“The Advocacy,” a fictional story set in Ghana, by Melissa Fischer
Drawing from her own experience as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Ghana, Melissa Fischer in this book weaves a rich tale set in 1992 in Obuasi, a mining boomtown. The gold mine, West Africa Gold, dams the Gyimi River, stagnating the water source of Gyimiso Kakraba, a village of subsistence farmers who refuse to accept a modern world that has forsaken the art of human connection.
“The Advocacy” portrays with unsparing detail the reality of this era in Ghana’s history, as well as this moment in the evolution of the dialogue between indigenous communities and transnational extractive industrialists. Fischer provides a rare and intimate view of a broad cross-section of Ghanaian society and the inner workings of a multinational mining corporation.
“The Advocacy”’s protagonist, Louisa Lehmann, is a gritty and opinionated civil engineer who has returned to Africa from the U.S. to reconcile her past. Louisa exudes pride in her profession, honors her fluid gender, and yields to the greatest lesson of all taught by the people of Gyimiso Kakraba deep in Ghana’s equatorial forest.
A life-long appreciation for foreign cultures
Born in Southern California, civil engineer and debut author Melissa Fischer lived in Tripoli, Libya, for two years when she was a child. This experience inspired a life-long appreciation for cultures outside the U.S. After receiving her undergraduate degree in civil engineering from Stanford University and working five years in heavy civil construction, Fischer applied for the Peace Corps. In 1992, she accepted a posting to Obuasi, Ghana, where she served for two years.
In the gold mining town of Obuasi, Fischer managed the Adansi West Water and Sanitation Health Team (WASHT). WASHT was staffed by various district governmental agencies funded by Ashanti Goldfields Company, Ltd. (owner of the large Obuasi gold mine), and performed outreach in surrounding communities. In collaboration with Ghanaians, Fischer used her engineering skills to provide water and sanitation for rural communities.
Upon returning to the U.S., Fischer found herself repeatedly frustrated with the question “What was it like?” Because she couldn’t provide a simple answer, she decided to write a book, one that would align with one of the key goals of the Peace Corps: to help promote a better understanding of cultures outside of the U.S. “I wanted to portray the complexity and diversity of contemporary Ghanaian society,” says Fischer.
Clearly, though a fictional story, which Fischer wrote over a period of twenty-five years, the book is very much inspired by Fischer’s own experiences.
Driven by accuracy
With the goal of providing the utmost accuracy, Fischer employed sensitivity readers and sent out drafts to people with specialized knowledge relevant to the novel–such as a Ghanaian civil engineer familiar with the Obuasi mine, European mining consultants to the Obuasi mine, and an attorney who had worked for the Ghana Minerals Commission, as well as fellow Peace Corps volunteers and staff who served in Ghana in the early nineties. Fischer’s own research is documented in an extensive bibliography.
A passionate storyteller, Fischer calls “The Advocacy” a tale of modern Africa that is not distorted by famine or genocide or war, a story she was born to write to “honor the beauty in life, to acknowledge the sanctity of what has been given to me.” The book has a diverse range of readers, including Ghanaians, engineers, women in engineering and science, those concerned with social and environmental justice, and many from the U.S. who are interested in Africa.
Says Gabriel Brandt, a returned Peace Corps volunteer who has served in Ghana and a professor at Franklin & Marshall College:
“This is a novel of the intellect, where Fischer grapples with the meaning of our shared colonial history and how far our responsibility as global citizens extends.”
W. E. Abraham, author of “The Mind of Africa” and advisor to the late Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of independent Ghana, praised Fischer:
“Melissa Fischer conveys in poetry what cannot be truthfully expressed in prose. It made me sad to reach the end. I will certainly read it again.”
“The Advocacy” is available in paperback, Kindle, and Nook formats, and can be purchased on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble. To learn more, please visit: melissaannfischer.com