build my brand as a writer. I have been using social media, especially Facebook, as a tool for my online marketing skills since 2008. I look at it with a long term view: not just marketing books but creating an online brand name, which hopefully should translate into offline recognition. So I use all the outlets: Facebook, Twitter, emails and via my website.

In between release of my books, I ensure that two things are happening: writing and sharing articles, stories and anecdotes plus one liners as well as interacting with my readers. For instance, for I Speak of Ghana, many people suddenly saw the movement and the buy-in and wondered how I did it. Well, it didn’t just happen. Those who followed the evolution of Tales from Different Tails know that even the title of the book was decided online. I operate with long-term perspective in mind, in most of my engagements on social media.

 How can social media be fine-tuned into a major tool for development in Africa?
Yes. The leading media houses like BBC and Joy FM are using it as a great tool for engagement with their listeners and viewers. I have been involved in social outreaches with a group I am part of (called DGG) which was purely facilitated via Facebook. We know about the marshaling of forces that was done via social media during the Arab springs. Social media has flattened hitherto hierarchical structures and this ability to transcend social barriers online can be harnessed positively.

Has social media come to improve reading culture in our part of the world?
No, unfortunately. Social media can enhance an already innate desire for reading. If it is not there, social media can rather reduce it. What social media gives you is a great range of pointers to interesting stuff to read. But, then again, it depends on who you are following or the friends you have. Choosing friends and who to follow will influence the quality of what you get out of social media.

 Would you go into full time writing one day?
Only if it is able to sort out my daily bread (haha). No, my dream is to go into academia eventually, and combine it with my writing. I need a balance between writing and another job. A quick assignment: how many full-time African writers do you know?

What is so special about Wasa? Why should someone travel from Sydney in Australia to visit the part of Ghana known as Wasa?
Wasa is special only because it is my hometown. Simple as that. Some things cannot be explained by words. The ambience, the people, visiting my traditional homes in Akropong, Bawdie and Hiawa, eating our traditional foods such as rice and thick palmnut soup…these are priceless and my heart is always warm when I go back to my roots.

 Which of your works will you consider as the best?
This will be best answered by the readers.

 Who in your view holds the magic wand that can change the fortunes of our country and the continent of Africa?
The citizens of the country and the continent. By keeping our leaders on their feet and being on our feet as well. By that, I mean that as we are careful in who we elect, we should not accept any mediocrity and we as citizens should put our shoulders to the wheel and work hard to build our country and continent. My unflinching opinion is that no one can till this land better than ourselves. It is our generation’s responsibility.

What are the major setbacks to a better Ghana and how do we surmount these challenges?
Low standards, too much talk, analysis to paralysis, not taking daily incremental steps, accepting mediocrity, not living up to what we profess. How we surmount these challenges? Ask yourself at the end of each day: what have you  done for Ghana today to make you feel proud?

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