The novel starts with the character of Maya who as a child has been living in Germany with her parents ever since they got exiled from Ghana. We follow her from Germany to England and then to Ghana. Maya’s mother, Yaa Agyata is very volatile and in the nicest way possible, up herself and believes no one can match her vigour and beauty. She is someone who likes to show off her wealth by constantly shopping at any given chance and doesn’t let anyone step on her shoes. She is also very loud and straight to the point giving zero f**** what anyone thinks. Maya though is really embarssed by her mother at times
“I looked up at my mother talking too loud in her unperfected accent. People looked at her as she walked past, but she did not notice.”
On the other hand, Maya’s father shows opposites do attract. He’s more calm and collective. He is a lover of books and adores his daughters love of books also. He never misses out on the chance to give his daughter a book to read which I found very sweet.
Maya’s mother is of a royal bloodline back in Ghana but Maya doesn’t really know the history behind this. She doesn’t know why her parents were exiled and moved to Germany. Not yet anyway. But when Maya’s cousin and her mothers God son, Kojo arrives from Ghana to stay with her family, she is slowly given a glimpse of her families history and how complex it is being part of the Agyata lineage. Kojo help opens Maya’s mind to what it means to be Ghanaian and the empire that it once was until until colonialism stole it’s treasures and painted over its history from their own perspective rather than that of the people of Ghana.
The God Child for me was a great novel that does really well in describing what it is like not knowing ones sense of identity and having your heritage and history being taken from you by uncontrollable forces. I loved learning about the rich history of Ghana and how it once thrived until colonialism came along and covered the history of Ghana. There is a strong emphasis on the impact of colonialism and colonisers taking what isn’t theirs and using it as a pedestal for their own benefit. This is something Maya’s ancestors went through and like the circle of life occurs again towards the end of the book. Showing somehow history always manages to come back to bite us.
The character of Kojo thrives to gain back the history that was lost and basically redo all of the wrongdoings that occured at the hands of colonialism. He believes it’s upon him and Maya to uncover and document the history of his birth place. But this inevitably leads to his downfall.
I really liked all of the characters in this novel especially Kojo and his drive and plans to reshape Ghana in the way his grandfather envisioned. Maya was also a fantastic character in my opinion she was intelligent and as she grew up she reminded me a lot of her mother with her sharpness and straightforwardness
“I didn’t think they had to be quite do rude. ‘ He looked at me quickly and walked towards Paula Jones.
Neither did you when you colonised us,’ I smiled.”
But I think the character who was the most memorable was definitely Maya’s mother. All of her interactions in the novel were memorable and she added so much to the story. I liked her no nonsense attitude and the fact that she doesn’t care what others think of her. This is the total opposite of Maya who is more quiet and reserved. She wants to stay out of the limelight where as her mother wants the spotlight on herself. She also reminded me how foreign mothers are so similar and there were many parts which made me chuckle at how similar things are.
Another central theme throughout the story that I thought that came across really well was the feeling of displacement and the constant feeling of ones history and heritage being taken away. Even though Maya has it all in terms of a fantastic education and wealthy parents, there is this constant feeling in her gut telling her that something is missing. As we find out, what is missing is that Maya hardly knows about her families history back in Ghana. All she does know is that her mother is the daughter of the king of Ghana and is therefore important. Maya feels out of place and is skeptical about her mother’s past because she doesn’t know enough. There is one part in the novel where Maya tells her friend Christine that her mother is the daughter of the king of Ghana. Christine basically tells her she’s a liar and afterwards never talks to her again. This obviously makes Maya feel even more out of place
But this changes when Kojo arrives and also later in the novel. Kojo’s arrival acts as a bridge filling Maya’s mind with what it means to be Ghanaian, part of a royal lineage and the rich history that she has missed out in not knowing.
“I grew up standing behind the Devine Drummer, Odumonkomakyerema Kwasi Pipim, watching him beat out the history of our state on the drums.”
Together, Maya and Kojo explore his prized possession, a book which their grandfather kept and his father was asked to rewrite and keep. This book basically holds the secrets to restoring the kingdom of Ghana. But Kojo’s behaviour tends to get in the way of things as behaviour gets more and more erratic causing many problems for him, Maya and her parents.
This feeling of displacement continues further on though, not only when Maya moves to England with Kojo and her mother, but also when she goes to Ghana. In England the subtle racism and an environment that makes her feel like the odd one out is highlighted very well. There is one part where Maya is hounded by students in her class because they want to touch her hair. Not even going to sugar coat it but there are still idiots who think it’s fine to touch a black woman’s hair without even thinking 🤦🏽♂️
“They touched my hair and stroked my skin and passed me around on their laps like a doll”
Kojo also goes through racist abuse when he’s separated from Maya and sent to a private school. Both Maya and Kojo expected England to be this wonderful place that she read about in novels and dreamed about in her dreams. But sadly Kojo and her both soon realise that this isn’t the place they envisioned in their minds
“Look. This is nothing but a small shitty island that doesn’t even work properly. It’s a cold wet Third World county, but they made us think they were all powerful”
That feeling of displacement soon returns and continues when Maya goes to Ghana towards the end of story. Maya’ is again hit with a feeling of being the odd one out and made to feel like a foreigner. But at the end of the book you’re left with positive signs as Maya again returns to Ghana. It gave me the feeling that perhaps Maya’s journey of self discovery has only just begun and she will now finally focus not only on sharing the story of her mother, Kojo and the land from which she came, but the return to Ghana acts as a catalyst to share her own story.
Overall, a fantastic novel that often felt like a memoir of what it’s like to be Ghanaian, the constant feeling of being looked at differently and the importance of not forgetting our history and where we come from. This book makes me want to learn more about my Pakistani heritage and has made me realise that perhaps there is so much I have not yet discovered about it.
Thank you so much to Bloomsbury and Amy for sending me a copy of this. I am very grateful ☺️