13th Ghana International Book Fair

I did go to the 13th GIBF (Ghana International Book Fair) but I admit it was on the last day – Saturday 7 November.  So if I sound a bit disappointed, maybe that is the reason.  Several of the stands had no one there so I guess the companies/organizations felt it wasn’t worth their while to be there on a Saturday.  I did notice several representatives of mostly Indian printing companies which was quite interesting.

The other issue which slightly bothered me was the fact that there was going to be a launch of a book about Ghana’s President in the late 1970s/early 1980s, Dr Hilla Limann, which I hadn’t heard about!  So I had to make do with online reviews.  And eventually I will see, and probably buy,  a copy of the actual book.

I admit I had originally thought I would be able to attend earlier in the week, but that didn’t work out.

This is not to say that I didn’t buy anything; I did.  A couple of children’s books as gifts and a couple of adult books for work – all from Sub-Saharan Publishers who I am always happy to support, plus I usually find they have something which interests me.

Caine prize 2015 front cover 500I am looking forward to seeing and buying a copy of the latest Caine Prize collection of short stories which Sub-Saharan are co-publishing with New Internationalist, and other publishers on the African continent.

I always wonder how many people go to these Ghana International Book Fairs…

Cassava Republic books in Ghana! at Yari Yari Ntoaso

ImageI won’t talk about Yari Yari Ntoaso (an international conference on literature by women of African ancestry) in this post, but if you want to know more see http://kinnareads.wordpress.com/ who is posting the schedule, and photos, or follow the #YariYari hashtag on Twitter.

What I wanted to comment about was the fact that the well known Nigerian publisher, Cassava Republic, had a stand among the tables of vendors!  How pleased I was to see them, and of course I couldn’t resist buying something on Day 1 – and who knows what will happen on Days 2-4?

The comment I made to their representative was to ask why they didn’t sell any of their Imagebooks here in Ghana?  I would much rather support either a Ghanaian or other West African business if this is possible.  I know the market might not be huge, but still I do believe there is a market for Nigerian literature here.  Certainly I saw at least six other books that I would have bought from them if I hadn’t either read or bought them already!

I wonder what other readers think?

Advert for Ghana Book Awards raises a few questions

Seen in the Ghanaian Times of Wednesday 12 September 2012 [apologies for not posting this earlier, but as the comments still apply, I will still post it]

GHANA BOOK AWARDS 2012

The Ghana Book Development Council request for entries for Write Publisher  for Ghana Book Awards 2012 in the following categories:

Junior Fiction
Adult Fiction
General Book

The book should be published in Ghana between 2009 and 2012.  Four (4) copies each of all entries should be sent to:

Ag Executive Director
GBDC
PO Box MB430, Ministries
Accra,

or hand delivered to either of the following:

GBDC Secretariat
NAPTEX Building
Education Enclave, Legon
c/o Ghana Book Publishers Association Office
3rd floor, Workers College Building
Accra

closing date:  15 October 2012

For further enquiries, please phone 023-259-6800

PLEASE NOTE:  ABSOLUTELY NO TEXTBOOKS WILL BE ENTERTAINED!!!

I have a few comments, or rather questions, on this advert.

  1. First of all what is “Write Publisher”?
  2. Second, what is meant by a “General Book” category?
  3. Thirdly I would like to ask about locations:  does everyone know where Education Enclave is? or Workers College Building?  There is no further indication of where these are, and personally I feel that this is a significant omission .  I know we don’t have proper street names here in Ghana, but one can narrow down areas to make them more accessible to someone who is not familiar with Accra.
  4. My last comment has to do with the lack of an email contact, or a website.  In this era there is simply no excuse not to have an email address, even if it is one that is totally web-based.

I do realize that most of the publishers would probably know of either the GBDC Secretariat or the Ghana Book Publishers Association – so presumably those placing the advert probably thought this information was superfluous.  But then, why bother?

The question then to ask:  What is this advert for? Isn’t it a type of promotion of books? and of publishing?

Caine prize 2012 collection to be published in Ghana

I will not discuss the winner of the 2012 Caine Prize for African fiction, as my colleague blogger, ImageNations, has already done a good job on all the links needed.

I did read all the five shortlisted stories, and will freely admit that “Bombay’s Republic” was definitely in my top two.

I think what intrigues me even more this year is the fact that the 2012 Caine Prize anthology is not only going to be published in the UK/USA, but also in six African countries, including Ghana.  Actually I believe it had already been co-published in South Africa (with Jacana), in Nigeria (with Cassava Republic) and Kenya (Kwani?) but what with the lack of distribution of books between African countries, in the past the easiest way of getting a copy was to order either from the UK or the US!  Incidentally I have in the past emailed at least one of the above publishers and asked whether they haven’t considered some distribution of their titles here in Ghana, but no answer.  But that, as they say, is a whole other story.

Getting back to the latest Caine Prize collection: spurred on by the prospect of local availability, I thought I would follow up.  A small search – actually in a physical directory! – revealed four numbers for Sub-Saharan Publishers [sorry I couldn’t find any website], so I hoped that at least one of them would work.  And it did.

The good news:  African violet (the name of the collection) which was published by New Internationalist in the UK on 1 July 2012 and was indeed reviewed by Bookshy (a book blogger based in Nigeria) will indeed be published, and therefore available to buy here in Ghana.

The not so good news:  some of us will just have to wait six weeks or so before we get a chance to buy a local copy!

But at least it is something worth looking forward to.

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!

Open journal systems and public libraries in Ghana

It seems that the end of the year is particularly busy for events of all types – and books and libraries  in this part of the world are not immune.

In the course of my working life, I have done some editing and proof-reading of papers/articles etc but never going through all the processes involved in publishing material.  So an opportunity to attend a CARLIGH (Consortium of Academic & Research Libraries in Ghana) workshop on GHANJOL and online publishing was a definite learning experience to be taken up, especially as Ashesi University College is planning to start its own journal sometime in the near future.

Most of the workshop was taken up dealing with a particular platform for publishing journals online – Open Journal Systems –  which was developed by the Public Knowledge Project and hosted at Simon Fraser University in Canada.  When we started the practical aspects I realised I had actually read articles from journals published under this platform – and these are from all over the world as well.   The key roles involved in publishing journals, especially online – authors, editors, reviewers, and others were also covered, so for those of us who are new to this area, there were guidelines to take away and processes and workflows one could use.  There was also discussion about Open Access and more specifically about the possibility of there being a GHANJOL – Ghana Journals Online – which would be part of the INASP project, Journals Online.

The other event was a half-day discussion on the role of public libraries in development, the second half of a full-day consultation facilitated by EIFL and IREX, with support from Ghana Library Association (GLA).  The event came out of the six country study conducted on behalf of EIFL of public perceptions of public libraries in Tanzania, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Uganda.  The first part of the day was to sensitize many librarians and key stakeholders on the results of the report, and the second half, which I attended, widened the stakeholders to include non-library personnel working in information, including representatives from ICT companies such as TechAIDE and GINKS.

What was particularly interesting for me – apart from the opportunity to meet colleagues and put forth some of my own opinions – was the chance to hear some people actually saying that “some thinking out of the box” was essential for the public libraries to work effectively in Ghana.

Nana Ayebia Clarke for UK award?

I read on Ghanaweb that Nana Ayebia clarke had been nominated for one of the Queen’s New Year
Honours.  But these haven’t been released yet, so there is no official confirmation, so I wonder whether I should actually say something about this, or leave it.

But then I looked at the article again, and realised that it is sourced from Ivor Agyeman-Duah, a contact whose opinion I respect, and moreover someone whose work has been published by Ayebia which is the publishing company set up by Nana and her husband, so maybe there is truth in this story?

Personally I would hope so, as Nana Ayebia has done a lot to support African, and especially West African, and shall we say even more specifically Ghanaian writing.

Not that long ago, I read Benjamin Kwakye’s The other crucifix, (published by Ayebia) which I have to admit I didn’t like as much as his previous novels, which were set in Ghana.  Still, as an account of a diasporan Ghanaian’s life in the US, it is a welcome addition to the genre.

And just as additional informal promo of Ayebia’s books, I have the following on my TBR (to be read) pile:

  • A fine madness, by Mashingaidze Gomo
  • Queen Pokou, by Veronique Tadjo
  • The book of not, by Tsitsi Dangarembga

The only issue is that sometimes Ayebia books are a little difficult to source here in Accra, but that’s a chronic issue.

So when the formal New Year’s Honours list for 2011 comes out, I will post more on this subject…