It was a casual conversation with Jeeba in 2003 that gave birth to this book.
We met as teenagers while at boarding secondary school some sixty miles
outside Accra, he a class above mine and me counting him as a mentor and
confi dant. Leaving Ghana fi rst to go and study abroad and then to work has
not abated our friendship. Like me he was and still is an avid reader and aft er
months without any communication we would relight our friendship simply
by sharing with each other what we had been reading in the interim. Jeeba
was also blessed with a highly acerbic sense of humor, the brunt of which
could be directed at any subject, including himself. On this occasion I was
in Accra for a few weeks visiting and, as usual, had gone to his house at the
Ringway Estates not far from Oxford Street to have lunch and to shoot the
breeze, one of our favorite pastimes. I left his place in the middle of the aft er-
noon to check my e-mail at a cybercafe on Oxford Street. At that time cyber-
cafes were only then getting in vogue, and it was not unusual for them to also
double up as communication centers (or “comm” centers for short), with the
requisite array of telephones, fax machines, and photocopiers in addition to
the standard set of computers. This par tic u lar cybercafe was diff erent and
cultivated a more elite ethos by serving the clients coff ee while they sat at
the computers. I fi nished my business fairly quickly that aft er noon, which
mainly comprised clearing my in- box and replying to some pressing mes-
sages from my students and a couple of colleagues in the UK. Stepping out
of the café, I took a deep breath, inhaling all the fervent smells of an Accra
aft ernoon and declared to myself proudly: this is globalization. I rushed
back to Jeeba’s place in excitement to share my insight. His response was
spontaneous and characteristically wry: “Ato, your problem is that you mis-
take Oxford Street for a street in Romeo and Juliet.” He never explained what
he meant by that remark and I never asked. We just laughed at his usual turn
PREFACE
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