A brief summary of the book “The Canoe’s Story” by Meshack Asare

By Paul Ayutoliya, FAVL-CESRUD coordinator northern Ghana.

IMG_20190922_200502_8The story is about how one giant Wawa tree that was in the deepest part of the forest journeyed from the forest to become a canoe sailing the sea. Using the tree as an illustration or point of view, the story portrayed the strong ties between man and nature.

The story begins with “I started as a tree, I was a giant Wawa tree in the forest of the hinterland”….. The tree in the story enjoyed its stay in the forest and was happy with its contribution to the people that surrounded it. It provided shade to people, was a shelter and refuge to animals and birds, its branches and leaves served as canopy. For years the tree shared the peace and quiet of the forest with man and animals. There was peaceful co-existence between the tree, animals and man. But suddenly one day, there was great deal of noise in the forest. What happened? Man in a dramatic way began to attack the trees in the forest. The trees cried foul but were helpless about what was happening to them as they were cut and taken away from the forest.

On and on it was the turn of the giant wawa trees that had been in the forest for many years to be hewn down. Nut one day, a small gang of young men came to the forest with presents of cloth, a fowl, a bottle of gin and some eggs. They offered these gifts to the spirit of the tree and prayed that no harm come to them as they work on a giant tree. The giant tree after several days of a great deal of work at long last was turned into a canoe and landed in the ocean….and begun a new life there.

In many respects, the story goes beyond that of a children’s book. The story at one breath shows how the fishermen and particularly the African fishermen greatly valued trees from which they indirectly derived their livelihoods. Without the trees, they could not build the canoes they used to sail in the sea for fishing. The story in another breath also draws the reader’s or people’s attention to the vast depletion of trees in forest which is of great concern and has been going on for many years, with little or no consideration of replacement of these valuable natural resources.

The interesting part of the story is the fact that it conveys a strong and powerful message about the need for mankind to conserve trees; trees are friendly and helpful to mankind.The illustrations in the story are very simple to follow with the great and powerful narration. This book of Mr. Asare is thought provoking and sparks the imagination and critical thinking.