Sons and Daughters is the title of this story written by Joe De Graft. It was first published in 1964 and the reprinted on 1969, 1974, 1979 and 2006.
The author has in the course of his career written a number of plays and been senior lecturer at the University of Nairobi Kenya. Sons and Daughters deal with family life and the tensions that result from the clash of two different generations in an area of rapid social change.
In a typical African setting, elders are not to be challenged, more so when it comes to choices for their wards. James Ofosu, father to Aaron Ofosu and Maanan, believes education is pivotal to success and wealth as such he will do his maximum best to educate his children in the best of schools and choose their profession for them even if they rather prefer some “lowly” and “useless” profession.
James did not have much education but believes the wrong could be corrected with dreams of his children joining the elite in society by being part of the engineers, lawyers, chattered accountants, medical officers and bankers that people revere so much and which will bring class, status to his family as he admires his good friend lawyer Bonu.
Mr. James Ofosu expects his authority not to be questioned and wants his children to appreciate the sacrifices he makes for their education as his elder sons George the doctor and Kofi the chattered accountant seem to make him think, instead of the radical and non conformist duo of Aaron and Maanan his youngest children.
Mr. Ofosu’s wife Hannah, an uneducated woman plays the role of a submissive yet critical wife who would not let her somewhat educated husband who at times looses himself and tries to shut his wife up because he claims she knows nothing about education. This is a vivid account of how uneducated women despite their lack of formal education bring their house knowledge to bear during that era.
Aaron, son of James Ofosu and friend Awere love the arts, more so painting and sculpting. Whiles Awere’s choice is going well with him to the extent of the media giving coverage to his work poor Aaron has all the odds stuck against him for loving the arts and ready to make it his profession not for the money but rather the pleasure derived from it. But his father will have none of it. However Aaron a youth, will not badge, sticking to his own dreams, and hoping his father sees reason.
Meanwhile, lawyer Bonu close friend of Mr. Ofosu and family has over time served as adviser, counsellor and even good Samaritan to the family one way or the other but his true intentions were not known till he started making advances at Maanan adding that should she agree to his proposal he could influence his father to drop the pursuance of Law admission at England and rather bless her choice of being a dancer. In the Ghanaian culture there are varied proverbs on the need to be circumspect with friends one makes, how true it holds with the shocking intentions of lawyer Bonu, even a strict fellow like Mr. Ofosu could not believe his own ears upon the discovery.
Maanan, last born of Mr. Ofosu hopes to become a professional dancer with mask and drumming and not ballroom dancing, as her father believes it.
The youth wants to follow her heart and not pursue the traditional white colour job of being a lawyer. Maanan, has a cool temperament, despite the hardships she seems to be coping pretty well till faith intervened, Mr. Ofosu heard the pleading of lawyer Bonu for Maanan to love him and stop avoiding him.
To sum it up sons and daughters shows a contrast of materialistic and idealistic motives, morality, degeneration, illiteracy, might and free will.