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Oct 9, 2015, 11:37 AM

Faceless, By Ama Darko, Subharan Publishers, revised edition 2013, 199 pages

The very opening line of this novel by Ghanaian writer Ama Darko sends a clear message to the perceptive reader that it will be a tale of gloom, deprivation and squalor: ‘she chose to spend the night on the old cardboard laid out in front of the provision store at the Agbogboshie market place...’ Here the author ably introduces the setting of the story in a squalid environment where the character Fofo ekes out a living and lives rough.

This novel is in short about the lot and experiences of school drop outs and how they become vulnerable to falling even lower into the depths of gloom such as becoming street children. Throughout this book, the various characters such as Fofo struggle to make a sense out of the world of want they are faced with. Also, the children in the book all suffer the sins of their parents. Because their parents were poor, so they too became street children; part of the vicious cycle of poverty which so many people have spoken about.

We see in the story that because parents like Mama Tsuru have lost the ability to care for their children’s needs such as taking them to school, feeding them and housing them, these children too have grown to despise the parents. Indeed, such parents now have lost the parental authority that is expected over children. Now as the parents fear the children, there can be no hope for the children. This is one lesson of the story.

Faceless is a socially realistic novel. It portrays the reality of the street in many African countries, where abandoned or unsupported children become embroiled in serious conditions of hunger and homelessness. Thus they become drifters and criminals and fall into other law breaking situations.

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