NANA S. ACHAMPONG: What advice would you give your younger Self?

N. MARIA KWAMI: “Don’t sweat the small stuff, Maria; you have more important things to achieve”.

NSA: What have you learned about yourself since you became famous?

NMK: I am my biggest critic and motivator.

NSA: What things have you learned about life and the human condition from being a celebrity?

NMK: People’s perceptions about me will change as my circumstances change, but I’m still the same person; it is therefore important to develop principles to which I can remain true even as circumstances continue to change around me.

NSA: What things in life are still a mystery to you?

NMK: Things that are out of my control remain a mystery to me, things that I cannot alter — the seasons, the workings of the human body. The chemistry that binds us to some people and yet repels us from others.

NSA: If you were an all-powerful mayor for a day, what ONE change would you make to Accra?

NMK: I would resurrect Sergeant Salifu Amankwah and delegate him to clean up the filth. It’s hard to understand why this is not considered a priority. The entire city is sitting on a sanitation time bomb. This is the main reason why I have now moved out of Accra.

NSA: Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?

NMK: I think my personality is that of a gatherer.

NSA: What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?

NMK: I listen to music or the radio, which keeps me from thinking about stressful things going on in my life.

NSA: If you could be any animal in the world, what animal would you be, and why?

NMK: I would definitely not be anything domesticated, that would crush my spirit. I have always identified with wild horses. Their freedom to run in the wind is my main attraction to them. And they seem intelligent even without any human interaction or intervention. Smart, graceful, free spirited.

NSA: What was the last gift you gave someone?

NMK: A book.

NSA: What inspires you?

NMK: The thought of something better — personal progress, a cleaner environment, a more peaceful world, food security, more laughter, enlightenment — things that can only be good for ALL of us.

NSA: What do you work toward in your free time?

NMK: I have no free time anymore. I used to classify my time like that. Now everything I do, no matter how insignificant, is deliberate and feeds into achieving something for myself or another person. Now, free time is when I’m sleeping.

NSA: What’s one interesting fact about you that nobody knows?

NMK: If I tell you, then everybody will know. But it has to do with my genealogy.

NSA: How do your enemies perceive you?

NMK: They probably see me as a pushover who doesn’t know what she’s worth. Anyone who has ever done me any harm to the point where I cut them out of my life, has taken or tried to take something valuable from me, or tried to prevent my progress in some way.

NSA: What’s your definition of success?

NMK: Success is when you are free and able to do what you need to do to reach where you want to go, and you can see that you are in fact moving in that direction.

NSA: NDC or NPP, and why?

NMK: I’m completely non-aligned. Maybe because I did not come of age politically in Ghana. But for me, it’s results which speak to me. Until a particular party has delivered enough of its self-proclaimed mandate for me to consistently identify those achievements with that party, they’re all the same. Different players, different uniforms, but the same old game.

NSA: Decriminalize cannabis or not, and why?

NMK: Decriminalize recreational use, sure. And regulate it. Legalize here, only if well planned i.e. what do we mean by that? The way we do things by heart here, I can see a situation where folks would just be bulk growing “wee” keke, and trying to sell the bulk leaves like that, with no foresight to do anything with it that would add value. No one would buy it from us, mind you, because the people who have the plan as far as what to do with that raw material, are already growing it in bulk. All it would do here is make it more easily available for recreational use. I wouldn’t want to be smelling it on every street corner, or having people mix it in with the rubbish they burn by heart in their backyards or along the road. Then we would all be high all the time. It would need to be well regulated in a law-abiding country, which we are not.

NSA: Polygamy or monogamy, and why?

NMK: Polygamy is already the default, but if you are referring specifically to marriage, it only makes sense if it’s monogamous. I cannot conceive of a relationship of that intensity and commitment level being between multiple partners on both sides. Because if a legal relationship is to allow any partner to have more than one such commitment, that privilege should be given to all partners in the arrangement. Right? In which case, then it’s no longer a marriage. There has to be exclusivity. Personally, whether married or not, I cannot hold a romantic, sexual, deeply bonded relationship with more than one person at the same time.

NSA: Self-discovery: growing up in Ghana or abroad, and why?

NMK: I definitely fully matured while abroad. Obviously by the age of 24 when I left Ghana, I was well on my way to understanding the world and how I fit into it. But living in the U.S. for the next 27 years definitely was the atmosphere that enabled my greatest and broadest self-discovery.

NSA: How can you get more Ghanaians reading?

NMK: Honestly, I believe it falls squarely on the education system and the prioritization of reading in schools. I know that there is a school of thought that likes to place some of this responsibility on the familial setting; but if you are coming from a background where you are the first person to even finish primary school in your family, how is that a reasonable expectation? But when you enter a school, there should be a reasonable expectation that you would have access to books, improve your reading skills, and expand your exposure to other people in other parts of the world through reading. If this does not happen in the schools, and the communities have no libraries, people will be graduating university with elementary level reading skills, zero social skills, and a belief that the world encompasses their particular tribe and small corner of the country only. Then you have this unrealistic desire to have a particular language be the only language spoken by everybody else in the country.

NSA: In your many interviews, what’s the one question you wish someone would have asked you, but never did? And how would you respond to that?

NMK: “Maria Kwami, how would you like my publishing house to publish your next book for an advance of 1 million dollars?” I think you know what my answer would be.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here