Ama Ata Aidoo launches two books in Accra

I can’t talk much about the programme for the launch of Ama Ata Aidoo’s books which took place on Friday 23 March – her Essays in honour of Ama Ata Aidoo and Diplomatic pounds & other storiesbirthday [though not her 70th if I heard correctly] – because I am a little ashamed to admit that I was horribly late due to a combination of car issues plus parking.  But I was very glad to see that the venue – British Council Accra – was absolutely full, and that the Vice-President of Ghana, John Mahama, himself an author, was able to deliver his keynote address, even though he was due to travel that very evening!

Despite coming at the end of ceremony I was able to see a few friends and colleagues, including Ivor Agyeman-Duah of the Centre for Intellectual Renewal who organized the launch,  and buy the books. One is a collection of short stories, entitled Diplomatic pounds & other stories and the other is more academic as evidenced by the title Essays in honor of Ama Ata Aidoo at 70: a reader in African cultural studies.  Both are published by Ayebia Clarke who has a great reputation for publishing books on Ghana, and indeed on Africa

I must definitely buy a couple of copies for work.

I wasn’t able to get the author to autograph them, but I think there will be another opportunity  soon – as Ama Ata Aidoo is due to give some readings at the Goethe Institut as part of the Writers Project of Ghana on 28 March.

Not an opportunity to miss!

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World Poetry Day – two favourite poems

Today – 21 March – is World Poetry Day as proclaimed by UNESCO.  A UN press release says among other things

“World Poetry Day is an invitation to reflect on the power of language and the full development of each person’s creative abilities.”

Personally I have to admit that I am not a great poetry reader.  But once in while, I will come across poems that really strikes a cord with me, and I would like to share them here.

The first is by Mamle Kabu, a Ghanaian writer who is mainly known for her short stories.  The following comes Laban Carrick Hill’s website, for which I say thank you:

Orange Juice

My dying wish?
Orange juice
From oranges that are yellow
Not orange,
Oranges from the forests of Ghana
Grown wild in cool shade
And careless beauty

Why orange juice?
Because it’s the colour of the sun
And tastes like life,
And even better things
that have no name
But can be drunk

Oranges loaded onto mammy trucks
Piled high by the roadside
Hawked with peel neatly shaved
Sucked dry, turned inside out
For the last drops
Of trapped sunlight
posing as juice

That’s what I want
That dying day,
The sun distilled
Light as liquid
A mouthful of life
No, even better things
That can’t be named
But can be drunk

The second, interestingly enough, also has a food element in it, and is by Grace Nichols (available on the web, but taken from Poems on the underground, edited by Gerard Benson, Judith Chernaik and Cicely Herbert. 10th ed. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London. 2007.)

Like a beacon

In London
every now and then
I get this craving
for my mother’s food
I leave art galleries
in search of plantains
saltfish/sweet potatoes

I need this link

I need this touch
of home
swinging my bag
like a beacon
against the cold.

Enjoy!

2012 Burt Award for African Literature – Call for submissions from Ghanaian authors

Although I have never attended any of the formal ceremonies where the Burt Awards for African Literature have been formally presented [does this sound like a hint to the future organizers? I leave to your imagination!], I do feel that it is worth promoting , so that teenagers here in Ghana may have access to a wider range of fiction which is contemporary, exciting, and relevant to their own lives.

Most of the following is taken from an advert in the Daily Graphic [though with some spelling mistakes and omissions] of Tuesday 28 February 2012, but further details are available from the Ghana Book Trust, whose contact details will be listed below.

To quote the ad: “The Ghana Book Trust and CODE, a Canadian NGO, have the pleasure to invite Ghanaian authors and publishers to participate in a competition to produce story books for the youth between the ages of 12 and 15.”

Criteria include:

  • The award is restricted to authors who are citizens of and resident in Ghana
  • Manuscripts will be accepted through publishers only; who are allowed to submit not more than two manuscripts
  • Winners of the previous year cannot submit manuscript for the immedate year after
  • Manuscripts should be written in English
  • The length of the manuscript should be 30,000 – 40,000 words and should be in chapter form. It should be typewritten, double-spaced, Times New Roman font size 12

Date for submission:
Manuscripts should be submitted to the Ghana Book Trust in one soft copy and five hard copies by 29 June 2012 at 4pm.
Email: gbt@africaonline.com.gh

There is also more information on the Ghana Book Trust website.

Contact details for GBT are:
Location: on the IPS road, Accra
Postal: PO Box LG536, Legon, Accra
Telephone: +233 (0)30 250 2495

All the best to the authors and publishers!

February 2012 reading, and book buying

Several book-blogging colleagues (Kinna Reads, ImageNations and Reading Pleasure ) have written about their February reading and plans for March.  Naturally as a book lover and reader, I am always happy to see what others have been reading, and also what their To Be Read “bookshelves” look like.

On the reading front, I only finished four books – three fiction and one non-fiction, three male authors and one woman, two with Ghanaian settings:

  1. The uncommon reader, by Alan Bennett [which was actually a re-read, for Accra Book Club.  A satirical, comic view of the British Queen, and the effects of reading.  A short novella, but definitely for book lovers!]
  2. Room, by Emma Donoghue  [Really good novel about a young woman imprisoned for several years, and the life she make for herself and her son born in captivity.  Harrowing on the emotions at times]
  3. A sense of savanna … tales of a friendly walk through Northern Ghana, by Kofi Akpabli [Enjoyable travelogue. Some locations I have been to; others I would love to visit]
  4. Tales from different tails, by Nana Awere Damoah [Stories mostly about relationships, often with setting in Ghanaian tertiary institutions]

Books 3 and 4 could count towards the Africa Reading Challenge .

On the book-buying side, not much activity.  I did buy eight books – split between fiction and non-fiction  – a sort of belated Christmas cum New Year present to myself! But I haven’t started reading any of them yet.  And during February I didn’t buy or download any e-books either!

Do I have plans for March? Not really – apart from finishing a few of the books I am reading now. But who knows how I will feel as the month moves on?

And if there is a lot of load-shedding from Electricity Company of Ghana, I may not be able to do much reading in the evenings anyway!