Kofi Annan’s “Interventions” book launch in Accra

Along with many people – the hall at ISSER (Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research), University of Ghana, Legon was full – I attended the Ghana launch of Kofi Annan’s autobiography, Interventions, on 4 January 2013.

For the most part the event went well, starting only 15 minutes after the stated time [pretty good], and the MC kept things moving. There were a few glitches with the microphone, which meant that it was often hard to hear the relatively soft spoken Kofi Annan when he was delivering his author’s comments, which were very illuminating and of course confidently delivered as usual.

And typically there was one extra person to add to the programme, but on the whole, it flowed fairly well. The refreshments were good – with fresh coconuts and palm wine, in addition to the usual soft drinks, beer and wine.  See more details from my colleague, Kajsa Adu, who blogged almost immediately about the launch

My major issue with this event was and is with the book suppliers – in this case EPP – who had a table with some books on it at the beginning of the event, but obviously not enough to cover all those who wished to buy a copy.  Disappointment no 1:  many of us would have liked to buy a copy to get it autographed and we couldn’t.  But OK, there was an announcement to this effect, and we were reassured that if we went to EPP Bookshop at Legon we could get copies.

My immediate reaction, and no doubt that of others:  Surely by now publishers and booksellers know that book launches in Ghana are  events where attendees buy books, and that many of these same individuals will not go looking for these same books elsewhere after the events?

Disappointment no 2:  I went to the EPP Bookshop at Legon – which I have described before – the day after the event, and then I was told “It is finished.”   When asked when, the shop attendants replied “this morning”.  So needless to say I was not very happy, and indeed another customer who had hoped to buy four copies expressed her dissatisfaction and annoyance in no uncertain terms.  We dutifully wrote our names and contact details, and now we hope for the best.

Moral of the story:  if you see some books for sale at an event, ask if you can buy some before it starts.

The Bookshop – EPP’s new branch at Legon

After being at home for the whole of Ghana’s Election Day – on Friday 7 December 2012 – I thought it was time to go out on Saturday…  And given that there wasn’t much traffic it was time to check out a landmark I’ve been seeing several times when I pass the Legon road.

To the east of the Legon – Adenta road (which is still under construction) are a bunch of storey buildings which were until relatively recently accessible if one was travelling on the eastern side of the road – that is going northward.  But then construction reduced the access to a side road, so I would see signs – including a large one to “THE BOOKSHOP” but feel rather frustrated that I couldn’t reach there easily.

So in the spirit of exploration I ended up in a parking lot that looked a bit like a construction site, with hardly any cars in it.  Not many people around either, but as usual we climbed up a flight of stairs and asked, and climbed up another to find a large space, just full of books!

My initial reaction was WOW! and the second one – I forgot my camera!  So I’m afraid no photos this time, but maybe another time?

I think this is probably the largest bookshop I have been to in Ghana – all on one floor, so admittedly that may help contribute to the feeling of size.

Lots of textbooks for tertiary level study – in medicine, the sciences, management, marketing, accounting – and the prices were pretty reasonable, even by Ghanaian standards.  I wandered around – looking mostly to see if there was anything which might be relevant to Ashesi students and faculty.  Not surprisingly there were definitely a few.

Having done my homage to student needs, I took a look at the rest of the displays – non-fiction first (sort of) then fiction and children’s books.  Naturally I was very, very sorely tempted.  Quite a lot of thrillers and mysteries (yes, yes), a few romances (not my thing), but not much literary or even African fiction (a bit of a disappointment).  There were some African writers books, but not many others, and I would certainly wish that books on Ghana/by Ghanaian writers would be a bit more prominently displayed.  After all, why shouldn’t we show off our own intellectual products?  Or material about us? It is a perfectly acceptable practice in many of the bookshops I have visited.

In the end I bought two books for members of my family, one on Osu for myself, two cookbooks (one of my weaknesses – and I am running out of cookbook shelf space!), and five for the Ashesi library!   I was sorely tempted to buy more, but managed to resist.

Definitely recommended!

For anyone wanting more information:  the only number I have is +233-28-971-1147, but no email yet.