Burt Award for African Literature: 2011 winners for Ghana

Skimming through the Daily Graphic this morning (Tuesday 28 February) I came across an advert – incidentally with several spelling mistakes! – which naturally caught my eye: the announcement of the 2011 winners for Ghana of the Burt Award for African Literature. These are:

  • 1st prize: The kaya girl, by Mamle Wolo (published by Kwadwoan Publishers)
  • 2nd prize: The lost treasure, by Ruby Y Goka (published by Kwadwoan Publishers)
  • 3rd prize: Akosua and Osman, by Manu Herbstein (published by Techmate Publishers) [not sure where this publisher is]

honorary mention:

  • Shoes for her feet, by Laurene Boateng  [no mention of a publisher]
  • Betrayed by the city, by Ida Fynn Thompson [no mention of a publisher]

The Burt Award is organized in Ghana by the Ghana Book Trust  and CODE (a Canadian NGO, which helps children to learn by supporting libraries, teacher training and book publishing in developing countries).

Actually this announcement is almost the same as the one I later found on the GBT website, so I do pay credit as it is due. To be frank the three prize winners were not totally a surprise as two of them had indicated to me late in 2011 that they were in the running.

Congratulations to all!

The question I ask as a book buyer:  where in Accra can I buy these titles?


Lack of 3G signals for MTN and Airtel

I have been a rather frustrated librarian/information professional over the last few days. I attended a workshop at the Balme Library (University of Ghana, Legon) and although there was wifi, and the signal was good, I wasn’t able to access the internet. OK, I admit that this is probably due to some configuration on my own laptop, but on the other hand I did notice that others participants also had problems accessing the web.

And for a workshop on web-based software, that was a definite issue.

I had sort of anticipated that this could be an issue so on Day 1 I brought my Airtel/Zain modem. On the local radio stations here in Accra, one is constantly hearing that Airtel now has an ultra high-speed 3.75G network. Well, as a user, I have yet to see it. Certainly at Balme Library – on one of the upper floors – I didn’t have a good enough signal to even get onto my home page! Even in the area where I live, the signal is so-so: good in the mornings, especially on Sundays, and not terribly useful most of the rest of the time.

So on Day 2 of the workshop I decided to bring my MTN modem – which seems to work better, though I have to admit that I wasn’t totally optimistic, since I wasn’t sure whether the signal would be good enough. Why? Despite MTN’s ads that their 3G coverage is high, it certainly hadn’t been registering as such on my smartphone – at least while in the Balme Library!   Grrr…

Have I been able to do any browsing during this three day workshop? Well, the answer is no, not really. Again, no 3G and even the 2G allowed only minimal browsing on my phone, and almost none on my laptop. Sigh.

I end on a plea to the telecom operators: deliver what you promise!  We consumers are not stupid!

Literacy, information and reading

Quite a lot coming up this week:

Discussion/brainstorming on a Literacy manifesto for Ghana takes place – but though I’ve been invited to attend, unfortunately I will be out of the office for more than half the week, so that has to be a pass. But it is very interesting nonetheless, especially as the initiative has come from an NGO rather than a government organization or ministry.

For three days I will be attending a workshop organized by CARLIGH and INASP on Open Source Software for Libraries. I am not an IT person, but I feel I should know what is out there to recommend to those who can do all the tekkie side. And if it does get a bit technical, well, who says one can’t learn something new?

On a personal note, Accra Book Club will be discussing Alan Bennett’s The uncommon reader, a short comic or satirical novel about reading, public life, the British monarchy and the distractions that books can provide. It should be fun.

Charles Dickens 200th birthday noted

If I had forgotten that Charles Dickens was born 200 years ago on 7 February 1812, I  would not have  been listening to the BBC or using Google – both of which are regular parts of my day! There is a special Google doodle – in my view not one of the best ones, but still a doodle is definitely better than no doodle – and the BBC Worldservice and other media in the US and the UK are full of stories related to him.

I won’t talk about any of his books – though I have read several of them, but it was a long time ago.

Maybe I should consider a re-read or two?

So indeed I pay a very small homage to an author whose words “Please sir, I want some more” are on this very day used by Ghanaian politicians and the media when talking about aid.

Enough said.

Ghana Library Association 50th anniversary activities in 2012

I am a practicing librarian and I try to take part in activities of the Ghana Library Association, of which I am a member.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the GLA, which was founded in 1962 – an era when libraries in Ghana were supported not only by government in power, but also by the then President, Kwame Nkrumah.

A provisional programme of events and activities has now been released, and I shall definitely be taking part in some, and observing and commenting on others.

Main Theme   Libraries: Key to National Development

Sub themes:
1. Libraries: driving access to knowledge
2. Libraries: facilitators of knowledge generation
3. Knowing is not enough: engaging in the knowledge economy
4. Enhancing the culture of reading
5. The academic library of the future
6. The public library of the future
7. The special library of the future
8. The school library of the future
9. Building a strong library association
10. The illusive national library: the case of Ghana

Programme of Activities

  • Regional launches
  • Photo exhibitions in various libraries
  • GLA/PAWA/GAW collaboration
  • Visits to school libraries
  • Book donations to selected school libraries
  • Reading clinics
  • Professional seminars
  • Workshop
  • Radio talk shows & TV programmes
  • Interaction with Information Studies students
  • Anniversary edition of the Ghana Library Journal 
  • Thanksgiving service & dinner dance
  • Congress/AGM

There aren’t any definite dates and venues yet, but I shall be posting more updates, as I gather more information.


January reading and book buying

January 2012 wasn’t a particularly great book-buying month for me, though my reading was what I would consider OK.

I finished reading seven books:   five  were fiction, two non-fiction.  Three were written by Africans, and an additional one was about Ghana.  The three non-African books were all mysteries.  So here is my list:

  • Ratcatcher, by James McGee (a mystery set in Regency London)
  • Tabom, by Marco Aurelio Schaumloeffel (about the Afro-Brazilian community among the Gas of Accra)
  • Ways of dying, by Zakes Mda (South African novel which takes place in the townships before the end of apartheid)
  • The sweetness at the bottom of the pie, by Alan Bradley (11 year old heroine in a country house mystery set in post World War II England)
  • You’re not a country, Africa, by Pius Adesanmi (very readable essays; won the Penguin prize for African non-fiction)
  • 10 years of the Caine Prize for African writing (winning short stories from 2001 to 2008; read for Accra Book Club)
  • The snowman, by Jo Nesbo (serial killer in Norway involves snowmen)

With the exception of the Caine Prize collection and Ways of dying (which I borrowed from Ashesi‘s library), all were on my TBR shelves.

I didn’t really buy many books either.  I bought  two Tintin books (one is a gift), plus a couple of cookbooks (a weakness), and a copy of Children’s rights in Ghana, which was co-edited by a colleague – all in physical format. And there were  were two electronic ones, loaded onto my Kindle:  Silver sparrow, by Tayari Jones and the Caine prize collection mentioned already.

When I started writing this, I thought January was not very inspiring, but upon reflection, it wasn’t that bad, after all.