J. Benibengor Blay

Profile 1 (reproduced with permission)

01 Jun 2003, by Douglas Killam and Ruth Rowe - Editors of The Companion to African Literature (James Currey 2000) obtainable from Africa Book Centre (£18.50 inc p&p in UK). Email: orders@africabookcentre.com

 

BLAY, J. Benibengor (1915-), Ghanaian writer of fiction, poetry, and drama. Blay's numerous novelettes, stories, plays, and books of verse are of the order of Onitsha market chapbooks, most of them published under his own imprint, Benibengor Book Agency (Aboso), or by Stockwell (Ilfracombe, England). Born in Half Assini, Western Ghana, he was educated at the Regent Street Polytechnic, London. In 1958, he was elected a member of the Ghanaian National Assembly and later became Minister of Arts and Culture under President Kwame Nkrumah, who wrote an introduction to his book of verse Ghana Sings (1965).

 

Blay's books are generally platitudinous and heavily moralistic, dealing with the hackneyed themes of tradition and change in post-colonial Ghana. But following European and Onitsha market chapbook romance formulae, they have appealed strongly to adolescents at school and the less educated reading public since the early 1940s. Many of his titles remained in print or underwent several reprints into the late 1970s. The novelettes include Emelia's Promise and Fulfilment (n.d., ca. 1944), Dr. Bengto Wants a Wife (1953), After the Wedding (1967), and The Story of Tata (ca. 1976). The collections of stories include Be Content With Your Lot (1947, a collection of his early stories), Operation Witchcraft (1956), and Tales for Boys and Girls (1966). Of the several volumes of verse Thoughts of a Youth (1967) combines the texts of Immortal Deeds (1940), Memoirs of the War (1946), and King of the Human Frame (1947) in one volume. He also published a biography entitled Legend of Kwame Nkrumah (1973).





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