Two weeks of non-stop bookish activities

It’s been a fairly busy two weeks, and for those of us interested in books and information, there have been
lots of events going on – in addition to work related stuff!

2013 Burt prize winners - coversFirst there was the Burt Award for African Literature. This covered the winning Ghanaian books for 2013.  I admit I arrived late – but I didn’t miss too much of the programme, which had, it seemed, more or less started on time [which is great]. The speeches were OK, with William Burt, the Canadian who funded the Burt awards, talking about the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series of books! That really brought back some of my early reading.

Naturally I bought copies of the prize winning books:

  1. Perfectly imperfect, by Ruby Yayra Goka (1st prize)
  2. Ossie’s dream, by Nanayaa Amankwah (2nd prize)
  3. The boy who spat in Sargrenti’s eye, by Manu Herbstein (3rd prize)

The first and third prize winners have been prize winners before.  The occasion was covered by the press, though not in its entirety as usual.

Then the day after, actually in the same venue – British Council – there was the launch and showing of the documentary The art of Ama Ata Aidoo. The film, by Yaba Badoe, was pretty interesting, though perhaps a little bit long. But illuminating especially if one has read or wants to read some of Ama Ata Aidoo’s work. I did not too surprisingly buy one of Aidoo’s books, No sweetness here - coverwhich has recently been republished here in Ghana.  There’s a great account of the launch here.

Another event was the yearly GAWBOFEST (Ghana Association of Writers Book Festival). Not exactly my favourite event, but maybe that is because I always tend to go to buy books, and get slightly disappointed at the range available. I also find that the long speeches in the morning session must be pretty boring for the children who attend, but then I admit that I don’t stay that long to see what happens during the rest of the day. Yet it is an event that I would wish to continue, just simply because there need to be more opportunities to see books, to buy them, and to talk about reading and writing.

I also went to the September Ghana Voices reading, organized by the Writers Project of Ghana. This month it was Benjamin Kwakye, who it turns out I have met before – though I am ashamed to say that I didn’t remember this. I was also annoyed with myself because I forgot to take copies of his books with me to be autographed!  [Too many things to remember on this day]

The September gathering of the Accra Book Club also took place during these two weeks – our read was the somewhat confusing, well-reviewed thriller, The shining girls, by Lauren Beukes.  Although I enjoyed reading it, it was a little confusing, and talking about it certainly clarified my understanding of this novel about a time-travelling serial killer, and the plucky victim who chased him.

All these activities included a fair bit of book buying – nine books in total – mainly because it is still difficult to buy certain titles as book shops with the kind of stock I like remain very few and far between here in Accra. I even managed to buy one of Ghanaian/American author Kwei Quartey’s books which has been on my wish list for several months.  Murder at Cape Three Points  - cover

As well as these events, I was also away from my usual work location, attending a couple of meetings and a workshop, all connected with the consortium of libraries my workplace belongs to.

On the work side, I was away from campus, attending a couple of meetings and a workshop, all related to CARLIGH (Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Ghana).

Now I have to write up two sets of minutes, plus an evaluation of the workshop.  Plus of course get back into the work swing of things!  Definitely no rest for some of us!

 

CODE and Ghana Book Trust writers and editors workshops

Seen in the Daily Graphic of 29 August 2014

The Ghana Book Trust [I was going to put it in a link, but it seems their website is down] in collation with the Canadian Organisation for Development through Education (CODE) and the Burt Award for African Literature invites interested persons to participate in a 5-day Writers’ and Editors’ workshop.

The workshop is for persons who write for/are interested in writing and working with Young Adult fiction.

Dates:  8-10 September, Writers’ workshop; 11-12 September, Editors’ workshop

Venue:  Erata Hotel, East Legon

Time:  9am – 4pm

Resource persons:  Kevin Major from Canada and seasoned Ghanaians in the book industry.

Registration:  phone Winnie on 026-569-9700 between 9am and 4pm.  Deadline is 4 September 2014.

Good luck to those who participate.  The more people who write here in Ghana the better, especially for those who like reading.

 

The Burt Award for African Literature, 2014: Call for submissions

I meant to post this call for submissions earlier, but somehow got sidetracked!  I am all for supporting local authors – and encouraging young readers is essential!

Burt award Ghana logoThe following is taken from the Ghana Book Trust website, and the link is below

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 young between the ages of 12-15.

The Award is sponsored by CODE, a Canadian NGO, with generous support from Canadian patron Bill Burt.

Prizes:

  • 1st Gold – CAD9,000
  • 2nd Silver – CAD 7,000
  • 3rd Bronze – CAD5,000

These would be paid at the prevailing exchange rate at the time of the award in Ghana Cedis.

Winning publishers are guaranteed the purchase of 3,000 out of 5,000 copies expected to be published. The books will be distributed to Ghana Book Trust’s network of CODE-supported schools, community libraries and other schools.

Deadline for Submission
The manuscripts should be submitted through publishers to the Ghana Book Trust in one soft copy with five hard copies on or before 27th June, 2014 by 4.00pm.(Email address: info@ghanabooktrust.com)

They will be reviewed and assessed by a panel of qualified judges to determine the winners.

The Ghana Book Trust is not obliged to award any or all the three prizes if the judges deem work unsatisfactory.

Winners:The winners will be announced through the media.

for more information see Ghana Book Trust website

A belated look at September 2012 book related activities

During September, I read – or more appropriately – finished reading six books:

  1. King Peggy – An American secretary, her royal destiny and the inspiring story of how she changed an African village, by Peggielene Bartels and Eleanor Herman [quite apt as it was about Ekumfi Otuam, the “hometown” of the late President of Ghana, Prof John Atta Mills]
  2. The secret lives of Baba Segi’s wives, by Lola Shoneyin [a polygamous marriage has many secrets]
  3. Half-blood blues, by Esi Edugyan [read for Accra Book Club]
  4. Speechless – World history without words, by Polyp [graphic non-fiction; I confess I wasn’t always clear what was being depicted]
  5. Death and pain – Rawlings’ Ghana, the inside story, by Mike Adjei [aspects of Ghana’s history during the turbulent 1970s and 1980s]
  6. The bean trees, by Barbara Kingsolver [moving early novel by the well-known American author]

As is obvious by the titles above, there were more books with African/Ghanaian flavours/origins. Unusually for me there was an even mix between fiction and non-fiction.

In terms of bookish activities, it was a busy month, or rather the last ten days were very full. I had mentioned anticipating several activities in a previous post, and indeed I did go to all.

GAWBOFEST – Ghana Association of Writers Book Festival – did take place, and I did go. 21 September was a public holiday here in Ghana (Kwame Nkrumah’s birthday). But I didn’t stay long, bought a few books, and left, mainly because I wasn’t feeling very well, even though I had heard that the President, John Mahama, was coming to read from his recently published book, My first coup d’etat. I was very sorry to have missed that reading, but I was very happy that it took place in what was a relatively informal and non-political forum.

The next week, 25 – 29 September, was the 11th Ghana International Book Fair, held this year at the National Theatre. I went round the stands on a couple of days, and didn’t buy much, mainly because I had seen what I wanted at GAWBOFEST. But I was glad to attend the formal book launch of the Burt award 2011 books, and did buy the pack of three books:

  1. The kaya girl, by Mamle Wolo
  2. The lost royal treasure, by Ruby Yayra Goka
  3. Akosua & Osman, by Manu Herbstein

For an interesting and challenging perspective on the Book Fair and writing for children here in Ghana, see Mikelle on Education’s post.

Another entertaining reading took place at the Goethe Institut, where Nigerian author Chuma Nwokolo read excerpts from two of his books, as part of the Writers Project of Ghana Ghana Voices series:

  1. The ghost of Sani Abacha
  2. Diaries of a dead African

Nwokolo was entertaining and amusing, and the audience obliged with lots of questions and laughter, and of course we bought his books!

The rest of the week involved a regular monthly gathering of the Accra Book Club, plus a meeting of CARLIGH (Consortium of Academic & Research Libraries in Ghana)…

And not too surprisingly I did buy a few books: one gift, three books for work, and nine for myself! The TBR shelves continue to grow!

2011 Burt Awards for African literature: Ghana ceremony

The official ceremony for the 2011 Burt Award for African literature, organized locally by Ghana Book Trust , with sponsorhip from CODE , which took place on 16 July 2012, was a bit different from most book related ceremonies that I have attended here in Accra.

Firstly, it started on time. And I was late, thinking 15 minutes past of the official start time would be OK, but it wasn’t! Too bad for me, and a big hurrah for the organizers. TG I wasn’t the latest to arrive though, and I don’t think I missed too much.

Secondly, it was pretty short and to the point. Within an hour all the speeches had been done, and it was time for some photos with the winners, or press interviews, or just networking with friends and colleagues.

Thirdly, there were no books available for sale. A disappointment actually, though I did know in advance that this was just the award ceremony itself. What further saddened me though was hearing that the books would not be published until November this year, which is definitely later than expected!

But then I shouldn’t complain; that means that there is something to look forward to!

Winners for 2011 are:

  • First prize: Mamle Wolo, for The Kaya girl
  • Second prize: Ruby Goka, for The lost royal treasure
  • Third prize: Manu Herbstein, for Akosua and Osman

All are being published locally, and 3000 copies of each title will be distributed to schools, libraries and other institutions, so they will be widely available.

Note: There was press coverage in both the Ghanaian Times and the Daily Graphic, but not a huge amount online.  See here and here.

 

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!