#GhanaMustRead group reads so far

The third book group I belong to is quite different from the others. It is led by a real bookworm, who is a book reader and lover, a photographer and producer of several podcasts https://soundcloud.com/bookradioafrica related to books and reading.  He also has an online business selling books though that website seems to be under reconstruction at the moment!

Members too are young and mostly Ghanaian. I think yours truly is the oldest member.

A theme is chosen each month and then Bookworm Man puts together a list of contemporary books, complete with blurbs and audio files. Members then vote for their choice, and sometimes even there is a second round!

Since mid-2017 we’ve read and talked about the following:

  • Here comes the sun, by Nicole Dennis-Benn [set in contemporary Jamaica]
  • Ginny Moon, by Benjamin Ludwig [main character is an autistic teen]
  • Who will catch us when we fall? by Iman Verjee [takes place in Kenya]
  • Born a crime, by Trevor Noah [autobiographical account of the South African comedian’s early life]
  • The book of night women, by Marlon James [takes place in late 18th century Jamaica]
  • Before I go, by Colleen Oakley – our March 2018 read

I probably wouldn’t have chosen some of these books if I had been browsing for myself, but then that is the great thing about a book group.  You read what you like; and you read material that is different from your own “preferences” (whatever those might be).


Library and bookish activities in late October/early November 2015

It’s a long time since I posted on this blog, but it has been on my mind recently,especially as I anticipate a very busy bookish week coming up.

Last week there were various celebrations connected with the 3rd Library and Information Week here in Ghana, including the official launch in Koforidua (Eastern Region), with Ghana’s Second Lady as the Guest of Honour.

Looking forward the annual Ghana International Book Fair will be taking place here in Accra, from Tuesday 3 to Saturday 7 November. There are a lot of workshops and seminars, which bring together those involved in the book chain here in Ghana.

For yours truly though I have to admit that what I really like about the book fair is the chance to stroll around the stands, and see whether there are any titles which strike my fancy.  I know I really don’t need to buy any more books, but I find it very, very difficult to resist, despite overfull TBR shelves.

And in the middle of the Book Fair week, the Ghana Library Association is having its AGM and Seminar, which should be fun, as I have managed to miss several GLA activities over the last year or so.

Africa Reading Challenge joined

My colleague book blogger, KinnaReads is hosting the Africa Reading Challenge for 2012.  [Please do see her website for more details]

Challenge Period

January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012


The entire African continent, including its island-states, which are often overlooked. Please refer to this Wikipedia “list of sovereign states and dependent territories in Africa”. Pre-colonial empires and regions are also included.

Reading Goal

5 books. That’s it. There will be no other levels. Of course, participants are encouraged to read more than 5 books. Eligible books include those which are written by African writers, or take place in Africa, or are concerned with Africans and with historical and contemporary African issues. Note that at least 3 books must be written by African writers.


Fiction – novels, short stories, poetry, drama, children’s books. Note: You can choose to read a number of individual and uncollected short stories. In this case, 12 such stories would constitute 1 book. Individual poems do not count but books of poetry do.

Non-fiction – memoirs, autobiographies, history and current events

My tentative reading list

  • Chicago, by Alaa al Aswany – North Africa/Egypt
  • Tales from different tails, by Nana Awere Damoah – West Africa/Ghana
  • An elegy for Easterly, by Petina Gappah – Central Africa/Zimbabwe – short stories
  • Broken glass, by Alain Mabanckou – Central Africa/Congo – in translation from French
  • The cry of Winnie Mandela, by Njabulo Ndebele – South Africa
  • Half-blood blues, by Esi Edugyan – this is African/Ghanaian by descent

I am fairly sure that I will actually end up reading more than these, as in 2011 I read 19 books by Africans/about Africa.  And as I write, I am currently reading 10 years of the Caine prize for African writing (for Accra Book Club), Zoo story by Lauren Beukes and You’re not a country Africa, by Pius Adesanmi (a collection of essays)

Thanks a lot to Kinna for taking this initiative.  Now to get reading, and writing about it

Resuming posting

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I haven’t posted for some time, and perhaps I should explain the reasons why in more detail.

To begin with I had to have some surgery done on both of my eyes, which meant that reading was somewhat limited for much of April and May. And let me tell you, it was hard not to read so much! Plus I wasn’t physically in Accra, though I suppose I could have written about what else I was doing? And finally a close person in my life passed away, so lately I have been pre-occupied with burial and funeral arrangements, and other related matters.

Routines are however reasserting themselves, and I really do want to resume posting more often, just as I go back to reading – either in print, on screen or on my Kindle – a bit more regularly. I will also try to attend more events that have a literary slant to them – including readings, book clubs and book launches, and as I attend, I hope to post my reactions

And of course work too is about to get very, very busy, as Ashesi University College is about to move from rented premises in three different compounds in Labone to its permanent site in Berekuso, on the old Aburi road.

2010 in review for Accra books and things

Got this email from WordPress, and it does sound nice, though obviously I could do better!

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,400 times in 2010. That’s about 8 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 46 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 91 posts. There were 39 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 3mb. That’s about 3 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was May 20th with 43 views. The most popular post that day was Comments on post “Where do books for Africa go to die?”.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were ghanablogging.com, mail.yahoo.com, en.wordpress.com, twitter.com, and afrigator.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for ghana international book fair 2010, bookshops in ghana, ghana book fair 2010, accrabooksandthings, and time out accra.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Comments on post “Where do books for Africa go to die?” May 2010


9th Ghana International Book Fair 2010 launched in Accra June 2010


Ordering books in a Ghanaian bookshop July 2009


iPad or Kindle? Items for a real “wish” list April 2010


Mamle Kabu and the Caine Prize April 2010

Visits to Ghana International Book Fair 2010

I did visit the Ghana International Book Fair 2010 at the Ghana Trade Fair site in Accra twice, but didn’t attend any of the related functions, so of course what I have to say is purely limited to the actual exhibition space, rather than any of the associated activities.

This year the venue of the GIBF shifted back to the Ghana Trade Fair  from the National Theatre where it has been held for the last several [I’m afraid I don’t remember how many] years.

I guess each venue has its advantages and disadvantages – and being on several floors at the National Theatre could definitely be considered a disadvantage, with some members of the public being unwilling to move upstairs.  Similarly some may have found it a bit of an effort to move out of the main exhibition space to where one exhibitor – EPP – usually had its space.  I guess also if there were a lot of visitors, then it could seem to be a bit crowded.

So, obviously one of the main advantages of the Trade Fair is that it is big, with plenty of space – but it seems to me to be almost be tooo much space.  Although stands were allocated, according to the Fair brochure, to companies, there were lots of empty spaces, and even on the last day, the venue could hardly be called crowded!

As there was no admission fee, I also wondered how the organisers were able to get a tally of numbers of visitors…

My other “beef” is with the attitude of some of the people working on the stands, and this is not just at the Book Fair, but other events at the Trade Fair.  I know that it is warm, and perhaps nothing much is going on, but to me “sleeping” while on duty is not really acceptable, and in my view reflects on the company an individual is supposed to be representing.  Of course exhibitors could make sure that those manning the stands run shifts, rather than “working” a 12-hour day?

I didn’t buy many books, but then that is not too surprising, as the orientation of the Fair was very much towards child literacy.  Nevertheless, I look forward to the next one!

Education: a view from Ghana – Do libraries really play a role?

Virtually all my working life has been in libraries – or closely associated with them:  academic, special, public, cultural, and now academic – if you want to “typecast” them!  And all in West Africa – Nigeria, then Ghana.

I admit that I have not worked in school libraries, though quite a lot of the work I did while at the Ghana Library Board involved liaising with basic schools and key local players in the education sector, and this was during some of the worst economic times in Ghana’s history.  What was the impact of what my colleagues and I did?  To be frank, I don’t know.  We really didn’t measure what we did, except to record traditional library statistics of books borrowed, and membership.

Has the situation changed since I left?  I would hope so, but I frankly admit I don’t know.

It seems to me that “libraries” are considered a “good” thing here in Ghana, at least from the point of view of politicians and the media.  That is, of course, when they decide to think about them and/or talk about them – which is not very often, in my opinion.  Certainly it seems that the word “libraries” is coming up a bit more frequently in the state owned press – at least as far as my personal impression is concerned.  But has this translated into anything more than lip service?

The Ghana Library Board has been in existence for more than sixty years, and it is certainly the major set of libraries serving the needs of the general public in Ghana.  But how many people even know of its existence, let alone use it?  I suspect that the vast majority of users are either children in basic education, or older secondary level students studying during holidays or for remedial classes.  Of course I could be wrong.  So yes, it does support education at some stages at least for some people.

But are those who don’t patronize libraries any less educated?

As for the community libraries, I would imagine it depends on the outreach that is done by those who running these facilities, plus the commitment that the originators have to their continued usage.  With the exception of a few that I have heard of – the Kathy Knowles Libraries in Nima and elsewhere in Accra and Friends of African Village Libraries in the Upper East of Ghana come to mind.  In these libraries there are literacy classes, reading camps, drama and music groups, among a range of activities going on.  There are stories of success, but who has heard of them?

Does anyone shout:  “I owe part of my success at school/college/university due to my reading and using the library”?

These are all positive, are they not?  But again I ask myself, and others, what is the impact of all this activity?  And is it measured?  And who cares anyway?

Comments on post “Where do books for Africa go to die?”

My colleague blogger, Fiona Leonard,  wrote very recently about a recent visit to the Ghana Book Trust in Accra.

The headline “Where do books for Africa go to die?”  says it all.  The last time I went there – sometime last year – the situation was no different.  I was looking for some “light” reading for students and for the library at work, and I did find a reasonable selection – both for the time I had to look, and for the money I had to spend!  But I did have to scrounge through some large dirty boxes on the floor and a few shelves of non-textbooks.

I do admit that I felt that GBT was definitely not what it used to be.  First of all, there weren’t many people there; yet I emember occasions when it was full of students looking for texts to buy, as well as institutions hoping to supply their libraries.  It was dark – maybe it always was, but I didn’t notice it, and definitely dingy looking.  Definitely not a very attractive place to go.

Yet, as was mentioned by Fiona, GBT continues to receive containers of books from donors in North America, although they no longer act as recipients of books for Book Aid International which has stopped working in Ghana and West Africa.

So what has happened?  And why?  The word on the street is that some companies in the book trade were not pleased with GBT who were supplying many organizations at very low prices, but is this a reason for the lack of care?

Thanks Fiona for saying what many of us should have said ages ago, and for being outraged!

Binyavanga Wainaina to give reading on 19 May at Legon

Just heard about the following, which might be of interest to those who are based in Accra.

Binyavanga Wainaina, founder of Kwani Trust (http://kwani.org/main/) and Director of the Chinua Achebe Center for Writers and Artists at Bard College (US), will  give a reading and discuss creative process on  Wednesday 19 May 2010, from 5-7pm at the American
Center in the Center for International Affairs on Legon campus.