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!



Manu Herbstein describes Accra’s literary scene

This is just a quick post to alert readers of Ghanaian/South African Manu Herbstein’s article on Accra’s literary scene, currently posted on the South African BooksLive website.

I have to admit to admit that Herbstein captures events which I certainly attended – and may even have mentioned in this blog. He also describes many I had  heard about but didn’t manage to go to, in addition to several others I didn’t know about at all.

Definitely a worthwhile summary of the last year here in Accra.

Upcoming literary and bookish events in Accra

The next ten days or so promises to be full of various bookish and literary events, which I am very much looking forward to.

  1. Ghana Association of Writers Book Festival (GAWBOFEST) takes place on Friday 21 September 2012 at the National Theatre, here in Accra – in theory from 08.00.  Realistically as it is a public holiday, probably from around 09.30 or so.  Lots of activities according to an advert but no real programme available online, at least as far as I can tell.  I shall go, at least briefly.
  2. 11th Ghana International Book Fair, which takes place from Monday 24th to Saturday 29th September, again at the National Theatre.  Book sales and exhibitions are of course the main part of this event, but there will be other parts, including meetings, and the formal launch of the Burt Award 2011 winning books.  For more details, see their website.  Always on my list of events to attend, and spend money at!
  3. Writers Project of Ghana monthly readings, on Wednesday 26 September, at the Goethe Institut, with Nigeria writer, Chuma Nwokolo.
  4. Accra Book Club’s monthly gathering, with a discussion of Esi Edugyan’s Half-blood blues, which I have nearly finished [having no electricity at home for nearly 48 hours definitely does not help my reading!]
  5. A biannual meeting of the Consortium of Academic & Research Libraries in Ghana (CARLIGH) at the end of next week – good to meet fellow librarians.

So I will definitely be busy, and if I get my act together, I should actually do some posting as well!

GAWBOFEST: a very limited view

I did go to the Ghana Association of Writers Book Festival which took place on Founder’s Day, or Kwame Nkrumah’s birthday.  It was a public holiday, so had to more or less force myself to get out of the house – but in a way having no electricity was a good enough impetus.

I did not plan to attend the opening ceremony, which was supposed to start at 9am but didn’t as it was still going on when I arrived after 11am!  And in fact it ended not long after noon, with quite a packed hall listening and watching.  I gather the high point was a poetry reading by a blind student from Wa.  Oh well…

So I spent my time outside looking at the stands, and on occasion chatting with colleagues/friends about books and ther quasi-literary issues.

I did buy a few books:

  • The days, by Ama Ata Aidoo (an illustrated children’s book, which I hadn’t heard of)
  • Tickling the Ghanaian: encounters with contemporary culture, by Kofi Akpabli (I had heard of its launch, and was wondering where and when I would get a copy)
  • The heart of old Accra (beautifully illustrated)
  • Akwaaba – Welcome to Ghana: Twi for tourists, by Nana Oforiwaa Koranteng (what would be the words and phrases chosen, I wondered)
I also picked up a programme of forthcoming activities from the Writers Project of Ghana which I have to look at and promote, in my small way.
I think I might have stayed a bit longer for some of storytelling and readings, but the heavens opened, and I decided it was time to leave.
Overall impression:  GAW obviously put a lot of effort into organizing the event, and were able to get a good number of people to attend.  A good start, in my opinion.

GAWBOFEST coming up on 21 September 2011 in Accra

The Ghana Association of Writers is organising its first Book Festival – GAWBOFEST – tomorrow, 21 September 2011, and I am intrigued. It is taking place at Aviation Social Centre, from morning till late afternoon. I gather from a recent phone-in that the Vice-President of Ghana is even supposing to be launching it, which means the opening ceremony will probably be quite long.

There are going to be readings by various “prominent personalities”, storytelling, poetry, books for sale, and so on.

Interestingly GAW does have a website , but there doesn’t seem to be much going on there, in contrast to the Writers Project of Ghana which I believe has a much younger feel to it, and is updated, and promoted regularly.

This is the first of these kind of events from GAW, which I always get the feeling is dominated by somewhat older writers, and I think it is worth taking a look at the event – maybe some time in the late morning, especially as it is a public holiday.

Needless to say I will report on what I found.