Kwabena: An African Boy’s Journey of Faith, by David Mensah

A Friend of the Poor

Book Review by Crystal Andvik

Kwabena reveals a story of how an African boy struggled as an orphan to free himself from a vicious cycle of extreme poverty and abuse. Growing up in Northern Ghana, Dr. David Mensah retells his childhood experiences of life in rurality and how he overcame his obstacles.

Mensah lost his father at a young age and as tradition has it, he was sent to live with his father’s family, an uncle who was extremely abusive. The family shunned him and consequently received very little care. Starvation became the norm and fearing his death, Mensah decided it was time for change. He escaped from his uncle’s village only to fall into the hands of his mother’s brother, a tribal witch doctor. It was here that he was introduced to powerful witchcraft and soon became fearless. At the age of fifteen, he was a leader of a ruthless young gang terrorizing people and animals in the villages.

During his violent teenage years, Mensah met an older Muslim man who exposed him to the Bible. Soon after, he converted to Christianity and his life transformed. No longer was he living in fear and violence, rather he was sharing this new passion for life and love for others. He returned to school and eventually, after failing several exams, graduated from university.

Despite his many challenges, Mensah managed to leave Ghana and arrived in Canada with only ten US dollars in his pocket. From there his journey continues to unfold what would become his vocation: improving the lives of the poor. Having suffered from poverty themselves, he and his high school friends agreed that they would use whatever skills they could acquire to help people in need. Years later their dream came true when they formed the Northern Empowerment Association to use their professional trained skills for the betterment of their communities. It didn’t come easy but they made the impossible possible.

Mensah’s story of overcoming the harshness of poverty and compassion for others encourages his readers to do the same.

Review Published: November 2009

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