GAWBOFEST: a very limited view

I did go to the Ghana Association of Writers Book Festival which took place on Founder’s Day, or Kwame Nkrumah’s birthday.  It was a public holiday, so had to more or less force myself to get out of the house – but in a way having no electricity was a good enough impetus.

I did not plan to attend the opening ceremony, which was supposed to start at 9am but didn’t as it was still going on when I arrived after 11am!  And in fact it ended not long after noon, with quite a packed hall listening and watching.  I gather the high point was a poetry reading by a blind student from Wa.  Oh well…

So I spent my time outside looking at the stands, and on occasion chatting with colleagues/friends about books and ther quasi-literary issues.

I did buy a few books:

  • The days, by Ama Ata Aidoo (an illustrated children’s book, which I hadn’t heard of)
  • Tickling the Ghanaian: encounters with contemporary culture, by Kofi Akpabli (I had heard of its launch, and was wondering where and when I would get a copy)
  • The heart of old Accra (beautifully illustrated)
  • Akwaaba – Welcome to Ghana: Twi for tourists, by Nana Oforiwaa Koranteng (what would be the words and phrases chosen, I wondered)
I also picked up a programme of forthcoming activities from the Writers Project of Ghana which I have to look at and promote, in my small way.
I think I might have stayed a bit longer for some of storytelling and readings, but the heavens opened, and I decided it was time to leave.
Overall impression:  GAW obviously put a lot of effort into organizing the event, and were able to get a good number of people to attend.  A good start, in my opinion.

GAWBOFEST coming up on 21 September 2011 in Accra

The Ghana Association of Writers is organising its first Book Festival – GAWBOFEST – tomorrow, 21 September 2011, and I am intrigued. It is taking place at Aviation Social Centre, from morning till late afternoon. I gather from a recent phone-in that the Vice-President of Ghana is even supposing to be launching it, which means the opening ceremony will probably be quite long.

There are going to be readings by various “prominent personalities”, storytelling, poetry, books for sale, and so on.

Interestingly GAW does have a website , but there doesn’t seem to be much going on there, in contrast to the Writers Project of Ghana which I believe has a much younger feel to it, and is updated, and promoted regularly.

This is the first of these kind of events from GAW, which I always get the feeling is dominated by somewhat older writers, and I think it is worth taking a look at the event – maybe some time in the late morning, especially as it is a public holiday.

Needless to say I will report on what I found.

What is an e-library?

I am curious.

“What is an e-library?”

I am sure some will wonder why I even ask this question, as I am a librarian, working in the 21st century, so
at least I should have some answers, so why pose the question at all?

I ask this question, because during the last few days I have seen an advert in both The Ghanaian Times and the Daily Graphic newspapers for the following:

Invitation for Tenders
The Republic of Ghana
Ministry of Education
National Competitive Tendering (NCT)

Supply, installation and configuration of an e-library system.

Lot 1: Software application – quantity 1
Lot 2: Hardware – quantity 2

I have to admit that I wondered what was wanted?

Is the Ministry of Education planning to install an electronic library of e-books and e-journals? Or does it want to set up a virtual place where these could be placed? What will be the content of this e-library: books, textbooks, journals, articles, conference papers?  Who was it for? Would it be open access? or part of an intranet? If so, where would this content come from? How would it be managed? and promoted?

Or is this to be an institutional repository for the Ministry – basically an archive of documents and files produced by staff, ministers, consultants etc…? Or is it some kind of electronic filing system for the MoE?

I showed a copy of the advert to some professional colleagues, and they too were puzzled. Neither heard of this particular tender or what it was for, and both of these individuals are at the top of the library profession in Ghana.

NB:  Even the Public Procurement Authority doesn’t give many details in its tender details

So the question remains unanswered: “What is an e-library”?

Writers Mamle Kabu and Kuukua Yomekpe at Goethe Institut

Last week I attended another of the Writers’ Project of Ghana readings at the Goethe Institut, here in Accra.  I wasn’t actually sure that the event was coming on as it ended up being on the day that the Eid el Fitr holiday was officially celebrated in Ghana (despite the fact that virtually all Muslims I know actually ended their fast the day before!)

For me getting to the venue was in itself an adventure as I had forgotten that it is a custom in the area near I live to have a kind of SallahFest, which means a major road is more or less blocked to ordinary traffic but filled with cars/trucks/pickups full of revelers, accompanied by many on foot, wearing the new outfits which are so characteristic of these celebrations here.  Fortunately there were some police on duty, and eventually I was able to make my way towards the east.

Because it was a public holiday, the venue for the readings was shifted outside – but as luck would have it, there were sprinkles which threatened to turn into real drizzle, and we did move inside.

This time there were two writers:  Mamle Kabu and Kuukua Dzigbordi Yomekpe.  Both read excerpts from a recent collection, African women writing resistance:  Kabu excerpts from her short story “Story of Faith” and Yomekpe excerpts from her memoir “Musings of an African woman”,   In different ways the “stories” these two women writers read rang true – either because they told of pressures faced by contemporary women in Ghanaian universities, or for trying to find a suitable identity in the media driven world of the US.

Yomekpe’s recounting of her change of name from Melanie-Ann to Kuukua echoed for me, as well as the issues with her hair, mainly because of what I know from my own family and their experiences.

Naturally I bought a copy of the book – and fortunately many others did the same! I only wish there were more copies available in local bookshops.