My creative drive most often starts with a complaint. About thirteen years ago, my daughter was almost two and I used to read to her. She loved it! However the problem was that it was getting increasingly difficult to find books that she could relate to. To find characters with brown skin like hers, feisty girls with kinky, curly, thick natural hair that mirrored her looks. I wondered why there was no jollof or waakye or better still, our most favourite delicacy of kelewele – spicy, fried plantains – mentioned anywhere in the books we read. These musings set me on a path which would eventually lead to the Enna Movie; an African movie and spin on the class Cinderella story with a fascinating and inspiring storyline.
Where were these places she read about? Would she be blessed to see them? Were the landmarks in the continent of her birth not worth showcasing? The word ‘wimpy’ – titled in a series of books that she read voraciously when she approached her teens – was that a word that Yaa Asantewaa, the Ashanti Queen Warrior would use? So how was I going to solve this problem? Write? Yes. I would write. That seed of discomfort birthed several children’s books. Nothing gave me more joy that to be stopped by a parent and told that his or her child loved the stories and got so excited when they saw the donkey; a main character in one of my books – ‘Dokono the Donkey’.
Bringing African Stories to Life: Making the Enna Movie
The transition into film was slightly different. It started off as a way of telling my life’s story for my fiftieth birthday. As a child of Africa and a citizen of the world, I fused the two places that formed my character – Ghana and the United Kingdom. The former my land of birth and pride, and the latter the place I discovered that pride in being Ghanaian and African. My roots dug deeper when I lived in the UK and clung deep enough to bring me back home.
In creating a black James Bond called Araba and working with a mix of professional actors and creative individuals who discovered that they had gifts as the project commenced. It was an emotionally challenging but addictive experience. We shot ‘The Secret Number’ in Accra and Cape Coast using the imposing Elmina Castle and the dungeons as a way of representing the ancestors who never saw the light of the day as well as giving respect to our Josephs who made it.
I caught the film bug. As a creative team, we knew instinctively we would go for it again, but this time on a bigger scale. The idea for the next African movie script came from the classic Cinderella story. But in our story, she is never a victim and her happily ever after is not what is expected. If anything, our Enna – as we call the main character – is a smart, intelligent girl who does not let the tough circumstances of her life in the loss of both parents faze her. She is going to be a source of encouragement, strength and inspiration to anyone going through tough times. For anyone who feels that their dreams have taken a turn for the worse.
Told from the African perspective, the traditional elements of the Enna movie storyline will be strong, and the use of costume, décor and traditional practices will provide a grand showcase for all that we love about our culture and traditions as Ghanaians and Africans. Curious? Join my co-producer Dr. Kwesi Owusu and I for the Enna Movie Meet & Greet on February 22 to learn more about our epic film and journey.
We’re currently fund raising to create ‘Enna’; an African movie we know is a gem of a story. If you believe in the power of African storytelling and its importance for our children, youth, society or you’d simply like to support and be a part of this exciting project, do check out our Indiegogo campaign. We’ve set an ambitious goal of £80,000 GBP, so nothing is too small. With your kind support, the movie will be shot by an accomplished cast and crew and distributed in Africa and internationally this year. We promise to make you proud as you help us tell our stories and share our beautiful culture with the world.
Franka Maria Andoh is the owner of Accra coffee shop Cuppa Cappuccino and the accomplished writer behind the Enna movie.
Enna is the fascinating story of a young girl who overcomes extreme hardships to realise her dreams. The African movie carries a powerful message of empowerment and hope against all odds.
Circumspecte offers insights and perspectives on business, development, lifestyle, culture, careers and human interest issues related to Africa and Africans.