To describe The Children of House No. D13, South Suntresu, Kumasi, as an intriguing project is an understatement. A collective biography of eight siblings was always going to be a daunting challenge, even if each person told their own story and got it together in one volume. To do it in a coordinated combination of first and third person “voices” would appear to be a bit implausible. To actually achieve the purpose and turn it from a project into an enthralling reading experience deserves all the plaudits this book is likely to gather.
This book is a collection of life stories of the eight children of Madam Maye Charlotte Hudson, also known as Esi Tutuwa but known to some people as Esi Nkwagye and to the people of South Suntresu, Kumasi as Mrs. Ahwoi. The ‘Ahwois” principally is the collective name of three brothers – Ato, Kwesi and Kwamena – who have played prominent roles in Ghana’s recent history, but the siblings also include five girls, Ama, Adoma, Efua, Naana and Sister Aggie, who also played their part in this thrilling story in their own unique ways.
For such a collective recall of personal histories to work, a principal requirement is a willingness of all the parties involved to treat the project seriously; of equal importance is the need to treat everyone’s personal history as important, which is what this book has succeeded in doing. It would be right to describe it as an exercise in literary democracy!
It is not every book project that produces a good book, but this book has done so because at the heart of the project is a good story. And at the heart of that good story is human progress against the odds capsuled in the life of these eight individuals.
These are the dramatis personae in order of appearance – from the womb – Ato Ahwoi, Kwesi Ahwoi, Mrs. Ama Twum, Kwamena Ahwoi, Mrs. Ama Adoma Bartels-Kodwo, Mrs. Efua Bram-Larbi, Theodora Naana Adu Gyamfi and Mrs. Agnes Appiagyei-Dankah. Theodora Naana Adu-Gyamfi passed away at the age of 28 and so her role ends early except in passing references. However, it is worth recalling that before she died, and in an act that exemplifies the major theme of this book, Naana secretely transferred all the money in her own bank account into that of her six year old niece, Abena Tutuwa Ahwoi, the daughter of her brother, Kwamena.
The structure of the narrative, which makes it possible to flow, is simply to follow the fortunes of these siblings sequentially in turn through the main phases of their development. The person whose presence permeates the story is the matriarch – Mrs. Ahwoi, nee Maye Charlotte Hudson.
The book achieves the purpose of showing the “remarkable togetherness and the mutual support system that enabled the children of House No. D13, South Suntresu, Kumasi, to overcome the many hurdles along their individual paths in life as being due to their mother, Madam Maye Charlotte Hudson (Mrs. Ahwoi). Indeed, the matriarch herself is effectively the ninth subject of the biography of the eight children” as Honourable Kwame Preprah states in the Foreword.