A Human Rights History of Ghana


Is it valuable to revisit the past’s brokenness?  What and whom does it serve to attend to the violence within African political histories?  A Dagaaba proverb cautions against dwelling in the past when the here and now sorely needs attention: “today does not allow yesterday to speak.”  However, there is also the sankofa bird, the Akan wisdom symbol imperative to return and pick up that which has been forgotten. Truth Without Reconciliation sits in the balance between these two poles, navigating the risk and reward of historical justice by re-telling of the story of Ghana’s National Reconciliation Commission (NRC).

Inspired by the voices of the self-described victims in Ghanaian history, my book takes seriously the testimonies, petitions, and witness of the broad cross-section of Ghanaians who thrust their suffering into the public sphere as an act of desire and hope.  The NRC produced neither truth nor reconciliation, but it did create an unprecedented public archive of Ghanaian political history. Expansive and challenging, the stories collected in this archive are both poison and medicine.






Encountering Ghanaian Political History in Durham, North Carolina

This post was originally written for “The Devil’s Tale: Dispatches from the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library” on February 26, 2016.  

The Rubenstein holds the archives of the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), perhaps the single most important point of connection for communities who, in their desire to confront troubled pasts, have turned to the truth and reconciliation commission (TRC). The ICTJ archives reveal the workings of the global transitional justice crossroads, they spotlight an institution that carries forward the lessons, expertise, and experience of each truth commission to those that come afterwards. Continue reading “Encountering Ghanaian Political History in Durham, North Carolina”

Reading “Between the World & Me” in the Summer of 2018



 I had the opportunity to lead a book discussion about Ta-Nehisi Coates’s brilliant and bracing Between The World and Me at the Emma Clark Library in Setauket, NY.  It was an honor to sit and re-read this book in the company of the straight-talking, close-reading, passionate,  women-of-a-certain-age who would choose to attend a book discussion about white privilege and US racial violence in the wilds of Eastern Long Island. Truly– there are good folk everywhere. 

Below are the introductory thoughts I offered to my co-readers. 

Continue reading “Reading “Between the World & Me” in the Summer of 2018″