Award winning journalist Manasseh Azure Awuni launched his second book, Letters to my future wife, on 3rd May. He gave me the honour of reviewing his book at the launch, which was attended by people from all walks of life. I was hesitant at first because I don’t consider my writing style to be ‘serious-review-at-launch’ worthy, but Manasseh wouldn’t take no for an answer. So I wrote the review Kenikodjo style. I hope you enjoy it.
I will begin by telling you a little secret that even my friend Manasseh has no idea about. The very first time I heard of his letters to his future wife was the day I met the man who is my future husband. It was the night of 14th April, 2012 on the compound of the University of Ghana Business School. I was wearing a purple and black dress. I was very nervous, not because I was MCing the Methodist Presbyterian Students’ Union Leavers’ Dinner, but because I was almost certain that the man I had just met a few hours to the dinner was most probably the love of my life.
Love. It is exciting, isn’t it? It is only love that will push an investigative journalist to write 30 letters to his future wife. These aren’t your regular love letters overflowing with flowery language and poetic references. Neither do they have hints of our signature SSS love letters lyrics -‘the brightness of this day has afforded me this opportunity to pen you this letter’. No, none of that. He is painfully blunt, cocky, a little jealous, passionate, revealingly honest, and annoyingly correct. He begins every letter by tenderly addressing her ‘Dear Serwaa’ and ends by with ‘on this ….., we will build our marriage and the gates of divorce will not prevail against it. Yours truly, Manasseh.’ The letters have a good helping of proverbs that will tickle you and make you nod your head slowly.
One moment, he is explaining why he will not pay for an extravagant wedding like an expert lawyer delivering his closing statements; the next moment, he proudly pledges to wash her panties. After warning her to keep her female friends away from him, he dispels any dreams of a fairytale Instagram moment by telling her that he will not propose marriage to her. He warns her that the man who lives in Nungua and yet drives her all the way to Dansoman every evening after work is not merely fulfilling the Biblical commandment to ‘do good to others’. He tells her not to allow something as small as a mobile phone to erode the trust they share.
He hints at what Serwaa may have done to win his mother over. He reminds us to present our spouses to the world in a better light than they actually are and not compare them to other people. For all you know, Mr. Mensah may not be trying to win World’s best husband by opening the car door for his wife. The car door may be probably faulty and can only be opened from the outside. Don’t be hasty to assume and compare blindly. He pledges not to have sex with her again until they are married, but still urges her to treat him like her husband during their courtship, regardless of the fact that he has not yet travelled to her home to ask for her hand in marriage. He cajoles her to make herself a Comfort Ocran. He tells her the story of how Nanaba, the househelp, stole the heart of the church elder, Mr Kofi Boadi Appau, from his beautiful wife, simply because she respected him and made him feel like a king at home.
Manasseh makes reference to things we can identify and people we can recognize as he writes, making us feel as though everything is happening in real time. Sometimes we wonder whether or not he knows that those people might read the letters as well. But as Kofi Akpabli says, Manasseh is a bold man. It appears that boldness we see splashed all over his investigative work also seeps into his love letters.
We don’t have the pleasure of reading Serwaa’s responses to the letters, but he makes reference to her reactions. On some days, she probably feels the luckiest girl on the planet. Just like us, on some days, she is shocked. Offended. Shy. Angry even. You would be too, if your future husband was chastising you in the full glare of his 5000 friends and over 80,000 followers.
I’d like to believe that when Manasseh met the real Serwaa, the letters became more personal. She was no longer a figurative character, a figment of his imagination. She was real, a living and breathing woman who returned the love he had for her with her beautiful smile, thick natural hair and a great sense of humour. I imagine that she is just what the doctor ordered. And as such, he tenderly reminded her of his undying love for her very often.
My name is Maukeni Padiki Kodjo and I am a storyteller. It has been an honour to review Manasseh Azure Awuni’s latest book, ‘Letters to my future wife’. May we glean from the letters lovingly written to Serwaa, vital marital building blocks on which we will build our marriages, against which the gates of divorce shall not prevail.
Thank you for your attention.
Copies of the book can be delivered to you anywhere in Ghana. Please call Ehanom on 0244 308 646. Alternatively, they are also available on Amazon.
Pictures from Joyfmonline and Samira Bawumia’s Facebook profile
Please find below snippets of the review as captured by Ghanaweb: