Fragments – Ayi Kwei Armah

Year of First Publication: 1969

Genre: Fiction/Semi-Autobiographical

Fragments , published in 2006 by Per Ankh, is the second book by the notable Ghanaian writer, Ayi Kwei Armah.

Baako is the protagonist in the novel. He has been to the United States for his education and so he is referred to as a ‘been-to’. After nearly five years in the US, Baako returns back home, with hopes to build his writing career and help his nation with his newly acquired skills.

The beginning chapter reads:

‘Each thing that goes away returns and nothing in the end is lost. The great friend throws all things apart and brings all things together again. That is the way everything goes and turns round. That is how all living things come back after long absences, and in the whole great world all things are living things. All that goes returns. He will return.’

But before Baako hits the airport, he meets Brempong – who is an embodiment of materialism in the society. And so while Brempong brings so many goodies for his family, Baako carries almost nothing materialistic. Unfortunately for Baako, his family has high expectations. They are hoping that their ‘been-to’ will bring lots of gifts and materialistic things from the US.

Thus Armah confronts a key question that many Africans face on returning home from overseas. What is the most important thing that Africans who travel outside the continent to say, the United States, can bring home? Is it the ostentatious goodies so all can believe that they have indeed travelled? What then would be the importance of their educational sojourn in a foreign country?

For me, the bigger question after reading the book concerns the place of the arts (say writing as in the case of Baako) in the Ghanaian society? To put it differently, is Ghana (or for that matter Africa) ready to accept artists like writers?

Armah’s Fragments is partially autobiographical as he shares some similarities with his protagonist.

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14 Responses to Fragments – Ayi Kwei Armah

  1. Okay so you know that I am an Armahite… and I love all his novels. Fragments is similar, in theme, to No Longer at Ease. It reflects all the ills and consequences of colonisation and our own changing values.

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  2. linda says:

    I like the way the this author writes. The excerpt seems poetic and is brilliant. I’ve heard a lot about this author but never read him…Maybe I have to try this one.

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  3. amymckie says:

    This sounds really interesting. Sounds like it shows cultural expectations and how people expect certain things whether they are for the better of everyone or not.

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    • Geosi says:

      Exactly…Amy! there is high expectations particularly from ‘been-tos’ and this is as a result of the society’s way of life after the heavy burden of colonization; so to speak.

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  4. […] the fourth book written by the Ghanaian writer, Ayi Kwei Armah. I have already reviewed his book ‘The Fragments’ and this should be about the second book from him to be reviewed here. Ayi Kwei Armah writing […]

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  5. […] of the motivations for reading this book was that I undoubtedly enjoyed reading Fragments, The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born and The Healers all written by the same […]

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  6. DAIRO Flora Oluseyi says:

    His style is peculiar. He is one of the greatest symbolist i.e. he symbolizes life especially social problems in a creative style giving solutions to each problem. Above all, the novel has the characteristics of African cultural writing. This is superb.

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    • Geosi says:

      You are certainly right and you had the right words…thus…symbolist. One has to understand the symbolisms he uses in his works before understanding him. I enjoy Armah a lot! Thanks for this comment.

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  7. princess says:

    I want to know the theme of alienation in this piece of work

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    • Geosi says:

      In reviews, you do not give out everything to the reader. I suggest you reread the book again as the theme of alienation is even much more prevalent in the novel. Cheers and thanks for visiting.

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  8. patricia oteng says:

    Can you tell me the importance of Naana, Baako’s grandma in this novel “Fragments”.

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  9. vanity says:

    what is the relevance of naana and efuah in the novel fragments by Ayi kwei armah

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