Cocoa Island

By James Amoateng

[James Amoateng]Cocoa Island is an action thriller set in a fictional African nation that has just gained independence.

Paul Tetteh is a young university professor who is also a secret agent. One of his colleagues, Dr. Adam Smith, is the leader of a secessionist movement that eventually boils over into an armed insurgency. In order to complete his plan for an armed takeover of the government, Smith has devised an unstoppable chitin tank that will be key to his victory. However to isolate chitin in a manner that will enable him to weaponize it, he needs the assistance of Professor Benjamin, an older biochemist who is another of his and Paul Tetteh’s colleagues at the university.

The situation becomes urgent when Smith kidnaps Paul Tetteh along with Professor Benjamin. Now Tetteh must free himself and stop Smith, who takes counsel from a strange veiled priest who also serves as a government cabinet minister. It all comes to an explosive crescendo on an abandoned patch of land in the Atlantic—Cocoa Island.

One day, years ago, whilst in college, my brothers and I were discussing the 2nd world war in the house. My paternal grandmother who had come to visit us, was sitting down quietly, listening intently. Then she suddenly budged in.

“Shitler koo no?” she asked.

Meaning, “is it about Hitler’s war?” Unfortunately my grandma could not pronounce the name Hitler properly.

We said yes, and she joined in the conversation. We were suddenly taken aback by the knowledge and insight she had about that war. She said, at that time she had given birth to my dad and his younger brother and my dad had just started schooling. She used to bring bananas and kente cloth from the village to sell to the white people.

She then proceeded to give a long narrative about the British arresting Germanic speaking people suspected to be aligned to Hitler and putting them on display in cages. This went on throughout the war and long after. The talk then among the locals was that, some Nazi war criminals had actually come to live in the Gold Coast and the British were always on the look-out.

This is the idea which later on I decided to use in this story. Indeed whilst researching into the subject, I came across Hannah Reitsch, Hitler’s private pilot, who settled in Ghana after independence. The first president Dr. Nkrumah, tasked her to set up the first aviation school in Ghana. A lot of Ghana’s earlier pilots were trained by her.

The next point I want to discuss is the conflict situations that happen across the African continent. They all seem to have certain common factors. Firstly, there are some politicians and academics who give some ideological and philosophical meaning to them—be it ethnocentrism, or some social sentiments about things going wrong. Some of these people may be within the opposition but, sometimes surprisingly, they are within the highest echelons of government, plotting with the opposition.

The second factor is about resources to propagate the conflict. They usually resort to exploiting local resources, either mineral wealth, or agricultural resources like cocoa, coffee, timber and so on.

The third condition is external. Usually, a neighboring country comes in to either, actively or passively support the opposition. Sometimes these neighbors do so not for any particular gains, apart from supporting their brothers across the border, who may be of the same ethnicity. You just have to look at the artificial borders created by the colonial authorities, where cousins were divided, part under one colonial authority and the other under another. Sometimes it is simply because the neighboring country simply does not have the capacity to patrol her borders effectively. Of course some neighbors would do so for profit. Then there are other external forces from further afield like Europe and America, who may get involved for ideological reasons or for profit.

When all these factors come together, one needs a spark, some tinder to light the fire. At times, this comes in the form of something as innocuous as two people from different ethnic groups fighting over a fowl, or some land dispute, or some difficult economic situation, and there is total mayhem.

I have tried to package all these into the novel. The idea of a biomaterial tank is not far-fetched. A number of scientists believe that is the way to go in future, when all our mineral resources are depleted. Already biofuels are in use.

They were in a small stuffy room in the block Dr. Darko had shown as the chemistry laboratory. Adam Smith was seated at his desk on which lay many books of organic chemistry. Dr. Tetteh had been summoned the next morning by Dr. Darko to see the boss of the establishment. Paul Tetteh, very anxious, had dressed hurriedly and followed Darko. They had entered the building and gone along a corridor at the end of which was a room. Dr. Darko had knocked in a particular rhythmic fashion which Paul Tetteh knew was a password. The door had been opened by a tall mulatto.

So great was Paul Tetteh’s surprise at seeing this tall mulatto with the narrow face, an aquiline nose and wearing those brown rimmed spectacles, that stood at the entrance of the room for well over two minutes with a gaping mouth. Adam Smith and Darko stood smiling at him. Then Smith broke the silence.

“I see you are very surprised to see me here, Paul.”

“Good God, Adam. Why shouldn’t I be? This is the last place I dreamed of seeing you,” Paul responded.

“I see. Maybe you think I am out of place in this,” Adam continued.

“Well, I don’t know what to think. I did not know that you had anything to do with this establishment,” Paul said.

“I see,” again Smith smiled. “I am sure after my explanations you will know my part.

“And are you the boss here?”

“Well, something like that,” Smith answered.

“The voice I heard at the airstrip. You were the one,” Paul charged.

Smith just stood there and smiled.

At this point Darko left the two of them. Since he arrived here, it had been two days of constant dreaming for Paul Tetteh. Dreaming realities was what he termed it. The events looked like a dream yet they were true; his kidnap, the firing squad, and hacking of human meat to feed the animals. That was still on his mind when he went to sleep and he had a nightmare in the night. Now the latest was the discovery that his closest colleague, Adam Smith, was leader of all these people. Up till now, he had not heard anything about Professor Benjamin whom he had come to seek. Was he perhaps wrong after all?

[Cocoa Island Cover]

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About the Author
James Amoateng currently lives in Kumasi, Ghana. A Dental Surgeon and lecturer by trade, James’ hobbies include reading and playing soccer on Sunday mornings. James has been writing for about 35 years and has an anthology of poems, Lamentations from Sikaman, to his name.

You can find James at sbpra.com/jamesamoateng, on Facebook and on Twitter.