Gizo – Gizo ! A Tale from the Zongo Lagoon

Gizo - Gizo. A Tale from the Zongo Lagoon Book Cover Gizo - Gizo. A Tale from the Zongo Lagoon
Emily Williamson and Students and Teachers of the Hassaniyya Quranic School in Cape Coast, Ghana
Folklore / Picture Book
Sub-Saharan Publishers, Ghana / African Books Collective (dist)
ISBN: 978b9988 8603 2 5

The genesis of this book is itself unique–it grew out of a series of educational workshops in a predominantly Islamic area of Ghana–and this is evidenced by the traditional story structure and the cultural and linguistic references found throughout the work. The plot centers around issues of environmental sustainability and corporate development that have come to the forefront of the lives of three animal friends living along the coast of Zongo Lagoon. As an illustrated work, the images are colorful, captivating, and non-stereotypical. As a folk tale, it is both consistent with Ghanaian traditional storytelling and grade-appropriate for young readers. The story itself is relatable in cross-cultural contexts but does not neglect to highlight identifying factors of Ghanaian culture, which would likely prompt student-centered inquiry and serve as an entry point for a more focused discussion on contemporary Ghana. Furthermore, the inclusion of Hausa words offers an opportunity for students to be exposed to the diversity of ethnic groups and languages spoken in Ghana. One of the most interesting aspects of this book is the ways in which it can be applied in the classroom–both the story itself and the story behind the story offer opportunities for classroom discussions and lessons on environmental problems in our own communities, the importance of community involvement and initiative, the value of creating stories as a collective in our own classrooms, etc. Overall, the book is community-created, community-centered, and community-specific, both in its creation and plot, and serves as an excellent example of relevant literature produced primarily for a particular community but valuable to a much wider audience. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Reviewed by Breeanna Elliott, M.A. Boston University

Published in Africa Access Review (December 12, 2016)

Copyright 2016 Africa Access

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