God Protects Babies and Fools
Though the accomplished author and mother has been writing her entire life, Meri Nana-Ama Danquah never intended to write professionally. “People didn’t have the opportunity to say to me ‘do you know how hard this will be?’ Because I never really went out and said I’m pursuing this. I just sort of did it and things happened because I was doing it.” For her, expressing the desire to become a writer just one generation ago garnered responses such as: ‘What do you mean you want to be a writer? Choose something solid. Choose a career!’ While writing is finally becoming a viable career for Black women in the Americas, Ghana and other African countries, she says people will still fight you on the decision. She tells her students not to be afraid and not let other people’s fears become their own. She is very supportive of her own daughter, who attends an Ivy League U.S. university pursuing a theatre arts degree.
A Grain of Salt
Danquah has received accolades for her work from literary greats such as author and poet, Maya Angelou. When asked about whether she was flattered by Angelou’s compliments, Danquah gives a rather pragmatic answer: “Obviously there’s a real sense of self-pride but you can’t get too comfortable. If you listen to all that sort of congratulatory stuff that people say, then you have to give equal weight to the damming and awful stuff people say.” She does admit to feeling that spark of excitement, you can’t cling onto it. Likewise with harsh critiques, they sting but also must be let go. “It can’t crush you” she says, “It can’t stop you from writing.”
It all comes back to being true to yourself. Danquah says that “if you’re called to write about something, particularly if you’re trading new ground, people will not understand. But you go anyway and you pave that road and you pave it by walking.” With such works as the memoir Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman’s Journey through Depression and the anthology The Shaking Tree, a writing career for Danquah, appears to be a path well tread.
If you missed it, you’ll want to read Pave the Road by Walking-Part One