By the Book: Yidana Waterz

Waterz Yidana is a 33-year-old award winning Ghanaian playwright, poet and essayist. PHOTO| COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • Yidana, who besides teaching, writes for the Mirror and Junior Graphic, is the CEO of Makola Books Limited.
  • He is keen on inspiring the youth to create, publish and enter into life changing ventures and entrepreneurship.

Waterz Yidana is a 33-year-old award winning Ghanaian playwright, poet and essayist. His first play, The Mango Seed, was published in 2013 and later staged in 2015 at University of Ghana. It was awarded the Efo Kodjo Mawugbe's Prize in 2019 by the Ghana Association of Writers.

His other play Madman and the Drunkards, which has now been adopted as a course book at the Department of Theatre, University of Ghana, Legon, was both staged and published in 2016.

Yidana is a member of the Ghana Association of Writers (GAW), and serves on the Association’s Special Committee. The Poetry, Letters and Short Stories of Waterz Yidana (2016) is his third book.

Yidana, who besides teaching, writes for the Mirror and Junior Graphic, is the CEO of Makola Books Limited.

He is keen on inspiring the youth to create, publish and enter into life changing ventures and entrepreneurship.


Of the works you have written, was there one that was particularly a difficult piece?

Difficult is writing and writing is difficult. Once it is something genuine and from the figment of your imagination, it will pose some difficulty. Creative people are most times not sure of their works and that's not something easy.


How do you deal with the feeling that your work may not be the best?

I've stopped holding such feelings. From the beginning it used to worry me. But now I feel that best is relative. What I can tell those venturing into writing is that they should just be themselves which means believing in self and going about it with absolute confidence.


‘The Madman and the Drunkards’ is a curious title. What was going on around you when you wrote it?

I was thinking about the mess here in Africa, especially Ghana my country. The poverty, the bad roads, the bad health-care system, the low quality of education and many other negatives that have impoverished the poor African child. We behave as if we suffer a mental problem.

How can Africa be this dirty when human beings occupy this space? We like to copy and often do blindly, so I just thought that Madman and the Drunkards will be a good title of my second play, since we're indifferent to our own plights.


Tell me about the best feedback you have ever received from readers.

Madman and the Drunkards has been praised by many people and some of those who have read it compare me to great writers like Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe and others who have made a mark in the literary world.


How do you balance between activism, teaching and writing?

It is easy to find time to do what you enjoy doing. I don't really see writing as a job. It's more of a hobby to me. At the same time, I protest, educate and inform through my writings.


Which playwrights do you follow and think should get more attention?

Well, we have Kobina Ansah, Oswald Okaitei, Nii Ayi Solomon and Chief Moomen in Ghana They are great playwrights.


What do you consider the best thing a reader can do for you as a writer?

Appreciate my work and help promote it. They can buy my books and give to libraries or schools. They can also do reviews, though I would not call reviews done to deliberately tarnish my name or undermine my work as support.


What do you do during your free time?

I don't have free time. I'm always doing something to enhance my life or my creativity.


Your take on self-online publishing?

While it is a great thing because the world has moved on, many people sleep online and it helps writers to reach a huge audience from different cultures, I hardly patronize it. Except for articles and other write-ups on social media, I purchase most of my books in bookstores.


Who are your best authors in Africa?

Wole Soyinka from Nigeria, Kenya’s Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Syl Chenei-Coker from Sierra Leone.

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