People We Like
Mr Happy and the Hammer of God
In a secretly treacherous world that yet promises the possibility of happiness, questions matter; that is, whether or not the questions should be asked. And in the pursuit of happiness there is a dynastic relationship between our thoughts and actions. What makes us Servants or Masters, and the deference that evokes an emotional response to the single image of life is variously discussed in Mr. Happy and the Hammer of God.
Mr. Happy and the Hammer of God is a collection of short stories in which the writer delivers entertaining accounts and perspectives on humanity and our shared roles in life. The reader is met with a language which unveils the plot in a picturesque manner so that we can see and feel the untold stories wrapped in the everyday poetry of the dialogues and monologues in the stories.
The book is in two parts: Part I has seven stories boldly addressing issues diverse as adultery and man’s
The author’s multifaceted background in the Arts and also in Physics establishes his strategic position to assemble key questions about life, disguised in the physical and emotional expressions of characters. Set up in Accra, Egblewogbe presents a broad insight into the Ghanaian community by drawing his characters from our streets, our homes and religious institutions. The author supplies an in-depth analysis of various aspects of our social fabric from the unit of family, child care, religion, education, friendship and the self. For instance, Dervi, in Mr. Happy and the Hammer of God is time and again met in a number of stories, and yet Dervi in each story opens a fresh light into the complex composition of our society which is explored progressively in Mr. Happy and the Hammer of God.
The author’s enthusiasm on the subject on life, it’s essence, the quest for happiness, religion and his strength in the use of humour is obvious throughout the book. Opening with "They call am ‘lie lie fight’" through to the title story "Mr. Happy and the Hammer of God" and all the way to "Three Conversations with Ayuba"; there are great moments where the reader is treated to laughter, discovery and shock as they are met with the bold truth of the characters’ stock and its relevance to our lives today. Though there are a few dull moments also, which is mainly caused by telltale of already familiar phenomenon, the credibility of the stories does not suffer due to this obvious shortcoming which will likely be corrected in the next edition.
The organization of "Mr. Happy and the Hammer of God" allows the reader to easily follow through the stories. The main characters fit into the general environment of desperation for change so much so that the collection may be read imaginatively as a complete novel save for a few stories which doesn’t quite come together comfortably into the general drama of violation, succumbing, winning and losing all in a perilous gush of anxiety. The other stories however provoke our thoughts in a matching intensity and offer their own elements of mystery and suspense.
After meeting characters like Dervi, Bubu, and Ayuba in Mr. Happy and the Hammer of God, I question my own psychological and how ‘the system’, has contributed in forming my beliefs, what I find socially acceptable, entertaining, or worth living for. I have come to terms with my own escapist tendencies in trying to define the purpose of my life.
Egblewogbe’s simplicity and clarity pooled in with humour and wit serves the reader very well. "...Yet, how could someone take a wrong turn if he could not know the right turn? Therefore for those trapped in the maze, there was neither wrong nor right turn, but only the way they chose, for they could not tell which way would lead them to Jjork." The harmony of the stories is held strong by little details the author provides. ''Otta had blackened teeth and always smelt of something- usually cigarette smoke, but sometimes he stank of sweat, garlic, and occasionally, a peculiar musty odour hung about him, as if he had pissed into his clothes”. My thoughts had to take a moment to process this particular excerpt, "... there cannot be friendship if one party is so much more powerful than the other is. Ergo, Dervi thought, man cannot be friends with God."
Set in Accra, the center of business activities, the author creates an atmosphere where everybody is looking out for nobody. There is also a sense of changelessness, in human motions and emotions. Accra is always busy, people will keep moving in opposite directions yet they end up at the same place, their minds and how far their will to live and quest for happiness will take them.
This book I will recommend not only for its entertaining quality -- "an ancient blue-and-yellow taxi was waiting for one more passenger. The battered vehicle looked like a Fiat but might actually have been something else during its long life, since every part of it must have been replaced at least once" -- but also for its power to provoke the reader’s thoughts on various pertinent issues. A question that each one of us perhaps would ask after reading Mr. Happy and the Hammer of God is, 'Do I want to be ‘the hammer or the nail'? We may even find a bit of Dervi or Ayubu in us or recognize them in the lives that we encounter. Mr. Happy and the Hammer of God is a must read for the young and the old.
Note Mr Happy and the Hammer of God is available at the University Bookshop, Legon, and other bookshops in Ghana.
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