That all creative writers in the past, in the present and in the future to come are, “prophets’’ and visionaries to the societies in which they live for its survival, advancement and prosperity cannot be denied by any knowledgeable and sincere literary critic.
By virtue of their profession, creative writers of all nations are indeed great assets and indispensable. By their writings or works, creative writers are able to incite or bring about reforms, revolutions, transformations and changes to the society or nation in which they live.
Before I begin my discourse on this subject, it will be of much interest to delve into a brief history of literary criticism dating as back as the ancient era of Greece when the two great thinkers, philosophers and writers in the persons of Plato and Aristotle emerged and thrived.
Aristotle as a student, who graduated from Plato’s Academy in Athens postulated and propagated six principles of writing, which was compiled in a small book called ‘’Poetics’’. According to Aristotle these six principle were to be strictly followed by all creative writers in any form of creativity, particularly dramatic and poetic works. And that the aim of the creative writer is not to teach moralities or virtues but to demonstrate skilfully the craft for writing. In this way, the structure of the creative work should not be anything more or less of this requirement.
Contrary to this theory of Aristotle for writing, Plato, Aristotle’s teacher held strongly, the view that all creative works must extol and teach morals and virtues to educate the society. Plato was so much committed to this view for creative writing that he advocated for the expulsion of all creative writers who opposed and violated this requirement for writing from the society in which they live. They were to be severely punished by been sent into exile so that they will not destroy the society by their writings or works.
According to the content of Aristotle’s Poetics, the following six principles were to be followed:
- Plot 4. Diction
- Character 5. Spectacle
- Theme 6. Music (song)
The theories or schoolsforwriting propagated by Plato and Aristotle become known as the Aristotlelian and Platonian Dichotomy in Literary criticism since the era of classical Greece up to the present time.
It is of interest to note that western criticism is mainly based on Aristotle’s school of thought.
In the arena of modern literary criticism writers are torn between the theories of Plato and that of Aristotle. As a result, some modern creative writers do marry on blend the two different theories in their creative works.
Others too dogmatically follow either Plato or Aristotle. In this way modern creative writers are free and not enslaved to the views of either Plato or Aristotle. They express themselves freely to articulate their subjects and themes to their audiences without any inhibitions whatsoever, in the contexts of Plato’s and Aristotle’s concerns for writing.
Meaning, relevance and appeal is the bottom line of literary criticism; and all creative writings are subjected to scruting in the light of these three clear-cut basis, which are universal to all societies in the world today.
A critical analysis and evaluation of the Ghanaian society today indicates moral decadence, vices of all sorts which constitute a big hindrance to the smooth advancement and progress to make Ghana to experience optimum economic growth, development and prosperity, which is the hall mark of all advanced societies and nations of the modern world today, such as the U.S and European countries like Britain, German, France, Italy, Spain etc.
Before a society or nation can progress and achieve greatness and prosperity, there must be healthy prevailing conditions in terms of good morals and virtues like honesty, integrity, transparency, nationalism etc; which must be strongly upheld by the citizenry. This is a positive and favourable situation in any progressive and dynamic society or nation that will guarantee an achievement of greatness and prosperity.
In the present Ghanaian society situation, one can say that this favourable and positive situation had been thrown to the dogs; and is not existing. In this way, Ghana seems at the moment not to be making much progress as one would have expected.
In the light of this unfortunate situation in the present Ghanaian society, I will like to advocate that, present day Ghanaian creative writers, must adopt the Platonian school of creative writing; and write to educate the Ghanaian society, so that it will put it in the right track for a rapid economic growth, development and prosperity of the country.
As pointed out earlier, creative writers are great assets and are prophets and visionaries to their societies’ greatness and prosperity; and as such, the present Ghanaian society calls for the awakening and action of all her creative writers to write and exorcise the society.
Former President Jerry John Rawlings called on Ghanaian creative writers some time ago to do this job during his leadership of the country. This clarion call is still valid and necessary now to benefit Ghana in her continual efforts to experience economic growth, development and prosperity.
Contemporary Ghanaian creative writers have made significant impact in their noble visions of educating Ghanaians to strive and come to the realization that Ghana as a country will invariably depend solely on her citizens,individually and collective positive efforts in contributing to incite economic growth, development and property of the country. And for this reason, all hands must be on deck for the realization of this noble task.
The history of the human race is replete of creative writers who by their writings or works had brought about reformations or changes for the betterment of the societies in which they lived.
Some typical examples in the history of the human race are the French revolution which occurred 1789 in which outstanding great writers like Voltaire Montesquieu, Rourssan etc contributed significantly to bring about the French revolution and it’s social reforms for the French people.
Another classical example was the Russian revolution which occurred in 1917 in which Russian writers like Gorky, Anton Chekhov etc significantly wrote to usher in the Russian revolution which resulted in the reformation of the Russian society at that period of time.
In the contemporary Nigerian situation on the African continent one can mention prominent and outstanding Nigerian creative writers like Chinua Achebe (Of Things Fall Apart fame) A Man of The People etc. Wole Soyinka (A Dance Of The Forest, Kong’s Harvestetc) who contributed significantly by their creative writings to bring about the Nigerian military coup de tat in 1966 that overthrew the first Nigerian government after Nigerian political independence on 1st October, 1960 under the leadership of Sir Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa
In the Ghanaian situation, writers like Ayi Kwei Armah, Kofi Awoonor, Amu Djoleto etc did in way influenced and inspired the military coup d’état on 24th February 1966 in Ghana, which overthrew the first republican government under the leadership of Osagyefo Dr. Nkrumah of blessed memory
One can go on and on to mention other prominent and influential creative writer who by their creative writings influenced and instigated changes and reforms in the governance of their countries in Africa, and other parts of the world.
There is the need now for young and upcoming Ghanaian creative writers to write prolifically with the aim of educating the present Ghanaian society to effect a speedy economic growth, development and prosperity for the country.
Furthermore, this will also help to enhance the advocations and propagation of the present on going Ghana beyond aid agenda, which is crucial to move Ghana forward to experience a realistic and meaningful development in her developmental process
On the stage of history, societies do at one time or the other experience anarchy, or degeneration in morals and values; and creative writers had rescued these ailing societies by their writings or works for that matter.
In the nineteenth century the English or British society experienced unpalatable moral decadence; and Matthew Arnold the renowned British literary critic had to denounce these negative attitudes of the English people through his publication of “Law And Anarchy” which impacted positively on the minds of the English people to effect a change for the better during this period of time in the annals of the English people.
As afore mentioned, the present state of the Ghanaian society is not all that pleasant, and therefore Ghana needs help from her numerous budding creative writers in all the genres of literature to write and educate Ghanaians. They will have to write to put Ghanaiansin the right track for a speedy experience of optimum economic growth, development and prosperity.
It must be noted that the old popular adage that, “the pen is mightier than the sword’’ is still relevant and valid in the affairs of the modern world today, as there are credible evidences of modern creative writers, writing with the aim of inciting and effecting reforms and changes in contemporary societies.
So the truth of this statement had stood the test of time in the life of societies or countries; and Ghana, as one of the fastest developing countries in the African situation today will definitely need her creative writers today to write and direct her destiny as a nation.
To this end, Ghanaian creative writers of today must write to educate Ghanaians to abstain from all forms of immoralities and vices so that the country will smoothly forge ahead in development achievements.
In conclusion, I have a firm conviction and optimism that the present Ghanaian creative writers are capable of writing to educate and to effect a positive change in the present Ghanaian society for a fast economic growth, development and prosperity of the country.
To this end, I will advocate and prescribe the Platonian art of creative writing which extols morals and values of the society which encourage discipline and honesty, which consequently incite development and progress of nations.
And Ghana at this crucial time in her developmental process cannot dispense with her numerous highly talented creative writers; for they are the visionaries and watch dogs of the Ghanaian society or nation for that matter, in her continual developmental efforts.
By Michael Akenoo; Theatre Critic.