The Chameleon’s Journey

The Magdelene Code


Professor Edmund Ato Kwaw is an Associate Professor of Law and Head of Department at the Faculty of Law of Wisconsin International University College, and an Adjunct Associate Professor of Law at the Faculty of Law of the University of Cape Coast.

In addition to several academic texts, he is the author of two novels, The Messenger; published by Trafford Publishing of Toronto, in 2004, and The Magdalene Code, published by BookSurge/Amazon in 2007.

Professor Kwaw’s second novel, The Magdalene Code, received excellent reviews, including one by New York Times bestselling author, Ellen Tanner Marsh, when it was published. Professor Kwaw is currently working on his next novel.

Praise for Edmund Ato Kwaw

The Chameleon’s Journey

“Kwaw masterfully weaves a tale full of lessons, yet in an unimposing manner.”
Naana Antwi-Larbi
– Book reviewer


The Chameleon’s Journey

“A well crafted and well written story. By this book E. Ato Kwaw cements himself as a fantastic story teller.”

Naana Antwi-Larbi
Book reviewer

The Magdalene Code

“My wholehearted congratulations to the author in both his buildup of clues and follow through…”
Glenda Bixler
IP Book Reviewer

The Magdalene Code

“A very well written and compelling story … Kwaw is an expert at keeping his readers engaged by holding the answers in check until the final pages…”
Ellen Tanner Marsh
– New York Times Bestselling Author

Review of The Chameleon’s Journey
Naana Antwi-Larbi

Naana Antwi-LarbiThe Chameleon’s journey, a book authored by Edmund Ato Kwaw, manages to tell a powerful story whilst causing readers to deeply reflect on their lives and relationships with others, especially those who are most impacted by their decisions.

The story begins with a younger sister (Esi) requiring the older one (Araba) to assume responsibility for a child Esi is yet to deliver, to enable Esi pursue the ‘better’ life she believes she deserves. The manner of her demand; which is supported by her family that is more concerned the views of outsiders, in blatant dismissal of her older sister’s own life and future, stirs a wealth of emotions in the reader.

The predominant theme in The Chameleon’s Journey is forgiveness but others such as love, fate, kindness and hope manifests significantly. In the first chapter of the story, there is a narration by the father, Papa Jonah, of a competition setup by Awindaze, the god-like ruler of all animals, to determine the worthiest one (alluding to the competitive nature of humans to be better than all others in life). The chameleon (Maggie) decides to partake; alongside the jaguar, crocodile and the eagle. Initially undaunted by the other competitors, it sets out determined to prove itself as the worthiest one, unfazed by the mockery of the other animals. A few hours into the journey, threatened by a myriad of obstacles, it begins to criticize the creator for making it one of the smallest and weakest animals. She overcomes the first major challenge, a predator determined to devour it, but questions the creator as to why it had no defensive mechanism like other slow creatures such as the tortoise. She gets an answer to this after the emergence of a second obstacle: the tempest. Maggie escapes drowning by being able to float, as a result of her small and light figure. She finally accepts that she had actually been made just right. She escapes the storm but soon chances on a hawk trapped in water and crying for help. Despite the possibility of the hawk making a meal out of her after saving it, and being delayed in the competition, she stops to help the hawk out of the water. Maggie comes to a moment of epiphany concerning the mystery of life and concludes that ‘she could not journey being guided by the star of others’. The chameleon is used as a representation of man, and the many lessons man can take from it.

The writer through the lives of the individuals in the Jonah household, and by simultaneously alluding to the chameleon, implores the reader to come to their own quiet understanding and realization of the mystery of their journey: Papa Jonah, who is cowered by the pressure of societal expectations and bids his daughter to take up a responsibility, the cost of which he knows may well be the severance of the bond between himself and his favourite daughter. Of Mama Jonah who blames her inability to become the prominent person she had hoped to be on her husband for impregnating her, leading to her education being curtailed and on Araba, for ‘allowing’ herself to be conceived. She makes no secret of the fact that Esi is her beloved daughter, through whom she is going to get the prestige that has long eluded her.

Esi takes up the competitive spirit of the chameleon by determining to be the worthiest in her family especially, regardless of whose life she derails to attain this. Her secret is exposed not too long after settling in America with her husband, causing her marriage to end. She is drawn into a life of prostitution, and forced to continue in order to feed the drug addiction she subsequently develops.

Araba sets her brewing love affair with Ebo aside, in order to ‘obey’ her father’s call to place family first, perhaps just as Maggie placed the quest to win the competition aside by pausing her journey, so as to save the hawk. She becomes the breadwinner of her family, out of a sense of duty but becomes estranged from them. She is later forced to overcome the bitterness towards her parents and takes the first step towards reconciliation.

Kobbina, Esi’s son becomes a priest and meets up with his mother after many years. Although he has counselled others to forgive, he finds himself conflicted with the emotions bottled in him after many years of feeling abandoned by his mother. Through the use of dialogue, Ato Kwaw exposes the reader to valuable proverbial lessons, admonishing the reader never to belittle themselves. He mentions that, “the path that the chameleon threads in the forest is different from that of the crocodile, it does not however make it inferior’.

The writer highlights the themes of love and fate through Araba. Despite being separated from her childhood friend (love), having a child with a man who deserts her, and again having to turn her back on the man she loved who returns years later, they are united again. He depicts the existence of fate here, by bringing together these two people, stating that ‘Till its time has come, the heart never ceases to beat for the one in whom it dwells’.

The writer delves into the patriarchal nature of our society, by exposing society’s often crude determination of a woman’s worth. He details how society places certain burdens on women even in matters over which humans no control. He reveals how patriarchy is often upheld by women themselves, even when they have been affected by it. This, Kwaw cleverly portrays through Mama Jonah, who, despite finding these expectations annoying, goes on to persuade her family to keep up with the same standards.

Kwaw masterfully weaves a tale full of lessons yet in an unimposing manner. By placing the reader in the shoes of the chameleon, he underscores to the reader that although there will be traps, pitfalls and problems in their journey, they will eventually get to their destination; but it is the journey that matters, and not the destination. The chameleon’s journey is a carefully crafted and well written story. By this book E. Ato Kwaw cements himself as a fantastic storyteller. This is a book with powerful themes, and the writer delivers it with an intelligent mastery of language. The skillful use of imagery stirs varying emotions in readers as they journey with the characters in the book. It is a powerful book about the virtues of life, espoused through the individual characters, except perhaps Kweku whose adult life is not developed as much.

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