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RUBY YAYRA GOKA talks about writing Even When Your Voice Shakes

1. Even when my voice shakes is great! How did the idea for the book come about?

Thank you, I’m glad you liked it.

The idea for the book was birthed from a news report I heard on the radio, a few years back.

An adult male sexually abused a young girl (she was in primary school) and had warned her

not to tell anyone what he had done. The girl had reported to her mother when she went home

and the mother had reported the crime to the police.

The child’s father at the time had travelled. Upon his return, the child’s father had withdrawn

the case from the police station “to settle the matter at home.”

I remember thinking, “This is not right,” and wishing there was something I could do.

I don’t know what happened to the little girl or what the “home settlement” entailed but the

feeling that justice had not been served remained with me for a long time.

Writing about it was my way of ensuring that the sexual abuse survivor got the justice she


2. What themes debates do you think this book brings up?

The main themes of the book are sexual trauma and recovery, finding one’s voice/ speaking

up, classism, and social injustice. Minor themes include friendship, family, self-sacrifice.

3. How do you think it can be read by Brazilian readers?

I think Amerley’s story is universal. If you put aside her nationality and the environment

she’s in, Amerley could be any sixteen-year-old born into a poor family in any place of the

world where there is social injustice. I think readers will be able to relate to Amerley’s hopes

and aspirations for herself and her family. They’ll be able to relate to the lack of education of

boys about respecting women, their bodies and their opinions. They’ll also be able to relate to

the sense of community that happens when friends become family.

4. How do you evaluate the Ghanaian literary production at the moment, and what does it

represent in African literature?

I think this is an exciting time to be a writer in Ghana/ Africa. There are quite a lot of

emerging artists who are expressing themselves in brilliant ways. In Ghana alone, there are

over fifty dialects and each of those are interwoven with diverse cultural practices. I love that

people are telling their own stories in their own voices.

5. How exciting is having Accra as UNESCO’s World Book capital in 2023? What is the

expectation about it for the literary scene?

The Ghanaian creative scene has been on an upward trajectory in the last few years. I feel, the

selection of Accra as UNESCO’s World Book Capital 2023 is in recognition of the efforts

and advances the literary community has made.

Though the details of the events and activities are yet to be made public, we do know the

targets for some of the programmes include illiterate adults and youth, migrants, street

children and persons with disabilities. I’m thrilled about this because these groups of people

are often marginalised when opportunities like this arise.

I’m excited for what creatives in Ghana have to offer the world!