From Howe Street To Accra: My Adventures Working On The Groundbreaking Film Coming To Africa, by Frank James IV (AuthorHouse, Bloomington, Indiana, 2020, 62 pages).
Book Review by Dennis Moore
January 14, 2021 (San Diego) - Coming at a time of the sequel to the iconic movie Coming to America starring Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall, scheduled for release in December of 2021, Frank James IV has written a memoir, From Howe Street to Accra: My Adventures Working on the Groundbreaking Film Coming To Africa. I actually envy the author for having the opportunity to go to Africa, and then, to film a movie!
Perhaps hoping to capitalize on the upcoming remake of the Eddie Murphy film coming out in December of 2021, the author writes of his experiences in Accra, Ghana. There are many anecdotes throughout this intuitive and thought provoking book that has one feeling as if they were actually there.
The juxtaposition of the themes of the two movies are perhaps best expressed in a passage of James’ book, which states: “I was eating up the black vibe I felt in Accra. I liked seeing black people everywhere doing everything life has to offer. Knowing the government was run by a black President, Nana Akufo-Addo, even the black ministers on TV were refreshing. I really liked the fact that there were black men on the money. I thought Ghana was cool and the black vibe I was picking up while in Accra extraordinary. On the other hand, this trip was strictly business. I had a job to do.”
Howe Street to Accra is a fun and sometimes hilarious look at how a US film team went to Accra, Ghana and made a movie using an all Ghanaian crew and cast. The book focuses on the assistant director who is new to the job and sometimes doesn’t know what he’s doing. The book reveals the obstacles that the entire crew faced when situations changed at inopportune times.
From Howe Street to Accra also details the thoughts of a man who is a professed loner breaking down the self-inflicted walls of the prison his mind has created. This book is an eye opener for many people around the world who have misconceptions about Africa.
The book showcases the modern city of Accra and the treasure of Ghana that is the people who resides there. The way it is described by the author, makes you want to go there.
The authors insight and perspective on black women, and black women in Africa in particular is telling, as he states in his book: "The hotel clerk may look similar in appearance to many African American women but her attitude was totally opposite. This isn't a put down to African American women, never that.This is a salute to the positive energy and vibe I received from the women in Accra that at times their African American counterpart doesn't exhibit."
Coming to Africa, the movie, is described as “When the brotherman who had another plan – Meets The Motherland.”
James is fully vested in Africa, which is why he is able to share his experiences in the filming of Coming to Africa. The author states in his book: “Again, back to the Onyx shoot. Focus FJ! Once the lighting crew finished eating they got to work. I figured I needed to see what they did as far as lighting but on a movie set. I have experience in lighting but on a news set for Channel 12. I was anxious to learn a few new tricks to make PFA Productions Inc. that much stronger. It was on this site that I realized why Anwar was so excited to have Ellis doing the filmography.”
My biggest takeaway from this book is the fact that Khalil Kain, who starred in the iconic movie Love Jones with Nia Long, also has a role in the movie Coming to Africa.
This memoir by Frank James IV gives insight into movie making, and particularly movie making in and about Africa. This talented author gives perspective and insight, in his attached podcast The Last Black Man Standing here.
Dennis Moore has been the Associate Editor for the East County Magazine in San Diego and the book review editor for SDWriteway, an online newsletter for writers in San Diego that has partnered with the East County Magazine. Mr. Moore can be contacted at email@example.com or you can follow him on Twitter at: @DennisMoore8.