Book Review: Derailed—when Common Sense Eludes a Nation


Title:                                                    Derailed: When Common Sense Eludes a Nation

Author:                                               Solomon Mensah

Publisher(s):                                       Wrenco Publications

Year of Publication:                           2022               

Number of Pages:                               196                 

Reviewer:                                            Emmanuel Kwame Amoh (Editor-in-Chief,

From security to politics, sanitation to economics, contemporary columnist Solomon Mensah has distinguished himself in using the God-given talent of writing to right wrongs in the Ghanaian society. I have been an ardent reader of his articles – under the umbrella title Talking Drum – and none has fallen below expectation.

He fearlessly calls authorities to order when the need be and would not even spare persons in the same ilk as him if it demands so.

In the heated tension in 2019, when residents of Sekondi-Takoradi were full of anxiety over serial kidnappings of teenage girls, Paa Solo – as I affectionately call him, or Aniwaba – as is his popular moniker, did not stop short of calling out the then Director-General of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service, Maame Yaa Tiwaa Addo-Danquah. What he does so well is, not only pointing out the ills of society, but also proffering solutions. In the ‘Maame Yaa’ article, he gave the Police some modus operandi in getting the most from the suspected Nigerian kidnappers.

In his article subtitled, ‘The Simplest Question I would have asked Prez Akufo-Addo’, Aniwaba called out colleague journalist, Kwame Adinkra of Abusua FM, for merely heaping praises on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo instead of asking critical questions with the opportunity of the first meet-the-press session with the 5th President of Ghana’s Fourth Republic. Guess the question he had planned to ask?

“Hello Mr President, my name is Solomon Mensah and I work with Media General (specifically 3FM and TV3). Could you please tell us the last time you passed through the Kwame Nkrumah Circle Interchange, Kaneshie, Lapaz, Madina and other suburbs of the capital city?” (‘TALKING DRUM: The Simplest Question I would have asked Prez Akufo-Addo’, July 20, 2017)

Wondering about his follow-up question?

“If you have had a pass-through in these suburbs of Accra since coming into office, did you [with all due respect] see the filth engulfing the city of Accra? Would you say the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources you created has been of help so far? Thank you.”

Sanitation! I would have been surprised if he would have asked any questions outside his favourite themes. In ‘Toilets of Shame’, which was serialised by him, he cites public toilet facilities in Sunyani, a city he seems very familiar with, and Accra, secretly taking the soul out of their patrons. These facilities cannot stand any test of giving comfort to the hundreds of daily patrons, let alone be ‘places of convenience’ for them.

Time will not be enough to talk about his lunging at the two major political parties in Ghana – the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

Having read the ‘TALKING DRUM’ articles for more than half a decade, I can assure you that Solomon Mensah’s debut book: ‘Derailed! When Common Sense Eludes a Nation’, will not be below expectation. The 196-page book will definitely carry out the diagnosis and prognosis of some of the burning issues in the country, and offer prescriptions.

As a citizen, a read of the book will aver your mind to some of the roles and responsibilities, as everything cannot be said to come from the government – the governed also have a responsibility and a role to play.

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