The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born

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The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born
Author Ayi Kwei Armah
Country Ghana
Language English
Publisher Heinemann
Publication date
For the album by Branford Marsalis, see The Beautyful Ones are Not Yet Born (album).

The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born is the debut novel by Ghanaian writer Ayi Kwei Armah. It was published in 1968, and then republished in the influential Heinemann African Writers Series in 1969. It tells the story of a nameless man who struggles to reconcile himself with the reality of post-independence Ghana.


The unnamed protagonist, referred to as "the man", works at a railway station and is approached with a bribe; when he refuses, his wife is furious and he can't help feeling guilty despite his innocence. The novel expresses the frustration many citizens of the newly independent states in Africa felt after attaining political independence. Many African states like Ghana followed similar paths in which corruption and the greed of African elites became rampant. Corruption in turn filtered down to the rest of society. The action takes place between 1965's Passion Week and 25 February 1966 – the day after the overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president. The "rot" that characterized post-independent Ghana in the last years of Nkrumah is a dominant theme in the book.


  • The Man
  • Oyo
  • Teacher
  • Joseph Koomson
  • Estella Koomson
  • Sister Maanan


The novel provides a description of the existential angst of the book's hero who struggles to remain clean when everyone else around him has succumbed to "rot". The theme spins around the grand corruption, military dictatorship, country's maladjustment under the reign of Nkrumah and the military junta. Even the title The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born gives a glimpse to the theme of the book. There are also clashes between lower-class people, like the man and his family, and upper-class people like Joseph Koonson and other government officials.


  • Armah, Ayi Kwei. The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born. 1968, Boston. (ASIN: B000JV2N50)

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