In the late ’90s in Nigeria, a Ghanaian television series became a local favorite after its initial introduction. Originally aired in Ghana, the series took off in Nigeria with much excitement, and quickly gained wide acceptance. It was titled Inspector Bediako.
Inspector Bediako was the name of the series, and also the name of the lead character, a Ghanaian male detective intent on solving crime mysteries. Having grown up in Nigeria, I fondly remember watching this series whenever it was showing (or at least, whenever NEPA permitted). Before then, my interaction with fictional detectives was limited to Agatha Christie’s Hercules Poirot, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, and the occasional American detective series such as Sledge Hammer (“Trust me, I know what I’m doing!”) However, all these detectives (with a few exceptions) were white men. But never before had I seen an African man solving crimes. Successfully.
So, what did Inspector Bediako teach me about African detectives? Well, I’m glad you asked! Several things, actually. Let’s make a mini-list, shall we?
- That saying about African men being completely unadventurous is a myth. Assuming there are real life Inspector Bediakos out there.
- There are intelligent African men who are dedicated to solving problems, rather than just sitting around and complaining about them.
- Most importantly, I learnt that African detectives exist. For a Nigerian child growing up in a world where television was flooded with images of Western detectives, it meant a lot. There is just something about seeing a character on television who looks and sounds like you (probably eats similar foods, too), portrayed in a positive light, that is so empowering. So, thank you to the people who wrote, produced, directed and acted in that series. We definitely need more of those types of stories today.
One more thing. If I remember correctly, Inspector Bediako’s partner who was also a detective, was a woman. I cannot remember her name right now, but they worked quite well together. I would love to read more stories about female African detectives, because just like Inspector Bediako, they also exist.
Image: Cover of Book 1 of Novella series, The Aso-Ebi Chronicles (Bewaji's Ankara Adventures)