Two literary events during this past week, and they took place back to back – on the 18th and 19th of January.
The first I have known about for quite some time, as it involved a senior colleague at work. The second was totally unexpected – and I literally had less than three hours notice [admittedly partly my fault]! The first was a book launch, the second wetted my appetite for a forthcoming work. Again the first was fairly formal – with speakers on a podium and a high table, while the other was outside, around an alluring blue swimming pool which pulled my thoughts towards a dip, even if it was only my feet! The first was academic though impinging on policy and the Chairman did not mince words; the second was supposedly non-political – at least in the contemporary sense – though the readings from the forthcoming book written by the Vice-President of Ghana referred more to the politics of the 1970s, while blended in with recollections of growing up in the northern town of Tamale. And as I write, I realise that both books have children on their covers!
The first book, Children’s rights in Ghana: reality or rhetoric, is edited by three academics, one of whom, Nana Apt is Dean of Academics at Ashesi University College where I work. I had already seen a hard copy version of the book, which was published in the US. This was a paperback edition, specifically meant for the Ghanaian market published by a UK based company called Mot Juste. I have to admit I was especially impressed by the Chairman, Ken Attafuah, who did not hesitate to be straightforward, yet picked up some of the essentials of each person who played a role in the event.
The second event was readings by various well-known Ghanaian writers, in honour of Bloomsbury (USA) senior editor, Nancy Miller, who was in Ghana for a brief visit, working with the Vice-President of Ghana who is publishing his memoirs – My first coup d’etat and other true stories from the lost decades of Africa. Several of the readings were amusing – mainly for their descriptions of events which many of us know or have experienced. The highlight was of course quite a long reading by John Dramani Mahama of an excerpt from his forthcoming book – he chose a tale of first teenage love interspersed with how the Acheampong regime impinged on his own family.
A couple of colleagues have written about the event, including Nana Awere Damoah who was also present (see his blog with the same content on Facebook.) Nana Fredua-Agyeman also commented on writing by heads of state and its relative scarcity here in Ghana.
I safely say that many of us are very much looking forward to Mahama’s book actually arriving here in Ghana.