My name is Kabu Okai-Davies. I describe myself as a very imaginative, a self-motivated prolific writer with a philosophical outlook about the human condition and history.
My overseas experience was at Oxford University – Exeter College Summer School – in England. I participated in the Politics and Globalization program (renamed as Oxford History, Politics and Society program) and the Creative Writing, Poetry and Life-Writing (renamed as Creative Writing) courses in 2009 and 2010. I received certification and credits for both courses and applied my credits to my Master of Studies program at the Australian National University.
I am originally from Ghana, but migrated to the United States and then eventually settled in Australia. I am currently living in the United Arab Emirates, where my family is currently on a diplomatic posting.
I studied Political Science, Philosophy and Literature at the University of Ghana. In America, I enrolled at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey where I studied Theatre and Performing Arts and took courses in Cinema Studies and Film Production at the New York University School of Continuing Education. In the US, I founded and worked as the producer of the African Globe Theatre for many years before moving to Australia.
In Australia I worked as the Manager of the Multicultural Centre and the producer of the National Multicultural Festival, Canberra, ACT; while at the same time studying at the University of Canberra. In Canberra, I completed my Honors in Philosophy and a Masters in Creative and Professional Writing. I then enrolled at the Australian National University and completed a Master of Studies by course work. Last year, 2013 I completed and submitted my PhD dissertation in Creative Writing for a Doctorate in Communications.
The highlight of my experiences at Oxford was the performance that I produced at the end of the program. It was a collection of poetry readings, piano recitals, Bollywood dance show and a combination of comedy, Celtic fantasy storytelling and comedy program. Both programs took place on the last day of the course in the Chapel at Exeter College. It was produced with and by fellow students who thoroughly enjoyed the evening performances.
The overseas experience at Oxford was transformational. It strengthened my faith in myself as a writer, allowed me to express many of my views on globalisation and politics in Africa and offered me the opportunity to interact with like minded thinkers and writers from around the world.
Definitely, I want to go back to Oxford to spend more time doing research on an Oxford inspired novel I am thinking about writing and to interact with people who share the vision of the role of the writer. At Oxford I learnt and came to the conclusion that writers are cultural and social agents, who have the responsibility to expand our sense of human empathy. I want to spend more time in the Bodleian Libraries and to wander around the parks and gardens.
Overall I would not describe my experiences at Oxford as a surprise. Oxford University met all my expectations. Rather, I felt a sense of enchantment and exhilaration for being in an atmosphere of creative and intellectual minded people. Both years as a returning participant, I met and befriended people who were worldly, experienced and very imaginative as writers, scholars and academics. It was a refreshing experience and the inspiration of being at Oxford still lingers on in my mind as a professional writer. My tips for anyone who goes to Oxford on an overseas program is to immerse themselves completely into the program; make friends, go for walks in the unfamiliar pathways, explore the surrounding villages and towns, go to the museums and galleries and get to know the city. It has a rich, long history full of tales, legends and timeless.
What I miss most about Oxford are the friendships I made, the libraries and the architecture and the layout of the various Colleges. I miss the Ashmoleam and Pitt Rivers Museums, the Blackwell Bookshop and the feeling of being around buildings that speak of history in modern and ancient ways.
The gothic, classical and medieval memory of Oxford permeates every aspect of the physical life of the town and its buildings. Yet the history, the culture and the narratives about the life and times of its people are so rich in stories that are as contemporary as they are ancient. Oxford is a world of its own, and in the sunny afternoons of summer, the flowers bloom, the tourists throng along the streets, while the cafes are crowded and the book, souvenir and antique shops become jammed with delighted people; as shoppers go in an out with mementos of their visit to the city. I also miss the weekend trips, especially to Hampton Court Palace, Canterbury, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Blenheim Palace, Warwick Castle, Bath and more. These places and country side manors, castles, riverside walkways, cottage farm houses, countryside markets, dining in country side inns, visits to gardens, long walks around parks and open fields were so steeped in British history and folklore dating as far back as Roman times. I miss the rich cultural narratives, literature, poetry, art, fables and songs of England that have left a lasting impression on me.
Based upon the inspiration I gathered from being at Oxford, I self-published a collection of epic verses, called: The Long Road to Africa, some of which I had read and presented at workshops during the poetry classes. Currently I am working as a full-time writer. Two years ago, I spent time in my native country Ghana, teaching theatre, African philosophy and creative writing at the African University College of Communications. At the same time I did research work in political culture and democratic participation, oral tradition and literacy in Ghana, for my doctorate. Following the completion of my PhD and motivated by my experiences of being at Oxford, I made up my mind to put all my ideas, global travel experiences and stories into literature, by writing my first novel: In Another Man’s Name. It is an auto-fictional narrative, based on the first five years of my immigrant experiences in America.
I am currently working on a second novel while seeking literary representation towards publication, in order to launch my career as a full-time novelist. In the meantime, my stories are serialised in the The Spectator, and my articles are published in The Finder, Public Agenda and Ghana NewsMedia in Accra, Ghana. I am now a full-time novelist, essayist, poet and playwright, hoping to become a Writer-In- Residence at a university in America or Australia after my first novel is published.
It is an opportunity of a life time, take it. Explore the options of spending time overseas, see the world, make friends, exchange ideas and broaden your horizon. There is nothing like the memories you make that would last you a life time. Take a chance on yourself, it is one of the best decisions I made. DO IT !!!