If nakedness promises you clothes, hear his name.

                                        –          an Akan proverb

How many drug addicts bought their first fix or smoke themselves?

How many alcoholics bought their first drink with their own money?

Which philanderer came up with the idea to chase women, all by himself?

You will find answers to these questions in Kwakye’s The Clothes of Nakedness.

In neighbourhoods riddled with poverty and unemployment, you will always find a wolf in sheep’s clothing who preys on the vulnerable. The enigma who stalks the ignorant ones who will do anything to earn a living; who exploits them in subtle ways until they are bound to him in servitude.

This was the man they called Mystique Mysterious. Male and female, child and adult, all referred to him by that name, in which they combined their respect for him, their fear of him, the fascination they felt for the unreachable person behind the shades

The Clothes of Nakedness is about the workings of this cryptic character, whose alleged sole agenda is to help the needy in poor neighbourhoods. He goes around offering jobs to the unemployed and hands out free cigarettes and rolls of marijuana to those who have never smoked them before. He buys free drinks for the depressed alcoholic to offer him solace in a bottle.

Mystique Mysterious sets his eyes on three new targets at Kill Me Quick and intends to reel them into his net by all means possible.

Gabriel Bukari the bendy one. Gabriel is depressed because he is unemployed. His loving wife, Fati, is the bread-winner of the family. She does not rub this in Gabriel’s face, but encourages and supports him anyway she can. Gabriel and Fati have a son called Baba. Gabriel loves his wife and son and will do anything for them. If only he had a job.

He was a gentle man and his friends believed him to be kind-hearted. But the unhappiness born of several months of unemployment had taken effect.

Kojo Ansah the quiet one. This teetotaller sits behind a glass of water at Kill Me Quick. He never orders a drink from the bar and has few words to say.

He was a man renowned for being deficient in expression and proficient in contemplation.

Kofi Ntim the opinionated one. He is also known as Philosopher Nonsense. Though he stands at barely five feet, he compensates for his challenges in height and physical appearance with balderdash and witty remarks. Kofi is not afraid to speak his mind and it is difficult to put him down.

Ever in high spirits, he was full of jokes and both sensible and senseless quips that he sometimes couched in philosophical terms.

Mystique identifies each man’s weakness and devices a scheme to exploit them. But will things go as planned?

In a battle of wits and intelligence, Kwakye reveals the evils that sprout out of poverty and illiteracy.

I enjoyed this novel particularly because Kwakye cleverly infuses humour in the story whilst he talks about distraught communities and broken homes. He addresses the spate of corruption in a developing country where the majority lack the education or requisite skills to qualify for a job interview.

What may seem like an unfortunate situation is interpreted as a ripe opportunity by those who gleefully manipulate ordinary people so they can continue to hold their sway over the masses.

BANQUO [Aside.]

The instruments of darkness tell us truths,

Win us with honest trifles, to betray’s 

In deepest consequence.

                                                                   MACBETH

                                                                   Act 1: Scene 3

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